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What human food can Labradors eat?

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what can labradors eat

What can Labradors eat? If you’re the proud parent of a labrador retriever, you know their appetites can be as big as their hearts. Ensuring a balanced diet for your furry friend is more than just filling their bowl with dog food. It’s about understanding their nutritional needs, being aware of toxic foods, and knowing which human foods can safely find their way from your plate to their palate. 

Don’t fret, this guide will put you on the right path to feed your Labrador in the best possible way. From deciphering the nutritional labels on that bag of dry dog food to sorting through an array of fruits and vegetables, to even considering homemade dog food, we’ll help you to navigate your Labrador’s dietary needs. The journey to an active, happy, and healthy Labrador begins here. Let’s dig in!

Understanding Labrador’s Nutritional Needs

What can Labradors eat to keep them healthy and active? Well, this isn’t just about throwing a bag of dog food into a bowl and calling it a day. Their diet must be a balanced blend of macronutrients and micronutrients. In the same way, it’s important to understand your Labrador’s caloric needs. Let’s delve deeper into the nutritional needs of your Labrador.

Macronutrient requirements: Proteins, Fats, Carbohydrates

Labradors require a diet rich in proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Protein is essential for muscle growth and repair while fats provide energy and support skin health. Carbohydrates are the primary energy source, fueling your active dog’s daily activities. When it comes to dog food for Labradors, a balanced diet looks something like this:

  • Protein: 18%-25% of their diet
  • Fat: 5%-10% of their diet
  • Carbohydrates: The rest of their diet

It’s important to note that puppies and adult Labradors have different macronutrient needs. Labrador puppies, for example, need more protein for their growing bodies. The type of food you choose, whether it’s dry dog food, wet food, or homemade dog food, should cater to these needs.

Micronutrient requirements: Vitamins and Minerals

In addition to macronutrients, Labradors also require various vitamins and minerals for optimal health. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Vitamins: A, D, E, and K, and B-complex vitamins play crucial roles in your dog’s health, from enhancing vision to supporting metabolism.
  • Minerals: Calcium for strong bones, Iron for blood health, Zinc for skin and coat, and other minerals like Magnesium, Potassium, and Sodium that help regulate bodily functions.

Many dog food brands fortify their products with these micronutrients. But you can also supplement them through certain human foods that Labradors can eat, such as fruits and vegetables. But remember, never feed your dog foods that are harmful to them!

Caloric needs

The calorie needs of a Labrador depend on various factors such as age, size, activity level, and overall health. For instance, an active adult Labrador might need between 1500 to 1800 calories per day, while a more sedentary dog may require fewer calories. Likewise, Labrador puppies may have different calorie requirements due to their rapid growth and development.

Here’s a general guideline to help you understand how much food to feed your Labrador:

Labrador TypeCalorie Range
Puppies450-600 per day
Active adults1500-1800 per day
Older dogs1200-1500 per day

Dog ownership involves tailoring the best dog food for Labs to your pet’s individual needs. As you can see, understanding your Labrador’s nutritional needs is a crucial step toward a healthy, happy pet. So, always keep your dog’s diet balanced, offer the right amount of food, and of course, keep those tail wags coming!

Safe Human Foods for Labradors

do dogs eat bananas

When pondering, “What can Labradors eat?” you may be surprised to find many human foods are perfectly safe and even beneficial for your furry friend. This doesn’t mean you should toss your dog food for Labradors and switch entirely to table scraps, but integrating some human foods into your pet’s diet can provide variety and additional nutrients. Here’s a quick rundown of some safe human foods for Labradors:


Fruits are a wonderful source of vitamins, fiber, and natural sugars, making them a sweet and nutritious treat for Labradors. Here are some safe options:

  • Apples: High in fiber and vitamins A and C, make sure to remove the core and seeds.
  • Bananas: A great source of potassium and vitamins.
  • Blueberries: Full of antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins.
  • Pineapple: Rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
  • Watermelon: Hydrating and full of vitamins A, B6, and C, but ensure to remove seeds and rind.

Remember to introduce these fruits in moderation to keep your dog’s diet balanced.


Vegetables can make excellent low-calorie treats and add valuable nutrients to your Labrador’s diet.

  • Carrots: High in fiber and vitamin A, can be given raw or cooked.
  • Green Peas: A good source of vitamins K, A, and B, as well as iron and potassium.
  • Sweet Potatoes: Cooked sweet potatoes are rich in dietary fiber, vitamin A, and other nutrients.
  • Broccoli: Full of vitamins and fiber, but should be given in small amounts due to its isothiocyanates content.

Just like with fruits, avoid giving your dog onions, as they are toxic to dogs.


Cooked lean meats are a great source of protein and amino acids for Labradors.

  • Chicken: A good source of protein, just make sure it’s cooked and boneless.
  • Turkey: Also high in protein but ensure it’s not seasoned, especially with harmful ingredients like onions or garlic.
  • Salmon: Cooked salmon is filled with omega-3 fatty acids, but raw salmon can be harmful to dogs.
  • Shrimp: Must be fully cooked and shelled.

Be careful not to feed your Labrador any raw or undercooked meat as it can contain harmful bacteria and parasites.


Grains can provide your dog with essential nutrients like fiber, protein, and a variety of vitamins.

  • Rice: Easy to digest and helps in calming upset stomachs.
  • Oatmeal: A good source of soluble fiber, especially beneficial for senior dogs with bowel irregularities. Always cook it before serving.

Always serve these grains cooked and in moderate amounts to avoid digestive issues.


There are other human foods too that can safely be included in your Labrador’s diet.

  • Peanut Butter: It’s a good source of healthy fats and protein but make sure it does not contain Xylitol.
  • Cottage Cheese: High in protein and calcium, but should be given in moderation due to its lactose content.

Feeding human foods to Labradors should be done carefully and in moderation. Before you provide your dog with any new foods, remember to do your research or consult with a veterinarian. Make sure you’re feeding your Labrador food that is safe and healthy for them to enjoy!

Toxic Foods for Labradors

“What can Labradors eat?” is a common question, but equally important is knowing what they should not consume. While many human foods are safe for dogs, several can be potentially toxic and even lethal. Labrador owners need to be aware of these foods and keep them out of their pets’ reach.

Fruits and Vegetables

Certain fruits and vegetables that are safe for human consumption can be harmful to dogs:

  • Grapes and Raisins: Even in small amounts, these can cause sudden kidney failure in dogs.
  • Onions: Onions and related plants, such as garlic, can lead to red blood cell damage and anemia in dogs.
  • Avocado: While not typically fatal, avocados can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and heart congestion in dogs.

Avoid these fruits and vegetables to keep your dog healthy.


While proteins form an essential part of a dog’s diet, certain sources can be harmful:

  • Raw Meat and Fish: Some types of raw meat and fish can contain bacteria and parasites that are harmful to dogs. In particular, raw salmon can cause salmon poisoning disease, which is potentially fatal if left untreated.

Remember, it’s important to cook all meat and fish thoroughly before feeding it to your dog.


Several other human foods can also be toxic to Labradors:

  • Chocolate: Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both of which are toxic to dogs. Dark chocolate and unsweetened baker’s chocolate are especially dangerous.
  • Alcohol: Even small amounts of alcohol can cause significant intoxication for a dog, leading to vomiting, seizures, and even death.
  • Coffee and Tea: The caffeine in these beverages can lead to restlessness, rapid breathing, heart palpitations, and muscle tremors in dogs.
  • Xylitol: This sugar substitute, found in many sugar-free foods and dental products, can cause rapid insulin release in dogs, leading to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

Ingestion of these substances can be fatal, so keep them well out of your Labrador’s reach and never feed them to your pet.

Foods to Limit for Labradors

When pondering over “what can Labradors eat,” it’s important to consider not only toxic foods but also those that should be limited. While certain foods may not be directly harmful or toxic to Labradors, consuming them in large amounts can lead to health issues such as obesity, heart disease, and pancreatitis. Let’s take a closer look at some of these foods.


High amounts of salt can cause excessive thirst and urination in dogs and, in extreme cases, lead to sodium ion poisoning. Thus, while a small amount of salt won’t hurt your dog, it’s best to avoid giving them salty snacks or sharing your salted food.


Cheese and other dairy products can be difficult for dogs to digest as many dogs lack the enzyme required to break down lactose. While small amounts of cheese can be a tasty treat and are often used for training, excessive cheese can lead to gastrointestinal upset.


Unsalted, unbuttered popcorn can be a low-calorie treat for your dog. Popcorn kernels can be a choking hazard, and salted or buttered popcorn can lead to excessive sodium intake.

Cashews and Other Nuts

Some nuts, like cashews, are safe for dogs to eat in small amounts. They are high in fat and can lead to weight gain and pancreatitis when consumed in large amounts. Also, some other nuts like macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs, so it’s generally best to avoid nuts altogether.

Milk and Dairy Products

As with cheese, many dogs can’t digest lactose in milk and other dairy products. While small amounts might not cause problems, too much can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, and other signs of gastrointestinal upset.


In small quantities, honey can be safe for dogs. It is high in sugar and should not be a significant part of your dog’s diet. Overconsumption of honey can lead to obesity and dental issues.


While not toxic, cinnamon can cause mouth and stomach irritation in dogs, and in large amounts, it can lead to liver disease. So, cinnamon should not be a regular part of your dog’s diet.

Special Considerations for Feeding Labradors

what do labradors eat

Certain factors, like health conditions, age, and allergies, can significantly impact “what can Labradors eat”. It is essential to adjust your Labrador’s diet according to their specific needs. Let’s delve into the special considerations for feeding Labradors.

Feeding Labradors with Allergies

Labradors are known to develop allergies, which can manifest as skin problems or gastrointestinal issues. Common food allergens for Labradors include beef, dairy, wheat, egg, chicken, lamb, soy, pork, rabbit, and fish.

If you suspect your Labrador has a food allergy, it’s important to consult with a vet. They may suggest a food-elimination diet to identify the allergen. During this process, you’ll feed your dog a very plain diet of foods they’ve never had before, and then gradually reintroduce potential allergens to see which causes a reaction.

Hypoallergenic dog foods or limited-ingredient diets may be recommended. Always read the labels of pet food to ensure it does not contain the allergen and be cautious of “flavor” labeling that might include a mix of proteins.

Feeding Labradors with Specific Health Conditions

Certain health conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, or obesity can also influence what your Labrador can eat. In such cases, dietary modifications are crucial for managing the condition and improving the quality of life.

  • Diabetes: A diet high in fiber and complex carbohydrates can help control blood sugar levels in diabetic dogs. You need to consistently feed your dog the same type and amount of food at the same times each day.
  • Kidney Disease: Labradors with kidney disease often require a diet low in phosphorus, protein, and sodium but high in omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Obesity: Obesity is a common issue in Labradors. An obesity management diet typically includes a calorie-controlled, high-fiber diet that helps the dog feel satiated.

Always consult with a vet or a pet nutrition expert before making significant changes to the diet of a Labrador with a specific health condition.

Feeding Puppies vs. Adult Labradors

Puppy food differs from adult dog food as it contains more protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals to support growth and development. Puppies also require more frequent meals – typically three to four times a day.

Labrador puppies should be fed a portion of high-quality puppy food until they reach about 80% of their expected adult size, which usually happens around 9-12 months of age. From there, you can transition them to adult food.

Adult Labradors can be fed once or twice a day, depending on their health, activity level, and schedule. Feeding twice can help keep their metabolism steady and blood sugar levels stable.

How to Introduce New Foods to Your Labrador’s Diet

When pondering what can Labradors eat, introducing new foods to your pet’s diet is inevitable. This should be done gradually to avoid digestive issues and identify potential food allergies or intolerances.

Importance of Gradual Introduction

A sudden change in your Labrador’s diet can cause digestive upset such as diarrhea or vomiting. As a result, any new food should be introduced gradually. A good rule of thumb is to replace 25% of their old dog food with the new food for a few days, then increase it to 50%, 75%, and finally 100% over a period of 1-2 weeks. This will allow your Labrador’s digestive system to adjust to the new food.

When introducing raw food or human foods suitable for dogs, the same rule applies. Start with small amounts and observe how your dog responds. If all is well, gradually increase the amount of new food.

Remember, while introducing a new type of dog food for your Labrador or experimenting with home-cooked meals, ensure that the overall diet remains balanced in nutrients.

Signs of Food Intolerance or Allergies

While figuring out what Labradors can eat, you might encounter food intolerance or allergies. Though they are often confused, food allergies usually involve an immune response, while food intolerance doesn’t.

Food allergies in Labradors can manifest as:

  • Itchy skin or rashes
  • Ear infections
  • Hair loss
  • Gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea and vomiting
  • Chronic gas

An intolerance usually results in digestive issues like:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Flatulence

If you notice any adverse reactions as you introduce new food to your Labrador, stop feeding that food and consult a veterinarian. If a food allergy is suspected, your vet may suggest an elimination diet to determine the offending ingredient(s).

The Role of Commercial Dog Food

Commercial Dog Food

When it comes to what Labradors can eat, a balanced diet is crucial for their health and well-being. While homemade food can provide many nutrients, commercial dog food plays a significant role in ensuring your Labrador retriever gets the balanced nutrition it needs.

How to Choose High-Quality Commercial Dog Food

High-quality commercial dog food can provide a complete and balanced diet for your Labrador, but with so many options available, choosing the right one can be a daunting task. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Nutritional Balance: Look for foods that are labeled as “complete and balanced.” This means they meet the nutritional standards established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
  • Ingredients: High-quality dog food for Labradors should have a source of animal protein (like chicken, beef, or fish) as the first ingredient. Avoid foods with filler ingredients, artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
  • Life Stage: Make sure to choose a food appropriate for your Labrador’s life stage. Puppies have different nutritional needs than adult dogs, and there is specific puppy food to cater to these needs.
  • Breed-specific Formulas: Some brands offer breed-specific formulas, including food for Labrador retrievers. These can be beneficial as they are tailored to the specific dietary needs of your breed.
  • Product Reviews and Recalls: Research the brand’s reputation and check if there have been any recalls or complaints about the product.

Below is a simple table illustrating key considerations while choosing commercial dog food for your Labrador.

ConsiderationWhat to Look For
Nutritional Balance“Complete and balanced” according to AAFCO standards
IngredientsAnimal protein is the first ingredient, and no artificial additives
Life StageSpecific food for puppies, adults, or seniors
Breed-specific FormulaFood designed for Labrador retrievers
Product Reviews and RecallsPositive reviews and no major recalls

When to Consider a Diet of Homemade Food

While commercial dog food is convenient and balanced, there are times when a home-cooked diet may be beneficial for your Labrador.

This may be when your dog:

  • Has specific dietary needs or allergies that can’t be met by commercial foods.
  • Is recovering from a sickness or surgery and needs a special diet.
  • Is finicky and refuses to eat commercial food.

In these cases, homemade food, whether it’s cooked or raw, can be a viable option. It’s crucial to ensure the diet is balanced and suitable for your Labrador’s specific needs. Always consult your vet or a pet nutrition expert before switching to a homemade diet to ensure your dog gets all the necessary nutrients.

In the end, whether you feed commercial or homemade food, the important thing is to provide a diet that meets your Labrador’s nutritional needs and maintains its health and vitality.


Understanding what Labradors can eat is like cracking the Da Vinci Code of the canine world. We know these endearing, food-loving furballs would eat just about anything they could get their paws on, but it’s up to us as responsible owners to keep them on the right track. From high-quality dog food for Labradors to raw food or home-cooked meals, the menu may vary. We must always ensure their diet is balanced, suited to their activity level, and, importantly, doesn’t include foods that are harmful to your dog.

Whether your Labrador is an active dog or a lounging one, an adult or a puppy, remember – your love for them should be as limitless as their love for food, but their diet shouldn’t. So the next time you see those pleading eyes staring at your salmon dinner, remember that what your dog can eat and what your dog wants to eat might not always be the same.

Do you have a funny or interesting story about feeding your Labrador? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below! Keep the conversation going and let’s continue to learn and grow as a caring and informed Labrador community.

Daniel Rowe
Daniel Rowe
Daniel is an experienced writer who specializes in canine topics. He has gained firsthand knowledge from years of research and engagement with dogs. This has given him deep expertise in breed profiles, behavior insights, and more. Fellow dog enthusiasts recognize Daniel for his authoritative content. He is dedicated to sharing reliable and trustworthy information. He is committed to enriching the lives of dog lovers through his writing.
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