Are Labrador Retrievers Picky Eaters? (And What to Do About It)

by Kern Campbell

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Are Labrador Retrievers Picky Eaters?

Labrador Retrievers are known for being great family pets. They are great for running with and exercising with if you are looking for a large dog to take outside with you. As you are beginning your journey of owning a Labrador Retriever, you might be wondering about their eating habits and if they are picky eaters.

Labradors are generally not picky eaters. They will eat the same food for years. Labradors can become picky eaters though if you overfeed them table food or if you change the food they have been eating for years.

You might be tempted to give your dog table food if they are begging for it. Giving your dog table food will only increase bad eating habits and might create a stubborn attitude when it comes to mealtime.

Why Is my Labrador a Picky Eater?

If your Labrador has been a picky eater ever since they were a puppy, that might just be their attitude when it comes to food. If your Labrador has suddenly become a picky eater, you might need to take a step back and see if anything has changed recently.

Too much Table Food or Treats

If you or another family member has been overfeeding the dog treats or table food, your dog might be becoming resistant to their regular dog food because they want the human food instead. This behavior needs to be broken immediately.

Try to wean your dog off table food and show them that you expect them to eat their own food at mealtimes. Only give them treats as a reward for good behavior. Don’t substitute meals with treats.

Some Labrador retriever owners also just give their dog a few pieces of their regular dog food as treats rather than something that might be more appetizing to the dog. If they like the taste of their treats more than their food, they might beg for more treats.

Bored with the Same Food

While most Labrador Retrievers can eat the same food for years, there are some dogs that might get bored with the same food. If you notice them eating less or not eating at all, try to change up their food and see if they will eat the new one.

You Change Their Food Too Often

While some dogs like to see a change of food sometimes, changing the food too often can be an issue. Some dogs like the same habits and they like to see the same food in their bowl every day.

If you notice they aren’t taking a liking to the new food, try going back to the old one. They might not like the taste of the new food.

If you have switched to lower quality food, your dog might notice the taste is different and it will not appeal to them. If you need to switch to lower quality food, try mixing it with the current food so that your dog gets used to the taste.

High-quality food while more expensive tends to be better for the dog’s health though. Always talk with your veterinarian about switching foods and see if the food formula is healthy and has all the vitamins that your dog needs.

Allergies and Food Intolerances

Just like humans, Labrador Retrievers can develop allergies and food intolerances. These can develop into new foods or the same food you have been feeding them for years. If this is the problem, you might also notice other issues.

Their stool might be yellow instead of the normal brown color. You might also see them vomiting or trying to eat grass to settle their stomach. Food intolerances in dogs can also manifest themselves as ear infections and excessive itching.

Anxiety

If you have recently moved or have been away from home longer than normal, your dog might be experiencing anxiety. This can cause them to avoid food and not feel comfortable eating. You might also see them panting, whining, barking, or pacing.

They might also start having destructive behaviors such as chewing and digging. Try to give them a few weeks to adjust to the new environment. If being away from home often, try to only feed them when you are home, so they feel comfortable eating in your presence.

Other Health Problems

Your dog might also start avoiding food if they have developed a health problem. Check their stool for signs of worms or foreign materials they might have ingested. This can cause loss of appetite.

If you notice your dog avoiding their food without any other changes to their diet, you might want to consider scheduling an appointment at the vet’s office. If they have worms or other gastrointestinal problems, they need to be treated promptly.

Why Is My Labrador Not Eating Food?

There are many reasons why your dog might suddenly stop eating their food. Some are more serious than others. If you think your dog might have a medical condition or haven’t eaten in more than two days, call your vet’s office and ask for an appointment.

The good news is that Labrador Retrievers adapt to new food easily. If you have recently put them on a new food, they might refuse the new food for a few days. They will soon be open to trying it though.

The problems come when there hasn’t been any change to their food, and they suddenly stop being interested in their food and don’t get excited at mealtime. If they also don’t want treats or food they normally love to eat, this is when you need to call the vet.

Are Labrador Retrievers Picky Eaters?

Most of the time it’s not a serious medical condition, it could be something as simple as tooth pain or worms. Both of these are easily treated but need to be treated as soon as you notice an issue, so they don’t become more serious.

Keep in mind that senior dogs don’t eat as much as growing dogs. If your dog has gradually stopped eating as much as they have grown older, this is normal. They should still be getting regular vet checkups though to ensure they are not developing medical issues as they grow older.

Are Labradors Obsessed with Food?

Labrador Retrievers are known to beg for food more than other dog breeds. They are also more likely to get into the trash or pantry if you leave it open in search of food. This depends on how much you train them though.

If you start from a young age, Labrador Retrievers can be well trained to not beg for food and to learn healthy habits. However, as your dog grows older and goes through its puberty phase, you might see they still beg for food even if trained not to.

Some Labrador Retrievers also have a gene mutation that makes them more likely to beg for food, scavenge for scraps, and weigh more. It can also make them more prone to develop obesity.

In general, though, Labrador Retrievers look forward to mealtimes and will pay attention when you bring the food out. Labradors will eat anything they find, so make sure you keep the floors clean, and you pay attention to what they are grabbing and snacking on outside.

Do Labrador Retrievers Need a Lot of Food? 

Underfeeding your dog and overfeeding your dog can both be an issue. Underfeeding might make them look for food outside or might make them more likely to ingest foreign objects they find. Overfeeding can lead to obesity and other problems.

The amount you feed your Labrador Retriever will depend on how much they weigh. Here is a quick guide for how many grams to feed your dog in dry kibble:

WeightGrams per Day
40-45 pounds205-230 grams
50-55 pounds240-265 grams
60-65 pounds279-300 grams
70-75 pounds300-335 grams
80-85 pounds330-365 grams
90-95 pounds355-395 pounds

Following this guide can ensure your Labrador is getting the nutrition they need. Check the food bag to see the suggested measurements for food. If you have any questions, you can also ask your vet and see what they recommend.

The quality of the food will also depend on how much they need. Higher quality food has more nutrients and vitamins. Your dog will be able to get the nutrition they need in small serving sizes.

Giving your dog high-quality food will also ensure they grow quickly and develop normally. If your dog has a certain health condition, it might need more or less food. Your vet should be able to advise you. 

Final Thoughts

In general, Labrador Retrievers are not picky eaters. If they show pickiness when it comes to food, it might be because you are giving them too many treats or table food. It might also signal a medical condition or change in their health. It could also be because you change the food too often or you don’t change it enough.

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