A growing puppy needs all the nutrients it can get to become strong and healthy. Feeding too much or too little can affect their brain and body development. Don’t worry if you’re concerned about how much to feed a Labrador puppy because I am covering that in today’s article.
What should I feed my Labrador puppy?
In the best-case scenario, your puppy would be around 8-12 weeks old before they come home to you. But in the event that they arrive younger than 8 weeks, you should purchase a can of milk replacers.
Puppies don’t start weaning until they are around 5-6 weeks old, so they will require proper milk replacers if they are any younger. They won’t be able to drink it themselves, so be ready with a bottle feeder.
Make sure you follow the instructions if it is the powder type and feed according to the instructions if it is the liquid kind. Always feed the puppy with their belly down and touch their throat occasionally to check that they are still drinking.
To start weaning the puppy, get high-quality puppy food. There is a big difference between the formulation of food for adults and puppies, as the latter is usually more nutritious while those for adults are designed for health maintenance.
Some puppy dog foods will also specify which age group they are formulated for, so read the label or ask a clerk before purchasing.
Take the kibble and soften it with warm water or salt-free broth, or utilize the remaining milk you may have. You can also pick up some wet food to make the kibble more appetizing. Just dilute it with some water before adding it to the pre-wet kibble.
If your puppy has already been weaned by their original owner, ask what brand of food they were feeding them to not upset their stomach.
What to look for in Labrador food?
Labradors are usually not the sensitive stomach type but require puppy food with a lot of nutrients. Here are a few tips for deciding your puppy’s food.
Look at the ingredient list
Try to stick with puppy foods with ingredients that you can recognize. Ingredients are listed in an order that determines how much of the component is in the dog food.
This especially concerns meat; make sure that the ingredient label actually says what kind of meat it has instead of the word ‘meat alternatives.’
Having meat alternatives can mean anywhere from meat deemed unfit for human consumption to just a random mix of different kinds and cuts of meat.
Also, avoid puppy foods that do ingredient splitting. This is when they split up ingredients into different components, meaning that much of the kibble is just made up of low-quality ingredients. It makes the meat higher on the list when in actuality, it’s not.
For example, dog foods that do ingredient splitting would look like this – Ingredients: Meat, Soybean meal, and full-fat soybean.
When in doubt, go Hypoallergenic
Ask your breeder whether your Labrador is allergic to anything or if their parents are allergic to certain foods. It may be a bit more common than you think for dogs to be slightly allergic to chicken and beef.
But if in doubt, you can buy hypoallergenic dog foods. They cost a bit more than the standard dog food and sometimes even more for puppy food, but think of all the vet bills you could save by feeding your puppy the best food there is.
While most hypoallergenic foods stay true to their claim, still check the ingredient list. Get some recommendations from your vet for good hypoallergenic dog food brands to be extra safe.
Puppy food for puppies
As previously mentioned, when feeding puppies a kibble, stick to the kind that is specially formulated for them.
Especially in the case of Labradors and other large breeds, they will need much of the nutrients in the puppy food to grow. There is also some puppy food formulated for large breeds specifically.
Absolutely NO table food
This is more of an additional tip. You may be tempted to give your puppy a piece of your nugget because they are cute, but this can be dangerous and foster an unhealthy habit of constantly begging for food when you are eating.
The food we eat has a lot of additives, salt, spices, and other ingredients that we can consume and break down, but puppies can’t. They have a very sensitive stomach and too much salt can make them sick.
Table food may also cause allergies, which can be serious when left unattended.
If you ever decide to give them soup or vegetables, ask your vet first to stay on the safe side.
Pet owners give their dogs a snack as a treat during training. Most snacks can be dog biscuits or jerky.
Since Labradors are very intelligent, you may end up praising them with snacks, so be careful.
However, give snacks moderately. Overeating snacks can lead to weight gain.
The same ingredient-checking principle applies, but you must also look at the protein and fat content. Go for high-protein and low-fat snacks.
Consider homemade snacks like carrots, boiled or dehydrated chicken (without seasonings), and baked goodies with pet-friendly alternative ingredients.
How much to feed a Labrador puppy?
So here is the big answer to this question. You will need a bit of mathematics to know how much to feed your lab.
Plus, you will need to monitor their age by months and weeks as well as their weight every week to decide on food quantity.
The American Kennel Club has just the right advice for feeding – Watch the dog, not the dish. Labradors or large breeds may need to be fed more or less than what you see on food guides.
What is important is to watch their weight. Puppies at a young age will tend to have chubbier stomachs.
As a safe estimate, Labrador puppies around eight weeks old or two months should be fed 2 cups of puppy food split into four servings. If your puppy is highly active and has a fast metabolism, increase this by ¼ intervals.
But if they start becoming chubby, you must reduce it by ¼ cup.
You should slowly increase their food intake in the ages between 2 and 6 months, and then starting from 6th month, gradually decrease according to their weight and metabolism.
Two to six months of age is usually when the puppies need the most nutrients, hence the gradual increase.
At 6 – 12 months, their bones, muscle, and normal metabolism tend to reach maturity.
Your Labrador puppy will slowly stop growing around nine months and take at most two years to reach an adult size.
This all depends on genetics, and one of the ways to check if your Labrador is fully grown or not is to see whether their paw size is proportionate to their body.
Check the kibble pack for its serving suggestion if you need more clarification. It should have a cup-to-body weight and age ratio. Continue to monitor your puppy’s weight gain and adjust accordingly.
How do I know if I’m feeding too little or too much?
The most apparent signs of overfeeding are vomiting, wet stool, lethargy, and extreme weight gain. In this case, don’t suddenly stop feeding them, but refer to the steady ¼ cup decrease in food serving.
Introduce them to toys and new environments to get them to exercise, reduce and stick to low-fat snacks. If symptoms other than weight gain persist, immediately go to the vet for a checkup.
Underfeeding your dog is a little harder to spot and gets worse quickly. For a healthy puppy, you should be able to see its rib shape but not each individual piece.
Place two fingers around your puppy’s rib cage. If they feel too bony or it lacks fat, you are underfeeding them.
They may also begin to lose patches of hair, sleep more often, and have a hard time running. This is due to a nutritional imbalance.
If you want to check whether they are in a good weight range, look at their body from above. You should be able to see their rib shape with a smooth and gradual curve to the waist.
If you can see the individual ribs or their abdomen is more prominent than their ribcage, they are underweight or overweight.
Still, the best way to determine this is to go to your vet. Your puppy’s first year will consist of many vet visits for vaccinations. Take the opportunity to ask your vet if your puppy is healthy after the weigh-in. Abide by the vet’s instruction and guidance for a happy and healthy puppy.
By now, you know how much to feed your Labrador puppy. Start with two cups of kibble and divide it into four servings at 8 weeks/2 months old. Monitor their weight weekly and adjust their food serving accordingly. Give them plenty of love and cuddles as well so they grow strong and healthy.
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