Learning how to feed a Labradoodle is an important step for any owner new to the breed.
You should choose a food that meets their nutritional requirements and is tailored to their age, size, and lifestyle.
Their diet must include real animal proteins, fatty acids, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water.
The best food for Labradoodles will also include iron-rich meats and Vitamin C to combat common health problems like hip and elbow dysplasia.
How to Feed a Labradoodle – Quick Links
Labradoodle dogs are rising in popularity in the United States and across the world.
These dogs are known for their intelligence, energetic nature, and affectionate disposition.
Like all dogs, Labradoodles can be prone to certain health and digestive problems.
Labradoodle Nutritional Needs
Labradoodles have specific nutritional requirements they need in order to thrive.
As natural carnivores they can happily live on an entirely meat based diet, as long as it has enough variety.
But most owners these days prefer to use a kibble or canned formula rather than prepare their feasts themselves.
However, not all dog foods are created equally.
It is important to read the ingredients list before investing in a particular food brand for your Labradoodle.
Choosing the Best Food
There are a lot of competing dog food brands available in shops and online.
Choosing the best one for your Labradoodle can be overwhelming.
Here are some tips that will help you sort the good from the bad.
Try to steer clear of dog foods that contain additives like:
- BHA (Butylated hydroxyanisole)
- BHT (Butylated hydroxytoluene)
- PG (Propylene glycol)
- Rendered fats
- Wheat gluten.
How to Feed a Labradoodle Based on Life Stages
All dogs have similar basic nutritional need.
But they can still benefit from specific types of nutrients designed for their breed, age, weight, and lifestyle.
Labradoodles are large, high energy dogs.
They love staying active, and make great use of their clever brains.
All this takes energy.
As adults, large breed dogs need dog food that specifically contains around 30% real meat protein and 9% fatty acids.
This combination will aid in bone and joint health, muscle development, and heart health.
It’s also important to feed your Labradoodle based on his life stages.
These are broken down by manufacturers into:
- Puppy Food
- Adult Food
- Senior Food
How To Feed A Labradoodle At Different Stages
Puppy food, adult food, and senior food for dogs are each designed to support your Labradoodle at different life stages.
So, they have very different nutritional balances.
As puppies, Laradoodles need a lot more caloric energy than they will as adults.
This is because they have so much growing to do!
And, as seniors they may start running into health problems to do with their joints, eyesight, skin, and more.
Certain added ingredients can help with this.
Choosing a dog food tailored to age will ensure your Labradoodle has the correct nutritional balance.
What Type of Food Should Labradoodles Eat?
These days, there are plenty of dog food options available
- Dry food, or kibble
- Wet food
- Raw diets
- Or homemade dog food.
There are pros and cons to feeding your dog different types of dog foods, and what is right for one Labradoodle may not be right for yours.
Let’s take a brief look at these pros and cons to get you started.
Dry Dog Food
Dry dog food is also known as kibble.
It has a long shelf life, is often cheap to buy in bulk, and is easy to use as a training tool.
This type of food already provides complete nutrition, so it is more convenient than homemade diets.
There are a lot of brands to choose from, which can be overwhelming, but also encourages good quality between competing brands.
Plus, lots of dogs love the crunch of kibble, and the texture of this food even cleans your Labradoodle’s teeth as he eats.
On the downside, this food has a low moisture content and some recipes will contain a lot of filler ingredients.
Plus, some brands have had contamination concerns in the past, causing huge recalls.
Wet Dog Food
Wet or canned dog food has a shorter shelf life than kibble and is harder to buy in bulk.
It is also harder to use as a training treat.
But, it can be a more comfortable option for senior dogs with dental problems.
Wet food also has a much higher moisture content than dry food.
So it is great if your Labradoodle doesn’t seem to drink enough.
Many owners choose to feed a combination of wet and dry foods.
So, don’t worry if you’re struggling to choose between the two!
Raw feeding a Labradoodle means a diet of raw meats, bones, and potentially other uncooked ingredients.
It can be commercially prepared and freeze dried, or you can make it at home.
Eating raw bones can pose the risk of internal blockages from bone fragments, or even broken teeth from chewing on a particularly tough bone.
If not prepared with caution and cleanliness, the pathogens in raw meat can pose health risks to your family.
Plus, it is much harder to use as a training treat.
You will likely need to invest in specific raw diet training treats.
Raw dog food is also often more expensive than kibble or canned food.
But, the potential pros of a raw diet include:
Healthier teeth and gums, reduced risk of bloat and obesity, healthy anal glands, and less smelly poop!
You can read more about the debate over raw food in this complete guide.
Homemade Dog Food
Homemade Labradoodle diets are exactly what they sound like – ones you prepare entirely at home.
You get complete control over what your Labradoodle eats.
You can make sure there are no fillers in their diet, or avoid ingredients they have allergies too.
Plus, lots of Labradoodles will likely love the taste and different textures in homemade food.
Homemade dog food is more time consuming to prepare than other types, and often can’t be stored for as long.
Depending on your ingredients, it can still be turned into easy training treats.
How Much to Feed a Labradoodle
Some dogs are grazers and like to snack throughout the day, making it safe for owners to leave their bowls full of food at all times.
But, most Labradoodles will require specific mealtimes and portion control to ensure they are eating healthy amounts of food.
Many Labradoodles, like their Labrador parents, will just keep eating if you give them the opportunity.
This can easily lead to obesity and its associated health problems.
It also makes use of their kibble as training treats much harder, as they can self reward whenever they want anyway.
Mealtimes and portion control will vary depending on your dog’s age, weight and activity level.
It won’t be the same for all Labradoodles.
The serving sizes of each meal will also depend on the type of food you are feeding your dog.
There are usually serving suggestions on the dog food packaging to help guide you, but these are often vague and won’t suit every dog.
If your Labradoodle is becoming over or underweight, then gradually adjust your dog’s meal sizes.
Number of Meals
As adults, most owners choose to give their dogs two meals a day.
But, as puppies, Labradoodles need more frequent meals.
Until around 12 weeks of age, your puppy will usually need their daily food split into 4 meals.
This can decrease to 3 meals at around 12 weeks, and to 2 meals at 6 months. But, if your puppy struggles with their larger meal sizes, you may need to wait a little longer.
On top of this, you may find that you’re using up all of your Labradoodle’s food allowance during training, and that’s okay! In fact, that’s great!
How to Feed a Labradoodle to Combat Health Concerns
All dogs can be prone to genetic health issues, and the Labradoodle is no exception.
Luckily, a quality dog food can help combat some of these health issues.
Labradoodle dogs can be prone to suffering from bone and joint issues as they age.
Most Labradoodles are especially high risk for hip and elbow dysplasia.
In later life these conditions can lead to arthritic joints, which can be helped by some dietary supplements.
Another serious concern for Labradoodle owners is the health emergency known as Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus.
Labradoodles and Canine Bloat
Also called Bloat or GDV, Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus is a life-threatening medical emergency.
It requires immediate care from a veterinary professional.
Bloat occurs when gas fills the intestine, causing the stomach to flip.
When this happens, blood flow is restricted to the lower part of the body, resulting in shock.
Bloat can be caused by a number of things, but some common reasons include:
- Eating or drinking too quickly
- Consuming too much food in one setting
- Eating or drinking immediately after intensive play or exercise.
You can combat Bloat by ensuring by portioning and scheduling meals slowly.
If your Labradoodle is a particularly fast eater, you can also invest in puzzle feeders.
These help to slow your dog while eating and reduce chances of him swallowing air.
Reasons Your Labradoodle Doesn’t Want to Eat
Most dogs are highly food motivated and it doesn’t take much to get them to eat during mealtimes.
However, new puppies may need gentle encouragement.
If you’re struggling with your Labradoodle puppy and getting him to eat, speak with your veterinarian on ways to encourage healthy mealtime habits.
When you first bring your puppy home, you should feed them the same food as their breeder.
But, you can transition to a new food once they’ve settled in your home.
It’s also important to know that Labradoodles can have sensitive digestive systems.
It’s quite common for Labradoodle dogs to have diarrhea or gas when their diet is abruptly changed.
If you are switching your Labradoodle’s dog food from one brand to another, do so gradually to help ease digestive upset.
Many puppies won’t eat much in their first week, simply because they’re a little stressed from moving to a new home.
Their appetite should pick up after a few days, but if it doesn’t, speak to your vet.
And, if you find your puppy isn’t responding well to treats during training, you may need to move training sessions to a time when they are more hungry!
Labradoodle Training Treats
The term ‘training treats’ can be a little misleading. Of course, treats can have a healthy place in a Labradoodle diet.
Aim for treats made of real animal protein and steer clear of treats that are rich in fillers and additives.
But, remember dog treats should be given in moderation.
When training your puppy, it’s usually best to use a portion of their mealtime food instead of actual dog treats.
This will ensure your dog isn’t eating more than their daily requirement, which could lead to obesity.
If your dog is putting on weight too quickly, your vet may recommend that you cut out dog treats altogether.
How to Feed a Labradoodle
Your Labradoodle needs a food that is formulated to match their stage of life, size and activity level.
A formula aimed at a larger breed, or either Labradors or Standard Poodles will be equally fine.
And, of course, always leave fresh water out for your dog during the day.
References and Resources
- Paterson, S. ‘Food Hypersensitivity in 20 Dogs with Skin and Gastrointestinal Signs’, Journal of Small Animal Practice (1995)
- Farrell, L. (et al), ‘The Challenges of Pedigree Dog Health: Approaches to Combating Inherited Disease’, Canine Genetics and Epidemiology (2015)
- O’Neill, D. ‘Progress in Purebred Dog Health Since the Bateson Report of 2010’, Vet Record (2014)