The Labrador is a family favourite in Australia, which is no surprise when you consider their happy-go-lucky nature, strong intelligence and ability to bond well with children. But while Labradors are renowned for their energetic streak, they are also notorious for their hearty appetites. These eating habits can lead to Labradors gaining more weight than is healthy for them, so it’s important for owners to keep an eye on their dog’s food intake and body shape.
One of the reasons Labradors are more prone to weight gain than other dogs is that they find it hard to satisfy their hunger cravings. Owners that give their dogs the odd extra treat or scraps from the dinner table end up supporting these cravings, making their Labrador much more likely to pack on the pounds. Limiting their treats and scraps is a good way to cut down food intake, but diets that are high in both fibre and protein can also help give your Labrador a feeling of fullness, which helps reduce their begging behaviour in-between meals.
The Labrador is also a breed with a tendency to eat very quickly – if you watch them, you’ll most likely see them gulp their food down, rather than chew it first. This rapid food intake adds to their risk of obesity. Finding a pet food that encourages proper chewing behaviour can be a great way to make sure your dog is eating at a slower pace.
Some ways you can take control of your Labrador’s eating habits are to monitor your pet’s weight and make sure they are sitting in the healthiest weight range for them. Sticking to a strict feeding schedule and limiting treats is another good way to take control of your dog’s weight gain, along with regular exercise.
If you’re not sure how healthy your Labrador’s weight is, take a look at their body shape. From above and from the side, they should have a neatly defined waist. A Labrador’s ribs should also be easily felt through the skin without putting too much pressure on their frame. If you’d like to know more, ROYAL CANIN® have a great dog weight triage tool on their website.