The health of golden retrievers, like all pets, is often determined by their owners’ choices, especially when it comes to how much to feed them. Golden retrievers are characteristically an active breed of dogs, and they generally have big appetites.
They are also known for their loving and loyal natures, which compels many of their pet owners to overfeed and over-incentivize them with treats as gestures of love. However, these short-term food rewards can have long-term health consequences.
So, how much should you feed a golden retriever? Like any dog, the proper amount of food for a golden retriever depends on its build, size, activity level, health condition, and age. Most veterinarians recommend that an average golden retriever in good health at the adult stage of life should be fed 1 to 1.5 cups of high-quality dry dog food twice a day, each day. However, individual dogs may require different feeding amounts and frequencies depending on their circumstances.
Studies have found that keeping a dog at a healthy weight can decrease its risk for health problems and lengthen its lifespan. This is especially true for golden retrievers who, unfortunately, are among the most likely dog breeds to suffer from obesity.
In fact, the lifespan of golden retrievers has actually decreased in recent years, and scientists indicate that this is partly due to what and how much we feed them.
How Much to Feed a Golden Retriever
Dogs seem to live for eating, and giving food and treats are two important ways that humans can express their love and appreciation for their canine pets.
However, dogs are at as much risk for obesity as humans if not more so—particularly since they tend to eat exactly what and how much they are given.
Golden retrievers are no exception, which means that their owners should be meticulous in monitoring how much they are fed.
Stage of life is one of the most influential factors in how much a golden retriever should be fed. A dog’s lifecycle consists of four stages:
– Puppyhood: the puppyhood stage begins at birth and can last between 6 and 18 months. At the beginning of this stage, puppies get most of their nourishment from nursing their mother.
After about 8 weeks, puppies are generally strong enough to be separated from their mothers and begin their lives as pets. They require more food and at greater frequencies due to their activity and growth rate.
– Adolescence: puppies become adolescents between 6 and 18 months after birth. Larger breeds, such as golden retrievers, reach adolescence a bit more slowly than smaller breeds.
The adolescence phase allows dogs to experience growth spurts and rapid body changes. However, they require less food and meal frequency than puppies.
– Adulthood: dogs reach adulthood between 1 and 3 years after birth. This stage begins when dogs reach the typical height and size for their breed, marking the end of their physical growth.
Most dogs experience their best health during adulthood, especially if their owners are careful to feed them a proper, healthy amount of food, twice a day.
– Seniority: dogs become seniors between 6 and 10 years of age. Senior dogs often develop health issues such as joint discomfort, weakened immunity, and decreased stamina. To help older dogs cope with age and reduced activity, it’s vital to feed them a proper amount of food at the recommended frequency.
Most experts recommend that dogs such as golden retrievers be fed between 2 and 3 cups of quality dry food across two meals each day. However, this amount can vary for dogs depending on their stage of life, level of activity, health condition, and other factors.
Therefore, in order to know exactly how much to feed your individual golden retriever, it’s essential to keep regular vet appointments and follow all feeding instructions in order to maintain your pet’s health and quality of life.
How Often to Feed a Golden Retriever
Meal frequency also depends upon the age and health condition of your golden retriever. Since golden retriever puppies are so active and experience intense growth, it’s generally recommended that they are fed three meals per day for the first three months of life. Beyond this stage, it’s recommended that golden retrievers be fed two meals per day.
Some pet owners consider the benefits of “free” feeding as an alternative to “scheduled” feeding, though there are risks to this approach. Here is a comparison between these two feeding options:
1- Free Feeding: free feeding takes place when pet owners provide continuous access to food for their dogs, allowing them to eat as much and whenever they want.
This eases the burden for pet owners who may have difficulty keeping a regular meal frequency schedule for their dogs. However, free and unlimited access to food can result in canine obesity and other health problems.
2- Scheduled Feeding: scheduled feeding takes place when pet owners provide access to food for their dogs at certain times of the day and for a distinct amount of time.
This allows pet owners to monitor how much their dog is consuming, notice any changes in eating habits, and reduce the chance of overfeeding.
Meal frequency can affect whether your golden retriever is over-nourished and at risk for obesity. In addition, treat frequency can affect their weight and health as well.
It’s joyful to provide dogs with treats, especially if owners use these snacks to reward good behavior or as an expression of love.
However, dog treats can be high in calories, interfere with healthy food intake, and result in weight problems. Occasional treats for your golden retriever are harmless. However, it’s even better for pet owners to reward their dogs with playtime or affection.
Best Food That You Can Feed Your Golden Retriever
Not only does the amount and frequency of food influence the health of your golden retriever, but the type and quality of food are also determining factors when it comes to their overall well-being.
Most veterinarians recommend a diet of quality dry dog food throughout the life stages of canines. However, pet owners may have alternate ideas for the best food to feed their golden retrievers.
Here are some food considerations:
Most veterinary experts agree that it’s best to avoid feeding human food to dogs, including golden retrievers. There are many ingredients in human foods that can cause illness in canines, some of which can be fatal. Therefore, it’s best to avoid giving human food altogether.
Canned or wet food developed for dogs can be beneficial for golden retrievers in some instances. For example, canned food can provide additional moisture for your dog’s diet to combat dehydration.
Wet food can also be mixed with dry food to entice your dog to eat kibble. However, a steady diet of canned food is not healthy for your golden retriever due to its caloric level and negative impact on canine teeth.
Dry Food or Kibble
Quality dry food developed for dogs is the best recommendation for feeding your golden retriever. Your vet can recommend reliable brands and types of kibble.
Quality kibble contains protein and fat from good sources, both of which are essential to a healthy canine diet. If possible, you should avoid any dry food that contains artificial preservatives or colors.
Grain-free pet foods are heavily marketed towards pet owners as the healthiest and best choice for feeding dogs such as golden retrievers.
However, many research studies have found that grain-free diets can be harmful to a dog’s long-term health. Therefore, it’s best to consult with your pet’s veterinarian before switching to grain-free food.
Overall, the most effective way to know how much, how often, and the best food to feed your golden retriever is to consult your vet. This ensures your pet’s long-term healthy diet and quality of life.