Best Puppy Food for Labs 2023 : 9 Healthiest Labrador Retriever Puppy Foods Reviewed
The American Kennel Club describes Labradors as “friendly, active, and outgoing.” They make great lifetime companions and can grow to weigh up to 80 lbs. if male and 70 lbs. if female. Their life expectancy is between 10 to 12 years.
Their popularity stems from their energetic, sociable nature – they can love their human family and show their affection with their welcoming, sweet, and attentive personalities. Their coats can be different colors: black, yellow, or chocolate-colored.
Their eyes tell of their kindness and they are easy to socialize both with other animals and humans. Although they are generally relaxed, that doesn’t mean they don’t have tons of energy and require plenty of exercise.
These loyal canines will love you and your family and probably your neighbors too but to keep them healthy, they will need the right nutrients in their food. Read on to find out what the best puppy food for Labs is so that you can make the best choice for your new furry life companion!
In This Article...
What Is the Best Dog Food For A Labrador Puppy?
- Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food – Best Overall
- American Journey Lamb & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Puppy Dry Dog Food – Most Affordable
- Tylee’s Human-Grade Beef Recipe Frozen Dog Food
- Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Puppy Chicken Dinner with Garden Vegetables Canned Dog Food
- Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Puppy Formula Potato & Duck Formula Grain-Free
- Purina Pro Plan Focus Puppy Large Breed Formula Dry Dog Food
- Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food
- Wellness Complete Health Puppy Deboned Chicken, Oatmeal & Salmon Meal Recipe Dry Dog Food
- Merrick Grain-Free Puppy Real Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food
Determine which type of Puppy Food to Feed your Lab Puppy
- Dry Food – Dry food is a great choice for puppies because it provides the nutrition they need to grow lean muscle mass and can encourage cognitive development and a healthy coat and skin surface. However, switching from mom’s milk to dry food can be shocking to a puppy’s system and it is better to slowly introduce dry food following a transition from milk to wet food. After about three months, you can begin mixing dry kibbles into the wet food and eventually only feed dry food if that will be your long-term preference. It can be more economical, but you can always purchase wet food as a treat for special occasions or to use as a topper on dry kibbles. Dry dog food also has the advantage of assisting with tartar removal as the bite-sized pieces will crunch through their teeth, cleaning them up. Unfortunately, dry food does not contain high water content and if your pup is not diligent with hydration, he may end up dehydrated, which can lead to urinary tract issues.
- Wet (Canned Food) – Wet food is highly recommended as a starter following weaning. Since puppies have become accustomed to drinking their mother’s milk, it is an easier transition to provide soft, wet food versus the sudden shift into hard kibbles. Wet food can assist with creating a gentler changeover into dry kibbles and will be easier on your puppy’s digestive tract following weaning from a milk diet. The other benefit of wet food is also that it contains high water content, which means if your puppy is not getting enough water from his water bowl, you can supplement his hydration with wet foods.
- Raw – Raw food can be a great option for your puppy since many dry dog foods contain processed ingredients that can upset your puppy’s tummy and leave you dealing with loose stools and sleepless nights. Some puppies will absolutely refuse to eat dry kibbles or canned wet food and it can make for a difficult time as a pet parent. Raw food diets can deliver the nutrients required for healthy coats, healthy skin, and optimized digestive tracts. Their eyesight can be improved and even their breath smells better! If you are finding that your puppy is not taking to wet or dry food, you may want to slowly introduce a raw diet to determine if that is what will be best for his little but growing body.
- Freeze Dried – Freeze dried puppy food provides the same nutrition that raw food does; however, it is a bit more convenient as it can be stored for a longer period of time. You can select a grain-free option and check ingredients to ensure there is sufficient protein, fruits and vegetables, added vitamins and minerals, and fatty acids to help your puppy meet his developmental markers as he grows into his naturally large size.
- Human-Grade – Many pet parents opt for human-grade food to feed their furry loved ones because they are produced more carefully. The mass-production of popular brands often include unnecessary fillers and ingredients that are not beneficial for growing puppies. Human-grade options are considered some of the healthiest, safest, and highest-quality foods available on the market. Since these items are acceptable for humans, you know that they are made from whole foods that are easily recognized and there are no unusual ingredients that are difficult to pronounce. So, if you are looking to try out a highly recommended product, give it a go and see how your little pup reacts!
5 Special Dietary and Nutritional Considerations of Labrador Puppies
- Protein – This is the primary ingredient that your Labrador puppy will require for the growth of his organs and tissues. Feed protein on a daily basis to deliver the amino acids required for his muscle development.
- Fatty Acids and Fat – These are the nutrients required for your Lab pup’s energy – they deliver more energy than carbohydrates and are vital for the healthy progression of nervous tissue and for ensuring appropriate inflammatory responses following any type of injury.
- Water – A well-hydrated Lab pup will have a healthier digestive tract, will maintain a normal body temperature, and will have better mobility. Be sure to keep his bowl full of water so he can hydrate himself as often as he would like.
- Vitamins and Minerals – Vitamins will promote a healthy metabolism and assist with blood clotting, eye health, and the development of strong bones. Minerals are the basic building components of tissues and organs and keep your pup’s muscles moving in the way they are designed to.
- Carbohydrates – Carbs provide your Lab puppy with energy to keep him active and playful – no pet owner likes to see a dog meant for activity looking sluggish or tired so be sure to feed a healthy balance between all of the listed nutrients to keep him healthy and active alongside you as you share your lives together.
Labrador Puppy Feeding Chart
- 6-Week Old Labrador – At this stage, your puppy should still be getting his nutrients from mom’s milk.
- 10-Week Old Labrador – Between eight to ten weeks, you are able to wean your puppy off mom’s milk and begin introducing puppy foods, preferably starting off with wet food.
- 12-Week Old Labrador – The 12-week mark is great for transitioning into dry kibbles, preferably puppy-sized kibbles for their small jaws.
- 3-Month Old Labrador – At this stage, a regular dry dog food diet is appropriate but stay with formulas designed for puppies as they have the right balance of nutrition for their growing bodies.
- 5-Month Old Labrador – At this stage, start feeding twice a day and keep to the same type of puppy food to avoid tummy upset.
- 1-Year Labrador – At one-year-old, your puppy is no longer a puppy – he will be entering adulthood and you will notice he eats less. You can bring down mealtimes to once a day, just remember to read food labels!
Overall Best Dog Food for Labrador Puppies
Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
- Main ingredient is real buffalo
- Natural, grain-free recipe
- Added vitamins and antioxidants
- Zero corn, wheat, filler, or artificial ingredients
- Digestible recipe for ultimate digestive health
Overall Best Dog Food for Labrador Puppies – This Taste of the Wild High Prairie puppy formula is specially formulated for little ones who require extra protein as they grow. The recipe includes real buffalo, bison, roasted venison, and even beef for a protein-rich meal your pup will thoroughly enjoy.
Along with all that protein comes extra vitamins and antioxidants that come from real vegetables and fruits to encourage top health. Also included in this formula are those ever-essential Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids that assist with the healthy development of skin as your doggy grows and helps him look handsome with a shiny, healthy coat.
Not only does this dry dog food include all the goodness required for a growing puppy, it also contains a proprietary probiotic blend that encourages the healthy function of his digestive tract which makes for a happy, healthy, and optimally functioning body.
- Available in a 5-lb, 12-lb, 28-lb, and 30-lb bag
- Specially formulated for a growing puppy
- Grain-free recipe
- Highly digestible for a trouble-free tummy
- Formula contains genetically modified ingredients (GMOs)
American Journey Lamb & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Puppy Dry Dog Food
- Grain-free formula
- Specially formulated for a growing puppy
- Added fruits and vegetables for extra nourishment
- Main ingredient: deboned lamb
- Fiber-rich for digestion and energy
Most Inexpensive (Cheap) – This puppy dry dog food by American Journey contains zero wheat, corn, soy, or fillers so that your little pup can have a comfortable digestive experience. Carrots, dried kelp, and blueberries provide the antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to encourage a strong immune system. The main ingredient, deboned lamb, is packed with amino acids that support the growth of lean muscle mass, which is perfect for a puppy that needs to grow into adulthood.
The fiber is obtained from sweet potatoes and chickpeas to provide your small best friend with the energy he needs to prance around and get good exercise. Salmon oil and flaxseed provide the Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, along with long-chain DHA that supports eye and brain development and keeps his skin feeling healthy and his coat looking lustrous.
- Grain-free and gluten free for sensitive tummies
- Includes phytonutrients
- Main ingredient is enjoyable for your pup while he gets proper nutrition
- Affordable product
- Formula is not guaranteed to be free of genetically modified ingredients (GMOs)
Tylee’s Human-Grade Beef Recipe Frozen Dog Food
- Specially formulated for Labrador puppies
- Made with human-grade ingredients for whole food nutrition
- Easy to serve after defrosting
- Minimally processed recipe
- Grain-free formula
Best Human Grade Lab Puppy Food – Tylee’s human-grade frozen dog food is a special treat for lab puppies because it is specially created with only whole foods that have zero fillers, corn, wheat, and soy to protect your little pup’s belly. The minimally processed ingredients are more flavorful, making this a tasty meal for your puppy or as a lovely accompaniment to his regular dog food.
Included in the recipe are antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to encourage optimal health for your growing dog. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are delivered via chia seeds, sunflower oil, and ground flaxseed to secure a healthy coat and skin.
This is an excellent option if you want to feed your puppy a homemade meal but just don’t have enough time. The food is prepped for you and frozen so all you have to do is defrost and serve. With only one source of protein, you can be at ease knowing it will be easily digestible for your little fur buddy.
- Zero corn, wheat, soy, or peas
- Human-grade whole foods
- Available in 1.875-lb and 6-lb bag
- Not guaranteed to be free of genetically modified ingredients (GMOs)
Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Puppy Chicken Dinner with Garden Vegetables Canned Dog Food, 12.5-oz, case of 12
- Natural ingredients without wheat, soy, or corn
- Main ingredient: deboned chicken
- Complex carbohydrates include whole grains
- Holistic formula free of artificial ingredients and preservatives
Best Canned Puppy Food for Labradors – This Blue Buffalo canned wet food has a homestyle recipe specially formulated for puppies. It includes fruit, like blueberries and cranberries to deliver antioxidants that fight against free radicals. The formula omits artificial ingredients and instead includes brown rice and barley to support your energetic companion.
This chicken dinner and garden vegetable recipe is created to support cognitive development for your growing pup along with the creation and maintenance of the lean muscle mass required to grow steadily at a healthy rate.
- Specially formulated for puppies
- Natural ingredients
- Wet food dogs love to savor
- Not a grain-free formula
Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Puppy Formula Potato & Duck Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
- Grain-free formula with limited carbohydrates
- Small kibble size for puppy mouths
- Limited ingredients for sensitive tummies
- Single animal protein source
Best Limited Ingredient Foods for Labrador Puppies – This Natural Balance dry dog food contains limited ingredients for puppies that have a sensitive digestive tract. It is free of peas, corn, wheat, and soy. The high-quality food included in this recipe includes duck protein and potato to deliver nutrients in an easily digestible and tasty meal.
The kibble size is appropriate for those smaller puppy jaws so they can chew comfortably and enjoy their mealtimes. This formula also provides the required Omegas and DHA derived from salmon oil to support cognitive progress.
- Grain-free formula
- Puppy-sized kibbles for comfortable chewing
- Limited ingredients for sensitive digestive tracts
- Zero corn, wheat, or soy
- Ingredients may be sourced outside of the U.S.
4 More Top Rated Puppy Foods for Labradors:
Purina Pro Plan Focus Puppy Large Breed Formula Dry Dog Food
This Purina Pro Plan dry dog food is specially formulated for large breed puppies. It comes in an 18-lb bag and a 34-lb bag. It contains high-quality protein with a perfect ratio of carbohydrates to encourage the lean muscle mass your puppy needs to grow into his large size in adulthood.
This recipe includes prebiotic fiber which assists with maintaining a healthy intestinal balance and makes the food itself easily digestible. Omega 6 fatty acids keep his coat looking shiny and his skin flake-free. Cerebral development is encouraged with DHA and the addition of calcium promotes strong teeth and bones as your puppy grows. If you are wondering whether this formula contains any artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors, you can be assured it is free of these ingredients to provide your pup with only the best nutrition.
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Puppy Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food
This dry dog food by Blue Buffalo comes in several different sizes, ranging from a small 3-lb bag to a 30-lb bag. It is free of corn, wheat, and soy, and is formulated for adult dogs, including small, medium, and large breeds.
The recipe includes real deboned chicken without any chicken by-products, so your dog gets only the best to promote healthy muscle mass. Essential vitamins and minerals encourage strong teeth and bones while glucosamine ensures healthy joints while supporting mobility. In addition, the chelated minerals and antioxidants contained within this formula protect your pup’s immune system.
Wellness Complete Health Puppy Deboned Chicken, Oatmeal & Salmon Meal Recipe Dry Dog Food
Wellness’ Complete Health dry dog food was created with growing puppies in mind and includes yummy proteins like deboned chicken and salmon that your small furry friend will thoroughly enjoy. The kibble size is small for the comfort of your puppy’s jaw as he chews through his meals.
This formula also includes Yucca Schidigera extract which assists with keeping stools free of heavy odor. Added DHA promotes the healthy development of both his brain and his eyes so he can enjoy his adulthood with good sight and full cognitive abilities.
Merrick Grain-Free Puppy Real Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food
Merrick’s dry dog food for puppies was formulated conscientiously with real deboned chicken as its main ingredient, followed by real vegetables and fruits for a complete meal your pup will savor.
The recipe is grain-free, gluten-free, soy-free, corn-free, and wheat-free to protect your dog’s stomach and promote easy digestion. In addition, there are no artificial colors, preservatives, or flavors so your pup can enjoy the taste of wholesome, natural ingredients. Added DHA assists with the development of his brain as he matures into adulthood.
Our 2023 Labrador Puppy Feeding Guide
Whichever food you decide on to feed your puppy, you will need to follow some basic guidelines. The nutrients you deliver to your puppy’s body will determine how well he develops, how much he is able to grow, and how healthy he feels – it’s a big responsibility!
Since puppyhood is such a critical time, you must understand the different stages of development to provide the most appropriate and beneficial foods for his growth. It’s a fine line between underfeeding and overfeeding and it must be walked across with care and knowledge. If underfed, your pup will develop abnormalities and if overfed, he could become obese, leading to a host of other issues.
You will find that most Lab owners opt for kibble as their main food. It can be cost-effective and easy and contains the nutrients your puppy needs to grow into a big, strong adult Labrador. However, don’t forget that after he has been weaned from mother’s milk, a little bit of wet food to transition between milk and dry kibbles can be the most gentle approach while his tummy gets used to the change.
Try to choose foods specially formulated for puppies since the protein, fat, and carb ratios will be at just the right amount for what puppies need at this stage in their lives.
If you pick up your Lab puppy from a breeder, ask what type of food he has been eating and stick to that. Changing up a Lab puppy’s diet too abruptly can disrupt his digestive tract and leave him feeling uncomfortable and producing abnormal stools.
If you will be going with puppy kibble, it is a great option because it’s essentially ground up whole foods with added vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids that store well for long periods of time. It makes it easy for you as a pet owner and easy for your pup to munch on, especially when the kibble size is designed for smaller jaws.
If you will be opting for wet food, make it his sole meal choice or carefully balance portions along with dry kibbles to ensure his weight doesn’t fluctuate. You should note, however, that canned wet food will almost always be more pricy than the dry dog food options.
Raw feeding can be a fantastic diet for your Lab puppy but it will be more work for you so if you cannot commit to consistently delivering the raw ingredients your puppy will grow to love, you may just want to stick with the easier-to-deliver meals.
The same goes for human-grade foods – if you are not willing to invest the necessary time to thoroughly inform yourself about the required nutrition and measure portions out correctly, it will be best to stick with the prepackaged items that have already been measured out for your convenience.
After the eighth week of life for your Lab puppy, milk is not appropriate to provide. Mom’s milk is perfect during those first few weeks but after the second month, avoid giving your Lab puppy any milk, especially cow’s milk as it will not agree with his delicate puppy tummy.
So long as you are feeding your puppy with complete foods that employ balanced nutrition, you will not need to supplement with anything additional. However, keep taking your pup to his routine vet visits to make sure he is on track with his health!
How much food should I feed a Labrador puppy?
The first eight weeks of your Lab’s life should be spent nursing from his mother. Weaning can start at about six weeks until fully transitioned. As you might imagine, puppies need to eat constantly, similar to humans when we are babies.
From six weeks to about 12 weeks, mealtimes should occur about four times per day.
Between three to six months, you can begin to lower feeding times from four to three times per day.
When your Labrador puppy is between six to 12 months, feeding twice a day is appropriate.
You will likely notice that Labradors have a voracious appetite and they will chow down very quickly. Keep your feeding schedule consistent and don’t allow food to sit out for over twenty minutes to discourage fastidious habits.
What is the best type of food for a Labrador puppy?
The best type of food for your Labrador puppy is the one he will actually eat that includes high-quality ingredients, from being protein-rich to having added nutrients for his overall health and development.
You may need to try different types of foods to be sure your puppy is not developing allergic reactions or experiencing tummy upset or loose stools with a specific brand or formula.
However, so long as your chosen dog food – whether dry, wet, raw, or freeze-dried, make sure the ingredients are natural and avoid any unnecessary fillers. You do get what you pay for and if you want your pup to live a long life while feeling strong and confident, you will want to ensure that you start him off with the right diet for him.
When should I stop feeding my Labrador puppy food?
Your Labrador puppy will reach adulthood at about 12 months of age. At that point, you can begin to transition him to adult dog food. However, make the transition a gentle one by mixing the two foods until he is strictly eating adult chow. Also at this point, he should only be eating twice a day so be sure to monitor eating habits closely to ensure a healthy weight.
How many times a day should I feed my Labrador puppy?
This depends on how old he is. The six to 12-week mark should include feedings four times a day.
Within three to six months, that can be reduced to three times per day. After that, twice per day will be perfect. Be sure to carefully read through the labels of your dog’s food to provide just the right amount as each brand or type can vary in the amount of servings. This is because they are all formulated uniquely with differing ratios of protein, fats, and carbohydrates.
How can I fatten up my Labrador Puppy?
Although extra weight is usually a concern for pet parents, sometimes puppies struggle to maintain a healthy weight and may appear too skinny and frail.
The very first action you can take as a responsible pup parent is take your dog to the vet to eliminate any possibility of parasites or other conditions that may be affecting his ability to gain weight.
There are several options for helping a puppy gain weight, including dog-fattening recipes that consist of hamburger meat, eggs, cereal, and oats – all raw. However, please be sure to feed according to his age. You cannot feed a puppy a monster adult meal in hopes he will gain weight fast. This could actually be counterproductive, and you may end up hurting instead of helping your pet.
Therefore, the absolute best advice here is to engage your vet since he is a professional, will rule out any potential health issues, and carefully advise you on how to proceed with your very special little Lab.
Labrador pups do have some basic dietary and nutritional needs to keep them growing, strong, and thriving and with just a little extra care, you can keep him moving along beautifully on his path to adulthood.
You will get to enjoy a fully grown Labrador within a year and by then, you will have a medium to large dog who adores you, wants to play, is super friendly, and will join you when you go out to exercise.
Keep buying or preparing foods of the highest possible quality to give your Lab a long, healthy life to enjoy alongside you. If ever you encounter an issue with his behavior or he appears to be in pain or excretes unusual stools, always be safe rather than sorry and keep in close communication with your vet!
With a professional’s assistance, your love as a pet parent, and the right nutrients, your Labrador will flourish throughout his life, making yours better with his presence alone!