Feeding the Labrador Retriever

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021

An important part of formulating proactive canine diets is consideration to the breed health disposition as well as the individual dog. The Labrador Retriever is a good example of what this might look like.


Labs make great family dogs and have a lot of energy for field work yet pack on the weight easily. They can have a genetic predisposition for this weight gain, and they love to eat so double trouble.


  • Skeletal issues are common in the breed and can be a precursor to arthritis at an earlier age than some other breeds. Extra body weight burdening the joints add to the problem.
  • Allergies (not necessarily, but not uncommon in this breed)
  • Cancers


Our approach starts by considering the caloric requirement of each dog and building the diet within those calories. A diet that uses leaner cuts of meats and more veggies allows us to include more volume of food to help with satiation and the ingredients can also be used as treats. By including treats in the calorie count it makes it easier to maintain healthy body weight.  Sometimes we can offer a treat recipe that incorporates some foods in the diet.

We focus on joint support for Labs from a fairly young age. Anti inflammatory foods, treats, and targeted supplements so there’s no duplication. Cruciferous veggies, berries, salmon and bone broth are a good start.


Atopic dermatitis is more common than food allergy, but can translate to oral allergy syndrome, so we consider cross reactivity between pollens and the foods we incorporate into the diet. Example a dog who is allergic to birch pollens may want to avoid apples (among other foods) due to potential cross reactivity. Balance of essential fatty acids can play a role here.


Cancers can’t be avoided by diet alone since the dog’s environment as a whole and his/her genetics play strong roles. We support the best outcome possible with a focus on foods that provide healthy fats in a balanced way rather than guessing.  Choices based on anti-angiogenesis (the way cancer cells spread via blood vessels) are supplied in the diet and treats.  For example, kale and winter squash for the food bowl, decaf green tea combined with bone broth as a frozen or warm treat and cooked meatballs that include basil or ginger as more treats or within food rotations.