Golden retrievers are medium to large-sized dogs weighing between 65-75 lb (29-34 kg) for male dogs, and 55-65 lb (25-29 kg) for female counterparts. They are a relatively healthy breed with a life expectancy of 10-12 years. Golden retrievers rank very high on the most popular dog breeds in the US, UK, Australia, and other parts of the world. Part of this popularity is because they are quite diverse. Not only are they fantastic family companions, but they are also great working and sporting dogs.
Feeding Your Golden Retriever Puppy
So you’ve done your research, and you’ve seen all the fantastic traits of the Golden retriever. Now you can’t wait to become a proud parent of one. Great. The next thing you want to know is about how you can best take care of your new furry buddy. Food is an essential part of this care. The pup is going to become your baby, after all.
You need to note that nutritional needs will vary from one dog breed to another. These varying needs are not only as a result of the dog’s size but also genes and activity levels of the dogs. Given their active nature, you will need to provide your Golden pup with a healthy diet. Find below what food options are available as well as how to feed your new four-legged family member.
What Food Options Are Available?
For the first six to eight weeks of their lives, puppies feed on their mothers’ milk. As with human beings, the mother’s milk provides balanced nutrition and helps the puppy develop a healthy immunity system. Next comes the weaning process, which is introduced gradually between the sixth and eighth weeks. During this process, the breeder introduces solid food into the puppy’s diet. By the end of eight weeks, the puppy should be feeding on solid foods exclusively.
First thing’s first, you’ll need to consult the breeder on what foods the pup has been eating. Maintaining this continuity is crucial since young dogs have susceptible digestive systems. The continuity will also provide comfort to your puppy as he’ll need to adjust to his new environment without his littermates. So what options are available?
You’ve probably heard of the term “kibble” before, but what does it refer to exactly? Kibble is a type of pet food that is ground and shaped into pellets. Kibble comprises of meat, vegetables, grains, and other nutritious foods. Most dog owners claim that their dogs prefer this option to wet dog foods. Other dog enthusiasts have gone as far as to say that dry kibble is better than wet food since kibble can remove plaque from dogs’ teeth and improve your dog’s dental hygiene.
Given that your new puppy requires a lot of protein to grow their muscles, you should feed them with protein kibble that contains chicken, meat, and bone meal.
Adding wet food to your dog’s diet is an excellent way of diversifying their options. However, wet food has gained a bad reputation for contributing to most dogs’ dental issues. Luckily, this is just a rumor and is yet to be confirmed by a reputable entity. Similar to dry kibble, wet food doesn’t contain all the nutritional requirements your dog needs, hence why you will need to diversify their meal options. Since Golden retrievers are prone to bloat, incorporating wet food into your pup’s diet will serve their digestive system well.
Technically referred to as Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (BARF), some dog breeders and owners praise raw food. Unlike the previous options, proper sanitation is mandatory to guarantee your pup’s good health. Extra caution and procedures are required for this option, e.g., leaving the food out for only 15 minutes or freezing the raw protein for between 10 to 14 days before the feeding day, among others.
Preparing a homemade diet for your Golden is different from feeding them with a BARF diet. The main difference is in their preparation: the former is cooked while the latter is raw. You should also mix this meal plan with the other options to balance your dog’s diet.
Overall, you want to feed your dog on high protein meals (chicken, lamb, duck), whole-grain diets (oats, barley), as well as fruits and vegetables. All these ingredients combined will ensure your puppy’s muscles strengthen, and they are as energetic and healthy as they should be. Remember to monitor your dog’s stool whenever you’re switching between meal plans and food brands to help them stay healthy.
How Much Food Should You Give Your Puppy?
To determine how much food you should give your Golden retriever puppy, you need to work out a feeding schedule for them. Allowing them to free-feed will not only cause complications for you when it comes to planning, but will also increase your pup’s chances of becoming obese. Obesity is a serious health issue for Golden retrievers. If not treated immediately, canine obesity can lead to cancer, diabetes, and joint problems such as hip dysplasia.
Creating A Feeding Schedule
Creating a scheduled feeding time is not only healthy for them but also psychologically and emotionally lets them know that feeding time is planned. Feeding your puppy three times a day (morning, noon, and evening) is recommended as they require nutrients to grow muscles. At two months of age, your dog’s food portions should be ¾ to 1.5 cups of dry food with some warm water to soften the food. If they don’t touch their food within 20 minutes, you should remove it and feed them during the next scheduled time. Most dog owners say that this strictness trains your pup to respect the feeding schedule.
Increasing Food Portions
Once you notice that your puppy’s appetite is growing and they’re able to clear their bowl, you can gradually increase their portions. Between the ages of three to six months, your dog should be consuming 2 to 3 cups of food a day. By the time they’re seven months old and above, Golden retrievers should be able to devour 3 ½ to 4 cups in a day. At this point, they’re much more prominent in size, and they burn a lot of calories from all the playing.
Switching The Feeding Schedule
Once your puppy gets to the fourth month age mark, you’ll have to switch to feeding them twice a day instead of thrice. As is expected with Golden retrievers, their metabolism gets slower as they get bigger. You must realize that this change of frequency doesn’t mean that their daily meal portions will change, but instead, you’ll be dividing them into two. For instance, instead of eating 1 cup of food thrice a day, he’ll eat 1 ½ cups twice a day (morning and night). Unless advised otherwise by your vet, sticking to the schedule is vital to promote a healthy gastrointestinal tract.
Golden retrievers love to eat. Just like with human beings, maintaining a healthy and balanced diet is vital for your fur baby’s growth. While treats are great and advisable to foster a good relationship between the two of you, take caution not to overindulge your dog. You must also remember to honor their vet’s appointments and keep them exercising. After all, good health is not just about eating right; it’s also about keeping fit.