The Best Dog Food For Labs – The Important Role Diet Plays in your Labrador’s Health 

Considered the United State’s most popular canine companion, the Labrador Retriever has stolen countless hearts since his humble beginnings as a water dog in Newfoundland, Canada.

Today, the Labrador Retriever is a devoted addition to a variety of households, and he has long been a beloved top choice for service dogs to those in need.

So, how can we give back to our beautiful furry friends and show them just how much we care? By ensuring they live a long, healthy life of course!

And if you’ve ever heard the term “you are what you eat”, then you already know health often begins with diet.

With that in mind, we’re here to talk about the best dog food for Labs. But before we begin, let’s briefly get to know the star of the show – the Labrador Retriever.


The Labrador Retriever – A Brief Breed Overview

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The Labrador Retriever is considered America’s most popular dog by the American Kennel Club.

Height: 21.5 to 24.5 Inches

Weight: 55 to 80 Pounds

Temperament: Intelligent, Friendly, Athletic, Playful

Common Health Issues: Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Obesity, Gastric Dilation-Volvulus (GDV or Bloat), Arthritis, Diabetes, Cancer, Ear Infections, Allergies, and Skin Issues

AKC Ranking: 1 out of 197

Lifespan: 10 to 12 Years

Labrador Retriever Overview:

Labs were originally bred as water retrieving dogs in Newfoundland, Canada. Their working beginnings have led to their unique appearance and several interesting characteristics, including webbed paws and what is known as an “otter tail”.

Those paws and that thick, strong tail helped Labs to swim and bring in prey for their masters. Their gentle jaws reduced damage to the prey they pulled from the water, ensuring the day’s catch arrived in pristine condition.

The Labrador Retriever has long been regarded as one of the world’s most intelligent canines, but he is also one of the world’s most friendly. He is a versatile dog that does well in homes with people and other pets, and he is so outgoing and friendly that he knows no strangers!

If you have a Labrador Retriever, then you already know you have one of the world’s most coveted canine treasures.

So it’s no wonder you’ll do everything in your power to help ensure your Lab lives his longest, healthiest life at your side.

Unfortunately, Labrador Retrievers can be prone to a number of health conditions, many of which can be compounded by a poor diet.

This is what makes your Lab’s dog food so important, and why it’s great that you’re already here reading up on the best dog food for Labs.

Let’s learn more.

Why Diet Is So important To Your Labrador Retreiver’s Health

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Labs have very sensitive stomachs and a number of health issues that can be exasperated by a poor diet.

As large breed dogs, Labrador Retrievers require a specific amount of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and proteins in their diet each day in order to help them thrive. According to the VCA, large breed dogs like Labrador Retrievers should have at least 30% high quality protein and 9% healthy fats in their dog food.

Like all dogs, they will also need a dog food that is rich in healthy vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and that contains a good source of water.

However, unlike some other large breed dogs, Labrador Retrievers can be prone to a number of unique health issues. While there are ways to go about preventing and reducing potential health issues in your Labrador, one of the best ways to ensure he is healthy as he grows up with you is to provide him with a quality diet.

Some of the most common health issues that a Labrador faces that can be compounded by a poor diet include:


Although they are active dogs, Labs also tend to suffer from a high rate of obesity. Obesity in dogs can lead to a number of other issues on this list including diabetes and joint issues, which can also be compounded by an improper diet.

A Lab that is obese is also more likely to struggle with heart and respiratory issues, so it’s very important to ensure your Lab not only maintains good exercise, but that he is on a proper diet for his age, weight and activity level.

Gastric Dilation-Volvulus (Bloat or GDV)

Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus, also known as Bloat or GDV, is a life threatening medical emergency that occurs when gas or air fills the intestines, causing the stomach and kidneys to flip.

When this occurs, blood flow is cut off to the bottom part of the dog which can send them into shock. Bloat can come on suddenly, but it is often triggered by lifestyle events or an improper diet. Other factors that can lead to Bloat include a dog that eats or drinks too quickly or a dog that eats or drinks immediately after exercise.

Bloat requires emergency care from a veterinarian, but even then it has a 50% mortality rate. To reduce or prevent Bloat in your Labrador Retriever, it’s best to ensure he is eating the best dog food for Labradors. You might also consider investing in a puzzle feeder and ensuring your dog does not eat or drink immediately after exercise or play.

Allergies and Skin Issues

Allergies have a variety of causes when it comes to dogs, including both environmental and food-induced.

One of the most common causes of allergies and skin issues in Labrador Retrievers is due to an improper diet, which is important to consider when considering the best dog food for labs. Dog foods that contain poultry, gluton, corn soy and wheat can often induce skin allergies and food sensitivities, as can cheaply made dog foods.

To reduce skin allergies in your Lab, make sure he is eating the best dog food for Labs that is free of chicken. You might also consider putting him on a limited ingredient diet dog food as well.


As we previously mentioned, Diabetes in Labs is often the result of obesity due to a poor diet. Ensuring your Lab eats the best dog food for Labradors will not only help reduce chances of obesity that may lead to diabetes, but it can also help ensure your Lab lives a longer, happier and healthier life.

Feeding your Lab the best dog food for Labs may be more costly for you upfront, but in the long run ensuring he is on a healthy diet may actually save you money in vet bills and medical costs down the road.

Joint Issues Like Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia and Arthritis

If your Lab is obese, chances are he is putting excess pressure on his bones and joints. As a large breed dog, Labrador Retrievers Are already predisposed to bone and joint issues, and these issues will only be compounded by a poor diet.

Not only are obese Labs more likley to suffer prematurely from bone and joint issues, but a poor diet can also lead to a deteroirration in the body, which can further cause damage to your dog’s joints.

To ensure your Lab is happy and healthy even into his senior years, we recommend not only investing in the best dog food for Labs but also investing in multivitamins and supplements that can help enhance bone and joint health in your Labrador as he ages.

The Best Dog Food For Labs -What Does The Lab Need In His Diet In Order To Thrive?

3 a man pouring dog food into a bowl
Like all dogs, Labs require a dog food high in real meat protein and quality ingredients.

When considering the best dog food for labs, you should consider what labs need in order to thrive.

All dogs, regardless of their age, weight, size or breed, and have the same basic nutritional needs. These needs include:

  • Protein
  • Water
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fatty acids
  • Minerals
  • And Vitamins

That said, there is a reason that most dog food brands specify which dog food is best for which type of dog.

Labrador Retrievers, like all dogs, should eat a dog food that is specified for their age, weight and activity level. This means that puppies should eat puppy food for large breed dogs, adults should eat adult dog food for large breed dogs, and seniors should eat senior dog food for large breed dogs.

Providing your Lab with the best dog food for Labs that is also specified for his age and weight will help ensure a few things:

  • That your Lab develops at a healthy rate
  • That your Lab maintains a healthy weight
  • That your Lab has all of his nutritional needs met at all of his life stages

Remember, large breed dogs like Labs require diets that are rich in at least 30% real animal protein. This means you should forgo dog foods that contain additives or byproducts. Instead, choose dog foods that contain real meat as the first ingredient.

Also choose the best dog food for labs that contain at least 9% fatty acids. This will help ensure your Labrador’s bones and joints stay healthy as he ages.

If your Lab is sensitive to foods, choose a limited ingredient diet or choose the best dog food for Labs that is free of chicken or poultry.

And, of course, you have the option of a few different types of dog foods including wet dog food, dry dog food and raw dog food.

While we can’t say which type of dog food is the best dog food for Labs, you can choose the type that works for you and your unique lifestyle and dog. If you’re not sure which kind of dog food would be best for your Lab, remember that your vet is your best resource for questions regarding your dog’s health.

We should also touch briefly on what you should consider before making your Lab’s food yourself. While many people find that homemade dog food is a healthy and affordable alternative to store bought dog dog foods, there are also some risks associated with making dog food at home.

Remember, your Labrador Retriever requires specific nutrients in order to thrive, and when you make homemade dog food, you are more likely to accidentally leave out specific nutrients without realizing it.

If you do choose to make your own dog food at home for your Lab, be sure to check with your vet or a trusted dog nutritionist to ensure you are providing your Lab with the best dog food for Labs possible.

If you prefer to purchase the best dog food for Labs, we have listed some of our favorite products for Labs of all ages and life stages below.

Take a look!

The Best Dog Food For Labs – Puppy Food

4 a chocolate lab puppy
Puppies need to be on a diet specified for large breed puppies to ensure they grow up healthy.

As we touched on briefly above, Labs are large breed dogs that develop quite quickly between the ages of 0 and one year old. During this time, their bodies and brains are changing, and they’ll need a dog food that is specifically designed to cater to their unique development.

When looking for the best dog food for Labs while they are puppies, experts recommend looking for high-quality dog foods specified for large breed puppies. Make sure the dog foods contain quality ingredients and real animal proteins, and are high in DHA and fatty acids to support healthy brain, bone and joint development.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Large Breed Puppy Food

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Blue Buffalo is a trusted, high-quality dog food brand that tends to make dog foods we trust. We like this dog food as the best dog food for Labs during puppyhood because it meets a variety of our specifications.

It includes real meat protein as the first ingredient as is made with all the nutrients and vitamins that puppies need in order to grow up and thrive.

This is a dog food specifically made for large breed puppies, and it is a dry dog food which can help promote dental health as well.

However, we should note that this dog food contains chicken as its source of protein. While not all Labs can be prone to food sensitive and allergies, some can. Watch your Lab for signs of food sensitivities or digestive upset and consider switching him to a different dog food that is free of poultry if he shows sensitivities.

Wellness Complete Health Large Breed Puppy Food

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Another dog food we like for the best dog food for Labs is made by Wellness brand. This brand produces dog foods that are made with all natural ingredients and contain both chicken and salmon as their protein source.

This puppy food is also made with rice and contains DHA and Omega Fatty Acids to ensure brain development and coat health.

It is also free of additives, fillers, byproducts or GMO’s, and is specifically designed with high protein for large breed puppies.

If you are looking for the best dog food for Labs or puppies with sensitivities, Wellness dog food brands also provide dog foods for puppies that are grain free or limited ingredient dog foods, so we recommend checking those out as well.

Orijen Large Breed Puppy Food

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Last, we have a puppy food by the Orijen brand. This brand makes one of the best dog food for Labs during puppyhood because it contains a variety of real meat proteins to ensure your puppy is getting the nutrients he needs.

The food is available in chicken, salmon, lamb, and many other protein options depending on your dog’s sensitivity and preferences.

The Best Dog Food For Labs – Adult Dog Food

5 an adult yellow Lab
Adult Labs need to be on dog food that helps maintain a healthy weight.

Once your Labrador Retriever reaches adulthood, he’ll need a dog food designed to help him maintain a healthy weight and active lifestyle. Labs are athletic and energetic dogs by nature, so they’ll need dog food that is designed to maintain healthy bones, joints, muscles and ligaments.

The best dog food for Labs during their adulthood is going to be dry dog food, wet food or raw food specified for adult large breed dogs between the ages of one and seven years old. Be sure to choose dog foods that contain 30% real animal protein, as listed above, and a food that has 9% fatty acids.

Avoid dog foods that contain fillers, additives or byproducts. If your Lab is a bit overweight, the best dog food for Labs may be a dog food that is designed to maintain a healthy weight, is lower in calories, or is a limited ingredient diet dog food.

Canidae Pure Limited Ingredient Dog Food

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Sometimes, the best dog food for Labs is going to be a dog food that is made with a limited ingredient diet. The above dog food by Canidae is ideal for Labrador Retrievers with food sensitivities or issues with poultry.

This is a dry dog food that is made with salmon and sweet potatoes. However, we should note that this dog food is grain free, and there has been some debate amongst vets and nutritionists regarding the benefits of grain free diets for dogs.

Be sure to do your research if you’re not sure when deciding which type of dog food would be the best dog food for Labs, and your Lab in particular.

Natural Balance LID Dog Food With Grains

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If you’re looking for a limited ingredient diet dog food with grains for the best dog food for Labs, you’ll like Natural Balance. This dog food is made with lamb and brown rice, but it is free of other additives or products that can cause irritation to dogs with sensitivities or allergies to certain foods.

This product is designed to help maintain digestive health, support healthy skin, coat, bones and joints, and is specifically designed for large breed adult dogs like Labrador Retrievers.

The Best Dog Food For Labs – Senior Dog Food

6 a senior lab with a hat
Older Labs require a dog food that can help ensure their bones and joints stay healthy.

Most veterinarians classify senior dogs to be seven and older. While we think seven is still relatively young in the doggy world, especially when it comes to Labrador Retrievers, it is also around this time when Labs begin to age and slow down.

To prevent bone and muscle issues in your Lab as he reaches his golden years, experts recommend you keep your Labrador on the best dog food for Labs that is specified for large breed senior dogs.

Senior dog food is going to be designed to promote and maintain a healthy weight as well as support joints, bones and muscles. A number of quality senior dog foods for Labs will also be geared towards supporting immune health and cognitive function.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection For Senior Dogs

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First on our list of the best dog food for Labs during their senior years is going to be a dog food that helps promote healthy bones, joints and a healthy immune system.

Blue Buffalo dry dog food for large breed senior dogs is made with quality ingredients specified for senior dogs to help them stay healthy, active and alert. It is made with chicken and brown rice, though you can order it in different recipes and limited ingredient variations if your senior Lab has sensitives.

Orijen Senior Grain Free Dry Dog Food

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A grain free option for senior dogs is another dog food made by Orijen. This is the best dog food for Labs and owners looking for a grain-free, high protein dog food for their older Labrador.

The product contains real animal protein and is even made with a raw mixture of organs, cartilage, meats and bones to help enhance the overall health and vitality of your senior dog.

That said, keep in mind this is a grain free dog food option, so do your research before deciding if this is the best dog food for your Lab.

Tips On Keeping Your Lab Healthy And Happy Throughout His Life

7 a chocolate Lab with his tongue out
A healthy diet is key to a healthy life, but so are many other factors.

As we mentioned earlier in this article, Labs can be prone to suffering from a number of serious health issues that can be compounded by poor nutrition.

However, there are many other factors that play a role in your Labrador’s overall health and vitality that go beyond investing in the best dog food for Labs.

If you’re looking for more ways to help ensure your Lab lives his longest, healthiest life, then we recommend you follow the below tips and tricks from experts.

Get Your Lab Puppy or Rescue From A Reputable Source

If you haven’t yet gotten your Labrador Retriever, it’s a good time to take a step back and make sure you’re getting your dog from a reputable source.

Your Lab’s overall health begins with healthy breeding practices, so it’s important you go through a breeder that has a history with breeding Labs and understands the importance of responsible breeding.

When looking for a Labrador puppy, avoid backyard breeders, online sellers, or unlicensed breeders selling Labs for a price that is either too good to be true or far too high.

It’s also important to ask for paperwork proving that puppies have been health screened and cleared of any serious health issues.

If you are rescuing a Lab, go through responsible shelters you trust and ask plenty of questions. Many shelters will be able to provide you with at least a moderate background on your dog’s health and may even be able to provide your dog with a free initial vet exam.

Consider Having Your Lab Health Screened Early

If you haven’t already, consider having your Labrador health screened. Doing this can give you a good idea of the types of ailments your Lab may be predisposed to, which can help when it comes to preventive care, vet costs, and choosing the best dog food for Labs.

Implement Daily Exercise

Obesity in Labs is not only caused by an improper diet; it can also be due to lack of exercise and daily activity. As athletic dogs, Labs are designed to move and move often. They will do best in homes with a large backyard where they can run and play freely and will need an owner that is active enough to be able to walk them at least twice a day for 40 minutes to an hour.

Don’t Skip Routine Wellness Visits With Your Vet

Like people, dogs should be seen at least once a year by their veterinarian for a routine wellness checkup. Dogs over the age of seven should be seen at least twice a year, as this is when age-related illnesses can develop more rapidly.

Keeping up with routine vet visits and wellness exams will not only help you ensure your Lab is healthy and happy, but it can also save you money in the long run when it comes to medical costs.

And Last, Invest In A Slow Feeder To Prevent Obesity And Bloat

Remember, labrador Retrievers can be prone to Bloat and obesity. A simple way to help reduce the chances of bloat and obesity, aside from investing in the best dog food for Labs, is to also invest in a slow feeder.

Outward Hound Slow Feeder

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Also known as a puzzle feeder, a slow feeder is designed to help reduce the amount of air your dog swallows while he is eating. It also slows your dog down during meal time, which encourages proper digestion and healthy eating habits.

Best of all, slow feeders turn mealtimes into a fun game for your Lab. This is great, considering Labrador Retrievers are notoriously intelligent and will enjoy the challenge.

A slow feeder combined with the best dog food for Labs can help ensure your dog is not only happy while he eats, but healthy at the same time.

We hope this has been a helpful guide on the best dog food for Labs and that you now know which kind of dog food would be best for your unique fur kid.

Best of luck and thanks for reading!

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