Labrador Retriever is inarguably the most popular pet dog breed in India and the most common question we face from pet owners across our chat, emails and phone calls is a suggestion of a diet plan for their lab puppy. So, if you have just bought your new pupper and wondering what to feed him/her, you are at the right place. Although I am not a veterinarian myself, I have been a lab owner for 11 years and been in the pet food industry for the last 6 years. In the course of my journey, I have met countless dog owners, breeders, participated in many dog shows and visited/spoke to many registered veterinary practitioners. So, in this article, I would like to share my experience regarding the most suitable diet for a labrador puppy/dog based on the food and supplement options available in India.
1)Labrador puppy age(0-3 months) – If you are buying or adopting your puppy from a good and responsible breeder, it is highly unlikely that he/she will allow you to take the puppy away from his/her mother before 1.5 months age. However, if this is not the case for your pupper, no need to worry. Although your pup won’t get mother’s milk, you can feed him dog milk available in the market. Be sure not to feed normal cerelac or cow milk as that will result in loose motion as well as stunted growth. Among baby dog milk, there are various options from well-known brands like Royal Canin, Drools, Farmina although I personally prefer Beaphar Lactol or Royal Canin Babydog milk.At this tender age, you need to feed your lab pup via feeding bottle like you would feed a human baby of age 2 months.
Milk is the only food apart from purified water which your dog is gonna need till 1.5months. After this age, till 3 months you have two options. You can either continue with milk or look at starter food options like Royal Canin Maxi starter, Drools starter, Farmina Puppy Starter, Canine Creek Starter, Orijen puppy and plenty of other brands which are available in the market. The kibble for starter food is small and most probably, your puppy will be able to chew it. In case he/she is not, consider adding the dry food into a blender with lukewarm water and make a mix which should be dilute enough to be administered by feeding bottle. Certain dry food can be extremely hard to chew, so depending on the toughness of the kibble you might have to break i.e – blend the food yourself as your puppy might not develop good teeth at this age. Puppies of age 1.5 – 3 months should be given around 200g-300g(total) of feed divided in separate meals in a whole day. You should be following this diet of starter food till 3 months age at least. Also, make sure you are vaccinating as well as deworming your pup at the right intervals.
2)Labrador puppy age(3-15 months)– Your puppy will grow to the maximum extent in this age span. So, a proper nutritious diet is essential to achieve good growth. You can either go for Royal Canin Maxi Junior or Royal Canin Labrador Junior or puppy variants of other brands like drools, canine creek, Orijen Puppy and Junior(Recommended), Acana large breed puppy, pedigree(not recommended) at this age. If you are giving a good diet like Royal Canin, farmina or even home-made food, growth should be good. For those who can extend their budget, you can go for something even more premium like Acana, Orijen, Arden Grange and the likes. No need to add additional supplements. If you are feeding home-made food like boiled chicken which itself is a very good food option, consider adding some fish oils like Beaphar Salmon Oil. In case, you are going for filler-prone options like pedigree / drools, supplements like Bone builder / Kalk tabs will be useful. Puppies of age 3-6+ months should be given around 300g-450+g of dry food per day.
3)Labrador dog age(15 months onward)– Your puppy is an adult dog now. It’s highly unlikely your dog will grow further in length and height after this age. However, a good diet is recommended to ensure a good life span(above 12 years) and muscle development. For those who want Royal Canin, you can go for Royal Canin Labrador adult. You can also go for more premium brands than Royal canin like Farmina N&D, Hill’s, Orijen, Acana and more. Homemade food can be a healthy option as well. Remember, lab is a high energy dog, so regular exercises/walks are very essential.
Feeding guide(amount to feed in grams) depends on dog weight and varies from brand to brand. You will find the recommended portion for your brand based on the calories it carries on the packet you will buy.
Once your dog has reached 3 months age, it’s best to feed him/her twice a day. If you feed thrice, four times or keep food available in front of the dog all the time as many dog owners do, he/she is likely to lose interest in the food and not touch it at all. At other times, you can give chews or treats but whole meal should be fed not more than twice a day. Do not keep food available in front of the dog except during his eating time. However, you can keep water available in a bowl all the time. Sticking to schedule regularly is recommended.
Wait, till now we have been speaking about commercial dry food. What if your dog or puppy doesn’t like any dry food at all?
Yes, this happens to many dogs. While some dogs like pugs are voracious eaters, labs or goldens can be extremely choosy. At infant age, regardless you are giving milk or dry food blended in water through feeding bottle, puppy will eat/drink it. They will eat whatever liquid you put in the feeding bottle at this age.
However, once puppies mature and learn to eat themselves, they may not like dry food, rarely touch it. In these cases, the best option is to first add a home-made additive with the dry food. You may add many things dog like in small quantities of chicken stalk, chicken pieces(boneless for puppies), curd, egg and others to the dry food. Changing or trying out another brand helps as well. So it’s best to buy a small pack before trying any new brand.I have seen many dogs who hate Drools but like Canine Creek although they are manufactured by same company. Every dog has a mind of his own. If you can’t add any home-made side dish, adding less nutritious but delicious wet food like drools holistic blended meals, pedigree chicken gravy, smart-heart chicken liver gravy etc into the dry food can change your dog’s mind at times. Otherwise you can go for totally home-made food if your dog doesn’t like any brand of commercial dry or wet food.
Most common diseases of Indian bred dogs like canine hyp dysplasia, ear infections, bent hind legs can happen to any dog. Take your dog to a registered veterinary practitioner in case such situations arise.
Lack of appetite is also observed during this age at times. For not-so-severe cases, you may administer Himalaya Liv52(syrup or tabs) or other appetite stimulants of various brands twice a day for 1-2 days. In case, your dog has gastrointestinal disorders, referring to a prescription diet under the guidance of a veterinarian can be immensely helpful.
If you have more questions regarding your Labrador dog/puppy and his/her maintenance , feel free to leave a comment below or reach us via the chat option from the bottom-right corner of this page. We have access to registered veterinary practitioners who can help your dog regardless of breed/age.