Labradors are the most popular breed of family dogs. They are beautiful, smart, noble. They are great companions, lifeguards, watchmen, and wonderful babysitters for children. In order for your dog to live a fulfilling life, be healthy and happy, it is important to provide it with proper nutrition. When wondering how to feed a Labrador at home, you should not think that this animal is unpretentious in food, and can eat the same food as its owners. Leftovers from the master’s table are indispensable.
Basic rules for feeding Labradors
Dogs of this large breed are prone to obesity. Excess weight affects fragile bones, leading to joint diseases: arthritis and arthrosis. Metabolism, heart performance is disrupted, kidneys and liver are affected. Animals are highly susceptible to allergies. The diet of a Labrador retriever must be composed correctly, and the food must be prepared to take into account the balance of all vital substances.
From an early puppy age, it is customary for breeders to feed Labradors with thick first courses and liquid cereals. In case of disturbances in the work of the gastrointestinal tract, the dog is immediately transferred to a dietary, but complete food. It is difficult to organize a balanced menu at home, so many owners prefer to feed their pets with ready-made industrial feed.
General rules for feeding Labradors are:
- Food should not be cold or hot, only removed from the stove, it is best to give food at room temperature.
- Mixing natural food and “drying” is unacceptable.
- The food is served freshly prepared.
- The food is served to the dog at the same time, the portions must be the same. It promotes a good appetite, healthy development, and the well-being of the animal.
- It is recommended to feed your pet after a walk. The digestion of food takes a long time, so it is impossible to overwork the dog with the food field.
- Feeding on the table is harmful to health, the dog becomes moody and disobedient.
- Regardless of the way you eat, you need to add vitamin and mineral complexes to food.
- Clean water should be available to the animal at all times. The norm is 50 ml per kilogram of the dog’s weight. When feeding with dry foods, the need for fluid is higher.
- It is better to give meat and fish products thermally processed.
- The type of food and the amount of food for the animal are selected gradually. If the pet refuses, neglects food, you cannot force it. It is better to replace the dish with something that suits your dog’s taste. With a properly selected diet, the animal eats the feed completely, licking off the remnants of food.
- An indicator of a well-chosen menu is sufficient activity, shiny thick coat, normal weight of a pet. Dull coat, thinness, or obesity are a sign that nutrition needs to be adjusted. It is impossible to allow the animal to be satiated with nutrients: the excess is deposited in organs and tissues, the excess body does not fully assimilate.
For the dishes from which you feed the dog, it is better to pick up an unbreakable one. An enamel or aluminum plate is suitable, a bowl with a perfectly smooth surface, without sharp edges and chips, this will save the dog from cuts on the tongue when licking food. After eating, the dishes are washed, the leftovers are removed to the refrigerator.
How much and how often to feed?
When composing a diet, one should take into account how many times the Labrador eats and how much of the total food it eats per day. At different ages, the dog’s menu should include dishes with different contents of nutrients, vitamins, and microelements. The amount of food and the number of feedings is different.
If a Labrador has settled in your house, how much he eats per day depends not only on age but also on climatic conditions, physiological characteristics, gender, physical activity, and time of year (in the summer, when it is hot, food is required less).
Veterinarians advise a one-year-old pet to regale it twice a day. If this is inconvenient for the owners, a Labrador older than nine months can be eaten once a day.
More nutritious food is given to cubbies, especially during mating. Sterilized animals require less food, feeding should be less nutritious. In the cold season, food is given 15-20% more. For older dogs, the carbohydrate content of food is reduced by 20%.
What can you give a Labrador?
In order for the animal to be healthy and happy, you need to know what you can and cannot feed the Labrador.
List of approved products:
- A fish. Contains a large amount of iodine, phosphorus, and protein. Low-fat seafood (hake, pollock, pike perch, merlan, cod) is suitable. Bony river fish should not be given. Before serving, the product is boiled and deboned.
- Meat (lean beef, chicken, rabbit, turkey, horse meat). Can be fed with long-boiled offal. Raw meat for Labradors is allowed, but worms will need to be removed monthly.
- Cereals and cereals from them (rice, buckwheat, wheat, corn). Oatmeal and pearl barley should not be given. When preparing porridge, it is useful to add a few drops of vegetable oil.
- Fermented milk products are rich in calcium (kefir, yogurt, fermented baked milk, cottage cheese). You can mix low-fat grated cheese into cereals and vegetable mixtures.
- Eggs. 1-2 yolks per week are added to cereals. Dogs do not digest protein.
- Vegetables, fruits (carrots, zucchini). Stir in chopped or grated into food. Loved by animals, useful raw and boiled. Pumpkin is a good prevention of worm formation.
- Greens (dill, parsley, celery, lettuce).
- Salt. In small quantities. Better to use sea salt.
What is not allowed?
If you want your pet to live longer, you need to know which foods are best to refuse.
List of foods that should not be given:
- Fatty foods, including fatty types of meat products.
- Bones. They have no nutritional value. Harmful to teeth, cause constipation, volvulus, and perforation of their walls. Chicken and tubular are especially harmful: when chewed, they split into sharp parts.
- Legumes, pearl barley, semolina, and oatmeal. Indigestion upset.
- Potatoes, cabbage. Causes bloating.
- Smoked meats, sausages, sausages. They destroy the liver of dogs, leading to the death of young animals.
- Sweets and chocolate. They cause tearing, destroy tooth enamel, disrupt the functioning of the digestive tract and salivary glands, and impair appetite.
- Pickles, marinades, spices, spices. They impair the sense of smell, harm the taste buds. Harmful to the stomach, cause heartburn.
- Milk. Causes diarrhea.
- Bread and other pastries. Not absorbed, contributes to obesity.
- Citrus fruits, avocados, grapes. Broccoli.
Not so long ago, dogs were fed only natural food – natural products. Now it is possible to purchase ready-made diets in the form of wet and dry feed. Given that Labradors are very mobile, food should be varied, appropriate for the breed, age, health status, and taste preferences of the pet.
There are several options for feeding Labradors:
- Natural (natural food). Suitable for owners who have enough time to prepare meals. The basis of the diet is meat, eggs, cottage cheese, cereals.
- Ready meals. The best food for busy owners. Don’t waste time on the daily menu and cooking. The content of nutrients is balanced.
- Mixed feeding. The diet includes natural and prepared (industrial) food.
Features of feeding with dry food and ready-made foods
What is the best dry food for a Labrador retriever? The most suitable – premium and super-premium feed (absorbed by almost 100%), taking into account the size and age of the animal. Economy class products contain slaughterhouse waste (skins, tails), flavor enhancers, dyes, and a lot of salt. The cheap feed has no nutritional value, is harmful to the health of animals, and is a common cause of allergic reactions.
A perfect fit is professional complex nutrition that provides the dog’s body with the necessary nutrients, maintains activity, health and vitality throughout its life. Developed jointly by nutritionists and veterinarians at the Research Center.
Royal, propane, and hills are most suitable for labradors suffering from frequent allergies. The feed of these brands contains at least 30% natural meat, a high content of unsaturated fatty acids Omega – 3 and 6. Manufacturers of these products produce feed from hypoallergenic components: lamb, rice, and sea fish. Royal Canin in all lines of feed contains natural meat, vegetables, and cereals.
Pudding strengthens bones. The food is useful for dogs suffering from osteochondrosis. Eukanuba Renal is given for the prevention of cataracts and kidney failure.
The amount of feed is correctly calculated for animals of different age categories while taking into account different conditions of detention. But if the dog is very active, expends a lot of energy, the number of feedings and the amount of food needs to be adjusted.
With obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, it is recommended to reduce the amount of feed or switch to light products.
Features of feeding with natural food
Natural food is chosen by owners who have the opportunity and time to prepare various dishes, who are able to select the right products and compose food rations on their own. Such owners prefer to diversify the diet of their pets with foods that do not cause allergic reactions. When treating your pet with natural food, you can be sure of the quality and freshness of the products.
The Labrador’s menu needs to be compiled with an energy balance. With a lack of energy, the animal loses weight, becomes lethargic, and loses weight. Excess energy requirements lead to obesity and related diseases.
The daily rate is calculated taking into account the fact that a dog of this breed needs 20 grams of meat products per day for each kilogram of weight. Meat makes up half of the daily food volume, the second half is dairy products, cereals, vegetables. So how much does a Labrador eat?
Based on the data provided, the menu for a 20 kg Labrador will be as follows:
- cereal products – 200 g;
- vegetables and fruits – 200 g;
- meat products – 400 g.
This is the norm for a day. With two meals a day, the specified amount of food is divided by 2.
Approximate menu for a week, table:
|Day of week||Dishes|
|Monday||Boiled beef – 300 g. Boiled rice – 200 g. Boiled grated carrots – 100 g. Cottage cheese – 150 g. Finely chopped parsley – 50 g.|
|Tuesday||Raw chicken – 300 g. Boiled buckwheat – 200 g. Baked pumpkin – 150 g. Sour milk – 100 g. Chicken yolk – 50 g.|
|Wednesday||Boiled hake – 300 g. Wheat porridge – 250 g. Grated zucchini, raw – 100 g. Vegetable oil – 25 g. Greens – 25 g. Ryazhenka – 100 g.|
|Thursday||Raw tripe – 300 g. Rice porridge – 200 g. Grated raw apple and carrot – 150 g. Cottage cheese – 150 g.|
|Friday||Raw, cut into pieces, turkey – 300 g. Buckwheat porridge – 200 g. Boiled pumpkin, zucchini, grated – 100 g. Grated cheese – 150 g. Vegetable oil – 25 g. Chopped lettuce leaves – 25 g.|
|Saturday||Boiled, cut into pieces, liver, kidneys, lungs – 300 g. Semolina porridge – 200 g. Grated carrots and beets (raw) – 200. Sour milk – 100 g.|
|Sunday||Boiled cod – 300 g. Yogurt – 150 g. Rice porridge – 200 g. Quail egg omelet – 100 g. Raw pumpkin, grated – 50 g.|
Features of feeding during pregnancy and after childbirth
Bitches during pregnancy and lactation are fed fractionally and often – 5-6 times a day. The energy requirement for lactating mothers and bitches is higher. Such a dietary regimen for the mother is observed one and a half to two months after the birth of the puppies. During this period, proteins occupy a special place – building materials for the correct formation and growth of babies. If a large litter of puppies is expected, feed the expectant mother in small portions. This will prevent excessive stretching of the abdomen.
During lactation, the bitch consumes a lot of calories. She needs more impressive amounts of food than a dog needs in position. The food should contain a sufficient amount of food rich in protein and fat. This promotes the production of breast milk, gives the mother the energy to feed the babies. With natural nutrition, high-quality proteins and calcium are sufficient. When feeding a bitch with commercial feed, it is worth considering the addition of fresh products with a high protein content to the diet. Raw meat (beef, poultry, lamb, beef offal: heart and kidneys), goat milk, raw eggs, yogurts, cheese, cottage cheese, fatty varieties of sea fish (salmon, mackerel) are suitable.
During the gestation period, the dog’s tastes are often perverted. She can eat food that she previously refused, and ignore food that she ate with pleasure before conception. At this time, you need to listen to your pet and offer feeding that she likes and corresponds to her instincts.
Pregnant mom will benefit from:
- red viburnum – promotes easier childbirth, accelerates the process, stimulates milk production;
- kelp and brown seaweed – sources of iron and trace elements;
- fennel – improves digestion, enhances lactation.
Refusal to eat: possible causes
It happens that the Labrador refuses to eat. Do not be afraid of this. Sometimes dogs arrange their fasting days in this way. But there are other reasons for refusing food:
- changing the usual type of food and diet;
- hormonal changes (decreased appetite during estrus, toxicosis during pregnancy);
- stress, separation from the owner;
- the aggressive behavior of the owner during feeding causes negative emotions in the animal and refusal to eat.
These are psychological reasons for ignoring the food. With the elimination of the irritating factor, the dog’s appetite returns to normal.
But, if the Labrador does not eat and his temperature rises, he is lethargic and sleeps for a long time, the dog has frequent vomiting, changes in stool, chills, bloody or purulent discharge – you urgently need to contact the veterinarian for examination, the establishment of the cause and proper treatment of the pet. It is impossible to hesitate in such cases: delaying a visit to the doctor can cost your pet’s life.
Be considerate of your dog. Feed her good quality food. And if the selection of products causes you difficulties, contact your veterinarian – he will give the necessary nutritional recommendations. Proper care, including a kind attitude, good upbringing, and a well-chosen feeding diet, is a guarantee that your Labrador will live a long, happy life next to you, and will remain active until the end of his days.