Golden Retrievers are a large dog breed, and they are also quite active. Hence, they have a healthy appetite. They need a nutritious and balanced diet to maintain their wellness and energy levels. It is also necessary to monitor your golden retriever’s weight so that it does not suffer from joint problems and other health issues. New dog owners often wonder how much to feed a Golden Retriever. The answer isn’t as simple as reading the food label. Our guide will help you understand why.
How Much to Feed a Golden Retriever
The healthy weight of adult golden retrievers can range from 55 to 75 pounds. On the basis of this weight range, sedentary golden retrievers should have a daily caloric intake between 990 and 1270 calories, whereas active golden retrievers should have a daily caloric intake between 1,360 and 1,741 calories according to the recommendations of the National Research Council of the National Academies. Since senior golden retrievers are more prone to joint problems compared to their younger and active peers, they typically need fewer calories to control weight.
When you give food to your golden retriever, you should read the label to understand how many calories each serving contains. Reading labels becomes even more important if you have to combine different foods for your dog. This way, you can follow the daily caloric intake of your dog.
The package will contain instructions telling you the suggested serving size. Remember, these are basic guidelines and your dog’s needs may vary according to its activity levels.
You should observe these guidelines when you feed your golden retriever:
- Make it a habit to weigh or measure the food to determine how many calories your golden retriever is consuming. You should also note down the amount of food that you are feeding your dog each day.
- It is a good practice to feed your dog at the same time each day. Your dog’s appetite will remain stable and it won’t plead for food at the wrong time. You should ask your vet about the frequency and timing of meals.
- Don’t change the brand unless necessary. The human digestive system is versatile and it can handle changes in diet. The same cannot be said for dogs though. Compared to humans, their digestive system is not so good at handling changes in diet. So you must feed your dog the same food brand each day.
- If you need to change the dog food for your golden retriever you should do it gradually. You should mix small amounts of the new brand into the older food brand. Gradually increase the amount of the new brand each day until the older brand is phased out. If you suddenly change the food, then your dog can suffer stomach upset or diarrhea.
Full Nutritional Meals
To ensure that your golden retriever does not develop any nutritional deficiencies, you should look for the ‘complete and balanced’ label on dog food packages. Pet food manufacturers are allowed to use this label only if they meet the nutritional standards outlined by the Association of American Feed Control Officials and the Food and Drug Administration. This way, you can be certain that your golden retriever is getting the full range and the right balance of nutrition to thrive.
Feeding Homemade Food to Golden Retrievers
Some canine parents feed homemade food to their dogs. If you intend to feed your dog with homemade food then you should first consult with your veterinarian or pet nutrition expert. You can then be confident that you are providing the right amount and balance of nutrients. You will also get advice on which food items are safe for your dog and which items should be avoided.
Keep in mind that many foods which are good for humans are actually toxic for dogs, for instance, macadamia nuts, avocados, grapes, chocolates and more. Do your research and consult your vet if you want to feed something else to your golden retriever besides regular dry dog food.
You should first inform your veterinarian if you wish to feed raw meat to your golden retriever. Always make sure that you thoroughly wash the raw meat before giving it to your dog. You should also wash all kitchen utensils and surfaces that came into contact with the raw meat. This will help you to avoid infections caused by bacterial contamination.
What Should You Feed Your Golden Retriever?
When feeding your golden retriever you must make sure that the bulk of the food consists of high-quality animal protein. The first ingredient listed on the food package should be either fish, lamb, beef, turkey or chicken. These are the most common first ingredients. Other first ingredients such as bison or duck meat are less common.
According to FDA standards, the ingredients on dog food packages are listed in order according to dry weight. The food item can also contain grains such as brown rice, barley or whole oats. Fruits and vegetables may also be included due to their high antioxidant and fiber content.
Lipids may also be included in the form of animal fat or vegetable oils. Lipids are necessary for endocrine function, digestion, nutrient absorption, energy production and more.
Although artificial preservatives are a cause for concern, natural preservatives in the form of mixed tocopherols are a good source of vitamin E and may be safer according to the FDA.
Changing Food for Your Golden Retriever
You should pay close attention when you change the food for your canine. You should monitor the health of your golden retriever even more closely and you should look out for warning signs such as loose stools and flatulence. If you notice these signs or any other problems then you should inform your veterinarian immediately. There is a high possibility that your golden retriever is unable to tolerate one or more of the listed ingredients. It would probably be best to change the formula.
As outlined previously, the change should be gradual and not sudden.
Problems You Might Face When You Feed Your Golden Retriever
It is quite common for dogs to develop allergies to grains such as soy, wheat or corn. Allergies can become evident through skin problems. If you notice itching or any other skin problem, then you should take your golden retriever to the veterinarian. In the event your canine is diagnosed with an allergy, the vet may recommend an elimination diet.
Under the elimination diet, your canine’s current diet will be replaced with hypoallergenic dog food. The elimination diet can last from eight to twelve weeks. The diet may have an uncommon protein source such as fish or venison and a source of starch such as potatoes. Canines have a lower incidence of allergies with these ingredients hence they form the basis of the elimination diet.
If your dog becomes free from allergies, then other items will be slowly introduced back into the diet one by one. If your dog suddenly shows signs of allergy then you can be certain that your pet cannot tolerate the last ingredient that was added back into the diet. With this method, you can make a list of food ingredients which are problematic for your dog. This is the list of items which must be removed from your dog’s diet so that your furry friend can remain healthy.
Since golden-retrievers are deep-chested, they are quite susceptible to gastric dilation, bloating, and volvulus. These medical emergencies require the immediate intervention of a veterinarian otherwise your canine may lose its life. Bloating is the result of gas build up which can inflate your canine’s stomach.
This can produce two very harmful consequences:
(1) blood circulation to the stomach is cut off
(2) twisting of the stomach can trap gas and prevent it from escaping
The exact cause of volvulus and gastric dilation is not clear but you can do something about it. To reduce chances of such an occurrence, you can feed your dog two or three small meals rather than one big meal each day. Larger meals can lead to a larger buildup of gases. So it makes sense to give smaller meals to prevent a large buildup of gas.
You should also make sure that your dog avoids strenuous activity for one hour both before and after the meal. Do not keep the food dish at a high elevation when you are feeding your golden retriever. You should also allow your dog to have access to clean and fresh water at all times.
Golden retrievers can have a ravenous appetite. So you should be careful otherwise your pet canine can start gaining weight and suffer from related problems like diabetes, cancer, and orthopedic conditions. Golden retrievers are predisposed to hip and elbow dysplasia and other joint problems. Obesity will increase the likelihood of such problems.
There is a simple way to assess your dog for obesity. You should be able to feel the shape of your pet’s ribs through the layer of fat with a light touch. If you cannot feel the outline of the ribs then your golden retriever is definitely obese.
If you find that your golden retriever is overweight then you should consult your vet to discuss the right diet. Your veterinarian will recommend a dog food item that can reduce your dog’s weight. For instance, your vet may recommend a dog food package that has fewer calories and a greater amount of fiber so that your canine may feel satisfied with less.
You should also monitor the weight of your golden retriever on a monthly basis by using a pet scale.
If the veterinarian tells you that weight gain is the result of overeating then there are certain steps that you can take. First, you should pay close attention to the veterinarian’s recommendations and follow their advice. Second, you should keep an eye on treats since they are the main culprits behind weight gain.
Not only do dogs love eating treats, just about everyone appears to love giving treats to dogs. When different people start giving treats to your dog, the calories can add up to a surprisingly big number.
You should record the amounts of treats which are given during training. The calories from these treats should be subtracted from the daily caloric intake. You should then give food which matches this reduced calorie number.
Tell everyone to take your permission before giving treats to the dog. Scraps from the table should be absolutely forbidden – these can be very harmful to your dog even if it is not overweight. You will just have to be a little watchful to control caloric intake.
Unexplained Weight Gain
If there is a sudden weight gain without any change in diet or activity levels, then you should take your golden retriever to the vet. Golden retrievers are known to suffer from hypothyroidism which is a common cause of weight gain. Your vet will be able to inform you about the cause of the weight gain which may be hypothyroidism or other conditions.
Sudden Weight Loss
If your golden retriever starts losing weight inexplicably, then you should watch your dog while it eats. Certain golden retrievers can develop problems with swallowing food due to cricopharyngeal dysfunction or an enlarged esophagus. This breed is also known to suffer from kidney disease and this can lead to sudden weight loss. Surgical intervention may be required for such conditions. To get the right diagnosis and recommended treatment, you should first take your golden retriever to the veterinarian.
Feed Your Golden Retriever the Right Amount
You now have a better idea of how much to feed a golden retriever and also about basic feeding issues. Pet parents should know these basic guidelines when they bring a new golden retriever home.
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