As soon as their eyes open, it is time to introduce food into a pups life, and for Labrador pups it is love at first sight.
At first we soaked the food (kibble) in water perhaps with some formula added. Water will be reduced as the puppies grow, so by seven weeks they should be eating dry kibble.
Puppies eat very fast, so some of them might choke at first. All of our girls have eaten very fast. It is probably due to competition. As your puppy realizes that there are no other puppies to compete with, he/she will probably slow down. If not, there are bowls that help slow them down, and they work really well.
At first we fed the puppies three to four times a day. As they grow, the number of feedings can be reduced. Our girls still have been fed three times a day depending on life stage, with younger and older girls benefitting from more frequent smaller meals. It is better for overall health as it reduces blood glucose peaks. However, as most families are busy and may not be home at lunchtime, reducing meals to twice a day is fine. One large meal may result in gorging, vomiting and bloat.
When you get your puppy home, I would recommend that you continue to feed three times a day until the puppy is four to six months old. It will not take long for him or her to eat. Schedule: (morning, noon, supper) or (morning, home from work, before bed). If you have other pets in the house, you will need to feed them separately, and put their food bowl were puppy cannot get them.
Labradors will eat anything, from anywhere they can get it. We call our girls the garbage collectors. It does mean if the kids leave plates of food around, they will always be clean when collected. But it also mean, Labradors can chuck up the strangest things. Kassey ate all the Valentine Kisses off our daughters Valentine cards. She chucked up the nicest smelling minty chocolate with foil. Koko once ate a whole fresh pumpkin pie, and we only induce vomiting because we were not sure if she had eaten any of the glass pieplate or not (Vomiting can be induced by injecting hydrogen peroxide via syringe into the mouth. Please check a reliable source for the amount based on weight.)
Keep your puppy on a good quality puppy food for 12 to 18 months. Puppy foods are formulated to control rapid growth, that can lead to joint problems in large breed dogs. We had both Maggie and Kassey on large breed puppy food from the start to 18 months and have never had a problem with weight or joints with them. We are not certain what Grace was fed but believe it was not a good quality large breed formula. She is very tall and her long back legs are possibly one of the reasons for her ACL tears. We only honour the health guarantee if you can prove (by receipt) that your puppy has been fed a large breed dog food of good quality designed for a large breed puppy (a formulation from Purina One or ProPlan, ACANA, Orijen, Eukanuba, Hill's Science or from your vet). There are a number of other high quality large breed puppy foods, so the recommendation is to watch the fat:protein ratio, and calcium levels (as too much or too little canbe crippling). And do not overfeed. The girls should have an adult weight of 50 to 70 lbs, while the boys should be 70 to 90 lbs. Do not feed more than recommended. Check out Dog Food Advisor's page for more information.
Type of Food
In 2021, we have started Hope on Proplan Large Breed Puppy food. We switched her early and have been giving her more food, as she is such a small girl we wanted to get calories into her, and perhaps put some weight on her. Once puppies come the caloric demands for milk production can be very high. It is one of the reasons we start food as soon as possible. Also as we introduce food to the pups, it is good to use the same food so Momma can clean up whatever the pups do not eat. We had to stop Hope from cleaning up the leftovers because of her colitis.
While we started the pups on Canadian Naturals in 2019, we switched them to Proplan Large Breed. They had a lot of diarrhea on the Canadian Naturals so thought a food switch would be a good idea. And it did clear up the problem, although we had to keep Maggie from cleaning up the left overs because of her chicken allergy.
In 2019 we started the pups on another made in Canada food, Canadian Naturals Lamb and Brown Rice. The reason for our switch was based on Maggie developing a sensitivity to chicken based diets. Maggie and Hope were put on the food about a month before the pregnancy. Hope was still on puppy food at the time and this type of food was good for all life stages. We kept Maggie and Hope on this one until just recently. We even changed Abbey over to it. We are still on Canadian Naturals, but are going to try out the Large Breed Red Meat, as a regular change in protein source can help prevent allergies.
We fed Maggie's 2014 litter ACANA large breed puppy food. It was available at our local pet store. And it is made right here in Alberta. It is expensive and it is rich. We found that the pups and Maggie had a lot of weight on them. And diarrhea tended to be a problem. So in 2017 we retried Purina ProPlan Large Breed Puppy Food as it is what we fed Kassey's pups. It seemed to work fine.
We fed Kassey's puppies Purina ProPlan Large Breed Puppy Food available at PetSmart. It was the Chicken and Rice formula. We fed Koko's puppies Purina One Large Breed. We fed Maggie's puppies ACANA large breed available where all good quality pet foods are sold, as well as ProPlan, and Canadian Naturals. While I love to support made in Alberta and Canada products, there is no doubt over six litters that for the pups, ProPlan has been the easiest on the pups. However, because it is rich and chicken based, we have had issues with our Moms, so have not found the perfect plan yet.