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You’re not alone if you’re considering a raw diet for your Labrador Retriever. Raw feeding has become a popular choice for many dog owners in recent years, and there are plenty of reasons why. But is a raw diet the right choice for your Labrador? And if it is, what should you include in their diet?
In this guide, we’ll look at the basics of raw feeding and outline some of the pros and cons of switching to a raw diet for your Lab. By the end of this post, you’ll understand what’s involved in raw feeding and whether it’s right for your pup. Let’s get started!Table of Contents 📖
- What Is A Labrador Retriever Raw Diet?
- Can Labrador Retrievers Eat Raw?
- Benefits & Research
- Nutritional Guidelines
- Health Dietary Changes
- How Much To Feed (Feeding Chart)?
- Raw Diet For Labrador Retriever Puppy
- Best Raw Dog Food For Labradors
- Cooking, Handling & Serving
- How to Make Labrador Raw Food (Video)
- Best Raw Cooking Practices
What Is A Labrador Retriever Raw Dog Food Diet?
Raw dog food (aka BARF – Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) is designed to mimic a dog’s ancestral diet based on the dog’s carnivorous and primal instincts. A raw diet represents what dogs ate in the wild millions of years ago. It consists of raw ingredients. There are three types, frozen, freeze-dried, and homemade.
A raw dog food diet plan typically consists of:
All the ingredients are uncooked to preserve the enzyme content, minerals, vitamins, and other vital nutrients.
A variation of the BARF model is known as the “prey model raw (PMR)” food. The prey model excludes fruits, dairy, and vegetables.
Can Labrador Retrievers Eat Raw Meat?
Yes. Labrador Retrievers (dogs) are true carnivores. They can thrive on a raw meat diet. Labrador Retriever can eat raw meat and other raw ingredients.
Genetic DNA research shows dogs descended from the timber wolf approximately 15,000 years ago.1 Wolves are clear carnivores, so genetically speaking, dogs have similar and noticeable carnivorous traits. Their teeth, digestive system, and behavior account for their meat-eating capabilities.
Dogs don’t have flat teeth like humans or animals like cows, nor chew their cud from side to side. Dogs have narrow pointy back teeth, and their jaws operate in a chop-chop motion like all carnivores. Carnivores do not produce amylase (an enzyme produced in most herbivores and omnivores’ saliva) in their salivary glands. Dogs also don’t produce amylase in their saliva but in their pancreas and small intestine.2
Lastly, meat-eating animals like dogs have higher stomach acid levels; this allows them to digest protein more quickly while killing potential bacteria in decaying meat.
Dr. RuthAnn Lobos, a Purina veterinarian, says feeding a diet primarily raw meat may not provide the complete and balanced nutrition your dog needs.3
If you plan to feed raw meat to your dog, you need to do so as part of a balanced raw meal plan with your vet’s supervision.
Dogs also have a remarkable omnivorous capacity but are optimized for eating meat.4 Labrador Retriever can safely enjoy balanced raw meals.
Labrador Retriever Raw Diet Benefits
Is raw dog food good for Labrador Retriever?
Dr. Ian Billinghurst, a veterinarian, pioneer, and top advocate of raw feeding dogs, mentions raw food has several positive effects on canine health, including:
- Shinner coat
- Improved skin health
- More energy
- Lean, strong muscles
- Smaller, firmer stools
- Improved dental health
- Stronger immune system
- Lower risk for allergies
- Improved digestion
- Increased agility
- Bright eyes
- Faster nutrient absorption
- Weight management
A BARF diet ensures dogs eat fresh, wholesome, and allergen-free foods as no chemicals, additives, or fillers are used in raw diets.
Raw Dog Diet Research
Labrador Retriever Raw Food Risks
There are some potential risks involved when preparing raw food for your dog.
How To Reduce Raw Dog Food Risks
1. Washing. Wash all meats, organs, and other raw ingredients.
2. Sourcing. Buy raw products from reputable grocery stores or butchers with high sanitary standards.
3. Raw bones. Feed only raw bones that are small with a lot of joints or ground bones. NEVER feed cooked bones. They become softer after cooking and are at greater risk of splintering when chewed. Avoid big bones.
4. Speak with a vet nutritionist. They can provide nutritional guidance to formulate the best Labrador Retriever raw diet or recommend a raw food delivery service.
Pro tip: Freeze all your meats for at least 2 to 3 weeks to kill any parasites — Research found that Salmonella is highly sensitive to freezing and showed survival of 1% or less after 48 hours. E. coli proved less sensitive, showing a survival rate ranging from 10% to 30% during the first week of storage. However, most samples showed a decline compared to salmonellae after two weeks of storage.10
Labrador Retriever Raw Diet Cost
The average price of traditional kibble is $1.97 per pound, while high-end kibble is $3.466 per pound.10 In contrast, the average price for the most popular, high-end raw commercial foods in the market is $6.4 per pound, with the lower-end raw options costing $3.8 per pound, according to our calculations.
We also analyzed the price for the most popular meats. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, beef, chicken, and turkey have an average price per pound of $3.9, $1.5, and $1.28, respectively.
If you were to switch your Labrador Retriever to a raw homemade diet, your food expenses shouldn’t vary much compared to what you spend on kibble. In fact, it might be cheaper. Conversely, buying commercial raw-meat food over traditional kibble is a tad more expensive, but we think the health benefits and convenience are worth the price.
Raw Dog Food Nutritional Guidelines
Putting your Labrador Retriever on a raw diet requires you to feed him a balanced meal according to the BARF model and The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines.
The recommended guidelines for a BARF diet consist of 70% uncooked muscle meat, 10% raw edible bone, 10% vegetables and fruit, 5% liver, and 5% other organs.
Labrador Retriever BARF Diet Nutritional Breakdown
|70% Muscle Meat||Beef, chicken, turkey, pork, and other meats, depending on what your dog tolerates. Choose lean cuts. Aim for 10% fat but no higher than 20%.||Raw meat is the main source of protein. Builds and repairs muscles and other body tissues. Needed to make new skin cells, grow hair, hormones, enzymes and more.|
|10% Raw, Edible Bone||Uncooked raw bones, bones with a lot of joints, like necks, tails, and feet. Ground bones are the safest choice. Avoid heavy or big bones - They can break teeth or get stuck in the digestive tract.||Provide essential calcium, phosphorous, and other essential nutrients.|
|5% Liver||Livers from cow, chicken, or other animals.||Great source of high-quality protein; vitamins A, B12, B6; folic acid; iron; zinc; and essential amino acids.|
|5% Other Organs||Kidney, spleen, lungs, heart, brain, eyeballs, reproductive organs (testicles, uterus), trachea, stomach, sweetbreads (pancreas and thymus), and tongue.||Organs are a great source of vitamins and minerals. The more organs you add to the diet of your dog, the better the mix of nutrients your dog will receive.|
|10% Vegetables & Fruit||Broccoli, celery, squash, pumpkin, spinach, leafy greens, and carrots. Fruit such as apples, cranberries, and blueberries. |
Fresh herbs such as parsley, basil, and oregano. (Never feed toxic fruits or veggies)
|Fruit provide antioxidants while vegetables have carotenoids, flavonoids, antioxidants, and many other phytochemicals that are beneficial to immune function and health dogs.|
A Labrador Retriever raw diet plan should also follow the AAFCO’s guidelines. AFFCO is the entity regulating dog food nutritional value in commercial dog food. It states every dog meal should have six indispensable nutrients to create a balanced meal that supports life and proper function in dogs. These include protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water.
Before crafting his meals, you should consider your pup’s weight, health conditions, size, and activity level.
*If feeding the “Prey” model, this method typically consists of 80% muscle meat, 10% bone, and 10% organs (half of which is liver.). No fruits or veggies.
Labrador Retriever Raw Diet Supplement
A balanced raw diet shouldn’t require additional supplementation. However, poorly made raw diets by inexperienced dog parents, a dog’s unique dietary needs, or health conditions may require additional supplementation to specific nutrients. Always consult with your vet. Adding a multivitamin like Zesty Paws Multivitamin Chews ensures your Labrador Retriever gets the recommended balance of vitamins and minerals.Chapter 2: Cooking, Recipes & Feeding
How Much Raw Food To Feed Labrador Retriever?
The body weight percentage method is the most straightforward alternative to many raw feeders (new and experienced). It’s simple, and it works with any diet.
Generally, feed your dog about 2% to 4% of his ideal adult weight.
Please consider his metabolism, activity level, lifestyle, health, and other factors to determine the perfect amount.
Labrador Retriever Raw Feeding Chart
You have four scenarios to determine how much to feed your dog.
For instance, if your Labrador Retriever weighs 70 pounds and falls in the weight maintenance category, you would multiply the 70 pounds by either 2% – 2.5%. If your dog is
If your Labrador Retriever is inactive, you will use 2%. For an average activity level dog that receives anywhere from an hour to several hours of exercise daily, 2.25% would be the ideal middle ground. If you feel your dog is more active, you may need to feed 2.5% or more to maintain a healthy weight. Here is an example.
For an active Labrador Retriever who weighs 65 pounds and wants to maintain weight, you would multiply 2.5%*65 lbs (0.025*65), which equals 1,625. This is the number of pounds in raw food you need to feed your Labrador Retriever daily.
Adult dogs typically eat two meals per day. So, break 0.8125 lbs into two meals of 0.4062 lbs each.
Use the above Labrador Retriever raw feeding chart to calculate for all other scenarios.
Speak to your vet if your dog has special dietary needs or medical requirements affecting food intake.
Raw Diet For Labrador Retriever Puppy
A Labrador Retriever puppy’s raw diet plan differs from an adult Labrador Retriever’s.
Puppies need more protein, fat, calcium, and phosphorus than adult dogs. Feed puppies 15% bone and less than 20% fat to ensure enough nutrients and minerals. Raw food for puppies also should abide by AAFCO guidelines and include the six essential nutrients mentioned earlier.
How Much Raw Food Should Labrador Retriever Puppies Get?
Puppies need more calories than adult dogs and should eat about 5% to 10% of their current weight to support their growth.
Labrador Retriever Puppy Raw Feeding Chart
General raw feeding guidelines for puppies:
- Puppies 2 to 3 months: 8% to 10% of body weight daily
- Puppies 4 to 5 months: 6% to 8% of body weight daily
- Puppies 6 to 8 months: 4% to 6% of body weight daily
- Puppies 9 to 12 months: 3% to 4% of body weight daily
Puppies should be fed 3 to 4 times per day. When they mature (12 months & up), you can feed them twice daily.
Best Raw Dog Food For Labrador Retriever
Are you confused about preparing a balanced Labrador Retriever raw meat diet? Do you have a busy lifestyle with little time to cook for your pup? Don’t know where to start? If you answer ‘yes’ to one or more of these questions, a raw dog food delivery service is the best way to let your dog reap the benefits of eating raw.
BARF World is one of our favorite choices and offers the best BARF diet recipes for dogs available on the market.
This company is the pioneer of raw dog food. They deliver Biologically Appropriate Raw Food straight to your door. Their formula is a balanced blend of raw meat, fruits, vegetables, organs, and bone. Plus, it’s supplemented with four other key ingredients.
All of their ingredients are USDA sourced. Their formulas are developed with the input of a veterinary nutritionist to meet the nutritional guidelines set by AAFCO.
Labrador Retriever Raw Food: Cooking, Handling & Serving Tips
Making raw dog food for Labrador Retrievers is a meticulous procedure that requires attention to detail in every step.
How to Make Labrador Retriever Raw Food (Video)
Watch this video and learn how to make raw dog food for Labrador Retriever.
Raw Dog Food Recipes For Labrador Retriever
If you are ready to start your Labrador Retriever on a raw diet plan, we’ve listed below our favorite Labrador Retriever raw diet recipes.
As a bonus, we included a special treat recipe that is tasty and packed with impressive health benefits. It has our favorite secret ingredient, dog CBD oil. CBD oil can help with seizures, anxiety, arthritis, inflammation, pain, wellness and other health problems.
Note: Please consult with your pet’s veterinarian & use personal judgment when applying this information to your dog’s diet. The recipes below do not include serving size because portion sizes will vary depending on your dog’s breed, weight, activity level, age, and health.
CBD-Infused Dog Treat
Every dog loves a tasty treat, and many agree that nothing beats nutritious, therapeutic, and appetizing homemade CBD oil dog treats. Made with Pumpkin and other essential vitamins and minerals (like iron, potassium, and vitamin A), these goodies help promote better digestion and hydration. Coconut is also added for skin and coat health and allergy reduction.
Just be sure to check with your vet before to ensure CBD is safe for your pup and you are giving the correct dosage.
You can also purchase already made CBD dog treats so your pup can experience all the benefits of CBD without the cooking.
- 2 1/2 cups gluten-free flour
- 1/2 cup oats
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 Tbsp coconut sugar
- 1 apple, cored and grated
- 1/2 cup carrots, peeled and grated
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/3 cup olive or coconut oil
- 1/2 cup water
- dash of sea salt
- 120 mg CBD oil
Total: Makes 24 treats
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a dog cookie baking tray with coconut oil.
- Core and grate the apples, then peel and grate the carrots.
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine the gluten-free flour, oats, and coconut sugar. In another medium-sized bowl, beat the egg. Then, add coconut oil, water, and grated apples and carrots.
- Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients bowl; mix completely. Finally, add CBD oil and mix once more.
- Using a Tbsp measuring spoon, portion the dog biscuits and press them into the dog treat baking pan. Bake for 32-37 minutes or until the biscuits are firm and golden-brown on the outside.
- Store in an air-tight container.
The number of dog treats will vary depending on the size of the mold you use. Try to make each dog treat have 2-5 mg of CBD.
Recipe from: Truth Theory
Ground Beef, Chicken Liver Veggies Mix
This raw meat food recipe for dogs is among our favorite. Easy to digest and packed with all the essential nutrients dogs need.
- 2 1/2 lbs ground beef
- 4 oz chicken livers
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 small apple, cored
- 1/2 cup baby spinach
- 2 whole eggs (including shell)
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Put carrot, apple, and spinach in a food processor and process until finely chopped.
- Add remaining ingredients except for beef and process until well combined.
- Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the beef until well mixed.
- Form into patties the size of your palm and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Freeze patties and transfer them to a storage container to keep frozen.
- The night before you wish to feed, remove the patties from the freezer and place them in the refrigerator to thaw.
Raw Boneless Turkey & Egg Dog
If you want to make a simple recipe that can last you well beyond a week, or perhaps you have more than one Labrador Retriever at home, this recipe will make 11 pounds of raw food, which is 6-7 days’ worth of food for a 50-pound dog, or two smaller dogs.
- 5 pounds 93% lean ground turkey
- 2 pounds of chicken heart
- 1 pound beef liver
- 6 pastured eggs without shells
- 8 ounces (3 large stalks) of kale
- 8 ounces (2 stalks) of broccoli
- 8 ounces (4 chopped cups) dandelion greens
- 12 ounces (2 small clamshell packages) blueberries or mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and cranberries)
- 6 Tablespoons bone meal (seaweed calcium can be used for adult dogs)
- 3 Tablespoons ground pumpkin seed powder
- 2 teaspoons Himalayan salt
- 1/4 teaspoon kelp
- If you have a grinder, grind the chicken heart and beef liver. If you don’t have a grinder, chop the liver and heart into small cubes.
- Puree the eggs, kale, broccoli, dandelion greens, berries, bone meal, pumpkin seed powder, salt, and kelp in a food processor.
- Mix the ground turkey, liver, heart, and veggie/berry mix.
- Place the mixture into smaller containers and place them in your freezer. It’s best to freeze your food in 1-3 day portions.
Recipe From: Dog Naturally Magazine
This Labrador Retriever homemade raw dog food recipe should be served as a tasty treat or as a variety option to feed once or twice a week.
Make it with any excess organs. This recipe doesn’t include bones and cartilage, so don’t use it as a regular meal, but as a raw treat, your Labrador Retriever can enjoy now and then.
- 4 ounces of beef hearts
- 4 ounces of kidneys
- 4 ounces of gizzards
- 4 ounces of liver
- 2 tablespoons of precooked vegetables
- 1 raw egg
- The first thing you’ll need to do is prepare the ingredients. You’ll need to chop the organs or put them in a food processor. The same goes for vegetables.
- Once everything is minced, simply mix it all. Add the raw egg with the shell. You can then form the mixture into patties and pop them in the freezer until you’re ready to give them to your dog.
Recipe From: Daily Dog Stuff
Chicken & Greens
This is another easy homemade raw dog food recipe for Labrador Retriever to add to his menu.
It uses raw chicken with a veggie mix. It’s full of nutrients and vitamins.
- 35% – 50% Chicken thighs or breasts
- 10% – 30% Chicken hearts and liver
- 12% – 15% Ground chicken bone
- 5% lightly boiled chicken eggs
- 5% – 10% Organic broccoli (like kale, broccoli is very rich in vitamin C and fiber and a lot of other nutrients)
- 5% – 10% Organic celery (it’s quite rich in water when it is raw, but it is still a great source of dietary fiber)
- 5% – 10% Organic spinach (very high vitamin and mineral content, excellent nutrient)
- 5% – 10% Organic carrots
- 5% Alfalfa meal
Simply mix and freeze or serve. The eggs should be lightly boiled as protection against Salmonella.
Recipe From: Top Dog Tips
For those who want more recipes, this raw dog food cookbook has a ton of more BARF recipes.
Best Raw Cooking Practices
Follow these raw cooking guidelines to make a Labrador Retriever’s safe and healthy raw recipe.
- Meticulous care is required in the handling, preparation, and sanitation of raw food
- Meat and other ingredients must be human-grade
- Buy ethically sourced ingredients
- Everything has to be natural, raw (no foods with additives, hormones, and toxins)
- Know by memory (or have a list) of toxic dog food
- Avoid grain, especially if your pup suffers from allergies
- Remove any bones that may become splintered (as your dog becomes more experienced with eating raw bones, this won’t be necessary)
- Avoid heavy, big bones
- Liver is quite slimy. Be cautious and cut into bite-size pieces to avoid choking.
- Feed the leanest ground products possible
- If you feed ground meat, remember that ground meats don’t usually contain bone (unless specified). You will need to add bones.
Pro tip: Visit your local Mexican market, Asian market, or farmer’s market —Typically, you will find a wider variety of organ meats at lower prices. You can also have frozen organ meats delivered to your door on ice.
How to Transition Your Labrador To A Raw Diet
Raw feeding your Labrador Retriever for the first time needs to be done progressively to allow his digestive tract to adjust and prevent stomach issues.
Below is a general schedule you can use when transitioning from kibble to a raw diet.
- Week 1: 25% new food and 75% old food
- Week 2: 50% new food and 50% old food
- Week 3: 25% new food and 75% old food
- Week 4: 100% new food
Don’t change your dog’s food abruptly. It can cause an upset stomach, diarrhea, or vomiting. Monitor your dog’s health closely. If you notice any adverse reaction to the new diet, you should go back a week in the transition plan and proceed at a slower pace.
Foods Your Labrador Should Never Eat
These ingredients are hazardous to dogs. Never use them in your recipes.
The principal toxic foods include:
- Onions and garlic
- Coffee, tea, and other caffeine
- Grapes and raisins
- Macadamia nuts
- Raw bread dough
Check out the complete list of food you should never feed your dog. Consider having it on your refrigerator as a reminder.
Raw Foods To Never Feed Dogs
Never feed a raw potato to your dog. Potatoes contain solanine, a toxic compound to some dogs, says the AKC. Raw tomatoes also have solanine. Cooking them reduces the levels of solanine, but it’s better to stay on the safe side by avoiding them.
Don’t feed salmon or salmonid species of fish. It can contain the Neorickettsia Helminthoeca parasite, which causes salmon poisoning disease. This disease can be fatal. Plus, the small brittle bones can choke your dog or lodge in his stomach or intestines.
Boneless fish (especially oily fish) are allowed only once a week. Never give fish with sharp spines and barbs. No wild pork, bear meat, or meats from wild animals is allowed, not even after freezing. Wild meats contain more parasites than farm-raised meats.
Always research every ingredient before feeding it to your dog.
Labrador Retriever That Shouldn’t Eat Raw Dog Food
Raw diets are not suited for all dogs. Dogs with kidney or liver problems should avoid eating raw. Raw foods are generally high in protein, and excess protein can stress these organs, worsening either condition.
Dr. Doug Knueven, a holistic medicine specialist who consults for Nature’s Variety (Instinct, a raw pet food brand), says that dogs on chemotherapy or immune-suppressing drugs should be restricted from eating raw food.
For dogs suffering from pancreatitis or digestive problems, starting with a fresh homemade dog food diet like Nom Nom before switching to raw is recommended.
Labrador Retriever Raw Diet vs Kibble
Is raw dog food better than kibble? Both diets have pros and cons, but it all comes down to what’s best for your Labrador Retriever.
If you still have lingering questions or concerns about raw feeding dogs or the whole kibble vs. raw debate, Feeding Dogs: The Science Behind The Dry Versus Raw Debate is a must-read for all those interested in getting answers to this controversial topic.
Here is a glance at how they stack up against each other.
|Kibble is made with fillers, preservatives, additives, colorants, |
and other harmful chemicals.
|No additives or any type of chemical is added.|
|Cheaper than a raw diet||Homemade raw food is equally expensive or cheaper. Commercially|
available raw food is a bit more expensive than kibble.
|Low standards for what can and cannot be included|
in commercial pet food,
|Typically, raw-based diets use high-quality meats and fresh ingredients.|
Quality standards for safety, hygiene, and manufacturing tend
to be more rigorous due to the raw nature of the food.
|Longer shelf-life and doesn’t spoil quickly.||Raw food doesn’t last long after being served. Leftovers for the|
day need to be discarded.
|Easy to store and carry when traveling||Requires freezer space and only the raw-freeze dried option|
is suitable for traveling.
Is A Raw Food Diet Good For Your Labrador?
Is raw food good for Labrador Retriever? Here is what supporters and veterinarians had to say.
Monitor Weight & Health
While Labs are generally healthy dogs, a poorly made raw diet can lead to extreme lack of energy, obesity and other problems. This is why it is important to monitor your dog’s weight and health when feeding them raw dog food. Raw dog food is typically high in calories and fat, so it is important to make sure that your Lab does not consume too much of it as this breed is prone to obesity.
Overfeeding can lead to health problems such as joint problems, heart disease, and diabetes. It is also important to monitor your dog’s stool when feeding them raw dog food. Raw meat can contain bacteria that can make your dog sick, so it is vital to ensure that their stools are firm and free of blood or mucus. If you notice any changes in your dog’s health status, please get in touch with your veterinarian immediately. By monitoring your dog’s weight and health, you can help them stay happy and healthy for years to come.
Conclusion: Labradors Raw Dog Food Diet
Should you feed your Lab a raw dog food diet? The answer is: it depends. If you feel comfortable preparing and feeding your dog a raw food diet, then go for it! Just ensure that you are doing so safely and correctly to ensure your pup gets all the nutrients he needs. However, if you don’t have time or don’t feel comfortable preparing a raw diet for your Lab, there are plenty of great commercial raw dog foods on the market that will provide him with all the nutrition he needs.
Ultimately, it is essential to consult your veterinarian to determine the best diet for your Lab.