What Kind of Food Should I Get?

The average lifespan of a Lab right now is 10-12 years. On a grain-free (rice is not considered a grain) or raw diet, the average lifespan increases to 15-19 years! Below are lists of the very best dog foods. Some of the brands you might think are good quality are nothing more than junk food. It's like feeding your child McDonald's everyday. They include some pretty high-priced brands that are coasting on old reputations they no longer deserve.

Raw or "ancestral" diets are even better, but are more expensive, ubnless you make them up yourself (which can be considerable work). But if you're willing, it is the best possible diet for your puppy or dog. Remember, dogs are carnivores! They are meat-eaters. They are not herbivores or omnivores.

COMBINATION: We often use a combination of grain-free and raw food (that would be great for any dog, anytime). We give them a grain-free bowl of food in the morning, and raw chicken at night. They can eat the raw chicken bones and all if it's raw. Chicken bones only become dangerous to dogs when they are cooked, because they necome brittle and break off in sharp pieces. When raw, chicken bones are soft, like cartilage.

You can buy a 10-lb. bag of chicken leg quarters for about $7 at WalMart or Kroger. That's just $.70 per pound, cheaper than most dry dog food. The dogs absolutely LOVE it, and it's safe. We have been feeding our Labs raw chicken for many years.

BEST: We recommend a dog food that IS GRAIN-FREE. These are more expensive, but well worth the price.

5-Star Dry Dog Foods5-Star Raw Dog Foods

GOOD: At the very least, we recommend you avoid any dog food that has Corn, Soy or Wheat. These are the grains most commonly associated with food allergies, cancer, diabetes and tendency toward overweight. There are many good quality dog foods which have some grains (usually barley, oatmeal or millet) but avoid these health culprits. Here are a few we recommend (there are many other good ones, but we have actually tried these over the years):

4-HealthNutri-SourceNature's SelectSolid GoldInnovaBlue Buffalo (any formula)


Puppy Training & Containment

We recommend crate training as the fastest, easiest and most effecient way to house train your new puppy. There are hundreds of on-line instructional articles and videos to help in this process. We recommend starting off with a large crate that has a divider which allows you to control the inside space of the crate.

HOUSE TRAINING: This biggest challenge to owning a new puppy is to get him or her house-trained. We have found that crate training is by far the fastest method. The crate should NEVER be used as a punishment. When you first use it, you may have to get up in the middle of the night with your pup to put him out to do his business. Don't be lazy about this. The divider should be positioned so that he just barely has enough room to lie down. He doesn't want to mess his sleeping area, but he will if you neglect him in the crate, and then you are working against yourself. If you do this right, your dog will go into the pen on his own at night, or even when he just wants to take a nap.

CONTAINMENT: Lab puppies need exercise and companionship. They are very social dogs. If you plan to keep your Lab as a house dog, you'll have to ensure they get daily exercise in the form of walks, playing fetch, or trips to the local dog park if you don't have a yard. DO NOT keep your dog tied out to a stake all day. This is a horrible life for a dog. If you have a yard, either invest in the money to fence it in for your friend, or get an Invisible Fence, an underground electrical fence with a wireless transmitter that fastens to your dog's collar.

An alternative to yard fencing is a kennel pen, but it MUST be large enough to roam around in, and your dog still must be let out to run and play. We recommend no smaller than 10x20 (200 square feet) as a pen size for a Lab. These pens come with an optional heavy-duty tarp roof, which we also recommend for shade and protection from the elements.

We do not knowingly sell our puppies to anyone who intends to leave their puppy alone all day without human or canine companionship. If you are already in that situation, consider getting your friend a doggy companion. You will find that you come home to a much calmer, happier, emotionally-balanced friend.

HIGH-DRIVE PUPPIES & DOGS: If you have a very high-drive puppy that is proving very difficult to manage, first, read the paragraphs above. Labs are very social, and need lots of human and/or canine companionship. They need an outlet for their energy. A high-drive Lab left alone will be a miserable wreck, an emotional basket-case, and you will not enjoy him when you ARE home. Our best suggestion for making life with your high-drive Lab easier: GET ANOTHER DOG! No, I'm not kidding. This is one of those times when two dogs are easier to care for than one! Two dogs will spend their drive and energy on each other, and will be much easier to manage during their time with you.


Flea, tick & internal parasite control

At Covenant Farm Puppies, we love our dogs! And we have a lot of them! At any given time we have between a dozen and 15 adult or adolescent dogs to care for each month. Quite honestly, the cost in treating this number of dogs with the standard products purchased from the Vet would be astronomical! The following advice we offer was given to us by our own Vet, and has resulted in hundreds of dollars of savings per year for us.

Your dog or puppy should be treated with a flea & tick treatment and a heartworm preventative every month. That is the Vet recommendation. However, there is very little risk of ticks and heartworm in the cold months. Heartworm is carried by mosquitos. Once it is too cold for the mosquitos and ticks, these treatments can be suspended until early Spring in most places in the country. Fleas are another story, and a flea problem left untreated can become a nightmare, no matter what the outdoor temperatures, because they live and breed on the warm body of your dog.

Cheap Flea & Tick Treatment


The most common products recommended by veterinarians are Frontline® and Advantage®. The active ingredient in Advantage is Imidocloprid, an ingredient found in some tree & shrub insecticides. Many of these now also contain a fertilizer which you wouldn't want to put on your dog (my dogs are big enough already!). The key is to find a brand which ONLY has the active ingredient of Imidocloprid and nothing else. The most commonly available is probably Ortho® Max Tree & Shrub Insect Killer. You can find this at most WalMart, Lowes and Home Depot stores. We use one we just found at our local farm supply store. The label should read exactly like the sample label at left. (Click to enlarge)

DOSING: Use 1 ML of liquid for every 10 lbs. of body weight, to a maximum of 6 ML.
Get a plastic syringe without needle. Apply it in about a 3-inch stripe from between the shoulder blades back. For a larger Lab, we use about 6 cc's. We apply half of it between the shoulder blades as usual, and the other half from the dog's tail root backwards. This tree & shrub product is EXACTLY the same chemical (Imidocloprid 1.47%) as Advantage®. It is a lower strength however, so more must be used. It can be used as often as every other week if necessary.

This stuff costs about $15 for a quart bottle (about the same as a single dose of Advantage!). One bottle will last for years on a single dog!

Cheap Heartworm & Internal Parasite Prevention


The most common products recommended by veterinarians are HeartGuard® and Interceptor®. The active ingredient in both of these is Ivermectin, a common anti-parasite chemical used for livestock. This must be used carefully, as the quantity for use in dogs is small and must be accurately administered. We use Ivomec®. The box says "injection" but we give this orally. We just use a syringe to extract the liquid from the bottle. Remove the needle, insert through the lips and teeth back by the jaw so they have to swallow it. NEVER use this (or any heartworm meds) unless you know your dog tests negative for heartworm.

You must have an accurate weight for your dog. Use your bathroom scale, set your scale to zero while you're on it, then hold your dog and read his weight. Use 1/10 of a CC (ML) for each 10 pounds of body weight. In other words, if you have a 70 lb. dog, use 0.7 CC (ML) of Ivomec. Besides heartworm, Ivomec also kills many other internal parasites like hookworms, roundworms and whipworms.

This stuff costs about $35-$40 for a 50 ML bottle, which will treat 5,000 lbs. of dog. One bottle will last for 6 years on a single 70 lb. dog! You can get it at any Tractor Supply or other farm store or on-line.

NOTE: Ivomec will NOT treat tapeworm. This medication (Droncit) must be obtained from your veterinarian.

Treating a Persistent Flea Infestation

Fleas can be a real headache, especially if you have several pets, and they are allowed in and out of the house. If you have used the standard flea & tick treatment, but you continue to have tormented pets, you will need to use The Three-Pronged Fork. Treat the dogs, the house and the outside environment.
1. To rid your dog of fleas instantly, and keep them off for up to a month, we recommend Comfortis®. You will see dead fleas within 30 minutes! This product also kills the eggs and larvae. It costs about $17 per dose, but is worth it when you're trying to do a comprehensive extermination. It is by perscription only. It can be used with Imidocloprid safely.

2. To rid your home of fleas and eggs, we recommend Precor®. A small bottle of the concentrate (around $10) mixes with a gallon of water, and will cover over 1,200 square feet. Spray it liberally wherever your dogs lay or play inside your home. Floors, dog bedding, everything that your dog has body contact with should be sprayed. Precor is an Insect Growth Regulator (IGR) used by professionals.

3. To rid your dog's outdoor environment of fleas and eggs, use the Tree & Shrub Insect Killer we recommend above. Follow the label directions and mix up a gallon at a time in a common garden watering-can. Soak all the areas where your dogs commonly lie down or play. This product will stay active for nearly a year.

Treating the Deadly Heartworm

Our girl Liberty - healthy and cured of heartworm!


It is very important to begin heartworm treatment by about 4 months old and continue the treatment monthly throughout your dog's life. As we mentioned above, it is safe to suspend the treatments during the coldest months, when mosquitos which carry heartworm are dormant, but should be resumed in very early Spring in most parts of the country.

If you end up with a dog that tests positive for heartworm, whether through your own neglegence, or by buying or adopting a pet that has it, the treatment for it must be done very carefully, because chemical treatments which kill the heartworm, can also kill your dog. This happens when the worm(s) are killed, and the dead worms form a clot in the dog's blood vessels, essentially causing a heart attack.

NEVER use a heartworm preventative on a dog unless you are CERTAIN that they are heartworm-negative. In fact, your vet will not sell you a preventative without first running the test, unless he knows for certain himself. If your dog tests positive, it is VERY serious, even life-threatening, but it is curable!

A Personal Testimonial

We rescued our first female Lab, Liberty from a disreputable breeder several years ago. We traveled 150 miles to buy a breeding-age female. What we found when we got there was a crated, miserable girl with fur like straw and long nails. She didn't even know her name. We discovered the next day when we took her to the vet, she had a serious case of heartworm that included a chronic cough. We bought and paid for her just to get her away from her previous owner, thinking perhaps she could never be bred, but that we could give her a good life here.

We used an all-natural, herbal remedy called Parasite Dr. on her faithfully for a couple of months and took her in for another test. She still tested positive. We continued treating her with it. I'm not exactly sure how many months or how many bottles we ended up using. It was perhaps 4-5 months worth. After that time, she was going into heat, so we brought her in to be tested again. She tested NEGATIVE, and the vet re-tested to be certain. The vet was impressed with the results, and so were we. He gave a go-ahead to breed her. We got four litters from our girl before we retired her from breeding. She has a permanent place on a mat at the foot of our bed, and remains in perfect health. I haven't tried Pet Dr. for other parasites that it claims to treat, but I can testify that if you are patient, and don't expect overnight results, even a serious case of heartworm can be overcome.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained on this page should not be substituted for professional veterinary care. These are simply suggestions for the regular health maintenance of your puppy or dog, and Covenant Farm Puppies and the Murch Family assume no liability for any situation arising from the use of the advice given here (but we'll take the credit if it works out well!).