Golden Retriever Diet and
Meal Plan Advice

By Hungry Bark | February 26, 2021

If you are a pet lover like us, you will agree that pets require a lot of care and attention. Like us, our dogs should be eating meals that are right for their bodies.

Moreso, when it comes to making food choices for your dogs, you should consider their age, weight, and activity levels. Most importantly, you should be looking for a complete and balanced diet.

Unlike other dog breeds, Golden Retrievers are the darlings of the dog world. They are a special breed and are mostly known for their strength, high activity level, and versatility.

Their tolerant, friendly, and family-oriented attitude makes them great pets for families and physically-challenged people. Plus, their intelligence and hyperactive nature make them capable service dogs and excellent search and rescue pets.  

Golden Retrievers weigh between 55 to 75 pounds and are easy to train. However, because their feeding plan depends on many variables, formulating the right meal combinations to keep them healthy may be difficult.

If you are having trouble deciding what to feed your Golden Retriever, we've got you covered.

This article will discuss the essential nutritional needs and the best type of foods for your pet. We will also formulate a meal plan and feeding guide for your Golden Retriever.

Let's get to it.

Essential Nutrients for Golden Retrievers

If you have ever been on a diet, the chances are that you will either or lose some weight or gain some calories. The same is the case for your pet.

The calories in your dog's food come from vital nutrients that play an active role in growth and development. Their body needs these nutrients in adequate quantities to thrive.

However, the amount of nutrients your pet needs depends on your dog's height, age, level of activity, etc. So whether you are feeding your dog with wet or dry foods, you need to check to make sure that the meal contains the balanced nutrients your pet needs.

Your pet needs the right amount of carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins, minerals, and water to reach its full potential. And you should keep this in mind when choosing a pet food brand.

Let's count the necessary macros for your Golden Retriever.

Protein

Protein is an essential nutrient for your pet. It provides enough calories to keep your dog healthy. Proteins also help your pets to

  • Build and repair body tissues and muscles and body
  • Grow new skin cells, hair, hormones, and enzymes, etc.

So if you are buying commercial food products, you should go for dog foods with at least 30 percent protein content. However, if you are keen on homemade foods for your Goldie, you should consider meals with protein sources like lambs, chicken, turkey, fish, beef, yogurts, and cooked eggs.

Younger Golden Retrievers need more protein than adults. So, while home feeding your dogs, you should reduce their protein content as they grow.

If your dog is a picky eater or doesn’t take enough protein from your homemade food, Hungry Bark’s Chicken Protein Mix-In will spice things up. You can simply add the nutritious and tasty mix into your pet’s meal to boost her calorific value.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates double as sources of energy and glucose supply for optimal brain activity.

Again, the amount of carbohydrates that your dog requires depends on their activity level. Active dogs require more foods with higher carb content than dogs that sit on the couch or kennel all day. So, you may need to adjust your dog's food to match their activity level.

Bear in mind that when your dogs are inactive, they do not burn enough calories. When you feed them like active dogs, they will become obese and develop health problems.

Albeit, a portion of good dog food must contain a minimum of 30 to 35 percent carbohydrates. Some excellent carb foods for Golden Retrievers include whole wheat, brown rice, oats, and potatoes.

Fat

Just like protein and carbohydrates, oils are essential nutrients for both young and old pets. Your dog's meal should have between 12 to 18 percent fat content.

If you are making home-diets or special treats, you can get fats from food sources, including meats and oils like cod liver oil, fish oils, olive oil, sunflower oils, canola oils, and more.

Most people think fat is the actual enemy. And the first thing that comes to mind is excess weight.

The thing is, fat is also a primary energy source and enables the body to perform optimally. It is critical for the growth and function of body cells, tissues, nerves, and muscles,

For instance, adding Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids in your dog's food reduces shedding. Instead, it makes your dog's fur look shiny, glossy, and healthier.

Minerals

Your Golden Retriever needs foods that contain minerals including calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, zinc, iron, etc. These minerals help to

  • Maintain fluid balance inside and outside the body cells,
  • Transport oxygen in the bloodstream

Plus, minerals are also useful in hormone production, muscle function, and bone and cartilage formation.

If you are leaning towards commercial meals, look out for foods that are rich in minerals, such as

  • Vegetables
  • Fish
  • Molasses
  • Beans
  • Wheat bran
  • Bone meal
  • Organ and muscle meats etc.

Vitamins

Like minerals, vitamins are also crucial for your pets. It would help if you fed them with diets with a healthy mix of Vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K.

Vitamins help to strengthen your pet's bone and teeth, especially when they are much younger. It also keeps their skin healthy, speeds up healing and fur growth, and boosts their immune system.

Younger Golden Retrievers need more vitamins in their wet foods to develop teeth to transition to dry foods quickly. For homemade foods, you should consider vitamin sources like 

  • Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Liver
  • Pumpkin
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Fish oil
  • Turnip greens
  • Eggs

Oftentimes, your Golden Retriever may not get enough vitamins from commercial foods. With Hungry Bark’s Whole Health Multivitamin you can meet your pet’s vitamin and nutrient needs.

Water

Water is essential for pets. Dehydrated dogs are prone to illnesses and may die, especially if their body water content is less than 10 to 15 percent.

It is best to keep your dogs hydrated all day. During extreme hot weather conditions, dogs drink more water. Please do your best to ensure that water is available throughout the day.

You may be wondering how much water to give your dog daily. That depends on quite a few factors like activity level, size, health conditions, food type (dry or wet), weather, medication, etc.

For example, wet foods contain 70 to 75 percent moisture and water. So, dogs that feed more on wet foods will consume less water than those who eat dry food. And that's because they have already taken in water from their food.

Here's what you need to know. Giving excess water to your pet will pass for overfeeding or malnutrition. Overweight dogs have lower activity levels and are frequently exposed to chronic illnesses.

Generally, your Golden Retriever should drink up to one ounce (30 ml) of water daily for each pound they weigh. Always make sure you fill up your dog's water bowl, mostly if you feed them dry foods. You should change the water at intervals throughout the day.

If your pet is reluctant to drink water, you can add water to their cold-pressed dog food or dry kibble to keep them hydrated.

What Vets and Pet Nutritionist Say About Food and Nutrients

Veterinarians and pet nutritionists strongly recommend food options that contain the critical nutrients for growth. The nutrients we have highlighted are general for both young and older Golden Retrievers.

Keep in mind that your pet is unique and has different activity levels, health and living conditions, food regimen concerns, weight ranges, age, etc. Therefore, as a pet owner, you should always visit your veterinarian or pet nutritionist to discuss their feeding. The chat should also be centered around main diets, treats, supplements, medication and drug administration, etc.

The main reason you should hold this discussion with your vet is that some supplements or treats may not be appropriate for your dog.  

According to the American College of Veterinary Nutrition, "If your pet is eating a complete and balanced commercially available pet food, supplements are not recommended unless specifically prescribed by your veterinarian."

It's not enough to visit your vet. You should endeavor to follow their instructions when it comes to feeding your dog.

Your vet doctor will check your dog, consider all the variables, and recommend a suitable daily caloric intake for your dog. And your job is to make sure your dog sticks to the recommended feeding routine.

If your dog looks underfed or is not eating the recommended amounts of food, please check with your veterinarian to test for other health problems. Also, take note of recommended adjustments in food quantity and feeding frequency.

What Type of Food Should I Give My Golden Retriever?

Nowadays, dog food selections are on the increase than ever before. While the variety of products offers food options for every pet breed, dog owners are spoilt for choice.

You may be wondering which type of food is right for your Golden retriever.

Let's get this straight!

The best type of food depends on variables like your pet's age, weight, and activity level. That's not all; your lifestyle and preferences may also be a major influence on your dog's feeding choices.

To help you make smarter decisions, let's shed light on the different types of food you can feed your pet.

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Wet Foods vs. Dry Foods

Both wet and dry foods are the most common types of dog foods you will find in the market. They are available in commercial quantities and come with different formulations for your dog breed, age, and size.

One of the many reasons dog owners prefer wet and dry foods is that they can easily access and store them. Plus, they contain most of the nutrients that your dog needs for growth.

The major difference between wet and dry foods is the moisture or water content. Wet foods contain more moisture than dry foods.

With dry food, pets eat lots of calories in small quantities. In contrast, your pet must eat twice or triple times as much wet food to gain similar calorific values as dry foods.

Wet Foods

Wet foods are suitable for young Golden Retrievers that are just weaning off their mother's milk. Because they contain about 60 to 85 percent moisture content, your pet can easily adjust to eating wet foods.

If your dogs are elderly, picky, have problems with chewing, or drink very little water, wet foods may also be your best bet. The moisture in the wet food will hydrate your pet and provide the nutrients they need.

Because wet foods are usually more palatable, your dogs may eat larger portions per meal. And due to the high water content, they need to take in more quantities per meal to get the ideal amount of nutrients they need.

Here are some of the downsides of wet foods.

Because your Golden Retriever has to eat more wet foods to get the ideal nutrient level, you need to buy more cans. And that makes it more expensive than dry foods.

Although canned wet foods have longer shelf lives, they may be wasted or contaminated if your dog doesn't eat it immediately or eat it at all. Another problem with wet food is that it may stick to your dog's teeth and cause dental problems.

Wet foods brands are all over the place, and most of them have low-quality ingredients. You should contact your pet nutritionists to recommend brands that are healthy for your Golden Retriever.

Dry Foods

Unlike wet foods that have high water content, dry foods have three to eight percent moisture content. That is why you can store dry foods for more extended periods than wet foods. Even if your dog doesn't eat it immediately, it won't get spoilt.

The thing is, most pet owners prefer dry foods because they are less expensive. More so, your pets can get the required nutrients from eating small portions daily.

There are two types of complete dry foods - Kibble and Cold Pressed Foods. The major difference between the two is the preparation method.

Most dog food brands produce kibble by oven baking or extrusion under high temperatures of more than 120 degrees Celsius. The ingredients are cooked and passed through a die machine or extruder that shapes the kibble into pellets. And then, fats, oils, and vitamins are sprayed on the extruded kibbles.

Most experts believe that the high temperatures and extrusion process damages the pet's food ingredients. As a result, Hungry Bark produces dry food under extremely low temperatures to retain the most amount of nutrients possible for your Golden Retriever.

Unlike typical kibble or low-quality kibble, cold-pressed dog food is produced using lower temperatures. And this allows your dog to enjoy all the goodness in bite-sized pieces. Cooking with lower pressure lets the food retain its nutrients, aroma, vitamins, and flavor.


There are tons of wet and dry food brands with low-quality ingredients out there. And Hungry Bark’s wide collection of dry food stands out as one of the best dry food options. Their meals are made with natural ingredients, rich in natural meat proteins, and fortified with probiotics, vitamins, and minerals.

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What About a Mixture of Dry and Wet Foods

Both wet and dry foods bring something special to your pets. So, there's nothing wrong with feeding them with both.

However, you shouldn't mix both wet and dry foods in a single meal. Rather, you should serve your dogs with wet and dry food at different intervals (morning or evening).

When you adopt this feeding method, you should ensure that the amount of food they take does not exceed the required energy, calorie, and nutrient they need daily.

Moreso, if your pet has digestive problems, it is best to stick to one type of food, especially if your pet nutritionist recommends it. Switching between both foods, in this case, may cause diarrhea, constipation, and other health issues.

Raw Diets

Raw food is a great food option for your Golden Retriever. But most veterinarians do not recommend it for Golden retrievers. Understandably that makes sense because most pet owners cannot keep up with the demand of serving raw foods in the right amount.

However, if you are willing to invest the time to prepare it properly, raw food diets can be a healthier food option for your golden.  

You can feed your dogs with biologically appropriate raw food (BARF) and a diet of raw meaty bones (RMB). You can try out safe raw meaty bones like raw chicken necks, feet, ribs, and frames; duck feet and wings, turkey ribs and wings, pork tails and ribs, lamb ribs, and goat ribs.

The BARF involves a healthy blend of 60 percent raw meaty bones and 40 percent of raw foods like grains, vegetables, legumes, eggs, fish, liver and kidney, and other animal proteins.

Safe handling of raw food is a major cause of diseases for raw feeders. If you choose to feed your dog with raw food, here are some rules you should follow:

  • Feed your pet with fresh meat, not stale or dead meat
  • Handle and store meat safely
  • Buy dedicated chopping boards for your dogs
  • Protect and wash your hands regularly
  • Protect your puppies from hard bones and feed them with meats etc.

Homemade Feeding for Golden Retrievers

Homemade feeding is excellent for Golden Retrievers. That's because they are prone to developing food allergies and other health issues.

Homemade feeding allows you to manage your pet's diet, appease picky eaters, and build bonds with your pet. You don't have to worry about preservatives, food intolerance or recalls, and other health conditions associated with poor diets.  

Unfortunately, it's not all bliss for dog owners that feed their pets with homemade diets. Preparing homemade diets can be time-consuming. You may also overfeed your dogs, decrease their activity level, and expose them to unhealthy living conditions.

If you want to formulate a wholly balanced and individualized diet for your Golden Retriever, you should get professional help from your vet or pet nutrition expert.

If you wish to feed your Golden Retriever fresh homemade meals very often, but you don't have time to cook, you should consider ordering homemade dog food.

Hungry Bark can help you formulate Custom Meal Plans tailored to your pet's nutritional needs and deliver them to your doorstep.

Special Treats for Golden Retriever

Treats are excellent ways of rewarding your Golden Retrievers when they have learned new skills, accomplished a task, or behaved well. They are critical motivators for training routines and positive reinforcement for good behaviors.

While giving your dog treats, you should be mindful of certain things.

  • Giving your pet too many treats may spoil their appetite for everyday meals.
  • High-calorie Treats may make your dog overweight or unhealthy.

It would be best to balance your pet's treats with the overall daily calories recommended by your vet. Most vets recommend limiting your dog's treat to about ten percent of their total daily calories.

Also, if you must give them treats, look for high-quality and nutrient-filled treats that are low in additives, calories, and fat. You can serve your Goldie healthy natural fruit or vegetables like apples, carrots, green peas, carrots, cooked sweet potatoes, bananas, etc.

Meal Plan and Feeding Guide for Golden Retriever

The ideal amount of food for your Golden retriever depends on the dog's age, size, weight, activity level, food type, and brand.

Adult Golden Retrievers

If you feed your Golden Retriever with dry foods (kibble), Hungry Bark recommends these daily feeding amounts.

  • 1kg: 29-43 grams daily
  • 2kg: 43-58 grams daily
  • 5kg: 58-86 grams daily  
  • 14kg: 129-192 grams daily
  • 18kg: 192-244 grams daily
  • 23kg: 244-288 grams daily
  • 32kg: 331-431 grams daily
  • 36kg: 431-517 grams daily

Golden Retriever Puppies

Puppies require twice the amount of food as adults. Hungry Bark recommends twice or thrice of daily adult servings for puppies.

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How Much Food Should My Golden
Retriever Eat Daily?

Younger Golden Retrievers consume more food than adults. During the first few weeks after birth, they depend on their mother for food. But as they wean off their mother's milk, you can start with feeding them four meals daily in the first two months.

During the third, fourth, and fifth months, you can reduce their feeding frequency to three meals a day. From the age of six months and above, you can feed them twice daily.

Most Golden Retriever trainees recommend feeding your dogs once a day once they are one-year-old.

The thing is, giving your pet smaller meals is more satisfying. This feeding method prevents bloating, keeps their weight in check, and helps them to stay active. Plus, feeding your dogs twice promotes good eating habits and speeds up digestion.

You should ensure your puppies eat between the hours of 6 am to 8 am. The next meal should come at noon while the dinner should be served no later than 5 pm to 6 pm. Feeding your Golden Retriever after 6 pm will make the dog heavy and less active.

In the first few weeks after weaning off their mother's milk, you should feed them with wet foods. Your puppies will find it easy to adapt to wet foods. Plus, the wet foods will keep them hydrated.

As they grow, you should feed your dogs with dry food and water available on the side. Serving them dry food with water will prevent plaque and tartar build-up on their teeth.

You should limit the amount of water they take in. Taking in excess water after eating is also overeating and malnutrition. On average, your puppy should take in up to 30ml per body weight.

Also, you should give them an eating timeline of 15 to 30 minutes for each meal. If they don't finish within that time, note the quantity they have taken in and offer them the same amount during the next meal. Keeping their meal exposed for a long time may cause contamination, food poisoning, and other health problems.

Lastly, please ensure you feed your puppies in the same location so that they can concentrate on the activity of eating.

Wrap Up

We hope you enjoyed the read. Our article has discussed the essential nutritional needs and the best type of foods for your Golden Retriever. We have also highlighted the average amount of food your pet should eat based on their age, weight, and activity level.

Food is a critical part of the owner-pet relationship. Pets require healthy diets to stay active, healthy, and live up to their potential. Sometimes we may be tempted to cross the line between healthy eating and overindulgence because of our love for our pets.

Keeping your Golden Retrievers at optimal weight is one of the best ways to keep them healthy. Whether you are feeding them with wet or dry foods, raw diets, or homemade meals, make sure you don't exceed their recommended daily calorie intake.  

The goal is to keep them fresh, active, and healthy. If your Golden Retriever has trouble eating, you should visit your vet or pet nutritionist for advice.



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