Golden retrievers have always been a popular choice for many pet families as these dogs are known for their trustworthiness, friendliness, confidence, reliability, intelligence, and unmatched kindness especially to younger members of the family. This is not to say that they don’t have certain health conditions that can adversely affect their role in the family. Hip dysplasia, skin conditions, cataracts, and other problems can reduce your dog’s quality of life and put a strain in its relationship with your family. You can help promote optimum health and prevent these diseases by giving your dog any of these best dog foods for Golden retrievers that we’ve researched.
Best Dog Food for Golden Retrievers Buying Guide
It’s easy to pick the wrong kind of food for your Golden retriever. That is why it is important to first increase your knowledge about the nutritional needs of these dogs before you want to go on a shopping spree. It is also crucial to understand some of the health conditions that Goldies are prone to developing so you’ll be guided accordingly on the kind of food to give to them. Here’s a simple guide for you to consider.
Nutritional Needs of Golden Retrievers
The nutritional needs of Goldies are not different from other breeds. Perhaps the only difference will be in the content of each nutrient. You should understand that your Goldie is a bit muscular but not so much unlike Rottweilers and Pit Bulls. That said, you will need to pay attention to the following nutrient requirements.
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- Moderate to high protein
Animal protein is still best. The amino acid profile of animal proteins is more complete than their plant counterparts. Ideally you should strive for protein content that is at least 25% of the dry matter weight of the dog food. Moreover, the very first ingredient should be a clearly-stated animal protein. In some instances where a plant ingredient is the first on the list, these are often treated as specialty diets. You should still look at the guaranteed analysis of the product.
- Low to moderate fat
Fats in the diet of Golden retrievers should not exceed 20% although this can be quite tricky if you have a dog food that contains mostly animal ingredients. Meats have both proteins and fats in them so you get high protein and high fat, too. Don’t be discouraged by the fat in the dog food because they need this for healthier coat, skin, and endocrine system.
Calcium and phosphorus are important for puppies as they grow and develop their bones. B vitamins are important for all life stages of Goldies for better metabolism. Vitamins A and E are important as well.
EPA, DHA, and ALA are all important for optimum neurologic, cardiovascular, and immune system functioning. Chondroitin and glucosamine are also necessary for improved joint health. Probiotics may also help in improving digestive and immunologic functions.
How to Feed a Golden Retriever
Feeding your Golden retriever is not really that different from any other dog breed. It should always start with choosing the best dog food that is highly appropriate for its life stage.
Starting with puppies, the sole nutrition for Goldie pups in the first month of life should only be the mommy’s milk, or puppy milk replacers in cases where the mother is unable to nurse. By the 5th week of life, you can start adding solids into its food. You can start with high quality wet or canned puppy food as its softer texture allows for easier consumption. You can give kibbles, but you might want to moisten it a bit. You can feed your pup 4 times a day until it reaches its 9th week.
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By the second to the third month, you can lessen the frequency to 3 times daily but with an adjustment in its calorie intake. Once your Golden retriever is in its 4th month you can already feed it twice daily. This is going to be your Goldie’s feeding schedule for the rest of its life unless otherwise directed by your veterinarian.
Some pet parents feed their Goldies only once a day. While this is possible, we don’t recommend it since small frequent feedings is a lot better to help avoid bloating, a condition that is well-known in Golden retrievers and other large breeds of dog.
Golden Retriever Health Problems and How Food Can Help
Golden retrievers may be described as playful, energetic, and very active pooches that love nothing but life and family. However, this doesn’t mean they’re completely immune to diseases. Like all breeds of dog, Goldies are prone to certain health issues more than other breeds. Here are some of them.
Two of the most common cancers found in Golden retrievers are hemangiosarcomas and lymphomas. Hemangiosarcoma is a very invasive type of cancer that is found almost exclusively in canine populations. Hemangiosarcomas affect the blood vessels while lymphomas target lymphocytes in the immune system. Nutrition can play a role in improving the signaling pathways of cells so that they don’t differentiate into neoplastic ones.
- Aortic stenosis
In this condition, the valve where blood exits the heart to be delivered to the rest of the body gets narrower, restricting the flow and delivery of blood towards the rest of the body while also congesting the heart with blood because of the limited forward movement of blood. Omega fatty acids and other nutrients that can lower blood lipids can also help. Fiber has always been an integral part of aortic stenosis diet in human populations.
- Hip dysplasia
It is very unusual for large and giant breeds of dogs not to be affected by hip dysplasia which is described as an abnormality in the gross anatomy of the hip joint. Calcium, phosphorus, glucosamine, and chondroitin can help by strengthening both the bones and the joint capsule. Moderate amounts of calories and fats are also needed to minimize the impact of body weight on the joints.
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- Elbow dysplasia
This is almost similar to hip dysplasia except that the affected joint is in the elbow of your Golden retriever. Again, nutrients are important to minimize the impact of such degeneration of the tissues.
- Eye problems
Golden retrievers are prone to the development of congenital cataracts and central progressive retinal atrophy or CPRA. Congenital cataracts mostly affect puppies no older than 6 months. CPRA, on the other hand primarily affects older Goldies because of degeneration of the retinal pigment cells. Vitamin A and DHA can help minimize the effects of these disorders in your dog.
If you notice your pet unusually gaining weight even without a change in its exercise or diet patterns, it may already have hypothyroidism. Even if you do manage to lower your pet’s calorie intake, the weight gain will not go away since the problem is in a less-than-active thyroid gland. You can support your dog with more EPA and DHA in its diet. Antioxidants, high fiber foods, ALA, and probiotics have also been shown to help.
All large breed and deep-chested dogs are prone to bloating. A major complication is gastric torsion which is a life-threatening condition that can only be corrected by surgery. Feeding your dog in smaller yet more frequent amounts should help.
- Von Willebrand’s disease
In this condition, your Goldie lacks a certain clotting factor making it more prone to bleeding. While it is a hereditary blood disorder, you can help your dog by supplying dog food that is rich in vitamin K as well as other nutrients that can help in the synthesis of the missing clotting factor.
Are There Any Ingredients To Avoid?
In addition to the usual suspects like artificial flavor enhancers, colorings, and even preservatives, there are a few other ingredients that you may want to avoid.
- BHA and BHT
Both butylated hydroxytoluene and butylated hydroxyanisole are identified by the WHO as carcinogenic. And since cancer is one of the most common health problems of Golden retrievers, you don’t want these substances in your dog’s diet.
Already banned in the EU and Australia, ethoxyquin is believed to cause blood and liver problems. Remember that some Goldies are predisposed to von Willebrand’s disease as well as aortic stenosis. Adding ethoxyquin in their diet may bring more harm than good.
- Propyl gallate
Human studies reveal that propyl gallate contain xenoestrogens that have been associated with the increased incidence of human breast cancer. It is not known, however, if this breast carcinogenic effect extends well into Golden retriever populations.
- Propylene glycol
Known to cause Heinz body anemia in cats, propylene glycol is typically used to retain the moisture in dog food. So watch out.
Tertiary butylhydroquinone is a preservative that can cause irreversible DNA damage which often heralds the development of cancer cells especially in the stomach.
How Many Calories Does My Golden Retriever Need?
The breed standard weight for a Golden retriever is between 65 and 75 pounds for males and 55 and 65 pounds for females. Experts use a very simple formula to compute for any dog’s calorie requirement based on its weight and its activities or developmental stages. Here’s how to compute for your Goldie’s daily caloric needs.
- Divide its weight in pounds by 2.2 to get its weight in kilograms.
- Raise the weight in kilograms by the Resting Energy Requirement (RER) power constant of 0.75 before multiplying it with 70.
- Multiply the result with the appropriate Maintenance Energy Requirement (MER) factor.
Let us say you have an unneutered Goldie that weighs 70 pounds. Following the steps outlined above, we should get the following.
- 70 pounds divided by 2.2 = 31.82 kilograms
- 82 raised to the power of 0.75 = 13.4 kilograms
- 4 kilograms x 70 = 938 calories
- 938 x 1.8 = 1,688.4 calories MER or 1,688 calories per day
The 1.8 factor is only for unneutered or intact dogs. Other factors can be used depending on the purpose of the diet. These are as follows.
- For neutered dogs – 1.6
- To lose weight – 1.0
- To gain weight – 1.7
- To perform light work – 2.0
- To perform moderate intensity work – 3.0
- To perform heavy work – 6.0
- For puppies younger than 4 months – 3.0
- For puppies older than 4 months – 2.0
Caring for your Golden retriever means giving the right kind of food to sustain optimum growth and development. These best dog foods for Golden retrievers should set you on the right track.
- How Many Calories Does a Dog Need?, PetMD
- AKC Breed Standard: Official Standard of the Golden Retriever, GRCA
- About Goldens – Nutrition, GoldenRescueNC