Best Puppy Food for Labs - Comparison and Reviews
Getting a new puppy comes with a lot of choices. One you may not have considered, though, is the brand and type of puppy food you feed your new furbaby. There’s more to it than just finding a quality choice—which is also important—you need to find the right food for your pup’s breed, size, age, and health.
Labs are some of the fastest-growing dogs, and they can be high energy. They require a healthy balance of protein and complex carbs to grow and become the best dogs they can be. There are specific food formulas for lab puppies and all dog breeds for that matter.
Some breeds of dogs are predisposed to specific medical issues that can be prevented or slowed by providing them the correct nutrients. Labs are known to be predisposed to canine hip dysplasia in some cases. This is a common joint problem that can be somewhat prevented by feeding a food formula with Chondroitin and Glucosamine. When choosing a food for your lab, you’ll need to look at the ingredients and do your research—which you’ve already started by reading this article—let’s dive in.
Best Lab Puppy Foods 2019 - Reviews
1. Royal Canin Breed Healthy Nutrition Labrador Retriever Puppy Dry Dog Food
Royal Canin Breed Health is specially formulated for lab puppies from 8 weeks to 15 months old and contains the necessary nutrients a lab pup needs.
Since this product is formulated for lab puppies specifically, it includes vitamins and nutrients to support healthy joints and prevent joint issues like canine hip dysplasia. Royal Canin also contains a variety of vitamins to promote a shiny coat and healthy skin. It is hard to find a brand that offers such a specialized product for lab puppies.
This product is more expensive compared to most of the products on this list, though, given its specialized formulation. However, if you want to make absolutely sure your lab puppy is getting balanced nutrition perfect for their breed, the price is more than justified.
This food does contain grains and chicken. There is also an adult version of the lab formula, making transitioning when the time comes to a breeze.
2. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Natural Puppy Dry Dog Food
Another excellent choice from Nutro, Wholesome Essentials Natural Puppy Food contains chicken as it’s #1 ingredient which is a high source of protein. This product is meant for puppies up to 18 months old and is specially formulated for large breed dogs like your lab puppy. Large dog breeds like labs have particular nutritional needs to sustain their fast growth and keep them as healthy as possible.
This product contains vitamins to keep your puppy healthy in it’s growing stages. An important vitamin this food contains is Vitamin E. This vitamin is known to support a healthy immune system in puppies to prevent them from getting sick.
This puppy food also contains Omega-3 Fatty acids which support growth in your puppy and strengthens their joints, as well as calcium to help bone development, which is similar to the previous food reviewed on this list. These vitamins listed are essential to keeping your puppy healthy and allowing them to reach their full potential while they are still growing.
Nutro Wholesome Essentials is made with non-GMO ingredients. As some dogs have issues with food that contains chicken, remember to keep a close eye on your pup after starting this food—or any new food for that matter—to ensure they don’t react poorly.
3. Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Puppy, Large Breeds, Chicken Meal & Oats Recipe
Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed Puppy is a dry puppy food formulated for large breed dogs like lab puppies. It is the #1 Veterinarian recommended food in America and contains a high-quality protein with chicken as its primary protein source.
Since this food formula is specially formulated for large breed dogs, it contains the right amount of protein and other nutrients. These nutrients will ensure your puppy is getting the ingredients he or she needs to be strong and healthy. Hill’s lists high-quality protein in the ingredients, which is excellent for building and maintaining lean muscle while your puppy is growing.
Hill’s Science dog food is made with natural ingredients which can, in some cases, increase the cost of the product. Although there are cheaper options on the market, you can’t put a price on the health of your lab puppy.
As mentioned, however, some dogs are allergic to chicken, so once again don’t forget to keep a close eye out. On the upside, Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed is available in other flavors, such as Lamb and Brown Rice if your pup ends up one of those who don’t do well with chicken.
4. Wag Amazon Brand Dry Dog Food
Wag is an Amazon-owned brand made in California. The ingredients in this food are formulated for puppies, and it contains 36% protein.
It contains no added grain. Grains and gluten, in particular, are common allergens for dogs. While they were once widely accepted in dog food, in recent years there’s a growing trend against their use. Instead, pea products are used for carbohydrate content, which unfortunately is also often considered filler.
This brand offers 5-pound trial size bags you can use to see how your puppy reacts before you commit to a larger bag, which is a really nice touch. Even better, unlike many brands, Amazon allows you to return opened, used bags for a full refund if you are your pouch aren’t satisfied for any reason.
The #1 ingredient in this blend is real American chicken which is an incredible source of protein for your growing puppy. The recipes used by Wag are also approved by veterinarians and contain the perfect number of vitamins and nutrients to ensure your puppy is getting what they need in their diet.
- Real American chicken is the #1 ingredient
- No added grain in the recipe
- Offers trial bags
- Satisfaction guarantee up to 1 year
- Some dogs are allergic to chicken and could be sensitive to this product
- Contains vegetables that some dogs can be bothered by
- Not formulated for large breed dogs specifically
5. Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Large Breed Puppy Food
Wellness brand Complete Health Puppy food is made specifically for large dog breeds and contains all-natural ingredients that are balanced for your lab puppy. It features a large kibble size, natural chicken, and added vitamins like DHA. The food blend also contains Omega fatty acids that protect your puppy’s coat and promote healthy skin, as well as blueberries, spinach, and flaxseed to promote easy digestion and a healthy weight. As a bonus, these ingredients also make the food high in antioxidants.
The main ingredients and source of protein are chicken, salmon, and rice. It doesn’t contain any wheat, corn, soy, meat by-products, artificial flavors, or any other undesirable ingredients, either.
The price of the Wellness brand puppy food is slightly above average, but the quality is higher, so it’s well worth it. Their use of healthy ingredients with no preservatives makes this product a top choice. The chicken and grain content may prove problematic for some pups, but Wellness does offer a grain-free version (although it does still contain chicken).
6. ORIJEN Dry Dog Food, Puppy Large
ORIJEN Large Breed Puppy is one of the highest-priced per pound options on this list, but ORIJEN has some of the best customer support out of any dog food manufacturer on the market and offers a satisfaction guarantee.
This product is formulated for large breed puppies and features a protein-rich blend that keeps your puppy healthy while they are still growing. ORIJEN has specially formulated their puppy food to a puppy’s evolutionary and biological needs and has worked so hard on perfecting their formula. They have a near-perfect recipe for your lab puppy.
Although ORIJEN has some of the most expensive dog food on the market, you truly get what you pay for with this product. There are not may other dog food manufacturers that regulate the precise amount of animal ingredients going into their food.
They aim to produce a “biologically appropriate dog food,” and this is shown in the whole-prey diet that is featured in the recipe. The recipe contains free-run chicken and turkey, wild-caught fish, and even nest-laid eggs.
7. Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free, Natural Puppy Large Breed Dry Dog Food
The Blue Buffalo Wilderness recipe features real chicken as the main ingredient and a variety of other nutrients. The main selling point of this product is an aim to match nature’s evolutionary diet. This means that the recipe they use in the puppy food utilizes ingredients your dog would be naturally consuming in the wild.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness is 100% grain-free and includes vitamins such as DHA and ARA to help their digestive health and immune system. The blend in this product is proved to support development in large breed dogs and contains the nutrients needed to assist them in the most crucial period of their growth.
This puppy food contains LifeSource Bits which is a proprietary blend that is formulated with specific vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. This blend promotes a healthy immune system and a healthy oxidative balance for your puppy. Blue Wilderness only uses natural ingredients in their dog food and never includes controversial products like corn, wheat, soy, or artificial flavors.
This is another puppy food that some users complain has quality control issues with each bag seemingly varying in formula. For instance, you may get a different ratio of LifeSource bits. This aspect can be an issue for pups with sensitive stomachs.
8. Eukanuba Puppy Dry Dog Food Chicken – Large Breed
Eukanuba Large Breed dry dog food is one of the most cost-effective dry dog foods on this list, and the brand has an excellent reputation in the industry, being commonly carried in veterinarian’s offices.
It is formulated for puppies under 15 months old and contains a variety of ingredients that will keep your lab puppy healthy. The first ingredient listed is high-quality chicken which is an excellent source of protein for your growing lab puppy, albeit a potential allergen.
Since your lab puppy is a large breed, they will be growing very fast. It is essential your pup is getting the vitamins and nutrients they need. Eukanuba contains a portioned amount of fat and carbohydrates which will sustain the energy of your puppy and give them the fuel they need. Their ACTIVadvantage formula is designed to support mind, body, and energy levels making for a happy, healthy, smart puppy.
Eukanuba is an excellent example of where the price is not necessarily indicative of quality. This food is a superb option at an affordable price.
9. Purina Pro Plan Dry Puppy Food
Purina Pro Plan is moderately priced compared to other available options. This brand continually runs sales on their products and offer you great value.
The first ingredient in Purina Pro Plan is high-quality chicken which is an incredible source of clean protein. High amounts of protein allow your lab pup to build lean muscle and stay healthy. This product also contains Glucosamine which can help prevent and alleviate common joint issues that labs are predisposed to.
Most other products on this list do not mention Glucosamine, so just that ingredient alone makes this a top choice for your lab. Purina Pro Plan also includes DHA in their recipe, which helps promote healthy vision and brain development. The blend of chicken and rice in the formula is an excellent source of protein and nutrients that are required for puppies under 15 months old.
When taking everything into account, the price you pay for the formula you are getting is an incredible value. For pups who may be sensitive to grains and chicken, this formula is also available in grain-free chicken as well as a lamb and rice version.
How to Choose the Best Puppy Food for Lab
There are a variety of different factors to look at when deciding on the best puppy food for your lab. Some of the main things to look at are the ingredients, dog size listed on the food, breed-specific elements, and price. Every dog is different, and each dog requires a different type of puppy food.
Out of these factors, ingredients are the most important thing to consider. High protein content is a must. Protein will assist in the rapid growth of your puppy and helps them build strong and lean muscle. Other ingredients like healthy fats, carbohydrates, and some vegetables are essential to the growth of your lab puppy. Be sure the formula you choose also contains Chondroitin and Glucosamine.
The size of your dog or dog breed can determine which type of food you choose. If you have a lab puppy, you will want a food brand that is specifically for large breeds or lab puppies. Keep in mind that the more targeted the food you choose is, the more it is likely to cost. You’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of buying a lab-specific food over just a large breed formula.
Price can be a determining factor in the puppy food you choose for your lab as well. Although some products reflect the price, others will contain the same ingredients but cost more. Don’t let price alone lead your decision but be sure to stay within your budget. We all want only the best for our fur friends, but finances can be limiting.
What Ingredients to Look for in Lab Puppy Food
Some of the most important ingredients to look for in a lab puppy food are high-quality whole proteins, reduced fats, minerals and vitamins, and vegetables. These ingredients, combined in the exact recipe, can make the perfect puppy food for your lab.
Proteins are one of the most vital ingredients to look at overall. Puppy food with high protein ensures that your puppy can grow and get stronger. A few examples of protein-rich ingredients are chicken, turkey, and sometimes red meat like a lamb. Named meat should always be the #1 ingredient in your dog’s food. Avoid any brand that uses meat by-products.
A moderate amount of fat in a puppy’s diet is essential, but some puppy food brands contain high-fat content. A fat content that is too high could cause your dog to become unhealthy and sick. Most brands that are listed as reduced-fat are a safer alternative unless you can check the fat content in the food beforehand. Fiber can also help prevent your pup from becoming overweight, as well as probiotic or prebiotic ingredients.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are some more important ingredients to look out for. One of the essential vitamins to look for in your puppy’s food is Glucosamine. Glucosamine is proven to increase joint health, and this is a vital ingredient to any lab puppies’ diet. Labs commonly experience joint problems at some point in their life and its best to take a step to prevent it even when they are still under 15 months.
Is Lab Puppy Dog Food Expensive?
In most cases, brands that offer specific food made for lab puppies can be quite expensive. For example, the ORIJEN brand can cost up to $100 for a 25-pound bag of food. It is always recommended to get a brand that offers breed-specific food if possible, but only if you can afford to do so long-term. Frequent dog food changes can be very hard on a puppy. You want a brand you can stick with, preferably into adulthood, so aim for brands with similar adult versions of their puppy formulas.
If you are not able to afford a breed-specific food, brands that list large breeds on their products can sometimes be as good or better. Some brands are listed as general large breeds but still contain Glucosamine and other vitamins that are beneficial to a lab puppy.
What do Labrador Puppies Need to Eat?
Labrador puppies prefer to eat protein-rich diets with proteins like chicken and healthy carbohydrates. There are many brands that offer recipes which contain foods your dog would be consuming in the wild. Not only do they prefer to eat these types of food, but they will be sure to get enough nutrients each day as nature intended. Along with the Food, you can also give your lab some puppy treats that would be helpful in training and as fillers between the meals.
Other factors can determine what your lab puppy will eat as well. Things like the age of your puppy and their size can be significant. The bigger your puppy is, the more food and nutrients it will require to grow. Older puppies may eat more as well but should be fed less frequently than younger puppies.
What Should Be Avoided in Lab Puppy Food?
There are many things your lab puppy should not be eating, and unfortunately, some of these are in many puppy foods on the market. Some examples of these would be white flour, gluten, corn syrup, and soy. These ingredients are harmful to your dog and can be found in many commercially available puppy foods on the market. It is best to try and avoid these ingredients in your puppy’s diet.
Some other examples of things to look out for in your puppy’s food are excess salt, sodium nitrate, farmed salmon, and MSG. These ingredients have been proven to be unhealthy for dogs of all breeds and sizes, and it’s important that their food does not contain any of these in excess amounts.
How Much Food Should I Feed My Lab Puppy?
Depending on the age of your lab puppy, the amount of food you feed them will change. The formula of the puppy food you choose will also play a factor, so it’s best to refer to the bag for guidance. In general, though, most puppies under three months old, need fed ½ cup of food 3-4 times per day. As they get older, the amount of food should stay the same, but the frequencies of feeding may decrease. Pay attention to your dog and adjust your feed schedule accordingly. A hungry puppy may chew on household items more frequently, for example.
As a large breed, most labs are ready to switch to adult food twice a day by around 18 months of age.