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Labrador Retrievers, also known as Labradors or labs, are kind, loving, outgoing dogs that are eager to please their owners.
Their even-tempered nature make them great family companions that can easily adapt to a wide variety of environments. At the same time, they are a high-energy breed that requires quite a lot of exercise.
How well a lab fairs health-wise largely depends on its diet. And without proper nutrition, labs are vulnerable to numerous health risks such as hip dysplasia.
Labradors need a high-quality diet with an optimal balance of protein, carbohydrates, fats, and various nutrients. Choosing a brand of dry dog food for them may seem like a simple enough task, but there are a ton of options out there, so how do you narrow them down to the best picks?
Don’t worry — this article is just what you need. We’ll review and compare our picks for the best dry dog foods for labs depending on what stage of their life they are in.
All of these foods have been given to labs, and the results have been excellent.
Our Top Dry Dog Food Picks For Labs
Based on our own testing, research, and experience, here are our top selections:
- Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food
- Blue Buffalo Life Protection Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food
- Purina Pro Plan Large Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food
- Purina ONE SmartBlend Natural Large Breed Dry Dog Food
- IAMS Chicken Premium Senior Dry Dog Food
1. Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food
There are two main reasons why we recommend this particular formula of Hill’s Science Diet dog food for labs. For one, it’s an Amazon best-seller with a very impressive 4.8/5 average customer rating over 5000+ reviews.
Second, Hill’s Science Diet is one of the best, most reputable dog food brands out there and is the #1 recommended brand of U.S. veterinarians.
This recipe focuses primarily on joint health and is formulated to fuel the energy needs of adult large breed dogs like labs.
The formula, made in the USA, improves the overall health and wellness of your lab. In particular, it:
- contains high-quality protein in a chicken & barley recipe, promoting lean muscle growth
- supports good joint health for your lab, minimizing the risk of dysplasia, arthritis, etc.
- promotes healthy skin and a shiny coat
This dog food contains natural sources of chondroitin and glucosamine. It also contains a blend of vitamin E and omega-6 fatty acids.
Customers are really impressed with the quality of this dog food. It has made a very positive difference in the health, coats and stools of countless dogs around the world, and many dog owners have been feeding Hill’s Science Diet food to their dogs for decades.
2. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food
Blue Buffalo is another one of our top recommended dog food brands. Their food product for adult large breed dogs, in particular, has a terrific average customer rating of 4.7/5 stars and is a best-seller.
This particular formula, called BLUE Life Protection, consists of real chicken and brown rice. It contains natural ingredients enhanced with vitamins and minerals, healthy fruits and garden vegetables, and Blue Buffalo’s proprietary LifeSource Bits.
LifeSource Bits are designed to support the health of your dog’s immune system and promote a healthy oxidative balance. They contain a blend of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that have been selected by animal nutritionists and veterinarians.
In addition, the food contains omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, along with fish oil, to promote a healthy coat and skin.
Of course, as a large breed dog food, this Blue Buffalo formula contains glucosamine and chondroitin for the support of good joint health and mobility in your lab.
The chicken in this recipe is deboned. You can rest assured that the food contains no corn, soy, wheat, artificial flavours, preservatives, or chicken or poultry by-product meals.
It’s a little pricey, but dog owners find it to be well worth it. It’s generally very easy for dogs to eat, even picky eaters and dogs with allergies.
3. Purina Pro Plan Large Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food
Do you have or are you planning to raise lab puppies? In that case, it’s best to have a quality puppy food meant for large breeds. This Purina Pro Plan formula is among the best.
It’s a great seller with a high average customer rating of 4.7/5 over 5400+ reviews. Pro Plan, known as “the trusted food of champions”, has an advanced nutritional profile that gives dogs the building blocks needed for healthy growth and development.
For starters, this formula contains high-quality protein in the form of real chicken complimented with rice. It is fortified with live probiotics, along with:
- antioxidants: supports the developing immune system of a puppy
- calcium: helps build strong teeth and bones with phosphorus and other minerals
- DHA: from fish oil, this promotes healthy brain and vision development in puppies
- vitamin A and omega-6 fatty acids for skin and coat nourishment
In addition, the development of joints and cartilage in your lab is supported with natural sources of glucosamine.
This premium dry dog food can be purchased in 18, 34 and 47 pound bags. One bag can last up to several months. It has a nice, dense consistency and is often recommended by vets for dogs who have had problems with other foods.
4. Purina ONE SmartBlend Natural Large Breed Dry Dog Food
Do you like the Purina brand but are wondering if they have a formula for adult dogs? Look no further.
The Purina ONE SmartBlend food for large breed adult dogs, recommended by veterinarians, has an exceptionally high average customer rating of 4.8/5 stars with 6000+ reviews.
It’s one of the most well-received dry dog foods on the market, formulated to maintain an ideal body condition. It’s also a best-seller.
Made with natural ingredients for dogs over 50 lbs, it contains real chicken as the #1 ingredient. The high-quality source of protein promotes muscle strength and a healthy heart.
As as typical with dog foods tailored to large breeds, the kibble contains natural sources of glucosamine for maximum mobility and healthy joints. There are also added vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
Note that this food contains 355 calories per cup. It is not grain-free. It’s sold in 31 pound and 40 pound bags.
5. IAMS Chicken Premium Senior Dry Dog Food
We couldn’t do without including the IAMS brand on this list. This dry food, in particular, is meant for senior dogs, so if you feel that your lab would benefit from a senior formula or your vet has recommended one, this is one of the best ways to go.
As with practically every other dog food in this guide, the IAMS Premium Senior Dry Dog Food is an Amazon best-seller and has a high average rating of 4.7/5 stars with 5000+ reviews.
This IAMS formula is marked by:
- veterinarian & expert recommendations
- high-quality protein from real, farm-raised chicken
- complete and balanced nutrition with no artificial preservatives, artificial flavours or fillers
- premium ingredients made in the USA
- a DHA supplement that promotes mental and visual sharpness
- antioxidants that promote a strong immune system
The nutritional profile is balanced to support the bones and joints of a senior dog and keep them in good shape. The food is also formulated to maintain a senior dog’s overall wellness.
An optimal blend of fiber and prebiotics promote healthy digestion, while chondroitin and glucosamine support strong bones and joints.
This super-premium dog food is very nourishing and is packed with health benefits for your dog. On top of that, it’s very affordable compared to other premium dry dog foods.
Dog is man’s best friend, and everyone should want to feed their dog the best food possible.
However, the tricky thing is, there is no best food for all dogs. Each breed is slightly different and each has different dietary requirements.
Dry dog food is more convenient and affordable than canned (wet) food. It’s more nutrient-dense, easier to measure and clean, and can sit out for long periods without going bad.
When it comes to finding the best dry dog food for a Labrador Retriever, it is incredibly important to make sure your dog is getting all the nutrients it needs to be its healthiest self.
But, making sure it doesn’t eat certain things is just as important. Additionally, factors like the size and age of your dog are important to pay attention to.
What To Look For
The American Kennel Club advises that your dog’s food should contain meat, vegetables, fruits and grains.
It is best before buying any brand of dog food to check the ingredients list on the bag itself. Just double check and make sure the food you are buying has all the good nutrients your dog needs.
What To Avoid
It is just as crucial to your dog’s health to make sure it isn’t eating certain ingredients that are far too often found in dog food.
Unfortunately, some brands of dog food are not high-quality and are not made with your dog’s health in mind. For a whole host of reasons, PetSafe warns against feeding your dog food that includes things such as wheat gluten, meat, grain meals, BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, and rendered fat, among other things.
Many of the ingredients they warn against are debatable in terms of being completely safe for dogs, but if you are looking for the best dry dog food for labs, the ideal choice shouldn’t contain anything that could be considered questionable.
That said, your dog will thank you for checking the ingredients list before buying, to make sure they are getting the well-formulated food.
Your Dog’s Size
It’s pretty easy to assume that a pug will have different dietary needs compared to a Great Dane. So, it makes sense that a lab will have its own needs.
Usually, labs are categorized as large when it comes to dog breeds. Luckily, most dog food providers sell food specifically made for large breeds. What makes this food specific to large dog breeds is that they have nutritional components designed to combat diseases that are frequently found in larger breeds such as orthopedic disease, obesity, and bloat.
With labs, it is best to look for bags that are labeled for large breeds. It also would not hurt to talk to your veterinarian about what would be best for your individual dog.
Your Dog’s Age
The dietary needs of a dog changes as it grows from puppy to adult and even into the senior period, and labs are no exception.
To begin, labs, and other larger breeds, tend to grow quickly. To address this, lab puppies should be fed dog food specifically made to have a lower calorie count. This allows for the puppy’s bones and muscles to grow in proportion to the body as a whole.
The Dog Food Advisor states that, unless labs are fed a diet designed for large-breed puppies, they will be at an increased risk of developing a crippling form of canine hip dysplasia.
This means that you should look for labels indicating that it is made for large breed puppies. Although, again, it is always a good idea to consult with your vet to get their recommendation in this regard.
Eventually, it will become time to switch from puppy food to adult dog food. This time differs from breed to breed and even from individual dog to dog. It should be done when the lab has reached its adult height and weight, which can take anywhere from six months to more than a year depending on the lab.
The height of an adult Labrador ranges between 22.5-24.5 inches for males and 21.5-23.5 inches for females. The adult weight can be around 65-80 pounds for males and 55-70 pounds for females.
So, around those ranges are when the transition should start. Consult your vet if in doubt.
As your lab gets into its senior years, its dietary needs change once again. A lab’s senior years can be considered to be between seven and ten years old.
Generally, the best choice is the senior version of whatever brand you are already feeding your dog, as it is best to not change up its diet too much. A good senior dog food will change up the nutrients in the food to fight diseases often found in aging dogs such as dementia, obesity, dental disease, kidney disease, skin diseases, and arthritis.
It is always worth it when your lab is as happy and healthy as it can possibly be, and the food it eats is a big contributor to that.
Finding the best dry dog food for labs is not always easy. There are a lot of factors to consider, and you may also want to have a few different foods on hand that you can put on rotation every few months.
At the end of the day, when choosing dry dog food for a lab, you should aim for a formula designed for large breeds, regardless of whether the lab is a puppy or an adult. This will reduce the risk of your lab developing hip dysplasia during its life. Also read the label and make sure none of the ingredients could be problematic to your lab.
It can also be very beneficial to look at the customer reviews for various dog foods to make sure they’re not causing bad reactions in other dogs. This can help you a great deal in the decision-making process.
Thanks for reading this guide. What kind of dry dog food are you interested in for your lab? Do you have any questions? Feel free to leave a comment below.