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When to Switch from Puppy Food to Dog Food Labrador

Has your chubby Labrador puppy grown up into a gangly adolescent? If this is the case, you’re probably wondering when to switch a Labrador from puppy food to adult food.

Labs have different nutritional needs during various stages of their lives, and feeding a diet that is formulated for all life stages isn’t recommended. Feeding a Labrador puppy based on its life stage is the best way to maintain your dog’s health and well-being.

Labrador puppies and adult Labs have very different nutritional needs. To meet your Lab’s dietary requirements, you’ll need to switch them from puppy to adult dog food once their growth is complete. 

Keep reading to learn when to transition a Lab puppy to adult food, how to feed a Labrador, and how much to feed a Lab puppy. 

When to Switch Labrador Retriever Puppies to Adult Dog Food?

Labrador retrievers should switch from puppy food to adult dog food between 12 and 18 months of age. Larger dog breeds, like Labs, need more time to grow to their full size and reach adulthood slower than smaller dog breeds.

Most breeders and kibble manufacturers recommend feeding Labrador puppies with puppy kibble up to 12 months of age before switching to adult dog food. Once your Lab puppy reaches adulthood, it will no longer need the extra nutrients from puppy food to grow.

Large-breed puppies, like Labs, require a specific balance of micro and macro nutrients to ensure the proper development of their bones and joints. When choosing the best diet for a Labrador puppy, pay attention to the calcium-phosphorus ratio. Look for foods with a calcium-to-phosphorus ratio of 1:1 to 1.3:1. 

The decision to switch your Lab puppy from puppy to adult food shouldn’t be taken lightly. Consult your vet before making any drastic changes in your dog’s diet.

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How Much to Feed a Labrador Puppy

How much should I feed my Lab puppy is one of the most common questions new Labrador retriever owners ask. All dogs have unique dietary needs, but there are some general guidelines you can follow when determining Lab puppy food portions.

A 1-month-old Labrador puppy’s diet consists of a mixture of kibble and water. At one month old, Lab puppies still predominantly eat milk, but softened food can be introduced into their diet. To prepare food for a 1-month-old Labrador puppy, mix a small handful of kibble with water – the mixture should be ¼ food ¾ water. 

At two months old, Lab puppies should be fully weaned and eat only solid food. Feed a 2-month-old Labrador puppy around two cups of food per day, split into four separate meals. 

Here’s a handy Lab puppy feeding chart that can help you determine how much to feed a Labrador puppy:

Lab Puppy Food Chart 

Use this Labrador diet chart as a guide, and base the amount of food you’re feeding according to your pup’s age, activity level, health issues, and the brand of food.

Puppy’s AgePuppy’s WeightCups per DayMeal per Day
8 – 12 weeks10 – 20 lbs2 – 4 cups4 meals
12 – 18 weeks20 – 30 lbs3 – 4.5 cups3 meals
18 – 24 weeks 30 – 40 lbs 4.5 – 5.5 cups 3 meals
24 – 32 weeks 40 – 55 lbs4 cups2 meals 

How Much to Feed a Labrador Puppy

Feeding Labrador puppies too much food at once is a common cause of stomach upset and diarrhea. To prevent this, you must split your puppy’s daily calorie intake into several smaller meals spread throughout the day.

Smaller meals are easier to digest and will energize your pup throughout the day. When it comes to feeding, the general advice is to feed puppies under 3 months four times a day. Puppies between 3 and 6 months should be fed three times a day, and puppies over 6 months of age should eat twice a day. 

Meals should be spaced evenly throughout the day – 3 hours apart for four meals, 4 hours apart for three meals, and 6 to 7 hours apart for two meals. 

Feed your Lab puppy the day’s final meal 3 hours before bedtime. This will ensure your pup won’t wake you up to go potty in the middle of the night. 

Best Dog Food for Labs

Now that you know when to switch a Labrador from puppy food to dog food, you’ll need to find the best kibble for your pooch. Listed below are the best dog foods for adult Labrador retrievers.

1. Wellness Complete Health Large Breed Dry Dog Food

Formulated to meet the unique nutritional needs of large-breed dogs, the Wellness Complete Health Large Breed Dry Dog Food is an excellent choice for adult Labradors. 

Key Features:

  • Supports joint health & mobility
  • Easily digestible
  • Improves skin & coat health

This Labrador Dog Food contains chicken and chicken meal as the main sources of protein. Highly digestible brown rice and barley are wholesome carbs that will keep your Lab full and energized throughout the day.

This formula contains glucosamine and chondroitin, which support joint and bone health. And the added probiotics and probiotics promote digestive health.

2. Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream

The Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream recipe is formulated to mimic the ancestral diet of dogs. This grain-free kibble contains superfoods, and nutrients Labradors need to stay healthy and happy. 

Key Features:

  • Grain-free
  • Species-specific probiotics
  • Promotes skin & coat health

Featuring real salmon as the first ingredient, this nutritious kibble has a minimum of 25% crude protein. Veggies, legumes, and fruits, including sweet potatoes, peas, blueberries, and raspberries, are full of antioxidants and essential nutrients that support your dog’s overall health.

Each serving of this delicious and nutritious kibble contains high levels of species-specific probiotics that support good digestion. 

3.  Nutro Ultra Adult Dry Dog Food

The Nutro Ultra Adult Dry Dog Food is specially formulated to meet the nutritional needs of adult dogs and provides complete and balanced nutrition for Labradors. This tasty kibble is made without chicken by-product meal, soy, corn, wheat, artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. 

Key Features:

  • Contains a blend of 15 superfoods
  • Made with non-GMO ingredients
  • Supports healthy digestion

Nutro Ultra Adult Dry Dog Food contains three protein sources – chicken, lamb, and salmon. Chicken is the main ingredient that supports lean and strong muscles and keeps the dog energized throughout the day.

Although not grain-free, this kibble is made with easily digestible wholesome grains that support healthy digestion and will help your Lab feel fuller for longer. This kibble contains a blend of 15 superfoods. It’s also reinforced with added vitamins and minerals that support a strong immune system and overall health. 

4. Purina Pro Plan Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food

This Purina Pro Plan dry dog food is specially formulated to meet the nutritional needs of large-breed dogs. Glucosamine and EPA, an omega-3 fatty acid, support joint health and mobility in Labradors and other large and giant dog breeds. 

Key Features:

  • High in protein
  • Natural prebiotic fiber
  • Made with real meat

Featuring chicken as the main ingredient, this adult dog food formula has a minimum of 26% crude protein for strong and lean muscles. Specially formulated for large breeds, this kibble supports joint health and mobility and promotes muscle conditioning. 

Each serving of this kibble contains all essential vitamins and minerals, so you can rest assured that your Labrador is getting the nutrition its body needs to thrive. 

5. Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Labrador Retriever Adult Dry Dog Food

Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Dry Dog Food is specially formulated to meet the nutritional needs of purebred Labrador retrievers that are 15 months old or older. This food features specialized kibble that prevents fast-eating Labradors from gobbling down their food. 

Key Features: 

  • Supports joint health
  • Promotes healthy skin
  • Formulated for Labrador Retrievers

Royal Canin developed a formula that supports the Labrador retriever’s specific dietary needs. From high-protein count that builds lean and strong muscles to donut-shaped kibbles to slow down eating, this food has everything your Lab needs to stay healthy and thrive.

This food is perfect for feeding yellow Labs, chocolate Labs, and black Labs and supports skin and coat health. A precise amount of calories and nutrients like glucosamine, EPA, and DHA promote healthy weight and maintain joint health. 

How to Transition a Labrador Puppy to Adult Dog Food

Switching a Labra dog’s diet from puppy to adult food abruptly can cause stomach upset, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and decreased appetite. 

When it’s time to transition your Labrador from puppy to adult dog food, you’ll have to do so gradually. This will allow your dog’s digestive system to adapt to the new diet. 

During the transition period, you’ll feed more and more of the new adult dog food by mixing it with your Lab’s current puppy food. Ideally, the transition period should last seven days. For most Labs, switching from puppy to adult dog food will look like this:

  • Days 1 to 2: Feed ¾ of the usual Lab puppy food amount mixed with ¼ of adult dog food
  • Days 3 to 4: Mix half of the usual amount of puppy food with half adult dog food
  • Days 5 to 7: Serve ¾ of puppy food mixed with ¼ adult dog food
  • Days 8 to 10: Feed only new adult dog food

Labrador retrievers with sensitive stomachs, allergies, or other gastrointestinal disorders may need a longer transition period. The key to a successful dietary switch is monitoring your Lab’s individual response to new food. 

If your Labrador refuses to eat the adult dog food or experiences stomach upset, extend the transition period as needed. As always, consult your vet if you have any questions or concerns about switching your Lab puppy to adult dog food.  

A Final Word on When to Switch from Puppy Food to Dog Food

When to switch a Labrador from puppy food to dog food is a common question among first-time Lab owners. Labrador retrievers are large dogs that reach adulthood between 12 and 18 months of age. 

Most owners switch their Labs from puppy to adult dog food when they are 12 months old. But it’s not uncommon for Labs to continue eating puppy food until they are 18 months old.

Large breed puppies, like Labrador retrievers, need a specific balance of minerals that support proper bone and joint development. Switching your dog’s food too soon or too late can impact its growth rate and cause skeletal problems. 

Talk with your vet about your Lab puppy’s growth rate and keep feeding the puppy food until the vet says it’s safe to switch to an adult formula. 

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How To Switch Your Labrador’s Puppy Food To Adult Kibble

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