Labradors are versatile. I’ve seen them in dog shows, with hunters, fishers, search and rescue teams, helping differently-abled owners, and whatnot. However, with great responsibility comes great hunger.
I can easily single out this breed as one of the most insatiable ones out there. But obviously, you can’t put up with their whims and feed them every time they ask. You wouldn’t want them to get obese or run into other diseases.
So, how often should you feed a lab? At 60 lbs, you should feed your lab 1 to 2 times a day with quantities of 275 g to 280 g. Similarly, for 70 lbs, meal times of 1 to 1.5 times with 300 g to 305 g should be fed. Labs above 80 lbs should be fed 1 time a day with quantities ranging from 325 g to 330 g.
Here’s a complete feeding guide along with answers to the questions you may have in your mind.
Why Are Labradors Always Hungry?
Their uses may be many but no matter what they do, they do it with utmost zeal and zest. The jack of all trades and master of none idiom doesn’t fit with them.
They are masters of all traits they own. That’s probably why they’ve been one of the most popular breeds in America and the world over. And that’s probably why they’re always hungry.
Science, however, has another answer.
According to a 2016 study by the University of Cambridge, the POMC gene gets switched off for unknown reasons.
This very gene is responsible for sending signals to the brain when the dog is full.
It’s not rocket science to understand that when the brain stops receiving messages about a full stomach, the dog feels hungry all the time.
Do not worry, however, because it may not be the case with your dog. There are other reasons for a lab’s humongous appetite.
I hate to tell you about the diseases first.
- They may have diabetes mellitus.
- A coronary disease also jacks up their hunger.
- Dogs’ joints usually take a toll because of over-exercise or a hidden genetic predisposition for osteoporosis. That may keep the dog asking for more food.
- Any other undiagnosed disease may also drain the dog’s energy.
It is the draw-down of the energy of a dog that makes it hungry. Now it’s up to you to find out if it’s not because of some underlying condition.
However, if you don’t see any accompanying disturbing behaviors, you may want to check for other reasons.
- Are you tiring your dog too much during training sessions?
- You might be underfeeding the poor thing.
- Check out the nutritional value of the food you’re giving it.
- Keep an eye on any food thieve lurking around the house. The dog’s food may get stolen, leaving it hungry all the time.
- Is your dog even interested in the food you’re offering?
How Do I Know If My Dog Is Hungry?
That’s easy to know, isn’t it? The constant begging, yelping, roaming around the food sources, and counter-surfing are some of the clear signs that your dog is hungry.
However, throughout my career as a dog trainer, I’ve seen some labs notably aloof to their hunger. They are an anomaly to their species but who are we to judge?
In case the dog doesn’t show any visible reaction to tell you that it’s hungry, you may find it in other ways.
But that makes sense when you’ve been underfeeding it for all that time.
- Look for the visibility of the ribcage. Underfed dogs have visible ribs as compared to overfed dogs.
- Check when was the last time you fed it.
- Has your dog been super active lately? If yes, then you should increase his portions.
- Has the dog been lazy lately or shown signs of lethargy? If yes, then it may mean that it’s underfed.
Dogs, whether labradors or any other breed or species, could survive on the bare minimum. Over time, they get used to the low amount of calories that they’re getting.
However, when a breed such as this one is underfed, it may lose its normal functioning. Your dog could fall ill gradually.
So, How Often Should You Feed A Lab? How Much Do Labs Eat?
Labradors have hearty appetites. You know that and I can’t overemphasize it. They can easily put on extra pounds, which leads to several weight-gain-related diseases.
Therefore, you’ve to be mindful of what you’re feeding your dog and how much you’re feeding it.
It becomes natural to limit treats and portions, increase exercise in the routine, and keep a check on its overall health.
What Is A Good Dog Feeding Schedule?
Many trainers recommend that you should feed the dog twice a day. My opinion differs a little.
I have recommended many lab owners feed their dogs in the morning and evening but that was when I saw that the dogs needed it.
Besides appearance, what you’re feeding also matters. Here’s the best diet for a labrador.
|Weight of the dog (lbs)||Number of times to be fed||Quantity of each portion (g)|
|60||1 to 2||275 – 280|
|70||1 to 1.5||300 – 305|
|80||1||325 – 330|
As the chart indicates, you should add 25 to 30 grams for each 10 lbs increase in weight. After 80lbs, the number of times to feed a dog should be 1.
However, you should also consider the age of the labrador.
If it’s a healthy pup, let’s say, you should still feed it two to three times per day because no matter how big it is, it still needs more nutrition than an adult dog.
At the same time, check if the dog is on the obesity line or not. If yes, then you may want to reduce the meals.
But what if the dog doesn’t like kibble and prefers raw meat? Wait, is raw meat even better for the dog? Let’s find out.
What’s The Best Food For Labradors?
I recommend completely dry food for adults. Dry foods, as they are called kibble, are reduced pellets containing all the ingredients that make up that food.
They are balanced, filled with nutrition, and work for most of the labs.
Yes, one size doesn’t fit all. Your dog may not like kibble at all. That’s when you could rely on wet foods.
They don’t come cheap but if your dog digs them, then you’ve slim chances of getting away.
So, to sum it up, there are:
- Dry food or kibble
- Wet canned food
- Raw food such as meat from valid sources
- Human foods
- And a mixture of all.
What’s the best food for your labrador will depend on its personality and your pocket. It’s a case of trial and error.
For example, I’d start with feeding it kibble. If the dog likes it, well and good, otherwise, I’d move down the list that I shared with you above.
Every once in a while, I’d mix everything just to change the dog’s taste for spicing up its life. Many labs and other breeds like German Shepherds, Huskies, and Bulldogs that I’ve trained for dieting showed visible happiness when I did that.
They were surprised. Yes, some of them were like, what’s going on? I want my food back.
1. Kibble Or Dry Food
Before buying any food, do check its label. The AAFCO says that the package should have all the ingredients listed down, especially in the case of kibble.
You should see that it has all the right amount of proteins, fats, and other nutrients for the best health of your dog.
However, before choosing the food for your dog, make sure that you choose the right-sized pellet according to its age. The kibble comes in many sizes.
You could also take things a step forward by adding a cup of warm water to the dry food.
The “broth” created thereof makes things exciting for the dog. When the dogs I trained would get constipated, I’d apply this method to help them get the necessary liquid intake.
2. Wet Canned Food
The thing with canned food is that it has more moisture than dry food.
So, if you compare the two, per gram the dog receives less food when wet than what it will receive when it’s dry. That’s why your dog may be eating more canned food because it’s getting less.
You should know why I recommended kibble for an adult lab now. However, wet food isn’t completely a lost cause. Some brands develop protein-rich canned food that most dogs who hate kibble consume with love.
With other brands, though, you may look into the ingredients. See if they are using too much rice, grains, or flour. They do so to add thickness to the whole thing.
The dogs do not get enough nutrition and ask for more – one of the reasons why there are too many cans lying around your house.
3. Raw Meat
I’ve seen owners following the trend of feeding their dogs raw foods as part of their lab diet. Still, others think that it’s cruel on their part to put a burden on the dog’s tummy.
I say you could experiment with raw foods and see if your dog reacts to them.
Bloating, constipation, burps, uneasiness, passing gas, and vomiting should tell you to discontinue raw foods. If nothing happens, there’s no harm in continuing.
However, at the same time, you’ve to make sure that the portions you’re feeding the dog are complete and balanced. That could be hard to maintain. For example, you have got a range of options when choosing proteins.
There’s beef, chicken, turkey, fish, lamb, livers of all kinds, eggs, and body parts of animals. Each of these has varying amounts of protein, so you can’t be sure if the dog’s getting enough.
Then, there are grains, veggies, and fruits of all sorts that could go with the diet.
Add the difficulty of obtaining them from the right source. You’ve to make sure that they aren’t contaminated or carry any sort of disease-causing pests, bacteria, or viruses.
That’s probably one of the reasons why the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) doesn’t recommend raw foods.
4. Human Foods
Labradors can eat most of the human food but again, you’ve to be careful in terms of portions and nutritional value.
Cook veggies, eggs, and fish; mince fruits and remove all the seeds; make sure that there’s very little fat on the meat, and use dairy products only if the dog is comfortable with it.
But not all human foods are recommended. Avoid caffeine-containing products, sugars, grapes, alcohol-containing products, spices, mushrooms, and food that’s gone bad.
As you see, besides kibble and canned foods, maintaining all of the rest is a major hassle. If you’re like me with little time on your hands, you wouldn’t want to experiment with food and just let your pooch eat what it likes.
I’ve put labradors on specific diets after getting to know what they dig. The owners thanked me.
5. Why Not Mix It All?
Mixing all types of food may be a little too much for the digestive health of the dog. I do not recommend doing that before acquiring all the relevant information about what you’re doing.
Sure, that will take time and effort but if you have them, why not?
As I said, I’ve let the labs that came and went in my life experience different foods. I’d feed them kibble, then go towards canned food, or mix the two well if the dog had a bigger belly than a black hole.
Doing that helped me slowly reduce the portions of a dog or change its diet if the owner pleased or if the dog demanded it.
However, I have seldom mixed raw food with the other types because one, it’s hard to do, and second, I was feeding an animal, not an alien. It could take so much as its tummy allowed.
What Labradors Should Not Eat?
You wouldn’t want to mess up the digestive system of your dog. So, it’s better to avoid some foods. You shouldn’t buy food that contains caffeine, alcohol, or is too salty or sweet.
Foods that cause bloating such as yeast, green tomatoes, spices including but not limited to onions, garlic, and ginger, conkers, candies, sugar substitutes such as xylitol, cherries, some nuts, and anything that causes discomfort to the dogs should be avoided at all costs.
Can Labs Be Fed Once A Day?
Before 12 months, a labrador just like any other dog undergoes changes in its body. Therefore, you should feed it twice a day. After that, however, feeding the dog once a day won’t be a bad idea.
There’s science behind that claim and many owners are following this routine because of that.
A survey of 24,000 pet owners showed that their once-a-day-fed dogs were diagnosed with age-borne diseases less than those dogs that were fed more than once.
Intermittent fasting helps them keep their body weights checked. As they age, they don’t accumulate obesity-related diseases at all.
However, that’s not to say that you should make abrupt changes to your dog’s diet. It may be hard for it to adjust to a sudden change from two times a day meal to once.
You should look into the indicators that your dog’s showing and slowly work out from there.
Remember that the age should be more than 12 years if you’re to drop down feeding to once a day.
Is It Cruel To Feed A Dog Once A Day?
Dogs, including labradors, have individual personalities and needs. Let’s say that your dog is obese because you’ve been feeding it more than once or even twice a day.
Now you decide to change that to once-a-day feeding. The dog will have a hard time adjusting to it for weeks.
I find that cruel because the fellow doesn’t know what it did wrong to deserve the reduction in portions.
Instead, if you’re to change the diet, do it slowly by keeping the needs of the dog in mind. Once it gets used to a reduced portion, feeding it once a day in its adult life isn’t cruel at all.
Do make sure that the meal you’re providing is balanced and rightly sized.
How Many Cups Of Food Should A Lab Eat A Day?
How many cups a labrador needs depends on how many pounds it packs. The following chart should help you feed the right number of cups to your dog.
It is by no means exhaustive. It’s just to give you an initial idea of how many cups you could feed the dog based on its weight.
From here onwards, you can rely on trial and error to see if the dog’s going underweight or overweight because of the cups you’re feeding it.
You can also divide these cups into two to three portions and feed the dog during the day.
|Weight of the Labrador (lbs)||Number of cups|
|50-60||2 to 2.5|
|60-70||3 to 4|
|70-80||4 to 4.5|
|80-90||4 to 4.5|
|100-120||4.5 to 5.5|
Should I Feed My Lab Twice A Day?
Feeding your lab twice a day may be a recipe for disaster if you’re feeding it the same portions. Following the chart, I shared above, and as I said, you could divide the number of cups into two to three portions per day.
For example, for a 70lbs lab, two cups in the morning and two in the evening would equate to the one-time feeding of four cups.
It really boils down to the individual personality of your dog. I have seen some babies that aren’t satisfied with this diet. They have to be fed four cups at a single time to get them going throughout the day.
Again here, I’ll suggest that you should look into the reaction of the dog to the diet changes and act accordingly. But do not increase the cups per day to keep obesity at bay and exercise the dog aplenty.
Is It Better To Free-Feed Your Dog?
No, I wouldn’t recommend free-feeding your dog. Consider your own impulses when a snack is available. I mean I have a hard time resisting it.
I take a bite here and there, although I’m trying to reduce that. The result has been an increase in weight without my notice.
The same goes for the dog. If you leave the bowl filled with kibble throughout the day, the dog will munch on it whenever it passes by. In a few weeks, you won’t recognize your pooch.
It’ll seem as if someone has pumped it like a tire. Huge and hungry all the time.
The domino effect takes over free feeding. As the dog’s weight increases, it needs to maintain that weight.
Not only that will be a burden on your pocket but also on the dog’s bones. So, keep the portions healthy and balanced, and feed the dog once a day after 12 months.
Is It Better To Feed Dogs In The Morning Or Night?
I tell the owners to follow a feeding routine for their dogs. The same I’ll tell you. I prefer mornings because that’s when everyone’s hungry and needs a boost of energy to start their days.
Feeding the dog in the morning will also give you plenty of time to take it out for relieving itself before you go to work.
Also, just like humans, dogs need time to digest what they eat. After being fed in the morning, it will have the whole day to use that food.
But if it’s a younger one and you’ve to feed it twice a day, do it in the morning and evening. That way, it will have some time to regulate its blood sugar levels before the next meal arrives.
How Long After A Dog Eats Do They Poop?
I recommended the morning feeding routine because of a dog’s pooping schedule. Dogs have a different system as compared to humans. We don’t poop right after we eat or after half an hour but dogs, they do.
Their stomachs are connected or “wired” to their colons. That means whenever their stomachs will be full, they’ll poop afterward to empty the colon for the approaching food.
The feces are not of the food that the dogs eat recently. It’s the food that they have eaten either during the previous evening or the day.
When you feed the dog in the morning, it will have plenty of time to poop. It may do that immediately afterward or after half an hour.
Puppies, however, have more pooping frequency than adults, understandably. They eat more and thus, poop more.
However, if your adult dog is going to the bushes more often during the day, it may have diarrhea or the food you’re feeding it isn’t of good quality.
That may be true in the case of canned food. It has more fillers and water than nutrients, and thus, more things become poop.
I don’t mean that for all the canned food brands out there. My general observation is that compared to kibble, canned food produces more poop and the dog bent on eating it may go to do the business more than once a day.
How To Know Which Dog Food Is The Best For Your Labrador?
According to American Kennel Club, you should look for the product name, list of ingredients, credentials of the manufacturer, net weight of the product, feeding suggestions or guidelines, and analysis present on the label.
This will help you discern flavored products from the ones that have real ingredients.
For example, if the product is beef dinner, then that means it will have some portion of real meal. But beef flavor on the other hand may have artificial ingredients for it.
Also, look for the statement made mandatory by the Association of Americal Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
It says, “____ is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles.”
When this statement is present on the product, it is said to be balanced. Also, in the analysis part of the label, you should see the nutrition listed down. There you’ll find how much water, fiber, protein, fat, or other components the dog will consume in the specified portion.
How To Stop Your Dog From Eating Faster?
Fast eaters devour one bowl in one breath and then look for more with their doodly eyes. You have to make sure that doesn’t happen because of two reasons:
- To stop the dog from overeating,
- To reduce the burden on its digestive system.
There are several ways to slowly feed a dog.
- Divide and time-limit the food portion you’re feeding the dog.
- For example, divide the portion into small amounts to be fed after a specific time frame.
- Or better yet, buy a slow-feeding bowl. It’s a spiral bowl that lets the dog reach for the food to eat it from the borrows. And that takes quite some time.
- Slow-feeding mats are also available in the market and on Amazon. They make the dog find the food from its crevices, thus, increasing the feeding time and entertaining it as well.
Should You Feed Scraps To Your Labrador?
Scraps are the leftovers from your daily meals. They could be anything from human food to other animals’ bites.
Feeding them to your dog might increase its appetite. In other words, it may feel more hungry after snacking on them.
But that’s not my only concern. Scraps may or may not provide a balanced diet. Also, you never know if they could have all the wrong ingredients that would send your dog into a vomiting spree.
I remember one particular case of a labrador being fed scraps. The owner didn’t realize that the cake she was feeding her dog had grapes.
Labradors are allergic to grapes and some do not fare well with dairy products. Within a few minutes of ingestion, the dog started vomiting like crazy.
She had to take him to the nearest vet. It took him a whole week to get back to normal but even after that, flatulence remained for another two to three days.
Therefore, I do not recommend that you feed your dog scraps.
Also, do not attempt to add them to its kibble or canned food just because the last portion from the product isn’t enough. Make sure that you order another packet when the previous one is running out.
What Should You Feed A Lab Puppy?
You could feed kibble to your pup. I don’t recommend raw food, human food, or mixing many things together for a supposed “wholesome” meal.
Also, remember that the portion size and the number of meals would be different than in an adult-sized lab.
Be sure to buy puppy kibble if available because puppies need extra nutrition and the product should have it. You may have to feed it two to three, even four times per day. So, make sure the product package is big enough to cater to that.
As I said above, adding anything to the last portion of a packet may be dangerous for the pup’s health. Avoid that at all costs
If you listen to me, dry kibble for the first 12 months suffices more than anything. I would occasionally want you to go for canned food because of the low energy and nutritional content it has as compared to kibble.
There’s no harm in feeding it your pup every once in a while just for a taste change. Don’t force it on the little one if it doesn’t want it, though.
How Many Cups Of Food Should I Feed My Lab Puppy?
The following table will help you.
|Puppy’s Age||Weight (lbs)||Daily Meals||Daily Quantity (g)||Grams Per meal (g)|
|2 Months (8 weeks)||14.5 to 18.5||4 to 4.5||200 to 250||55 to 60|
|4 Months (16 weeks)||32 to 35||2.5 to 3||300 to 350||116 to 140|
|6 Months (24 weeks)||45 to 60||2 to 2.5||350 to 400||140 to 175|
What Time Should I Feed My Lab Puppy?
Based on the chart above, you should feed the puppy every morning, afternoon, evening, and night if it’s 2 months or 8 weeks old.
A 4-month or 16-week should be fed every morning, afternoon, and evening. Similarly, a 6-month or 24 weeks pup’s meal times should be morning and evening.
How Much Should A 3-Month-Old Lab Eat?
A 3-month-old labrador puppy should eat 3.5 to 4 times a day. The quantity of each meal should be at least 200 to 300 grams with 50 to 85 grams per meal approximately.
How Often Should You Feed A Lab – Conclusion
You should feed a lab twice a day before 12 months and once a day afterward. That’s because these dogs are prone to obesity. Once they start down on that road, it’s hard for them to back off.
Therefore, you have to intervene and feed them wholesome, balanced, and complete nutrition purchased from the market. I prefer dry kibble over canned food, human foods, scraps, and all the rest.
However, I wouldn’t shy away from changing the dog’s taste every once in a while. So, there you go. A complete guide on feeding your labrador.