Feeding Puppies and Dogs

Currently, I do not recommend grain-free dog foods. 

The FDA has recently issued a warning because there may be a link between grain-free dog food and an increase in dilated cardiomyopathy cases in dogs. A recent increase in DCM in Labrador Retrievers has been noted. The problem may be related to the ingredients that are being used to replace the traditional grains in dog food. The carbohydrate sources in grain-free foods include legumes, potatoes, chickpeas, and lentils. Some grain-free dog foods also contain unusual protein sources such as ostrich and kangaroo. There is very little information on the nutritional value and any potential health risks associated with these relatively new ingredients in dog food. Hopefully more information will be available soon. The link between cardiac disease in dogs and grain-free dog food is an ongoing concern.

Recommended Brands and Formulas

Canidae- Chicken meal and rice all life stages for puppies and young adults. Chicken, turkey, lamb and fish for adults

Eagle- Small Breed chicken meal and pork for puppies. Original chicken meal and pork for adults. 

Earthborn Holistic- Adult Vantage and Ocean Fusion for adults.

Fromm- Puppy Gold and Classic Puppy for puppies up to 7 months of age, Large Breed Puppy for 7 to 12 months of age. Adult Gold and Classic Adult for adults.

Wellness- Complete Health Puppy for puppies. Complete Health Chicken and Oatmeal for adults.

Changing Brands

Try to keep your puppy on the same food the Breeder has been feeding the puppies for a little while.  Some puppies are sensitive to food changes. 

If you decide to change food, do so gradually.  A sudden change can upset the digestive tract.  If the puppy has problems with mix, do not increase the amount of the new food until the puppy adjusts. Mix 3/4 of the food your dog has been eating with 1/4 of the new puppy food for 5 to 7 days.  Then, give your puppy 1/2 of the original food and 1/2 of the new food for 5 to 7 days.  Use 1/4 of the original food and 3/4 of the new food for another week or until the original food is gone.  

How Much And How Often

Keeping your Labrador slim throughout the growth phase helps reduce the risk of various orthopedic disorders.   Overweight puppies are cute, but not healthy.  The extra weight may contributes to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and OCD.  You should be able to easily feel the puppy's ribs, but not see them.

At 8 weeks old,  a Labrador puppy should be fed 1/2 to 2/3 cup of food 3 times a day. Plan to increase the amount of food every 2 to 3 weeks during the rapid growth phase. If you are able to easily see your dog's ribs it's time to increase the amount of food by 1/8 to 1/4 cup. If you can't easily feel the dog's rib you need to give your dog a little less food. At 4 months old, start gradually decreasing the midday meal. Wait until your puppy is about 9 months old before feeding your puppy twice a day.  

Adult dogs should be fed twice a day throughout their life.  Feeding a dog once a day may contribute to serious digestive problems such as gastric torsion. Adult Labradors need between 2 and 4 cups a day, depending on size, activity level and the type of food. Water should be available at all times.