- Benefits of a homemade diet for Labradors
- Balancing a homemade diet for a Labrador
- Labrador breed predispositions and functional nutrition support
- Make it bespoke to your Labrador
- Reduce the chances of your Labrador developing digestive issues.
- Supplements for Labradors
“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” Ann Wigmore
Benefits of a Homemade Dog Food for Labrador
- Healthiest way to feed your Labrador.
- Diet can help to mitigate breed predispositions.
- You know what ingredients are being used, you control the quality.
- You can personalise the recipes to include foods that your dog enjoys.
- Homemade diets minimise the chances of digestive issues for Labradors.
- Use appropriate and specific supplement for than extra boost.
In this article we’ll discuss these components of making the healthiest homemade diet possible for your Labrador. Written by me, the dog nutritionist (Cam).
Balancing a diet for your Labrador
There is so much worry about making a complete diet for dogs, and this anxiety can be really useful because it will ensure you get it right. However, it’s very misplaced because dog nutrition is actually very simple.
Your dog needs a high proportion of meat in their diet, which includes organ meat. They require some calcium from either bone, eggshell or a supplement and a range of grated vegetables and fruits. You can buy a multivitamin supplement like the one I sell to ensure you’re not falling short, or you can get my homemade dog food recipe ebook for Labradors, which comes with a full nutrition guide with raw bones quantities.
Meat (sometimes fish) 50-70%
Organ Meat 10-20%
Raw Bone or Calcium Source 10% OR more meat & 2000mg of calcium per 1kg of food
Carbs max. 20% (Some days there should be no carbs in the food)
Oils 1 tbsp per 1kg of food/ 1.5 tbsp if no carbs in the food)
You’ll notice these figures don’t add up to 100%, that’s because it’s a guide and it really doesn’t matter if you don’t get it exactly right. But again, if your one of those dog owners who does feel the stress of the situation more, you can get specific recipes for Labrador’s here.
Here’s a video I’ve made on Debunking Complete Dog Food – Please watch it, it will relieve some stress!
Labrador breed predispositions and functional nutrition support
Nutrigenomics is using specific foods to minimise the expression of unhealthy genes, and maximising the expression of healthy genes. This doesn’t need to be overcomplicated, so I’ll keep it simple; the healthier diet, the less likely your dog will suffer from disease.
This is where functional foods come in, and again, let’s not overcomplicate things. All foods have a nutrition profile, a range of macronutrients, vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, antioxidants, polyphenols etc. and these nutrients have the ability support certain areas of a human and canine health.
Some ingredients have nutrition profiles that are more suited to supporting eye health, some for joints, some to help keep the skin and coat of dog nourished and even be anti-cancer or beneficial for the liver health.
Creating a natural fresh food diet, using specific foods and functional foods in the right proportion, can protect your dog from health issues they’re more predisposed to. That’s the power of food!
What are Labrador’s common health issues?
Hip & Elbow Dysplasia: Joint support comes from weight control, making sure your Labrador is lean, but also avoiding inflammatory ingredients like carbohydrates and cereals. Providing a natural fresh food diet that’s anti-inflammatory, using fish etc. Utilizing high collagen foods, like raw meaty bones (chicken feet or wings, duck necks etc. or eggshell membrane), can help to regrow cartilage and ensure that they stay mobile and out of pain for as long and as often as possible.
Lumps: Keeping high glycemic foods starches foods or low quality cereals to a minimum is the best way to mitigate cancer. Overfeeding your Labrador, particular meals and not just quantity of food can impact tumor growth, feeding once a day at least occasionally is recommended. Utilizing cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, and anti-angiogenic ingredients like berries and mushrooms can also create an anti-cancer diet.
Skin Conditions: Labradors can suffer from dry skin as well as allergies that lead to dermatitis (skin inflammation). Again, minimise starchy carbs and use the proteins (meats) which you know work best for your Labrador. Make sure they’re getting a few portions of fresh fish, raw salmon, mackerel or sardines, as this will supply them with a the natural source of Omega-3 fatty acids to boost the health of their skin.
Using ingredients your Labrador digests the best, in the right balance.
Every dog is different and your Labrador is not the exact same as the next dog owner’s Labrador. It’s the same for their dietary needs and abilities, as sometimes one Labrador is better at digesting a certain ingredient than another Labrador. This is particularly the case for proteins (meats/ fish/eggs), but can also be the case for vegetables, fruits and carbohydrates.
By learning what your dog digests the best, and using these ingredients as often as possible, it puts minimal stress on your Labrador’s digestive system, this maximises the absorption of nutrients from the foods and minimises gastro-intestinal inflammation. It makes for a better balance of gut bacteria, basically, everything will work more efficiently and your Labrador will be healthier.
It’s very common for dogs to have food intolerances, certain ingredients that they struggle to digest. It’s important you learn what these are and avoid them. The common intolerances are to specific meats, but some dogs struggle to digest other ingredients like carbohydrates.
Here’s a video I’ve made on: What are healthy foods for dogs?
Here’s a video I’ve made on: The foods your dog CAN NOT eat
A massively understated part of creating a healthy diet that your Labrador is enjoyment. Studies have popped up recently in human nutrition showing how much the power of the mind impacts the overall health of our diets.
If your dog is getting the right smells from the food, if it tastes good, it will stimulate them and provide enjoyment on a daily basis, this will massively improve the healthiness of the meal and therefore their overall health and longevity.
Reduce the chances of your Labrador developing digestive issues
For Labradors that suffer from digestive issues, this is an indication of an inflamed gut or one that needs some additional support. From my experience of working with hundreds of dogs with IBS or similar symptoms, inflammation is generally caused by an incorrect diet for the individual dog (rarely it’s a bacterial infection).
Generic dog foods often contain an improper balance of protein/ fats/ carbs (mainly carbs) and/ or ingredients that certain dogs struggle to digest. Over time, a dog who is sensitive to these imbalances or ingredients, develops inflammation along the gut as well as a dysbiosis of the gut microbiome, further reducing the guts ability to function in a health manner.
Eventually it all becomes too much and the gut rejects the food. The symptoms can be explosive, coming out from either or both ends, or I can result in your Labrador developing anal gland problems, pancreatitis, skin issues and general irritation.
Avoid incorrectly balanced meals and ingredients that your Labrador could be intolerant too. For any digestive issues, please get in touch with Cam to organise a consultation.
Another classic error, and misconception in the canine world is the dogs need numerous meals every single day. This is not the case and can put additional pressure on your Labrador’s gut. Food abundance is not natural, and by provide your dog with too many meals means their digestive system is constantly in use, and never getting time to rest.
A Labrador should be eating ONE meal per day or a maximum of TWO meals within a 5hr eating window.
Supplements for Labradors
Depending on the lifestyle and current health condition of your Labrador, will determine what supplements we’d recommend. Nutrition is not only there to support the overall health of a dog, but can be used specifically to support the life of the individual dog.
For those more active Labrador, or those older dogs who are in need of joint support, we’d recommend the multivitamin and the joints supplement.
For those who are more prone to skin conditions, we’d recommend the multivitamin and the skin and coat supplement.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this, and found it helpful. Send it to your friends with Labrador’s so they can also have this knowledge. Food really is medicine, and it can help all Labradors live a longer and healthier life. Here’s the recipe ebook for Labradors if you’d like it.