Cook food for your Labrador retriever that contains a suitable combination of foods. A healthy diet should include approximately 50 percent animal protein, 30 percent complex carbohydrates and 20 percent fruit and vegetables. For example, take 1 pound of lean meat and combine it with approximately 9.5 ounces of carbohydrates and 7.5 ounces of fruits and vegetables to make 2 pounds of food. Mix everything together with just enough water to swell any rice, barley or quinoa included, to avoid discarding excess liquid that contains essential nutrients.
Choose protein such as human quality meat, fish and poultry. Include muscle meat, a small percentage of rich organ meats such as liver, heart and kidneys, and fish that is high in omega 3 oils such as salmon. Suitable dairy products to use include low fat, natural yogurt, cottage cheese and eggs.
Select complex carbohydrates such as brown rice or sweet potato, and include vegetables and fruits such as green beans, carrots, pumpkin, cauliflower, apples and pears. Avoid corn, which is difficult for dogs to digest and contributes to weight gain. For older Labs with conditions such as arthritis or hip dysplasia, avoid grains altogether.
Add vitamins and minerals to the food. Adult Labrador retrievers need between 800 and 1,000 mg of calcium daily to support and maintain bone strength. Make your own calcium supplement using ground eggshells, by drying them overnight in the oven and then grinding them in a coffee grinder.
Ask your veterinarian to evaluate your Lab’s diet regularly to ensure that you are feeding sufficient quantities of essential nutrients. In addition to calcium, young Labs need phosphorous, magnesium, zinc and iron, while adults with joint problems may need a diet that includes glucosamine and chondroitin.
Avoid raisins, grapes and macadamia nuts, which can be harmful to dogs if ingested regularly, according to veterinarian Sarah Abood of the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Also, never feed your dog anything that contains chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, avocados, yeasty dough, onions, garlic, chives, salt or milk products. Cook all meat, eggs or bones before feeding it to your Lab, as raw meat can contain bacteria such as E.coli and salmonella.
Include a spoonful of vegetable, flaxseed or olive oil in each meal for your adult Lab. The oil contains omega 6 fatty acids, which are essential for the healthy condition of the breed’s thick, waterproof coat. Use only fresh oil, as oils kept too long or exposed to air can turn rancid.