What Are the Nutritional Requirements of a Dog?
Before we discuss the best dog food for Labradors let us learn more about dogs as a genus and species. This will give you an insight into their anatomy and physiology. Which in turn will give you an idea of what kind of food is best for them?
Like all living beings, dogs of any breed require carbohydrates, fats, proteins, minerals, vitamins, and water. These food groups are broken down in the body to build muscles, bones, blood, etc. They are required to carry out various physiological functions in the body.
The need for these components may vary in different stages of the canine’s life. For example, a puppy and adolescent may require more calcium for growing bones. A well-balanced diet is vital for the overall health and wellbeing of your Labradors.
Dogs belong to the taxonomical Order Carnivora. Some animals in this order are Obligates or true carnivores. For example, with cats; meat is an absolute dietary requirement. But humans and dogs are Omnivores. This means that the dentition (the teeth structure) and intestines have become adapted to an omnivorous diet.
Their nutritional requirements are met through a plant and animal-based diet. The source of the nutrient groups is less important compared to the digestibility and quality. In other words, if Labradors are fed a balanced vegetarian diet they will thrive.
Types of Best Dog Food for Labradors
We have enlisted the various types of dog foods available in the market.
Dry Food aka Kibble is a combination of raw ingredients that are cooked, ground and blended. The homogenized mixture is extruded into bite-size pellets. Besides meeting nutritional needs kibble has dental benefits.
Chewing kibble scraps off plaque and tartar off your pet’s teeth. Besides, if your dog has specific dietary requirements you will find a great variety of kibble available in the market.
Wet food comes in pouches and cans. Wet foods contain 87% moisture while dry foods only 10%. They also have a higher percentage of fats and proteins besides higher amounts of calories and flavour. Beware of the ingredients used to bind and thicken the food besides other additives such as colours, preservatives, etc. Wet foods have a short shelf life and are meant as supplements.
Prescription foods cover specific dietary requirements to mitigate a health problem. They are not regular food for Labradors.
Freeze-dried foods are frozen and then the moisture is removed by desiccation. The resulting product retains the nutritional integrity. This food can be cooked or raw and requires rehydration. They are flavorful, carry high nutritional value and do not contain artificial preservatives.
Human-grade dog foods contain ingredients fit for human consumption.
Dehydrated foods are the dry feed that requires rehydration to restore the food to the original state. No preservatives are used thus it is safe and healthy.
Frozen fresh foods are closest to the natural dog diet. They may be cooked or raw, frozen or refrigerated. They are usually high-quality foods where nutritional integrity is not compromised.
The other diets you will find on the pet food aisle are flax-free, gluten-free, GMO-free, grain-free, high protein, limited ingredient, low glycemic, low protein and organic.
How to Choose the Best Dog Food for Labradors?
The best advice is to feed the Labrador with the highest quality food within your budget. You cannot see the difference between premium dog food and budget dog food by reading the label. The difference is in the source of the ingredients in the packet. The two dog foods – premium and budget – may contain 27% of proteins but the difference is in the digestibility.
The ingredients in pet food are listed by the order of weight. Each ingredient is weighed and added to the batch of food. Some ingredients such as fresh meat have lots of water. This water is lost during processing. Another point to be noted is if, in a dry diet, corn is enlisted as the first ingredient. It will be superior quality corn.
To complicate the matters further some nutrients are listed maximum percentage while the others as a minimum. This means that the batch may contain a lower or higher percentage of a certain ingredient than printed on the label. In conclusion, instead of vacillating and worrying the best solution is to ask your veterinarian.
Nevertheless, here are a few tips to decide the best dog food for Labradors.
Pick a dog food with recognizable, real ingredients comprising of whole foods. For example – Turkey, sweet potato and cranberries mix. Here the first ingredient is meat and it is grain-free.
Pick a low-calorie diet as most neutered, spayed, indoor and adult Labradors have low energy requirements. Ideally, the cup should contain less than 350 calories.
You also have to remember you hand out treats to your fur baby which might pack on pounds leading to health problems.