A Guide to Feeding Your Labrador Puppy



Feeding your labrador

The single best way to support the long-term health and growth of any dog is to make sure you feed them properly throughout their lives.
And this is especially true when you’re raising happy, healthy Lab puppies. As a breed type, Labs are genetically predisposed to put on weight easily, which means what you feed them matters.
A Lab’s love for food is a two-way street. If you want to give one its best life, you need to know how to use their nutrition and dietary needs to supplement their energy, build a healthy and high-functioning immune system, and support their lifelong health during every stage of development.
This guide will help you do all of that and even provide some recommended brands that will help you ensure your lab stays healthy their entire lives!

Keeping Your Puppy's Weight Right

While a Lab’s love of food is no secret, they’re not the only ones prone to life long obesity. Studies show that obesity affects 39-59% of all dogs -and with this comes a whole host of other health issues like cancer and orthopedic difficulties.
Access to high-calorie food and reduced exercise are some of the ongoing issues affecting all dogs. However, many Labs are unable to turn-on that sense of satiation even after they've eaten. Though their stomachs are full, they feel perpetually hungry.
That's great for training, but otherwise tricky to manage. So you want to get started with maintaining nutritional guidelines and age-appropriate weight ranges as early as possible. A Labrador's Nutritional Needs -What To Look For Age and weight is a highly effective way to measure your Lab puppy's nutritional needs. With Lab puppies, you'll need to vary their feeding schedules and amounts based on their growth and energy levels.
In general, you should break up their nutritional needs by three stages:
15-18 Ibs
(7-8 kilos)
7/8 - 1 1/8 cups
4 1/4 cup
(50-55 grams)
24-26 Ibs
(11-12 kilos)
1 1/8 - 1 3/8 cups
3 3/8 - 5/8 cup
(80-100 grams)
50-60 Ibs
(23-27 kilos)
1 1/2 - 2 cups
2 3/4 - 1 cup
(175-225 grams)
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Most puppies require consistent number of calories from 4 months to about 12 months of age for healthy growth levels
Now there’s a caveat: Your puppy should be fed to maintain a healthy body condition, not simply preferred weight. If your puppy is on the larger side, yet falls within the higher end of the weight limit for its age, try reducing your feeding frequencies or portion sizes at the 4-6 month mark.

Body Condition Scoring Chart

Side View Of A Dog Top View of a Dog


Ribs and hip bones are highly visible, and appear to just out when viewed from above

Side View Of A Dog Top View of a Dog


An outline of ribs can be seen and felt, the belly tucks up when viewed from the side, and there is a visible waist when viewed from above

Side View Of A Dog Top View of a Dog


Dog has no waist when viewed from above, and stomach appears rounded when viewed from the side

As body fat increases, so does the risk for:
  • Increased physical injury
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Reduced mobility
  • Cancer
  • Shortened life expectancy
  • Respiratory disease
  • kidney disease
  • Pancreatitis
Deciding on the best food for your puppy is tricky. Too few nutrients and your growing Lab puppy won't receive what he or she needs to thrive. Too much and you risk causing lifelong complications.
For example, adult dog food kibble is rich in calcium and necessary for maintaining good bone health.Only adult dogs require high levels of calcium though-giving that to your puppy too early could contribute musculoskeletally disorders later in life.
Dog owners often turn to an online source or pet food stores for puppy food and brand suggestions.
However, many Recommendations from these sources are inaccurate, or just trying to sell an affiliate product. They don't take into account actual nutritional needs for puppies, nor do they necessarily know what's right for an adult dog.

So it’s up to you to learn how to read puppy food labels and be the final
decision-maker on your puppy’s nutritional needs.

There are six primary nutritional areas to focus on, and each has an ideal threshold:


A puppy’s energy outputs and needs will tell you more about nutritional values.

To help Lab owners, the Association of American Feed Control Officials
(A.A.F.C.O.) recommends owners follow nutritional guidelines for things like
“Nutrient Growth and Reproduction Adult Maintenance, ” “Minimum Adult
Maintenance,” and “Maximum Adult Maintenance.”

However, these are only guidelines, and you should be varying these six nutrients
based on your dog’s individual needs and behavior. It’s best to work with a breeder or
your vet to ensure you get these levels correct.

For A Labrador

There’s a common misconception that since dogs are carnivores, they need a purely meat-based diet. What your puppy really needs is balance. For example, proteins can be from both plant-based and meat-based sources. So can vitamins and minerals. An all-meat diet doesn’t meet a dog’s nutritional requirements, so choose food featuring ingredients from both meats and veggies. a breeder or your vet to ensure you get these levels correct.

The source of protein matters when considering a
high-quality diet. A lower quality dog food may contain
protein, but many brands use fillers that don’t
contain protein from the right sources.

Protein should make up around 22% to 30% of puppy
for adequate growth levels. For adult labs, you
would rarely go above 30% unless medically necessary.


The rest of the diet should be made up of fats, carbs,
and vitamins. Labs need to have a correct protein
-to-fat ratio, where protein takes the lead.

However, source matters — your puppies should be
getting a diet with a good amount of Omega-3’s and
6’s. Dogs tend to convert fat into glucose, so this is an
important source of energy. Try to stay between 10%
to 25% of fats.


Dogs rely mostly on protein and fats, but carbs are
necessary. That said, a low carb diet is best for puppies.
However, you still need the right percentage of
carbs, since this gives your dog the sensation of being
full. These include starches, fibers, and sugars.

Try to opt for more complex carbs like starchy grain
and veggies because these are easier to digest.


Carbs, proteins, and fats are macronutrients — but
you also need to consider micronutrients for a balanced
diet. Your Lab puppy will thrive when his or her diet includes:

  • Vitamin B12 (especially during puppy development),
  • Vitamins A and E, C,
  • Vitamin D, phosphorus, and calcium,
  • Potassium
  • Iron

Each of these required vitamins and minerals contributes to a healthy, happy, and
energetic puppy. They also help offset issues like obesity. Vitamins A and E are
important because they help your dog burn calories and promote eye and skin health.

Vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus, on the other hand, are part of a trifecta that
works to strengthen teeth and bones. Potassium is a heart health-preserver.

Glucosamine & Chondroitin

These are supplements you can give your puppies as part of their diet.

Labs with poor genetics are especially prone to orthopedic issues.
Osteoarthritis and hip dysplasia are common health problems for this breed.

Glucosamine, an amino-sugar, together with chondroitin sulfate, helps replace and
support naturally degrading cartilage during old age. That’s why strengthening
your puppy’s joints and bone makeup during early development is so crucial.

A Warning About So-Called “Grain-Free” Foods
One thing should be clear: A healthy lab puppy food diet is all about balance. Recently,"grain-free" foods are being championed as a preferred and even high-quality form of dog food. That's, not the whole story. An investigation launched by the FDA revealed that there are potential links between a form of canine heart disease and grain-free foods. So far, researchers have provided an update to this researchers have provided an update to this research staring that the issue may not just be grain-free diets. Grain-free may be part of other trends knows as "BEG"- boutique companies. exotic ingredients, and grain-free diets. Puppy diets don't' need to be complicated. They also don't need to include ingredients that humans might enjoy. Enjoyment doesn't necessarily bring any nutritional value to your puppy's development.
Keep it simple, using the guidelines for fats, proteins, and carbs above and don't shy away from food with grains in them. It's not their presence that's a problem it's often the ratio.There shouldn't be more carbs or grains than protein. Nor does including only legumes, seeds, lentils, or chickpeas as the primary ingredients make the food more superior. It's perfectly healthy to include complex carb sources like starchy rice and other grains. Grain-free isn't (and shouldn't be) a qualifying factor for your choice in puppy food.It's simply a marketing gimmick that doesn’t yet have the science to back it up.
Feeding Your Puppy Kibble

Kibble is dried, pelleted food that stores well is easy to eat, and is pre-formulated
with everything your puppy needs to thrive and grow in his early developmental

  • It takes the guesswork out of nutritional value and caloric intake
  • It isn’t perishable
  • It’s more cost-effective, even when you’re buying a high-quality brand
  • It’s rough exterior acts as a cleaning agent for your dog’s teeth
Not all kibble is created equal though. There are plenty of popular brands that don't measure up to the Snowy Pines standard. That's why it's so vital for you to learn how to read puppy food labels. Puppies should stick with "puppy stage" food, while adults should stick to bags marked "adults." Too many times, breeders which include recipes that are not vet-tested or approved High-quality kibble should not include any unnecessary additives, as these may provoke allergies or digestive issues. Instead, your dog should have regular bowel movements, allowing them to absorb all the nutrients available.
You should also keep in mind that caloric intake is calculated a little differently for puppies. Kibble diets are measured by how many calories the proteins, fats, and carbs represent for each gram. For puppies, this should be 3.5 calories per gram of fat. Sticking to these ratios will help ensure your kibble choice is a healthy one. You can also use this handy feeding chart to track, tweak and adjust your growing puppy's nutritional and caloric needs:

Feed your puppy Daily ?

It's also important to note that kibble calories are often higher when compared to wet food. If it's high-quality wet food, it won't have as much fat to preserve it, which means fewer calories. You may have to supplement with dry food, especially if you're trying to keep the calories of carbs, proteins, and fats in the right per-gram ratio.
Adult Weight Icon


Dry Food Icon


Wet Food Icon


Fresh Food Icon


5 213 202 192
6 244 232 220
7 274 260 247
8 303 288 273
9 331 314 298
10 358 340 322
12 410 390 389
15 485 401 437
18 556 529 501
20 602 572 542
25 712 070 734
30 810 775 734
35 910 870 824
40 1013 962 911
45 1100 1051 995
50 1197 1137 1077
55 1280 1221 1157
60 1372 1304 1235
65 1457 1384 1312
70 1541 1464 1387
75 1022 1541 1460
80 1703 1018 1533
85 1782 1093 1604
90 1860 1767 1674
100 2013 1913 1812
110 2102 2054 1946
120 2308 2193 2077
130 2451 2328 2206
140 2591 2402 2332
150 2729 2592 2456
170 2997 2847 2697
190 3258 3095 2932
210 3512 3330 3161
230 3760 3572 3384


To pass the torch on to you and help you maintain that high level of care for your new Lab puppy, we’ve put together a few recommendations for the best puppy food available for early development. No matter which brand you go for, you now know enough to read the labels yourself and make a judgment on the best quality kibble for your Lab puppy. The costs of not doing so in later life can be much larger than a few dollars saved today.
Image of Dog Food

Purina Pro Plan Focus

Puppy Chicken & Rice Formula

  • High-quality protein, including chicken as the first ingredient
  • DHA from omega-rich fish oil helps nourish brain and vision development
  • Rich in antioxidants to help support a puppy’s developing immune system
  • Calcium, phosphorus and other minerals help build strong teeth and bones
  • Vitamin A and linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid, promote healthy skin and coat

Nutrition Graph
Image of Dog Food

Royal Canin

Labrador Retriever Puppy Dry Dog Food

  • Exclusive donut-shaped kibble designed specifically to help large breed
  • Labrador Retriever puppies chew and eat food slowly
  • Helps protect a puppy’s developing immune system and natural defenses with an
  • exclusive complex of antioxidants including vitamin E
  • Promotes healthy growth of bone structure and weight management with precise
  • mineral content and a balanced energy intake

Nutrition Graph
Image of Dog Food


Classic Puppy Recipe

  • Real deboned chicken is always the first ingredient. This high quality
  • helps build and maintain healthy muscle tissue.
  • Features a unique blend of ancient grains, like quinoa, to support optimal
  • digestion while being free from potato, corn, wheat and soy.
  • Formulated with DHA to help support healthy brain development in your
  • puppy plus Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids for healthy skin and
  • coat, and glucosamine and chondroitin to support healthy hips and joints.

Nutrition Graph

Biologically Appropriate Raw Food

Two Plates Full of Meat
BARF Model Ratio Guidelines
B.A.R.F. stands for “Biologically Appropriate Raw Food.” It’s a kind of diet that starts puppies off on a diet consisting of raw meat, raw seeds, nuts, fruits, vegetables and more. The acronym may sound gross, but rest assured that it’s not an accurate description of how your dog will feel. But it’s not without some “controversy.” Raw feeding requires a lot of forethought and pre-planning, because you need to determine what the diet ratios for all these ingredients are if you want to create a truly balanced diet for your puppy.
Luckily, B.A.R.F. diets come with their own recommended guidelines — though the FDA is not exactly the biggest fan of B.A.R.F. Not only will you have to shop and measure, but you’ll also need to prepare and then ensure that your prep area remains separate and clean after each feeding. Since puppies feed three to four times a day, this could get tedious. However, many dog lovers swear by the benefits of raw feeding. If you do have the time and care to devote to this endeavor, raw feeding may be for you. Let’s talk pros and cons:

chart showing dog food comparison

Not only will you have to shop and measure, but you’ll also need
to prepare and then ensure that your prep area remains separate
and clean after each feeding. Since puppies feed three to four
times a day, this could get tedious.

However, many dog lovers swear by the benefits of raw feeding.
If you do have the time and care to devote to this endeavor, raw
feeding may be for you. Let’s talk pros and cons:

Barf Diet Pros & Cons

Minimally Processed

Food remains in its original, whole form. It goes right from your grocer, to you, and then to your dog.

Reduced Risk of Bloat

Because of its lack of processing and all-natural ingredients, there is less of a chance that your dog’s stomach will be bloated. It’s worth considering for puppies with allergies.

Healthier Teeth and Gums

Biting into raw muscle and bone strengthens a puppy’s teeth and jaw.

High In Fat

Animal meats become increasingly
expensive the leaner they get, so
manufacturers may go for fattier cuts
and transfer these costs to you.

Raw Meat Germs

The most significant risk of all is the one
posed to you and your family from
bacteria that live on raw meat. Consider
the fact that it may never be safe to
allow your dog to lick you. Even their
paws may be crawling with bacteria
once they’re finished.

Difficult To Train With
Raw Food

It’s a challenging training with raw food
for two reasons: First off, you can’t keep
wiping your hands on antibacterial wet
wipes every time you reward good
behavior. Secondly, continued raw
feeding during training could lead to
rapid weight gain.

Wet Food Pros & Cons

Some dog owners see wet food as the next best thing. If they purchase high-quality
wet food in pouches or canned food with gravy, this is as close to “raw” as they can get without risking the spread of germs and bacteria.

Much Tastier

Wet food feels fresh, and includes gravy.
Its natural moisture makes it way more
flavorful — a fact your puppy will gladly
lap up.

Great To Help Puppies

Transition From Weaning

Because of its moisture, wet food is a
great way to transition young puppies at
eight weeks to 2 months from weaning
into dry food.

Great For Maintaining Weight

Dry food has roughly three to four times
the number of calories per gram than
wet food. If you’re trying to get your
puppy to maintain or reduce weight in a
delicate manner, but would still like to
keep up to volume and frequency of
feedings, wet food may be your answer.

Hard To Store Long-Term

Once you buy wet food, there’s an
expiration date on them, meaning it’s
harder to store. Warm areas with
sunlight are not the right place to keep
these. And when you’ve popped the lid
open, you can only keep wet food for a
couple of hours. If your dog doesn’t eat
it all in one go, you risk the food spoiling
in the open air.

Can Be Processed

Unlike the raw food diet, wet food is still
processed by manufacturers.

Different Dog Food Types

Muscle Meat

BARF diets consist of raw muscle meat to provide essential protein, amino acids, and water-soluble vitamins. The muscle meat ratio guideline starts at 70% of the overall daily intake. It is important to note the muscle meat ratio does not mean to feed muscle meat exclusively. This ratio is a large category containing multiple ingredients such as saturated fat for energy and muscular organs such as heart muscle meat.
Different Dog Food Types

Raw Edible Bone

Soft, raw edible bones are an important component to BARF diets to provide essential calcium, phosphorous, and other essential nutrients. The raw edible bone ratio guideline starts at 10% of the overall daily intake. The amount of raw meaty bones a dog may need to maintain firm and consistent stool will vary. The 10% ratio is a starting guideline. However, many dogs do well on 12% to 15% raw edible bone content. Always adjust according to the dog’s individual needs.
Different Dog Food Types


Liver is an important ingredient in BARF diets to provide essential fat-soluble vitamin A and water-soluble vitamins. The liver ratio guideline starts at 5% of the overall daily intake. The 5% liver ratio is a starting guideline and this amount of liver provides more than recommended allowances for vitamin A. For dogs who are sensitive to organs, feeding as low as 2% liver will still provide essential vitamin A.
Different Dog Food Types

Other Organs

Other secreting organs, such as kidney, are beneficial ingredients in BARF diets to provide essential minerals and water-soluble vitamins. The other organ ratio guideline starts at 5% of the overall daily intake. Other secreting organs are beneficial in completing essential NRC nutritional requirements for dogs. The 5% ratio guideline is a starting recommendation, and more or less secreting organs can be fed to complete nutritional requirements.
Different Dog Food Types


Vegetables are beneficial ingredients in BARF diets to provide essential nutrients and beneficial phytochemicals. The vegetable ratio guideline starts at 7% of the overall daily intake. Vegetables are beneficial in completing essential nutrient requirements for dogs. The 7% ratio guideline is a starting recommendation, and more or fewer vegetables can be fed to complete nutritional requirements.
Different Dog Food Types

Seeds & Nuts

Raw seeds and nuts are beneficial ingredients in BARF diets to provide essential minerals, fatty acids, and fat-soluble vitamins. The raw seed and nut ratio guideline starts at 2% of the overall daily intake. Seeds and nuts are beneficial for completing essential nutrient requirements for dogs, but they must be pre-soaked and ground for feeding. Raw nuts and seeds contain phytates which are anti-nutrients that can negatively affect nutritional balance. Soaking raw seeds and nuts reduce phytates and grinding promotes optimal digestion. The 2% ratio guideline is a starting recommendation, and more or less can be fed to complete nutritional requirements.
Different Dog Food Types


Fruit includes beneficial ingredients in BARF diets to provide antioxidants, but they are fed in small amounts due to their sugar levels. The fruit ratio guideline starts at 1% of the overall daily intake.

Snowy Pines Difference

The health of your Labrador depends on what you feed Finding the right balance is essential to help give your dog a long, happy life. But puppy health starts with something else. It starts with the parents! That’s why Snowy Pines focuses on more than just providing a balanced diet for our puppies. We also breed beautiful dams and sires with champion bloodlines and clean bills of health. This helps ensure that all of our puppies begin life with the best chance at a long and healthy life. And of course, we also take great care to feed our puppies everything they need to be strong, cute, and healthy. Use this guide to help guide your next purchase of puppy kibble, and learn more about how you can adopt a Snowy Pines White Labrador today.