F.From the moment you are born, Golden Retrievers are balls of sweet, silly fun. They are friendly dogs who enjoy spending time with adults, children, and other animals. When they are young they have a lot of energy, but as they get older they start to slow down. That is why it is so important to find the Best dog food for golden retrievers for every stage of your pet’s life.
The Golden’s popularity as a family dog has not gone unnoticed. In 2016, the Golden Retriever completed the top tier as the AKC’s # 3 Most Popular Dog in the United States. One of the reasons they are so popular is that the Golden is truly a perfect companion for anyone in any setting.
This breed is pretty easy to keep too. Their long coats require a little more grooming than other breeds, but otherwise, they are fairly easy to groom.
The hardest part of owning a golden retriever is learning how to feed it properly. When they are young these dogs are very active. They like to jog, hike and play endlessly in the backyard.
As it ages, the Golden becomes slower. Your caloric intake needs to be adjusted to prevent obesity. For joint health, nutritional supplements should also be added to the diet.
As you can see, finding the best dog food for Golden Retrievers is not a one-off thing. It’s an ongoing process and you will need to work with your veterinarian or a trained canine nutritionist to find the right diet for your pooch.
I’ll explain in more detail the nutritional needs of the Golden Retriever dog breed and how to feed a Golden Retriever, but here’s a quick look at the five foods I will recommend as the best dog foods for Golden Retrievers:
What Makes the Best Dog Food for Golden Retrievers?
The Golden Retriever is a large breed dog with a long body, soft, medium-length coat, and a distinctive golden or golden-red color. Goldens excel at fetching, swimming, and hanging out around the house. They live an average of 11 years.
Goldens tend to have more moderate energy levels depending on their personality. Some are go-go-go, while others prefer to be couch potatoes. Most prefer to spend their time fetching, frisbee, swimming, and cuddling.
Goldens tend to be very close to their families, but friendly with strangers. They are the perfect companion for the active outdoor family who are always ready to go on a hike or to the beach.
Golden Retrievers are also typically “chowhounds” and you may want to eat away from home. They can easily become “counter surfers” – jumping on kitchen countertops for an unsupervised snack – or caught on the sidewalk chewing on a discarded apple core.
Your healthy appetite can be a blessing and a curse. Most Goldens are not picky eaters, so they will usually enjoy any dog food you give them. Golden Retrievers are one of the easiest breeds to overfeed. I have met many who are “bottomless pits” and are constantly begging or looking for food to provide.
That being said, keeping your Golden from getting overweight or obese is important and that starts with finding the best dog food for Golden Retrievers.
Best dog food for golden retrievers
5 brands recommended by the vet
How to Feed a Golden Retriever
Before changing your dog to a new diet, always consult a veterinarian. Remember that no article on the Internet, including this one, can replace a consultation with a veterinarian.
pooch Golden retriever
Large breed puppies like golden retrievers are more prone to malnutrition and developmental orthopedic disorders than small breed puppies. Many Golden owners have heard of these diseases – hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis (OCD), panosteitis, and hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD).
Although these diseases have a genetic component, there are significant nutritional risk factors that play a role during puppyhood. These risk factors include rapid growth and excessive dietary calcium intake.
The best dog food for golden retrievers provides just enough nutrients.
Large breed puppy food is good protection to avoid these problems. My top recommendation for Golden puppies is Royal Canin Golden Retriever Breed Health Nutrition Puppy.
Royal Canin did all of the work for us in creating their Golden Retriever-specific puppy food. Goldens are a slow-maturing breed and it is recommended that this puppy food be fed until they are 15 months old.
The calorie content and mineral balance are optimal to prevent developmental orthopedic diseases. Goldens have teeth that meet in a “scissor bite” and a long mouth and snout. Royal Canin has developed square, thin croquettes for optimal chewing and digestion of goldens.
Best dog food for Adult Golden Retriever
If you are looking for the best dog food for Golden Retrievers who are 12 months old or older or are switching from puppy food to adult food, it is a good idea to consult your veterinarian. Your vet can help determine the current body condition of your Golden. This will help you decide which diet is best for adults.
Golden Retriever with normal body condition
A great starting point for an active, normal body weight/condition Golden is the Natural Balance LID sweet potato and fish adult formula.
Many golden retrievers suffer from dry, itchy skin and ear problems. This food can help. As a vet, I recommend this food the first time I see an itchy Golden in my clinic.
Golden retrievers are more prone to dry and itchy skin, most commonly caused by atopic dermatitis or inhaled allergens. Natural Balance LIDS Sweet Potato and Fish are fantastic choices to support the health of your golden skin and fur.
This formula contains ingredients that can help make your Golden itch less. It’s packed with highly digestible carbohydrates, high-quality salmon, and an omega-3 fatty acid boost.
Only 15-40% of itchy dogs actually have a food allergy. The majority (60-80%) of dogs with itchy skin have atopic dermatitis, an itchy skin condition caused by environmental allergens such as pollen or mold.
Food allergies are caused by the dog’s immune system “overreacting” to a protein in their diet – chicken and beef are the most common culprits. Just keep in mind that if your vet suspects your Golden is one real food allergy, this food is not the best option for an “elimination diet” diagnosis.
Very active/hunting Golden Retriever
Is your golden retriever a competitive dock dive machine or an active duck hunter?
They may need a higher calorie food than your average house dog. In this case, I recommend Native Performance dog food.
If your Golden is training hard this is the food for you. Native offers different “nutritional levels”, from level 1 “low season, little activity” to level 4 for dogs that are intensely active 4-5 hours a day.
Low-active / couch potato
Many adult Goldens become overweight or obese easily. As they get older, they can lose some of their sperm and settle into a more sedentary lifestyle.
I often have to make recommendations for the best dog food for obese golden retrievers.
It is important to speak to your veterinarian if your dog is overweight or has a health condition at the same time. Some foods can target multiple problems. In general, I reach for Hill’s Prescription Diet Metabolic and Mobility when Goldens get a little clunky and they ask me for help.
This diet is only available by prescription, but it’s one of the best middle-aged dog treats for golden retrievers who can’t seem to shed the pounds. Over time, being overweight can predispose dogs to arthritis, so the mobility component helps keep their joints in tip-top shape.
Senior Golden Retriever dog food
Golden Retrievers are considered “senior” or “geriatrics” from the age of 8.
Their nutritional requirements change with age. Joints start to hurt and mental function may decline. The active ingredients in the best dog foods for Golden Retrievers in old age will help your dog grow strong for as long as possible.
I recommend Eukanuba Lamb and Rice Senior Maintenance. Eukanuba is another high-quality dog food manufacturer with a great track record for quality products and high-quality control standards.
This food is characterized by its high content of antioxidants, which can support proper cell function in aging dogs. It has also been shown to reduce tartar build-up on teeth by 46%.
Take the doggy bag message home with you
Golden Retrievers typically have the longest, healthiest lives when kept in a leaner body condition, receive a balanced diet appropriate to their life cycle, and routine veterinary care.
Regardless of which dog food you choose for your furry family member, it is important to carefully follow feeding instructions and consult your veterinarian if you are concerned about your dog’s health or nutrition.