What is the Best Puppy Food for Labs and Large Breeds?
When it comes to taking care of your young pups, one of the vital things to consider first is the food that they eat. It is especially essential when you are caring for puppies of large breeds, particularly the popular Labrador breed. Aside from Labradors, there are other large dog breed pups whose diet needs proper planning, and these include Great Danes, Mastiffs, Newfoundlands, Great Pyrenees, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Rottweilers, Old English Bulldogs, and the Alaskan Huskies, among others.
Unlike small breeds, puppies of large breed dogs need more watching over regarding their diet. This is mainly because of their size, and uncontrolled growth and development will most likely cause them to develop skeletal and muscular conditions.
If you are currently taking care of a large breed puppy, or you are expecting to, this is the best place for you if you want to learn all about the best foods to feed them and what to avoid. You will also learn the proper way of preparing these foods and lots of other valuable tips that will help you bring out the best in the food that they eat.
Let’s discuss proteins first. Dogs are mostly carnivorous animals, and throughout their evolutionary line, they have learned to survive mostly on meat. So it is logical that protein must be a large part of your puppies’ food intake. Some of the best protein sources for baby Labs and other large dog breeds are lean meats, fish, and eggs.
- As for lean meats, the fewer fats, the better. Although turkey and duck can be used, chicken is the most recommended as it has lesser fats than the other two. Dark meats can also be considered, most especially chicken heart and liver as they have lots of nutrients and are packed with proteins. If you want to add fish to your puppies’ diet, you can use canned fishes such as mackerel, pink salmon, and sardines.
- Eggs are an excellent source of protein, too, but should be taken in moderation. Use as few of the yolk as possible. Using eggs is one of the cheapest ways of securing protein for your puppies. It also contains DHA and omega 3 fatty acids which are good for the pups’ brain development.
You can also add fruits and vegetables to your pups’ meals to include more fiber and vitamins in their diets without relying too much on supplements. Some of the fruits that you can use include berries, melons, papayas, pears, and apples. As for vegetables, the dark green leafy ones are more recommended, such as kale, spinach, and lettuce.
Of course, you should not leave out water. Your pups must have a bowl of clean water beside their meal to help in digestion and to let the nutrients be processed efficiently.
If you don’t have enough time preparing home-made meals for your puppies, there are also some good puppy food products out there. One advantage for these pre-prepared dog foods is that the nutrients in them are properly controlled. Many dog food brands in the market claim to be perfect for all dogs of all ages, but you must not fall for their marketing ploys. Large dog breed puppies have special nutritional needs compared to others. To be able to choose the right packed puppy food and kibbles, you must make sure that more than half is protein, because as stated earlier, dogs need more protein in their body than any other nutrients. With regards to this fact, you must also take into consideration that the puppy meal you buy is grain free. This is because more and more dogs are developing allergies as a reaction to carbohydrates that are not naturally a big part of their evolutionary diet, especially those carbs that come from cheap sources such as potatoes, wheat, and corn.
What Should I Not Feed My Labrador Puppies?
Now that you know what foods are best for your puppies, here are some of the foods not to give to them or should not be given more than required.
- Calcium rich foods should be kept at a minimum. Though needed, calcium should be part of the puppies’ meals in very small amounts. Too much calcium can cause skeletal diseases in the puppies and more serious ones when they grow up.
- On that note, milk should be avoided since most dogs are also lactose intolerant.
- Just like calcium, the carbohydrate intake of pups should also be controlled.
- Unless you are short on funds, you must avoid cheap tinned foods. Not only are they short on essential nutrients and full of filler ingredients, but they can also be a cause smelly poo and diarrhea.
- Avoid raisins and grapes as they can cause kidney system failure. Cauliflower and broccoli should be avoided, too, since they are known to affect thyroid function in dogs, but you must cook these vegetables if you have to add them into your puppies’ meal.
Important Things To Know About Puppy Food Preparation
Now, you must familiarize yourself with some important things to know about puppy food preparation. If you are using chicken, it is highly recommended that you use free range ones, as they are free from hormones that might affect your puppies’ growth. When cooking them, you must also remember to peel off the skin and remove the fats that stick to the meat. When preparing fish, you must remove the bones first if you are serving them raw or cooking them yourself, but leave the bones in if you are serving canned ones. You must avoid those soaked in oil, and use those in water instead. Finally, if you are adding leafy greens into their meals, make sure to have them blended or minced to aid in digestion.
As a bonus, here are some other tips that might help you with regards to feeding your puppies:
- Learn what foods they are allergic to first. Before making meal plans, test out which foods your dogs can have an allergic reaction to. For example, some dogs may be allergic to chicken.
- Do not overfeed. This is one of the most common mistakes owners make when it comes to feeding their large breed puppies. Uncontrolled eating leads to uncontrolled growth which is very dangerous for large breeds like Labradors.
- Cook. While most of the foods mentioned here can be eaten raw, it is recommended that the puppies be given cooked foods to be on the safe side.
- Avoid nutritional supplements. If using kibbles and wet/complete puppy food, avoid feeding them anything else.
Large breed dogs are different than other breeds because of the crazy rate of their growth. You must remember this fact before you buy your puppies’ food and try feeding them. Furthermore, there is no set rule in how much to feed your large breed puppies, so you must be alert to the changes in their weight and size before making decisions on their feeding plan.