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You are planning to adopt a Labrador puppy, or already are a proud pet parent of one, you must be anxious about how best to assure optimum growth and health to your pup. This piece of writing is an attempt to give you some useful information about the kind of food which you can feed and also about how best you can feed it.
Originating from Canada, Labrador retriever is the most famous, loved and popular breed of retrievers in many countries. In earlier times, the breed was mostly utilized and appreciated for being a versatile hunter. It can hunt on land as well as water; besides, this intelligent dog is a possessor of a gentle temperament, which makes it easily fit into the role of a friendly family dog.
Types of Dog food
Broadly speaking, the food for your pet is available in three forms – Wet, Dry and Raw.
Wet food is the commercially manufactured food which offers chunks of meat, with or without gravy, with added vitamins, minerals and other important elements to make it nutritionally complete and balanced.
Dry food consists of pellets (called kibbles) of food, which are easy to store and convenient to serve. The ready-made food bits meant for puppies consist of nutrients in the right proportions to support a healthy growth.
Raw diet consists of raw meat, bones, fruits and vegetables. There are benefits and risks involved in administering a raw diet, which one should be aware of before adopting a fully raw diet. Most significant concern is related to the need for proper knowledge of canine nutrition and about the various foods which, taken together, meet your dog’s nutritional needs in the best way.
All the varieties of food have their advantages and disadvantages. You should gain information and knowledge about your canine’s dietary needs and about the various foods which offer to satisfy them. You may go for dry, wet or raw diet, or a combination of them. You may also consult your vet to guide in case you are confused about your choices.
Labradors are always hungry and that is because of their huge appetites. As a pet owner you need to monitor the amount of food they eat, as their greed for food can easily drive them towards obesity, and consequently towards various diseases.
Commercially made food
Many companies categorize their foods on the basis of life stage (puppy, adult, senior), breed (large, medium or small), or may offer pet food specifically targeting a particular breed like Royal Canin Labrador Junior, which seeks to take care of a Labrador dog up to 15 months of age. The formulation of diets like this are based on the assumption that all pure breed dogs have their unique needs, which if addressed would bring the dog to an optimum level of health.
Information from the breeders
If you have brought the puppy from a breeder, then he would supply you a diet routine which needs to be followed, some food or may be some information regarding feeding. Follow it religiously for some days to give some sort of familiar touch to the puppy that is undergoing the stress of being separated from its mother and siblings. Also, the introduction of new food, all of a sudden, may upset the puppy’s tummy. In absence of any information from the breeder, best thing would be to consult a vet.
Milk for the puppy?
Cow’s milk is not appropriate for a puppy as it may cause diarrhea. If the puppy is more than 8 weeks old then it has already been weaned from mother’s milk and doesn’t need it at all. If the puppy is less than 7 weeks old, then you may need to find a replacement for bitch’s milk and also have to contact your vet to have the pup constantly monitored.
Beware of confusing food labels
Learn how to read a food label. The food label is given in decreasing order, making the first ingredient the biggest element in the food. That is why it is very important to know what the first two or three ingredients of the food are. Dogs weren’t actually meant for eating corn and wheat. Ideally, the first element of any dog food should be a specific kind of meat (like chicken, duck, beef); meat-by-product, meat or animal should not be mentioned on the package as they present an ambiguous picture. Leftover of slaughter houses can find its way to your dog food, something which cannot be classed in the category of healthy and complete food. So if you care for your dog, be aware and make the right selection.
Make sure that water is available to the puppies at all times of the day, except for one hour before sleeping time. This exception would help you in managing the nature’s calls of your dog. And please note that it’s normal for a kibble fed dog to drink a lot of water as compared to a dog on a wet diet.
Divide the daily diet
The daily dietary requirement of your Labrador pup should be properly divided into portions of meal to be fed at regular intervals. This would help in managing digestion and for keeping its overall health at a good level. You can begin by feeding four meals a day to your 8 to 12 weeks old puppy, and have a time marked for each. Have a gap of at least 3 hours in between each meal so that the little doggie is able to digest it well. Also, time the last meal 2/3 hours before the puppy’s last trip to toilet, prior to bedtime.
Once your puppy reaches three months of age, you can decrease the number of meals into three and after 6 months of age 2 meals per day would also be adequate. Two meals a day is also something which most dog owners continue to feed even after the dog grows up. Feeding your dog once a day (after 12 months of age) can work as long as you feed it raw meat. The dry kibbles tend to swell once the dog drinks water, and this may cause bloating and also damage its stomach, hence is strictly not recommended.
Teach the dog to eat at meal times
Your dog would learn to eat the food when it is offered to it if you take back the bowl after a specific interval of time, say 15 to 20 minutes. The schedule has been set for its own benefit so it’s better that the dog adheres to it.
Avoid giving leftovers from your own meals to your puppy, unless you have enough knowledge and experience in dealing with the nutritional requirements of a growing canine. The nutritional needs of your puppy are different than that of humans; also it may differ from one breed of dog to another. The growing pup needs complete and balanced diet to achieve its potential growth, otherwise lifelong disabilities or problems can find easy entry into its life.
Meet ups with the vet for the purpose of vaccinating or general health checkups can be utilized to get your queries about your pet’s health and diet resolved.
You love and adore your little canine, but please don’t express your love by unnecessary additions to the diet. As, your heartfelt, but nutritionally lacking edible additions might unbalance the diet of your dog.
How much to feed?
How much food to feed your dog each day is something no one can precisely tell. But the guidelines on the package of the food you are feeding, along with your observation of how the dog is doing with the quantity fed, would help you decide an adequate quantity. The important thing to remember is that the dog should neither be too fat or too slim. A Lab is prone to being overweight, hence it’s more than necessary to keep a strict watch over its weight and ensure an ideal weight at all times.
Following some instructions related to diet, regular appointments with vet, observing the puppy and showering it with lots and lots of love would give such environment to the little canine in which it would thrive.