As labrador owners, we love to see our pooch with a lovely and shiny thick coat of fur. There aren’t many things that can make a labrador owner more proud than to be on a walk and have a stranger comment on how healthy our labrador’s coat looks.
But how can we ensure that our labrador does have a healthy coat of fur? Is there anything we can do to influence it?
The answer is a resounding yes! In this article, I’m going to focus mostly on how you can ensure your labrador maintains a beautifully shiny coat with nice thick hair by giving them the correct diet.
Diet is a huge factor in ensuring your labrador’s coat stays healthy. In fact, unless your labrador has a health condition that affects their skin and fur, diet is the most important factor in maintaining a healthy coat.
I’ll run through the main ingredients that help promote a healthy coat for your labrador as well as recommending a range of dry, wet and puppy food for your lab that should help support healthy coats of fur.
I’ll also look at some suitable treats for your labrador as well as alternative ways we can help keep our lab’s coats looking perfect.
For a healthy coat, the ideal dog food will use quality ingredients high in both protein and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Orijen High Protein – Six Fish dog food is perfect. The ingredients list is top quality and it has some of the highest protein and omega 3 and 6 fatty acid levels on the market. It’s a premium product so the price is on the high side, therefore I have listed a range of other dog foods in this article too.
In a hurry?
You can take a look at Orijen High Protein – Six Fish on Amazon here.
Why is a healthy labrador coat important
We love the appearance of a healthy labrador coat, it is nice and shiny and soft to touch. But a healthy coat is also the perfect insight into your labrador’s overall health.
Your labrador’s skin is its largest organ. The cells of the skin also shed and are replaced by new cells at a rapid rate.
This is the same as your labrador’s fur, it is shed and regrows rapidly (unless you have a non-shedding breed, then the hair just continues to grow).
That means it gives us a unique insight into a labrador’s general health. As changes to the skin and fur can occur so quickly it’s easy to spot when your labrador’s health might not be quite right.
For a healthy shiny coat, your lab needs a balanced diet, filled with quality proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins.
If there is a deficiency in any of these in your labradors’ diet, the first thing you’ll probably notice will be issues related to their skin and coat.
Your labrador may develop flaky skin and a dull, more coarse coat.
Your labrador’s coat health can also be a sign of other issues, such as allergies.
Even if your lab is getting a balanced diet, they may develop an allergy to a particular ingredient.
One of the first common symptoms which occur in labradors suffering from allergic reactions is flaky or red skin and hair loss, particularly around the eyes.
Obvious signs of an allergic reaction such as hair loss around the eyes can begin to show within 24 hours of the allergen being ingested, so it’s a good early warning signal that things could be wrong.
Food allergies are very common in labradors, I’ve written a whole article about dog foods for labradors with allergies here.
Overall, a healthy shiny coat gives us an insight into a labrador’s overall health. If their coat looks well then their health probably is too.
Which dog food ingredients support a healthy coat
A healthy balanced diet and good regular exercise is the best way to maintain a healthy coat on your labrador.
Any good quality, balanced dog food should be able to provide you with what you need to ensure your lab stays healthy and I’ll give some recommendations below.
But there are a couple of ingredients that I think you may want to pay particular attention to if you’re looking for that really luscious and shiny coat.
These are by no means the only things your lab needs for a healthy coat. Your labrador needs a full and balanced diet to maintain their health, but any decent dog food should contain all the vitamins and minerals needed.
The below ingredients are just ones which will give that cost a nice extra shine.
Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids
Omega 3 and 6 should be found in any good dog food, but there are ones that will contain particularly high amounts.
Fish based foods, containing fish oil, will generally be packed with omega 3 and 6. These fatty acids can also be found in nuts and seeds.
Omega 3 and 6 are great news for a shiny coat.
Omega 3 fatty acids support healthy skin, providing the building blocks for cell maintenance, it also helps to reduce inflammation of the skin. That’s not only directly good for the skin but it will reduce the amount of scratching your labrador does which can often be a large reason for hair loss.
Omega 6 fatty acids help to replace oils in the skin and add that extra shine to your labrador’s coat. Omega 6 fatty acids help support strong cell membranes and cell function.
This macronutrient is what makes up 90% of a labrador’s fur, so it’s, of course, going to be vital in maintaining a healthy and shiny coat.
When looking for a quality dog food that’s going to provide your labrador with lots of healthy protein you should look out for ingredients listing a protein source first on the list.
A good quality and natural protein source is vital for labradors. It can be found from all different types of sources such as; chicken, beef, lamb, duck and salmon. So whatever your labrador’s preferences, intolerances or allergies, you should be able to find a suitable food packed with high-quality protein.
Mixed in with an overall balanced diet, a quality protein is going to give your labradors a beautifully healthy coat.
Dry dog food for a healthy labrador coat
I’m looking for a dry kibble with high protein, high omega 3 and 6 fatty acid content and a quality ingredients list.
One of the easiest ways to get plenty of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids into your labrador’s diet is by using a fish-based food. Although, I’ll also include a meat option for those who don’t want to go down the fish route.
Orijen High Protein – Six Fish
If you’re looking for the perfect dog food to give your labrador a healthy coat then this one is sure to do the trick.
It’s packed, and I do mean packed, with protein and omega 3 and 6. It achieves this in a natural way, using a combination of six different types of fish.
The ingredients list is fantastic with whole Atlantic mackerel, Atlantic herring, monkfish, Acadian redfish, lounder, silver hake, mackerel meal, herring meal and blue whiting meal making up the first nine main ingredients.
You’ll find it difficult to find a better list of ingredients than that if you’re aiming to give your labrador a high protein and high omega 3 and 6 diet.
And it works a treat, this dry dog food contains a minimum of 38% protein, 2.1% omega 6 fatty acids and 1.8% omega 3 fatty acids. Those proportions are double the amounts you might find in low-quality dog foods.
With 85% of this dog food being made from animal ingredients, this quality dog food is a great option if you want to keep your labrador’s coat super healthy.
You can take a look at Orijen High-Protein dog food on Amazon here.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein – Rabbit
I didn’t want all my dry food recommendations to be fish-based (they do usually have a more pungent smell to the kibble), so here’s a dog food that’s main ingredient is meat, but that is still packed with omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.
Using real meat as their number 1 ingredient, this dog food by Blue Buffalo is packed with good quality protein.
This dog food has rabbit and fish meal front and center of their ingredients list. That means plenty of protein and plenty of omega 3 and 6.
I like the quality of the ingredients they use, and there’s none of the poultry by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors or preservatives that you’ll find in many mainstream dog foods.
On top of that it also includes a high amount of both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids to give your labrador that extra shine to their coat.
High in both protein and omega 3 and 6, this quality dog food is sure to make your labrador’s coat shine.
It comes in bison rabbit and red meat versions. Personally I would recommend the rabbit product as it’s quite a lot higher in Omega 6 content than the other two, but any of these flavors should give your labrador a healthy coat.
The rabbit version contains 30% protein, 0.5% omega 3 fatty acids and 2.25% omega 6 fatty acids.
It has a stack of fantastic reviews and I think it’s a great choice if you’re looking to introduce high protein and omega 3 and 6 foods to your labrador to get that extra healthy coat.
You can take a look at Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein dog food on Amazon here.
Purina ONE SmartBlend – Salmon & Tuna
For my third recommendation, I’ve chosen another dog food that uses fish as its main ingredient.
You just easily get the dual benefit of high protein and high omega 3 and 6 from these fish-based foods, so if you want that shiny coat it’s worth putting up with the slightly strong smell of fish kibble.
And if your labrador’s anything like mine then the kibble won’t be there for long anyway!
Purina uses salmon as the main ingredient in this dry dog food providing plenty of omega 3 and 6, this is also supplemented by fish oil.
There’s also a mixture of meats within the ingredients such as beef and chicken meal which will add to the protein content.
As a result, this dog food has a high 30% protein and a good 0.5% omega 3 fatty acids content and 1.7% omega 6 fatty acids content.
Those proportions are high for dog food (although it does go to show just how impressive Orijen protein and omega 3 and 6 content is).
It’s a very highly rated dog food and owners especially review how much their dog enjoys eating it.
It doesn’t have the protein and omega 3/6 fatty acids content of my first two recommendations but it is more affordable and still significantly better than most standard dog foods.
You can take a look at Purina ONE Smart Blend on Amazon here.
Wet (canned) dog food for a healthy labrador coat
To get wet dog food that will really give your labrador’s coat a healthy shine I’m going to focus on canned dog food with a high protein content that uses fish within the ingredients.
One important thing to know is that canned foods are mostly water, unlike the dehydrated dry foods I’ve listed above.
That means the protein contents (or any contents) of wet foods can’t be directly compared with dry kibble.
Canned dog food with 9% protein is just as good as a 30 – 35% protein dry food as 70%+ of the canned dog food will be water.
If you were to remove the water from a 9% protein wet food the protein would then represent 30%+ of the remaining ingredients, essentially on a par with high protein dry foods.
Canidae Pure Sea – Salmon & Mackerel
Canidae have a selection of flavors for their canned dog food but I like this salmon and mackerel version in order to get the most omega 3 and 6 fatty acids into your Labrador’s diet.
Salmon, fish broth, sardines and mackerel make up four of the first five ingredients on this fish heavy canned food, giving it plenty of omega 3 and 6.
It also has good protein content at 9%, high for wet food (78% is water meaning that protein takes up a huge amount of the remaining 22%).
It’s made using quality ingredients and has fantastic reviews, particularly pointing to how many dogs love the flavor so it’s a great choice for picky eaters too.
You can take a look at Canidae Pure Sea wet dog food on Amazon here.
Purina Beyond – Ocean Whitefish & Salmon
This is the first of two Purina entries on this list and this one is the premium brand. It has plenty of protein and omega 3 and 6 fatty acid-rich ingredients.
The first six ingredients list ocean whitefish, chicken, fish broth, liver, turkey and salmon. All great ingredients for a mix of protein and fatty acids.
This high-quality wet dog food is made with no corn, wheat, soy, poultry by-product meal, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
It’s a great choice for getting that lovely, shiny and healthy coat for your labrador. It’s a premium product but it’s still significantly cheaper than the Canidae wet food I mentioned above.
The reviews are top-notch with lots of comments noting the high-quality ingredients and how their dogs absolutely love the taste.
It’s a great mid-range choice for quality wet dog food, especially if you’re looking for an extra healthy coat.
You can take a look at Purina Beyond wet dog food on Amazon here.
Purina ONE Smart Blend – Beef & Wild-Caught Salmon
This is the best value product on my wet dog food recommendations, but it is still packed with everything you need for that healthy labrador coat.
The main ingredient for this canned food is beef, it also includes chicken, liver, pork lungs and salmon. That all results in a very high protein canned food.
The added salmon also ensures that there is still a good level of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids in this high protein dog food.
Purina uses real meat and fish as their ingredients, with no poultry by-product meal included.
This dog food has all you need for a nice shiny coat on your Labrador and that’s reflected in the strong reviews it has received.
It’s a particularly good choice if you want a quality canned food but you don’t want to break the bank.
You can take a look at Purina ONE Smart Blend on Amazon here.
Dog food for a healthy labrador puppy coat
Just like the adult dog foods above, the puppy foods that I’ll be recommending are high in both protein and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.
They will use quality ingredients with the protein source front and center of the ingredients list.
Orijen Puppy High Protein – Meat & Fish
Orijen features again on my list of recommendations. This puppy food has different ingredients from the heavily fish-based one I recommended for adults but it’s still packed with protein and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.
The ingredients list is so good it makes me want to eat it, this is just the main ingredients of this high quality puppy food:
Fresh chicken meat (14%), fresh turkey meat (7%), fresh whole eggs (7%), fresh chicken liver (6%), fresh whole flounder (5%), fresh whole herring (5%), fresh turkey liver (5%), fresh chicken necks (4%), fresh chicken heart (4%), fresh turkey heart (4%), chicken (dehydrated, 4%), turkey (dehydrated, 4%), whole mackerel (dehydrated, 4%), whole sardine (dehydrated, 4%), whole herring (dehydrated, 4%).
With ingredients like that, it’s no surprise to see a huge protein content of 38%, an omega 6 fatty acid content of 2.8% and omega 3 fatty acid content of 0.9%.
If you want the very best for your labrador puppy, it’ll be a challenge to find a better puppy food than this.
That’s reflected in the reviews too, with lots of comments about how soft and shiny this food has made their puppy’s coat.
You can take a look at Orijen Puppy High Protein dog food on Amazon here.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy High Protein – Chicken
It’s difficult to beat Orijen in terms of quality, but it is heavy on price. Blue Buffalo provides top quality puppy food at a much more digestible dollar figure.
This puppy food uses deboned chicken as its primary ingredient as is very high in protein.
The protein level is 36%. With omega 3 fatty acids at 0.9% and omega 6 fatty acids at 3%. That’s top-quality for puppy food and should give your puppy all they need for a shiny and healthy coat.
This quality puppy food doesn’t contain any poultry by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors or preservatives.
It has fantastic reviews and would be a great choice if you’re looking for a super shiny coat but don’t want to extend to the budget you’ll need for Orijen’s puppy food.
You can take a look at Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein puppy food on Amazon here.
Dog treats for a healthy labrador coat
You don’t have to go all out and start feeding your labrador a completely new dog food in order to get a shiny coat.
If they are already eating a quality dog food with plenty of protein and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids then you might just want to top up their diet with an extra boost.
This can be done really easily through treats.
For getting a little more protein into their diet you can’t do much better than a simple egg. Raw eggs will provide more protein (just make sure to only feed them the yolk of raw eggs), but boiled eggs are also great (you can feed them the white of cooked eggs).
The eggshell is also a great source of calcium, ideal for growing puppies. You can grind the shell into a powder and then add it to their food.
I’ve actually written an article about labrador’s and eggs listing the benefits here, you might want to read it if you’re thinking of adding it to their diet as you need to watch out for some things.
Honestly, a simple egg will do just as well as any high protein treat you can buy.
Unlike protein, if you want to add more omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to your labrador’s diet it’s probably easier buying a suitable dog product. You can give your labrador supplements or you can give them treats rich in these shiny-coat creating fatty acids.
Pawfectchow Omega Treats
These healthy treats are packed with omega 3 and 6 from wild Alaskan salmon oil. As an added bonus they also contain lots of vitamins E, C and Zinc.
They are ideal if you just want something to top up your labrador’s omega 3 and 6 levels for that extra shiny coat.
Add in an occasional egg to their diet for added protein and they will have everything they need in their diet for a healthy coat without having to do a holistic change to their daily dog food.
These treats should last a while and are a nice alternative to some of the quite unhealthy dog treats you can find on the market. For the benefits your lab received from them I think the price is pretty reasonable, and they have lots of fantastic reviews from happy labrador owners.
You can take a look at Pawfectchow Omega Treats on Amazon here.
Final note – All labradors are different, take care with new foods
In this article, I’ve tried to list a range of high-quality dog foods that should massively help in giving your labrador a super shiny and healthy coat.
But, changing diet can be tricky sometimes, and many labradors do have certain allergies and intolerances to different foods.
It may be worth consulting with your vet if you know your lab can be sensitive to a certain food before making any large changes to their diet.
Another option is to follow the advice I give in the treats section.
Instead of completely changing your labrador’s diet. Introduce a simple high protein treat (egg is perfect and cheap!) and high omega 3 and 6 fatty acid treats like the Pawfectchow treats I’ve mentioned above.
This should help boost those two vital ingredients for a healthy coat. Assuming your lab already has a quality balanced dog food then this should give great results.
Whichever option you choose, I hope you have found this article helpful.