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While your puppy is growing, you will need to increase the amount eaten frequently, but be careful not to overfeed. Your lab puppy will probably act hungry all the time (labs are known to be real monsters in the food department!), but it is important to keep him at a healthy weight. Most labs do not know the meaning of self-control when it comes to food so you need to learn to judge his condition and base your feeding quantities on that. In general, the amounts suggested on the bag of dog food will be far too much for your lab as an adult, but as a puppy you may need to feed the suggested amount or a bit more at times. Again, please feed your puppy based on his condition, increasing the quantity provided if he starts to become thin and decreasing it slightly if he is getting pudgy. Visit our article on Ideal Body Condition to learn how to determine your puppy's ideal weight, or ask your veterinarian for assistance.
When you bring your new puppy home, we will provide you with details on how much, and how often to feed your little one. Usually it starts out in the neighbourhood of half a cup of soaked kibble, three times daily. We quickly switch to 2 feedings per day and stop soaking the food once the puppy is around 4 months old, and we will switch from large breed puppy food to adult food once he or she has finished most of their upward growth - typically around 12 months of age.
What about raw foods?
A raw food diet is a non-commercial diet made up of a balance of raw meats, bones, veggies and fruits. The primary benefit to a raw food diet is that you know exactly what your dog is eating, and you are not exposing him to potentially harmful preservatives that may be found in lower-end kibble. While we acknowledge that feeding a raw food diet can have excellent health benefits, it's success is dependant on a thorough understanding of the nutritional needs of a dog, and we do not recommend it's use unless you have done your research. It is crucial for a growing puppy to have a proper balance of nutrients- an imbalance can cause structural defects and deformities, so your puppy's growth period is not a good time to experiment. The down side to feeding a raw diet is that it can be inconvenient if not difficult to maintain a good supply of raw meats and vegetable matter at an affordable price. It can also be quite time consuming to prepare.
We like to feed our ADULT dogs an assortment of raw meats and vegetables as a supplement to their regular diet. We have found this system to work very well. Vegetables provide good 'filler' material for hungry Labs - allowing them to consume a wider variety of vitamins and minerals without being bogged down with excess calories. Raw bones also work well for cleaning teeth, provided they are large enough that they cannot be crunched. Cooked bones should not be fed at all, as they can splinter and cause intestinal damage.
Here is a list of human foods that dogs should NOT eat for safety reasons:
* grapes & raisins - can cause kidney failure * gum - chewing gum containg Xylitol is DEADLY! Do not give your dog gum. * onions - can cause anemia * chocolate - dark baker's chocolate can lead to seizures, coma or even death. Milk chocolate is not as toxic but I would never feed it intentionally * Apple seeds, peach pits, and cherry pits - contain cyanide and overconsumption may lead to poisoning. The fruit itself is safe and delicious. * Avocados- all parts are toxic * tomatoes - the plant itself is toxic, possibly the fruit as well * Macadamia nuts - can cause weakness and paralysis * Nutmeg - can cause seizures and death * Caffeine - coffee, tea, and other caffeinated products can cause the same symptoms as chocolate toxicity. * Mushrooms - as with humans, some varieties are poisonous to dogs. Further research is required to determine which species, if any, are safe for dogs to eat. * Spoiled foods - never feed your dog moldy or rotten foods. If it's not good for you to eat, it's not good for him to eat either.
This is not a comprehensive list - we will add to it as we learn more, but please ensure your dog's own safety by feeding him only food products known to be safe. Keep in mind that in small quantities, these foods may not produce an immediate reaction, but your dogs should be monitored if it is discovered that he has gotten into something poisonous. In addition, some dogs have been known to have allergic reactions to foods that other dogs eat all the time. Just like with people, every dog is unique and should be treated as such.
There are other poisonous things that dogs need to watch out for. Toads, for instance - Nestle fetched a large toad that she found in our basement (ew! don't ask me how it got in!). The slime from the toad's skin contained a mild toxin that caused her to drool, tremble, and shake her head excessively. Luckily, it was not a deadly species - but the situation was a good reminder to be aware that there are natural hazards in your own environment. Be aware of berries, bugs, snakes, mushrooms, or toads that may be poisonous in your area. Teach your puppy to "leave it!" at an early age so that you can prevent him from eating every shiny thing he sees.
Good Raw Foods
* Red or Green Bell Peppers * Celery * Lettuce (although most dogs won't eat it) * Carrots * Cucumbers * Apples (not the seeds) * Saskatoon berries * Rose hips * Blue Berries * Rice * Pumpkin * Green Beans * Peas
What goes in, must come out- keep an eye on your puppy's poop as one clue to their health:
Feeding Your Puppy
We Feed and Recommend Eagle Pack Large Breed Puppy Food