If you own a Labrador, you will know that one of the most important aspects of properly caring for them, is the quality of the food that you feed them.
Whether it is their main meal or the treats you give them to supplement it, choosing nutritious food for your Lab, can mean the difference between a healthy, vibrant dog, or one that is lethargic and prone to illness.
In this review, we'll compare 5 of the very best foods for Labs to help you make the right choice for your beloved pet.
This dry food recipe from Rachael Ray has added vitamins and minerals to promote the health of your Lab. By using simple, natural ingredients, the aim is to create a delicious, and nutritious meal for Labs, in the same way, Rachael Ray's quick and easy recipes do for humans.
The principle behind Rachael Ray's dog recipes are that they are simple and made from wholesome ingredients. With this recipe, the main ingredient is lamb meal, which is sourced in New Zealand, where most of the world's finest lamb originates. One of the reasons for this is that all New Zealand lamb is grass fed, therefore the meat from the lamb contains less fat.
New Zealand lamb is also easier to digest which ensures that all the nutritional benefits are passed to your Lab, as quickly as possible, while helping to ward off any stomach problems due to poor digestion.
The lamb in this natural dry dog food also provides essential amino acids and is a rich source of B vitamins. These keep your Labrador's organs in top order plus they help maintain lean muscle. This is particularly important if your Lab is carrying one or two pounds of extra fat as it allows them to run and exercise more efficiently in terms of burning off those calories.
The other ingredients in Rachael Ray's recipe include both brown and ground white rice. The brown rice also provides Vitamin B to your Lab as well as fiber to further promote a healthy digestive system. Both kinds of rice will also give your Lab a boost in their energy levels thanks to being rich sources of carbohydrates.
As well as being focused on what the food you are feeding your Lab contains, it is also worth being aware of what it doesn't contain. This recipe has no by-products from either poultry or meat sources, which many cheap recipes use as fillers.
There is also no corn, wheat, gluten or soy, which are components often found in low-grade dog foods. Every ounce of these fillers is one less ounce of wholesome ingredients, so it's is a big positive for this recipe that it contains none of these.
Rachael Ray's recipe contains no artificial flavors or preservatives, which means when you feed this to your Lab, it will not be ingesting any chemicals that, while not necessarily harmful, do not add any nutritional value.
This dry dog food is primed towards maintaining a healthy digestive system for your Lab. With this being an area where many dogs suffer ill health it is good to see this being accounted for with the ingredients used in this recipe.
With this dog food having a very low calorie count, to maintain your Lab's energy levels, or if your young Lab is still growing, you may need to give them larger portions than you would normally. This can not only add costs, but the additional intake may mean more trips outside could be required for your Lab to 'do their business.’
Made in the USA, this dry dog food is rich in proteins and has a patented probiotic to help keep your Lab's digestive system as healthy as possible. The ingredients are low in carbohydrates which promotes lean muscles, so your Labrador stays in peak physical condition.
This Nulo dog food is made from 100% natural ingredients, so it doesn't contain any artificial colors or flavorings which you are likely to find in cheaper brands and heavily processed dog foods. By feeding your Lab a dog food with only natural ingredients you are ensuring they derive as many of the nutritional benefits as possible.
As the name suggests, Nulo dog food is also grain-free which is significant in terms of potential allergies that your Lab may suffer from. These can be triggered by ingredients such as wheat gluten, soy, and corn. While none of these are harmful as such, they must be avoided if your Labrador has ever shown signs of an allergic reaction to any of them.
To promote a healthy, skin and coat, Nulo dog food contains Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, which are as beneficial to dogs as they are to humans. These work as antioxidants, they are anti-inflammatory, and even help to protect your Lab against certain cancers.
Many dog owners assume that their dog, will love every and all types of meat, especially chicken, but the reality is, many dogs struggle to digest chicken meat and eggs. For this reason, Nulo has made their food chicken-free, and have also maintained the protein levels that chicken would have provided, by using other ingredients.
You'll know how much energy your Lab has, especially when they are out running to fetch their favorite toy or playing 'chase-me' with other dogs. To give them all the energy they'll need for these, Nulo's dog food has high levels of Vitamin B and Niacin. Apart from giving a boost their general health, these ingredients will help keep your Lab's heart and other organs healthy too.
The combination of high protein and low carb ingredients gives this dry dog food a perfect balance of energy and health-boosting nourishment for your dog. With the additional benefit of having BC30 probiotic to maintain a healthy digestive system, your Labrador should be the picture of health if you feed them this dog food.
The fact that it does not contain artificial ingredients will also play a big part in ensuring this food maximizes the nutritional benefit to your Lab, rather than compromise it with chemicals and additives.
Although it is suitable for both small and larger dogs, assuming your Labrador falls into the latter category, you may be surprised at how small the kibbles (pieces) of the food are. The issue with this is, you may find your Lab eating their food much quicker than compared to them eating larger pieces of food.
This is a dehydrated dog food, that requires water to be added and mixed in before serving it to your Lab. Its formula is meat based along with sweet potato. Turkey is the featured flavor, and the other available flavors are beef, chicken or lamb.
This dog food is meat-based, and its ingredients are supplemented by eggs, vegetables, and fruit. You might be thinking that sounds like a recipe for a human meal and you'd be right as one of the features of this food is that all the ingredients are 100% human grade. This is important in terms of quality and in comparison, to sub-standard dog foods which use inferior ingredients.
The core of the food is raw meat which includes proteins, amino acids, and digestive enzymes. All of these ensure that your Lab receives the maximum intake of nutrients and minimizes the number of additives and artificial ingredients.
Just as we humans need our daily quota of fruit and vegetables, your Labrador’s health also benefits greatly if these are included as part of their diet. The Only Natural Pet food includes cranberries, carrots, and broccoli which are rich in nutrients as well as sweet potato which not only tastes great, it also helps care for your dog's digestive system due to its high fiber content.
Preparing this dog food formula is a simple matter of adding water to it, mixing it, and then waiting 15 minutes. One great benefit of this is that the amount of raw food you need to buy is only one-sixth of the amount of food it can make once the water has been mixed in. For example, a 2-lb. bag of food will allow you to make around 12 lbs. of edible food for your dog.
All the vegetables and fruit included in this dog food comes from sources which only supply non-genetically modified produce. This means the food will retain the maximum amount of nutrients and eliminate any risk of any side effects caused by ingesting any synthetic substances.
There is no doubting the quality of the ingredients used in this dog food, and while there's no suggestion you should try it for yourself, the fact it is classified as human grade, tells you it is in a class well above sub-standard dog foods.
As with any dog food which has raw meat as part of its ingredients, there is likely to be quite a strong smell, and this food is no different.
Of course, anyone who has a dog will know that their house cannot always smell of roses, so it may be a matter of your own personal likes or dislikes in terms of whether you find the smell acceptable or not.
Every dog loves a treat from time to time, and Labradors are no different. These treats are simple as they come, with only one main ingredient depending on the flavor. This one is sweet potato, but there are several others including turkey, pork, beef, and chicken.
For those of you that prefer to feed your Lab with food that is produced and processed in the USA, you'll be pleased to know that Paw to Tail treats use produce from only US farms and they are made in USDA-approved facilities.
The ingredients themselves vary depending on the flavor, but the sweet potato one is claimed to be good enough for humans to eat. I am not saying you try them yourself, but it does give you some indication of the quality of the produce used to make these treats.
Sweet potato is low in calories, so you do not have to worry that by feeding your Lab these treats, you'll be encouraging them to grow fat. It is also rich in antioxidants which promote a healthy heart, guard against infections, and reduce the risk of serious illnesses, such as cancer.
Vitamins are also essential for your dog's health, and these treats are a good source. They are also a good source of fiber, which your Lab needs to keep their digestive system in tip-top condition.
Low-grade dog treats tend to be full of additives, which do nothing for your dog's health. These, on the other hand, have zero additives so they don't contain colorings, preservatives, or gluten, which many dogs are sensitive to. Intolerance to gluten can cause digestive disorders, weight loss, and inflamed skin, so any treats which are gluten-free are preferable.
The simplistic recipe for these treats means you know exactly what is in them, and what you are feeding your Lab each time you give them one of these treats. Compare that to dog treat recipes which look more like a list of chemicals, and you'll understand why the recipe for these treats is so much more beneficial for your Lab than many of the alternatives.
Also welcome is the fact that each packet of treats is re-sealable, which keeps them fresh. This also allows you to take them out on walks or training sessions to reward your Lab when they have been good.
The one thing these lack as a treat is any kind of chewiness. They are very thin and brittle, so they break up almost as soon as your dog starts to chew them. Not ideal if you don't want to see any mess which is likely while your Lab eats them.
With this dog food, you get a 3-in 1 option, as it can be used as a complete meal, a mixer or as treats. It is a freeze-dried chicken recipe using ingredients which have all been sourced and produced in the USA.
The fact that you can use this dog food in three different ways is not only very convenient, it could save you money too. As a complete meal, you need to re-hydrate it by adding water, but it will be ready in just minutes. You can also add it to any other food you give your Lab as a complimentary mixer, or simply use it out of the packet as a tasty treat.
All the ingredients are USA produced which many dog owners prefer. This means all the meat, fruit and vegetables which are used in the recipes are either grown on USA farms or processed in USA facilities.
Nutritional values of Buckley Liberty's dog food are enhanced by the high protein levels contained within the ground bones and organs of the chickens used in the recipe. These are all great sources of minerals, calcium, phosphorus, and enzymes which contribute to your dog's healthy coat, bones, and muscles.
Other ingredients which add even more to the nutritional value of this dog food are salmon and other fish oils which provide essential Omega-3 fatty acids. It also contains flaxseeds which are rich in Omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids help control your Labrador’s blood pressure, can reduce inflammation and are particularly important in ensuring your Lab has a healthy skin and coat.
In ensuring that their dog food provides as much nourishment as possible Buckley Liberty do not add any grains to their recipe. These are often used as filler, but they provide no health benefits or nutritional value whatsoever, so any dog food that is grain free is preferable.
The fact that this dog food can be used in three different ways is welcome, and for some dog owners even more so due to not having to buy and carry home three separate food products from the pet store.
Another positive, is the high meat content, as it this is what provides the greatest amount of health benefits such as proteins and vitamins. This is in comparison to some whose meat content is as low as 30%. With high levels of beneficial fatty acids too, this is a dog food that provides lots of health benefits for your Labrador.
While there no denying the huge appeal of this dog food in terms of your Lab's health, it does come at a cost. With each pack weighing in at 20 ounces, there are others which offer better value for money, if not the same level of nutrition.
When selecting a dog food for your Lab, it is important to realize that the way you choose food for a dog differs greatly from how you might choose food for yourself. While the look, taste, color and the smell of food might entice us to buy it for ourselves, this is often done with no thought as to whether that food is good for us or not.
With your Labrador, your primary consideration must be how the food you feed them impacts their health. This will mainly be influenced by the ingredients, and how or where those ingredients were produced.
You will also want to take as much notice of what isn't in the recipe as you do to what is included. Knowing that certain harmful, or at best neutral substances which are no more than fillers, have not made the list of ingredients can be a deciding factor.
This is not about being patriotic or xenophobic in terms of only buying USA goods. It is more to do with knowing that all the ingredients were sourced or grown in the USA, and thus you are likely to have more knowledge about how these were produced.
Farming and food production methods in the USA must adhere to certain standards which ensures the food you give your Labrador is of a certain quality. This is not to say all dog food or ingredients sourced from overseas are sub-standard, but in some countries, they may not be as high as they are in the USA.
You will be seeking to feed your Lab with a balanced diet, that will obviously have meat, but also a healthy proportion of fruit and vegetables too. Many dog food recipes have ingredients that include carrots, broccoli, apples, blueberries, and sweet potato, which is particularly popular.
You can also expect to see other ingredients such as eggs, flaxseed and fish oils, which all enhance the health benefits which any particular dog food recipe provides. One caveat is the possibility that your Lab may be allergic to a specific ingredient, in which case you obviously do not feed them anything which contains it.
While a tasty treat is great a reward, the main consideration in choosing a dog food for your Lab is how well it promotes your dog’s health. For this reason, it is imperative that the nutritional value your dog may derive from any given dog food is assessed.
This will include the levels of protein, vitamins, and minerals which are essential for your dog’s overall good health, plus those which are required for specific health needs. For example, their digestive system benefits from fiber, fish oils boost their immune system and a healthy coat can be maintained if they eat recipes which include sweet potato.
In today's world lots of the food both we, and our pets eat, contain additives, artificial colors or flavoring and other 'fillers.' None of these are likely to be harmful to your Lab, but at the same time, they do nothing positive for their well-being. Many dog foods are advertised as containing zero additives or fillers and it is these products which you should consider first.
Always check the list of ingredients on any food you are buying for your Lab, and you will be able to ascertain the level of additives that have been included. The fewer the better, and where possible, none at all.
If you like to simply open the packet or tin, empty it into your Lab's bowl and then let them tuck in, you need to be aware that not every dog food is that easy to prepare. Some require you to add water and then wait for a few minutes (normally about 15) for them to rehydrate.
This might not be an issue for you, and rest assured these types of dog foods are no less nutritious or tasty for your dog. However, if you like things to be as simple as possible then the 'open and serve' varieties might suit you better.
In a word – No! While wolves in the wild might be fine eating raw meat, you must remember your Lab is not a wolf. More important than that, is the danger that any raw meat you feed your Lab might be contaminated by pathogens including salmonella and E. coli, both of which can make your dog very ill.
Many dog health experts say that protein should be at the top of the list as this provides your Lab with energy, plus it helps to keep all their organs are in good working order. Fiber is important too, as it aids the digestive system. A diet that includes fish oils will be hugely beneficial to your Lab's immune system as well as their coat and skin, thanks to the high levels of Omega-3 & 6 fatty acids.
One of the biggest issues older Labradors have is gaining weight so you want to feed them something which has plenty of fiber. This will help to ensure their digestive system works as efficiently as possible, especially as aging dogs tend to have a much slower metabolism than they did when they were younger. Foods with vegetables are also highly recommended for older Labradors.
Non-GMO means that none of the ingredients in the recipe came from a farm or a source where genetic modification takes place. This is used to increase growth rates, for example. One of the concerns regarding GMO food is that there are still many unanswered questions about it, and what impact eating it can have on health. If this worries you with regards to your Labrador’s health, then continue to use food which is labeled 'Non-GMO.'
Grains are not unhealthy as such, and many dogs have a perfectly healthy life eating foods which contain grains. However, the problem is where many dog food manufacturers use grains as a cheap substitute for real meat. This then deprives your Lab of all the health benefits that real meat can give them.
In reviewing and trying to select the best dog food for Labs, it brought home just how much our beloved dogs rely on us for their well-being. Apart from the daily routines of walks, and playing with them, our dogs depend on us entirely to look after their welfare, and no more so than what we feed them.
With this in mind, there was probably a lot more careful thought in choosing our #1 and best dog food for Labs, than for many of the products we have reviewed. After much consideration, our winner is Only Natural Pet Dog Food Formula.
Let's deal firstly with what some dog owners might perceive as a negative and that is the fact that you need to mix this dog food with water, and then wait for 15 minutes before serving it to your dog. Yes, it does mean that it takes you longer to feed your Lab, but is that too big a price to pay in order to feed your beloved Labrador the best dog food? We hope not.
Once you have served your Lab, you can be confident you are feeding them a top-quality recipe which is full of nutrients, protein, vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants, all of which will contribute to your dog's well-being and general health. The ingredients are all sourced from high-quality sources with the guarantee that none of them have been genetically modified.
This means your dog could be eating free-range turkey or chicken, or grass-fed pork or beef which give the maximum nutrition in comparison to processed meats. In addition, vegetables such as carrots, sweet potato, celery, and split peas, along with fruit like apples and cranberries contribute to a recipe which is as healthy a combination as we have seen.
These natural ingredients and the recipes they create would not look out of place at a health farm for humans, so it is with no hesitation that we recommend it as a healthy nutritious meal for your Labrador.