Some of you who are reading this might wonder how the word “hyper” could ever be used to describe this breed. Chances are, then, that your Lab is mellow, well-trained, content, and—possibly—introverted. However, as some owners have discovered, there’s the other type of Lab: The boisterous, rambunctious, always-in-motion Labrador Retriever.
“Hyper” traits: Where do they come from?
It’s quite normal for a Lab to be energetic. That’s why the breed has historically been used extensively in hunting and tracking. However, some Lab owners have wondered if their dog may go beyond the normal hunting/working dog energy level. In fact, canine obedience instructors are noticing an increasing number of Labs that live up to descriptions like “hyperactive,” “aggressive,” and even “neurotic.” This may be a result of bad practices by less-than-concerned breeders who are eager to supply enough puppies to meet the demand for this ultra-popular breed.
There’s also a “maturity factor” to consider when trying to determine if your Lab is hyperactive. Labrador puppies have a tendency to mature a little later than other breeds. As a result, your dog may look “mature,” but he may still have the energy, curiosity, and go-get-’em-ness of a puppy.
The importance of exercise
Because they’re energetic dogs, vigorous exercise may be one of the most important daily rituals for your Lab. A Labrador that doesn’t receive enough exercise may become bored and “hyper”—and that can result in destructive behavior patterns. If you feel that your Lab is displaying this kind of temperament because he isn’t getting enough running-around time, the solution may be as simple as providing a more robust exercise regimen.
As your dog ages, you’ll likely notice changes in your best pal’s energy levels, routine and even muzzle. Older pets may require adjustments to help them get around, exercise and live their best life as a senior. One important aspect of caring for a dog entering their golden years is diet.
When it comes to diet, every dog has unique, individual needs, regardless of age. So, there's no one easy answer to the question of soft food versus hard food. Both types of food can provide your dog with the nutrition they need — as long as you feed your dog a high-quality dog food that’s nutritionally balanced and complete.
Signs Your Senior Dog May Benefit from Wet Food
If your dog has very specific health concerns, such as aging joints or weight issues, consult with your vet for more information about what type of food best addresses your dog's needs. That being said, there are a few reasons why you may consider switching your senior dog to soft food.
As your dog gets older, their teeth may become more sensitive, which can make chewing kibble more difficult and even uncomfortable. Switching to a soft food can help to alleviate your pet’s oral discomfort when eating.
However, if your dog is experiencing serious pain at mealtime from a condition like tooth decay or gingivitis, switching to soft food won't remedy the problem. Make sure you talk to your vet about oral care and dental treatment.
Digestion begins in the mouth with saliva, so if your dog has a tendency to scarf down meals, they may not be adequately chewing the food or adding enough saliva to it. Soft food can aid with digestion because it's more easily chewed.
It’s no surprise that wet food has a higher moisture content when compared to dry kibble. If your senior pup is prone to urinary-tract issues or simply needs a little help staying hydrated, canned dog food may be a good choice.
Aging dogs tend to have a slower metabolic rate compared to their younger years, which puts them at a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese. Many nutritionally balanced wet dog foods offer high protein content with fewer carbs than dry food, which can benefit older dogs with slower metabolism. Always talk to your vet if you have concerns about your pup’s weight.
While wet food may be less than appetizing to humans, the opposite is true for dogs! If your aging best friend has started turning their snout up to dry food, wet food tends to be more appealing to picky eaters. Mixing wet food and kibble offers your pup a variety of flavors and textures; try adding wet food as a topper on dry food for a real treat!
Whether you choose dry food, soft food or a mix of both, ask your vet before making any transition. And when it's time to switch your dog's food, remember to do it slowly — even if it's the same brand and flavor — to help prevent stomach upset and allow your dog time to adjust.