The Labrador is such a popular dog to own as a pet as it has so many endearing traits. Feeding him well as a puppy will ensure these endearing traits continue throughout his adult years. How much should a Labrador puppy eat however, isn’t answered in one sentence. There is far more to ensuring such a beautiful puppy gets a steady supply of nutrition. Especially in their first few months of life.
Labrador puppies are just the cutest – compact, sturdy little balls of fluff. With the right food, that gorgeous little fluff-ball is going to grow into a golden-, chocolate- or black-coated medium- to large-sized dog.
Even dog experts disagree on what is the best food for puppies. So we have to do our own research and decide what is best for our special canine pet. And, of course, be guided by what is written on the food labels and what the vet suggests.
How Much Should a Labrador Puppy Eat?
Once your Labrador puppy has been weaned off mom’s milk, it will be time for solid food but how much and how often? Such a little guzzler will likely want to gobble up everything that’s available, but of course, that could lead to rapid weight gain.
You can’t have excessive weight in a small puppy as it is already setting the stage for health problems further down the line. Your Lab puppy is looking to you to act responsibly and to feed him not too much and not too little so that he grows up to be the strong beauty these dogs are meant to be.
6 Weeks – the Move to Solid Foods
Once you Labrador reaches 8 weeks of age, the age that he is removed from his mother, when he comes to you he will already be on commercially manufactured puppy food. The best and most reputable of these manufacturers of pet foods have done a good job in developing foods that meet the nutritional needs for development.
From the age of 6 to 12 weeks your wonderful Labrador puppy is going to need lots of small meals a day. In fact, dog experts tell us that 4 of these small meals a day will be ideal.
But how much should a Labrador puppy eat from these 4 meals spread throughout the day – a cup, a saucer, a tablespoon or a teaspoon? Answering the question isn’t cut and dried because for starters, Labrador puppies are all different, they grow at different rates and have different metabolisms. What suits in terms of feeding for one Labrador puppy may not suit another.
Also, with so many different types of foods – dry kibble and wet foods as well as raw food, some of these foods are more concentrated than others, so the amount of food you give a Labrador puppy will differ.
The better, high-quality foods give a Labrador puppy all the nutrition he needs in a half a cup of food as an example, while the cheaper, inferior brands may require you to feed a full cup and still your puppy won’t be satisfied. He also won’t get the nutrition he needs either.
The guidelines on the food you buy don’t have to be followed rigidly – they are just helping first-time dog owners have a good idea as to how to feed a puppy. When in doubt, feed your Labrador puppy according to the guidelines on the label of the puppy food you’ve bought for him. Most food brands will give you a puppy feeding chart on the packaging.
How Often Should You Feed a Labrador Puppy?
Puppies need feeding more often than adult dogs, after all, they are growing very rapidly towards adulthood. They will need enough calories to fuel their growth. You need to be sure that your puppy’s daily ration of food is spread over the entire day in smaller portions. Feeding a puppy smaller portions of food is a sure way to prevent stomach upsets.
An excellent way to get the food right is to buy your food from your local vet where you take your puppy for his puppy vaccinations. Your vet will show you precisely what foods are best for your puppy and how much to feed him too. Puppies of 3 to 6 months of age can be fine with 3 meals a day and an adult dog that has reached 1 year of age can be fed twice a day.
So to sum it up it is:
- 4 meals a day from 8 weeks to 3 months
- 3 meals a day from 3 to 6 months
- 2 meals a day from 6 months on.
Ad Libitum Puppy Feeding
Some people go in for what is known as Ad Libitum puppy feeding. This is where puppies aren’t restricted in any way and they can eat from a feeder whenever they like. A concern with this free-choice type of feeding is that it becomes difficult for the dog owner to detect subtle changes in the dog’s food consumption.
Research has been done on this type of feeding process and the studies reveal that the puppies fed this way have more bone and joint problems. Also, it just doesn’t seem right that a puppy’s joy at feeding time is removed as there is this constant supply of food around the clock.
How to Know if You’re Feeding Them Too Much?
How much should a Labrador puppy eat? Well, he should never be overfed or underfed and one has to know how to strike a happy and healthy balance. Certainly, overfeeding leads to so many health issues that can affect your Labrador negatively for life.
Skeletal Abnormalities and Bowel Problems
Over-nutrition can cause health problems apart from rapid weight gain. You don’t want to see rapid weight gain and growth as it results in larger, less dense bones and different skeletal abnormalities. Your Labrador puppy can have abdominal discomfort, swelling, and loose stools. A puppy that is overfed also battles with ongoing flatulence.
Dry Skin and Itchiness
You’ll notice that your Labrador puppy often stops in mid-play to scratch. Regular scratching is often a sign for you that things are amiss with your young dog’s system.
He may even be allergic to certain of the ingredients he’s taking in. Even with a good choice of food, too much of it simply contributes to the toxic burden of the system and this in turn results in dry skin and itching.
Even if you are convinced that you are feeding your Labrador puppy the right amount of food, it may in any case mean that he has a sensitive digestive system and that he may require a specific kind of diet. Between you and your vet you will need to get to the bottom of your pet’s anguish with his itchy skin.
Higher Vet Bills
Overfeeding leads to many long- and short-term health risks, and overfeeding a Labrador puppy will lead to increased medical bills for you.
An overweight pet can cost a dog owner 17% more in healthcare costs than those who keep their pets at a healthy weight. It is the prevalence of a host of other diseases too such as breathing problems, arthritis as well as decreased mobility with a sedentary lifestyle that will see you spending far more time at the vet with your puppy as well as with your adult dog.
How to Know if You’re Not Feeding Them Enough?
A Labrador puppy is a sturdy little pet and a symptom of him being underweight is a sudden loss of weight so that he is less than what his average body size should be.
Just like when you overfeed your pet, under-feeding often creates similar problems. As a puppy loses weight from not getting in enough nutrition, you may seem him vomiting and battling with loose stools or diarrhea. The sad thing also is that he may even regurgitate the little bit of food he has had.
A Labrador puppy that is constantly underfed gradually becomes more listless with no will or energy to do anything. An underweight puppy won’t be full of playfulness as he should be and he just has an air of dejectedness around him. If underfeeding were to continue, your solid Labrador puppy would diminish in size until his ribs become visible.
Adorable, energetic, and full of playfulness, a Labrador puppy isn’t much different from a human baby. For proper development, he requires certain minerals and vitamins in greater quantities than adult dogs. Of course, not all puppy food is equally good, and as a new dog owner, you may need to talk to your vet to make sure you are feeding your Labrador puppy the best food you can.
How much should a Labrador puppy eat is an immensely important question to answer as these puppies are growing rapidly, and in the first 6 months the nutrient needs are changing quickly.
Apart from getting advice from your vet, check the package label to make sure the food you select is formulated to meet nutrient guidelines for complete and balanced nutrition. With the right choice of food and with the right amounts of food your Labrador puppy should be playful, energetic and healthy with a thick, shiny coat, wet nose, wagging tail and bright, shiny, alert eyes.