Owing a Labrador Retriever puppy can be a very rewarding experience, especially because you have the opportunity to see your puppy through each stage of growing up. However, there is a lot of responsibility involved in caring for a Labrador puppy, and this should not be taken lightly. Many pet owners make key mistakes in their puppy’s care, which can have negative effects later in their growth stages. One of these mistakes is in the type and amount of food to feed a Labrador puppy. Some pet owners do not research this topic thoroughly, with subsequent negative effects on their puppy’s health.
Puppies are typically taken from their mothers around 8-10 weeks of age. At this time, their sole source of nutrition has been their mother’s milk, and their digestive systems are still very sensitive. A mother dog’s milk contains a high level of antibodies, which are important for strengthening a puppy’s immune system. After this time typically is when the transition to solid dog food (either wet or dry) is necessary. It’s recommended to divide your puppy’s food ratio into three feedings per day, even when the amount of food your puppy needs increases. For these early days, you may want to mix your puppy’s food in with a puppy milk substitute to make it easier to digest. This will also help your puppy become accustomed to eating solid foods.
Around four months, your puppy will begin teething. This is a very uncomfortable time, and may cause your Labrador puppy to have different eating habits. Because of the adult teeth that are coming in, it may cause discomfort for your puppy to chew on hard food. If you are feeding your puppy hard kibble, you may want to switch to a canned puppy food, or a mix of kibble and canned food until your puppy stops teething.
To figure out an appropriate amount of food to feed your puppy, be sure to weigh your puppy on a weekly basis. Puppies grow very fast, and can change feeding tiers within a week’s time! Most dog food companies include a feeding chart on the packaging, which will let you know how much food to feed your puppy. This is specific for every dog food, so be sure to check the packaging each time you switch food. It is strongly recommended to feed your puppy a “puppy formula” food for at least the first year, since it is the best way to ensure that your puppy develops properly.