This page contains tips on how to feed your Golden Retriever so that as puppies they grow properly and as adults they stay in optimal condition.
First of all, always add water to dry food. Dogs in the wild eat whole meat. Dry foods have a lot of varying meat meals. These meals are meats that have had the moisture removed reducing the volume to 1/3 or less of regular meat. This water needs to be replaced or it is hard on a dog’s kidneys. Most dogs will not drink enough extra water to replace the amount of water that dry food is missing. Another reason to add water to a dog’s food is to slow their eating down. Most Golden Retrievers tend to eat too fast. There is a train of thought that says that feeding food dry is good for dog’s teeth. In my opinion, this benefit is minimal and is not the best way to keep clean teeth on a dog. Many Golden Retrievers eat their food so fast that it isn’t chewed anyway. Those that do chew their food, don’t chew it long enough to do much good. The best way to keep clean teeth is with bones, chew toys, and teeth brushing.
Second, I recommend taking a few other measures in addition to watering the food to slow your dog’s eating down if he/she is a fast eater (and most Goldens are). I recommend using a slow food bowl or putting a big rock or ball in the middle of your dog’s bowl forcing them to eat around it. I also recommend adding apple cider vinegar to your dog’s food. Most dogs don’t especially like the taste of apple cider vinegar and this might help slow them down some. Apple cider vinegar’s primary benefit is in slightly changing blood PH thereby making dogs less attractive to fleas. Slowing a dog’s eating is a secondary benefit. By watering the food down, adding less than tasty supplements, and using a slow feed bowl, you may be able to slow your dog’s eating speed down some.
A third thing to keep in mind in feeding your dog is to feed at least 2 hours after exercising and one hour before in order to lower the chances of your dog getting a condition called bloat. This is a common medical emergency in dogs, especially large breed dogs where their stomach gets filled with gas and then twists. If left untreated, it is often fatal.
Fourth, keep in mind that treats not only add calories but change the overall balance of what your dog eats in a day if you’re giving a lot of them. Make sure your treats are wholesome with good ingredients and take into consideration what food you are currently feeding. If feeding one of the foods with lower amounts of protein, treat with pieces of whole chicken, beef, or other meats. If you’re feeding a high protein food, treating with meat is still best, but it is also fine to give a more vegetable based treat.
Fifthly, we recommend keeping your puppy on puppy food until he/she is over a year as long as you are not over-feeding. If you are one of the many Americans that insist on over-feeding, we recommend that you change to dog food earlier.
Finally and I think most importantly, do not feed your dog too much. See our page entitled How Much to Feed Your Golden Retriever Puppy for details on amounts to feed and charts on how much a Golden Retriever should weigh.