What to Feed a Golden Retriever

The Golden retriever is a popular breed in the US, according to statistics. This breed is known for its soft golden coat and gentle temperament. Owners rave that these dogs have goofy personalities as well. But do goldens require a special diet? You might be wondering what to feed a Golden retriever. Every dog is prone to develop certain illnesses, and Golden retrievers are no exemption. They can suffer from inherited joint problems, certain types of cancer, as well as allergies. Choosing high-quality nutrition for your Golden retriever may mitigate some of these health risks. However, many of these health issues can’t be detected in growing puppies. Thus, every breeder must follow proper practices. Although golden retriever puppy food won’t dramatically eliminate these risks, giving them the right nutrition from the start can be a protective factor against any health issues they may develop as an adult.

Special Diet- What to Feed a Golden Retriever


What to feed a golden retriever? According to expert advice, adult dogs need a minimum of 80% protein source in their food. Puppies will require higher amounts at 22%. Protein initiates the building of strong muscles in golden puppies and adults. It supports the maintenance of lean muscles. For a majority of dogs, higher protein content is a great thing not only for taste but also for nutrition.

Fat gives your dog an optimum source of energy from calories. It should make up about 8% of the nutrition of puppies and 5% for adult dogs. Keep in mind that at this point, your Golden retriever’s needs will start to vary.

Smaller dog breeds have quicker metabolisms, and they require higher concentrations of calories in their food. For larger breeds such as Golden retrievers, excess calories can be detrimental and lead to unhealthy weight gain. It increases health risks such as bone and joint problems. Because of this, Golden retrievers require protein-rich nutrition with only low to moderate fat content.

Growing Golden Puppies

What to feed a golden retriever? Puppy protein requirements are higher compared to an adult. But keep in mind that large breed puppies also require a calorie-controlled diet so they won’t grow too fast.

According to experts, Goldens also need lower calcium and phosphorus content to minimize the risk of joint issues. You must look for the optimum Golden retriever puppy nutrition that is right for them.

Calorie Needs – What to Feed a Golden Retriever

Full-grown retrievers have a weight range between 55 and 75 pounds. Based on this average weight, experts recommend a calorie range between 989 and 1272 calories per day for Goldens who are less active. Increase these calories for active dogs. A calorie range between 1353 and 1742 per day is ideal. Senior goldens who are suffering from joint issues require fewer calories than their younger and more active counterparts.

Food choices

what to feed a golden retriever

Kibble has many benefits and can keep your Golden’s teeth free from tartar. Chewing kibble scrapes the teeth’s surface. Wet food gives added moisture to your dog’s diet and can be combined with dry food to your dog with its tempting aroma. When you mix foods, calculate the number of calories based on information on the labels. It ensures that your dog will get the optimum number of daily calories. What to feed a golden retriever?

Dog foods that are commercially produced are often labeled complete and balanced. They meet every standard of a nutritious diet established by the AAFCO. It ensures that your Golden retriever will receive the full spectrum of nutrients and vitamins needed to be in their best health.

Several dog owners will choose to feed their Goldens a whole meat diet. It is crucial to consult with your vet or canine nutritionist to ensure that what you’re giving your dog has all the nutrients for optimal health. Consult with your vet before switching to a homemade diet or raw meat. Make sure to sanitize kitchen utensils and other equipment thoroughly after handling raw meats. It will avoid contamination and proliferation of bacteria.


Check your commercial dog food label for protein sources such as chicken, turkey, and fish. These should be the first ingredients. Ingredients found in dog food labels are listed according to quantity and dry weight. You might find that these dog brands also add healthy whole grains such as oats and barley. Fruits and vegetables might also be included to provide optimal amounts of fiber. Fats from animals and vegetable sources such as chicken fat and safflower oil provide optimal amounts of energy and help maintain the shiny coat of your Golden retriever. Natural preservatives provide a vitamin E source. What to feed a golden retriever?

When you have selected a diet for a dog, observe its effect on them. If you transition to new food and your dog eliminates loose stools and flatulence, which do not mitigate over several weeks, you might consider switching to their regular food again. There might be something in the new diet your Golden retriever is allergic to.

What to Look for

what to feed a golden retriever

To ensure that the nutrition you are giving your Golden meets their needs, it is best to choose a dog food formulated for their life stage.

The following are the things to look for in commercial dog food for Golden retrievers:

  • It should include wholesome natural ingredients with zero fillers, byproducts, and artificial flavorings.
  • The first ingredient should be a high-quality animal protein source coming from meat or fish.
  • There should be low levels of fat and calorie content to control the growth of puppies. There should be optimal amounts to maintain the lean muscle mass of adults.
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin are good supplements for joint health.
  • There should be controlled levels of calcium and phosphorus.
  • It should be approved as nutritionally complete and balanced by the AAFCO.

Aside from checking the nutrition requirements, you should also examine the kibble if it is big.

Goldens are large and have deep chests. Thus, they are at higher risk of developing bloat, which is aggravated by eating speedily or eating too much at once. Larger kibble means that your dog gets the same level of nutrition in smaller portions.

Grain-Free Diets for Your Golden Retriever

In recent years, there has been much debate regarding zero grain diets for dogs. It all started with several reports about a dog suffering from heart diseases traced to grain free diets.

Because of these reports, the FDA embarked on an investigation. The following are the results:

  • 90% of the reports revealed that dogs who were fed a grain-free diet suffered heart diseases.
  • The research involved multiple animals, both dogs, and cats in the same household.
  • These reports examined various breeds, not only large breed dogs or those who already have a known genetic predisposition to heart diseases.
  • Heart diseases such as dilated cardiomyopathy is not a known health risk of goldens. But research shows that there are increased cases of DCM in dogs who are fed a grain-free diet.

Impact of this report on your Golden retriever.

Experts believe that DCM occurrence may be rooted in ingredients added to replace grains in a grain-free diet. A factor may also be exotic meats, vegetables, and fruits.

Feeding a zero-grain diet to your Golden is your personal choice. But this option might not be healthier than diets with grains. The only exception to this rule would be a dog to have known allergies and sensitivity to grains. In which case, the only option is a grain-free diet.

Health Issues Rooted in Diet and Nutrition


Because of golden retrievers’ unique anatomy, being deep-chested, they are vulnerable to bloat, otherwise known as gastric dilation. This health issue is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention from your veterinarian to save your Golden’s life. The root cause of bloat is the buildup of gases that might cause the stomach to expand. In most cases, the stomach will twist and cut off circulation to the stomach and block escape, thus forming gases.


Golden Retrievers are chowhounds. But overfeeding them can result in health problems such as cancer, diabetes, and bone problems. This breed is susceptible to developing elbow and hip dysplasia and joint diseases. All of these are exacerbated by obesity. It is crucial to feel the ribs of your dog without having to penetrate through layers of fat. If you cannot feel the ribs of your Golden retriever, it is likely overweight. Speak to your vet about well-balanced nutrition. They could recommend a diet food that contains a lower number of calories and optimum fiber to make your dog feel full.


If your Golden gains weight too quickly without dieting or exercise changes, make sure to consult with your vet for an examination. Goldens are susceptible to developing hypothyroidism, resulting in weight gain, which requires immediate veterinary care.

On the other hand, if your Golden is losing weight, you might want to check what they eat. Some Golden retrievers may develop swallowing problems because of an enlarged esophagus, a medical condition known as cricopharyngeal dysfunction. Kidney diseases are also a risk for this breed, a condition that causes weight loss. These are health issues that may require surgical intervention. Take your dog to your vet for diagnosis.


Golden retrievers can suffer allergies, especially with certain foods. Food allergies can be traced to protein sources and grains such as corn, wheat, and soy. These allergies show up as skin problems. Make sure to take your Golden retriever to the vet for a diagnosis. Your vet may require your Golden to undergo an elimination diet. It replaces their regular diet with a hypoallergenic option for 8 to 12 straight weeks. The elimination diet will contain an uncommon protein source such as venison or fish. Starch is also added to the diet, such as potatoes. Once your Golden’s skin clears, normal ingredients can be reintroduced until there is a recurrence of the symptoms. This process helps determine which ingredients must be removed from your Golden’ s diet.

Final thoughts

It is crucial to know what to feed a Golden retriever. Caring for and maintaining your dog will help them lead happy and long lives. Serious diseases are life-threatening and cause pain in your Golden retriever. You don’t want them to suffer needlessly just because of a bad diet. Research studies on optimum nutrition for dogs is ongoing, and facts may change. Make sure to check recent studies and decide with your vet to see if these dietary adjustments will help your dog.


About Tom Thorpe

Tom Thorpe has overtime interacted with different species of dogs mostly through breeding and training; according to him, man’s best friend is yet to find solace in the company of man, as they are continuously mistreated. He, therefore, runs a rescue center that provides shelter to stray dogs, and has been advocating for the rights of animals; the Golden Retriever dogs are among his favorites, the reason he came up with the extensive excerpts to help educate the society on the right treatment and care of the respective breed. Tom spends most of his time running his dog shelter; he is a husband and proud father of two boys and loves to go fishing during his free time.

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