This is Sharda again for another Labrador newsletter.
Today, we’ll discuss about your Labrador dietary needs
Not all dog foods are created equal, and not all dogs’ needs are the same when it comes to nutrition.
It is important to understand what type of diet and nutrition is best for your breed of dog.
If you consider this logically, it only makes sense that a housedog, such as a Labrador, would have different nutritional requirements than a working dog such as an Australian Shepard.
Knowing some basic diet and nutrition facts will help you determine what type of a diet is best for your dog.
OMNIVORES NOT CARNIVORES
There is a misconception that dogs are only meat-eating animals called carnivores. This could not be farther from the truth. In fact, most dogs enjoy vegetables and some types of fruit as much as they seem to enjoy their dog food.
Labrador dogs require many of the same vitamins and minerals as humans to be healthy and maintain shiny coats, good teeth, bones and muscles, as well as keep energy levels up.
WHAT ARE THE DIETARY NEEDS OF A LABRADOR DOG?
Labradors require a variety of foods that include all the building blocks of life, including:
- Amino acids
If you notice that your dog has any skin conditions, hyperactivity, listlessness, or poor coat quality, you will need to examine the label of the food that you are currently feeding. A veterinarian can advise you on the proper amounts of the dietary elements that your Labrador may need.
You should avoid foods that contain primarily corn or wheat, by-products or excessive amounts of chemical preservatives. To check if your food has more cereal components than protein, soak the dry feed in water for 20 minutes. If the feed becomes mush, it is mostly corn or wheat.
In addition, check the protein content of the food. A less active dog will need a lower amount of protein, with the base being about 21%. The more active the dog is, the higher the amount of protein that is needed in the diet. Puppies and pregnant females will require special diets to deal with the stresses that their bodies are going through.
Many diets are available for dogs, including the raw food diet. Just as expected, this diet advocates that feeding of raw meaty bones, raw vegetables and some offal. There are commercial diets available that encompass this diet, and many breeders and vets recommend the raw diet for active dogs and dogs in training.
Since it is difficult for most individuals to carefully control the amount of protein, complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals that their dog consumes in a day most people use a commercially prepared food. A good commercially prepared food will have all the vitamins and supplements needed for a healthy diet.
WHAT NOT TO FEED YOUR LABRADOR
It is important to avoid feeding your Labrador excessive amounts of “human food” in the form of table scraps or little treats. While your dog may gaze longingly at you while you are snacking, it is in the dog’s best interest to avoid these morsels.
Dairy products such as cheese and yogurt may cause diarrhea in lactose intolerant dogs. A dog’s diet should never exceed 10% of the total amount as table scraps or human food. In addition, never give a dog human vitamins or supplements as they can cause health concerns.
Cooked bones of any kind can easily splinter in the dog’s mouth and cause damage to the gums, throat, and lining of the stomach and digestive system. In addition, the bones can lodge in the throat and cause severe damage. Raw meaty bones are the best for dogs, and should be removed when the meat is removed.
Raw eggs may cause salmonella, or decrease the rate and amount of absorption of biotin – leading to poor quality coats and hair problems in adult dogs and puppies.
Salt may cause electrolyte imbalances and dehydration in dogs. It should be eliminated from the diet as much as possible. Onions and garlic contain sulfoxides and disulfides that can lead to anemia in dogs.
Avoid feeding your Labrador cat food or any other type of pet food. Cat food is designed for cats, and they have different dietary needs than dogs. Cat foods tend to be higher in sugars and proteins, and this can cause complications for dogs as they age.
Raw pork, lamb or rabbit should not be fed to dogs. These meats can contain various diseases such as tapeworms that can be fatal to dogs if not treated. In addition internal meats such as liver and kidney should only be given to dogs if it is organic, as there may be toxins concentrated in these organs.
Do not feed your Labrador candies or chocolates. Candies contain high amounts of sugars that are not healthy for dogs. Chocolate consumption can cause toxicity in dogs that can be lethal, even in small doses.
Feeding Your Dog
Going to the pet store to pick a brand and type of dog food can seem particularly overwhelming when you walk down the aisle and see the dozens upon dozens of varieties of foods available. If you take the time to read the labels and understand the basic needs of your dog, you will find that there are only a few feeds that meet your dog’s needs.
During a Labrador’s lifetime, the feeding requirements will change. A puppy should be fed at least three times a day until it is four months old. A young puppy must be fed more often, because it has a smaller stomach and is growing at a very fast pace.
After four months of age it is recommended to decrease feeding to twice a day. Some adult dogs only require feeding once a day, or may be given free choice food if they are outdoors or are not over-eaters.
Any changes in feeding should be closely monitored to determine the effect that they are having on the overall health of the dog. Fresh water should always be available for all dogs and puppies.
Regularly scheduled feeding will help with housetraining as well. A schedule of feeding means a schedule for toileting.
WET VS. DRY
The first decision that you have to make is whether you are going to feed wet, dry or a combination of wet and dry foods. There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of food.
Wet food is often more palatable for dogs of all ages, and can be particularly important to feed when your puppy is very young or your Labrador is very old. Dogs with dental or intestinal problems may need to be fed wet food at least for a short period of time on recommendation by a veterinarian.
Most breeders and vets do not recommend a diet of only wet food, as it does not have the same fiber and consistency as the dry food. Dogs that are fed only wet food often have issues with producing excessive amounts of gas and needing to go outside often to defecate.
Dry food is often rather unpalatable to a dog, particularly if they have previously been fed a diet of wet food. Increasing the amount of exercise and mixing a small amount of wet food in with the dry will gradually allow them to switch over. If a dog is on a diet of dry food, the food acts to clean the teeth and promote healthy digestion.
When feeding dry food, it is important to make sure the dog has free access to clean water at all times. Make sure that the major ingredient in the dry food is not corn, corn meal or wheat, as this is largely filler that will swell up in the dog’s stomach when the food is consumed.
Check that veterinarians or breeders approve the food that you are using. This is usually indicated on the dog food bag. Your local veterinarians will be able to provide a list of premium dog food brands available in your location.
In addition in both wet and dry foods, check to make sure that the food contains the balanced nutrients your dog needs. It will need to have carbohydrates, proteins, essential fatty acids, minerals and vitamins.
By feeding this food based on the recommended serving size for your Labrador you can be assured that your dog is getting their basic dietary needs met. If your dog seems to be hungry or is not eating all the recommended amounts of food, always check with your veterinarian and adjust the amounts if necessary, based on the vet’s advice.
I hope you learned a lot from today’s Labrador Retriever Newsletter.