FEEDING YOUR NEW LABRADOR RETRIEVER PUPPY ...
Our Labrador puppies nurse from their mother until approximately five to six weeks of age. At three weeks of age they are introduced to puppy food, which is soaked and made into a warm gruel. What a sight, the first few feedings have the little Lab pups "wearing" more food than eating it. They learn quickly though.
We have used Eukanuba Adult Maintainence formula with our Labrador Retriever puppies for many years. Adult formula is lower in protein and calcium and it is believed that this will decrease the incidence of growth spurts and allow your Labrador puppy to grow at a more even pace. Current research shows that an even growth pace is helpful in warding off the incident of hip dysplasia, OCD, and other problems associated with rapid growth in Labrador Retrievers (and other large breeds).
When you get your new Labrador puppy home it is imperative that you keep your puppy on the same food it has become used to. Puppies tummies can be very sensitive to changes in food. Besides, we absolutely believe in Eukanuba!!!
We highly advocate scheduled feedings for Labrador Retrievers (remember however, that cool, fresh water should be available at all times except during crating).
Your Labrador puppy has been eating three times a day at approximately 7:00 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 6:00 p.m. This schedule is not cast in stone. We recommend the final feeding be no later that 7:00 p.m. (allowing you to get puppy outside immediately after eating (see "Housetraining") and again just before your bedtime. The morning feeding should be after you've taken the pup outside, let it have it's pee and poo, and have a little play session. Time the middle feeding at a halfway point between the morning and evening feedings.
At first offer your Labrador puppy about 3/4 - 1 cup of food. The pups are on dry food by the time they go home. Let the pup have access to the food for about 20 minutes. What s/he hasn't eaten after this time disappears (manmade competition and the start of scheduled feedings). Continue this through the scheduled feeding times.
As Labrador Retriever puppies grow, so do their appetites. If your puppy consistently finishes all of the food offered, then begin increasing the amount feed, 1/4 cup at a time. Some Labrador puppies eat a lot, others eat less. Growing Labrador Retrievers can eat what seems to be a phenomenal amount (we've had a couple of male Labrador pups which actually got up to 6 cups a day in their seventh and eighth months). Just be careful not to overfeed. It is important that Labrador Retrievers not become overweight. You should be able to feel it ribs quite readily when s/he is standing, by running your hands along it's sides. You should not have to "poke in" with your fingers.
At some point between 16-24 weeks your puppy will no longer require three feedings a day. A lot of puppies will let you know when that is. They will begin to pick at one of the meals, or sometimes eat a little of all. If you find your puppy is consistently not interested in a meal (often the mid feeding), take the same amount of food you have been feeding in a day and divide it into two feedings. Voila!! Puppy is eating the same amount, just twice a day instead of thrice. At one year you may switch to feeding once a day.
Should your puppy not signal you that s/he is ready for two feedings a day, at six months we recommend that you initiate the two feedings per day.
Because your puppy is eating adult food already there is no need to switch foods. Typically, adult female Labradors eat between 3 and 4 cups per day, while males eat between 3-1/2 and 5 cups per day. This may vary from dog to dog based on individual metabolism and activity level.
All Labradors, just like people, have different metabolisms. This is further altered by activity level and age. "Less Active" and "Senior's" formulas are available and you may find that you have to switch your Labrador Retriever to these under certain circumstances. We certainly suggest that you enlist the opinion of your veterinarian should you feel that your Labrador is gaining weight (check to make sure you are helping your dog to get it's daily required exercise (see Exercising Your Puppy/Adult Labrador Retriever).
It is important that your puppy/adult/senior Labrador Retriever
receive quality nutrition. It is also very important that your Labrador
Retriever is maintained at a suitable weight. Sometimes Labradors
need to be switched to other foods due to obesity, allergies, etc.
Switching should be at your veterinarians recommendation and, where possible,
be done gradually over a period of a few days to minimize gastrointestinal
reactions in your Labrador Retriever.