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Not much is more exciting than bringing home a new furry bundle of joy. And Golden Retriever puppies are just about the cutest thing ever!
You want to give your puppy the best start to life. Now, you have a bunch of questions about raising a Golden Retriever puppy.
At the top of your list is how much to feed a Golden Retriever puppy.
We want to help, so here’s a comprehensive guide with everything you need to know about feeding your Golden puppy.
When to Feed a Golden Retriever Puppy
When you first bring your Golden Retriever puppy home, you should feed them 3 times a day. Puppies have small stomachs but large calorie needs to support their growth.
When your puppy turns 6 months old, start feeding them twice a day.
You should continue to feed your Golden Retriever twice a day throughout their life. Free feeding makes it hard to see just how much your dog is eating and may contribute to obesity.
The last meal of the day, especially for puppies, should be about 90 minutes before bedtime. That gives them time to digest their food and go potty before bed.
How Much to Feed a Golden Retriever Puppy
It’s crucial to feed your Golden Retriever puppy exactly the right amount of food. Overfeeding your puppy can cause them to grow too quickly, which can lead to bone and joint problems.
One problem is that people think puppies are supposed to be chubby bundles of joy. The truth is that puppies should be lanky.
When your puppy is standing up, you should be able to feel their ribs without any trouble. Your puppy should also have a visible waistline.
If you can see your puppy’s ribs, they’re too skinny. A perfect weight for your puppy is when you can feel, but not see, their ribs.
It’s difficult to say exactly how much food you should feed your Golden Retriever puppy.
The precise amount will vary based on your puppy’s weight and the quality of the food you buy. (Since cheaper foods use a lot of fillers, you often need to feed more than premium foods.)
However, we’ve put together some general guidelines for you. Always confirm with your veterinarian how much you should feed your Golden Retriever puppy.
- 2 months old: 1 ½ cups per day
- 3 months old: 2 cups per day
- 4 months old: 2 ½ cups per day
- 5-6 months old: 3 cups per day
- 6-7 months old (male dogs only): 3 ½ to 4 cups per day
What to Feed a Golden Retriever Puppy
Even before you decide which brand of food to feed, you must decide what TYPE of food to feed.
While kibble is the most common type of large breed puppy food, it may not be the best choice for your puppy.
Here is some information on the main types of puppy food.
Kibble is the most convenient way to ensure your Golden Retriever puppy gets the basic nutrition they need. Any food that meets AAFCO standards provides basic nutritional requirements.
Not all kibble is created equal, though. Most of the cheaper kibbles are full of fillers and are the dog equivalent of junk food.
It’s crucial to research the ingredients in your puppy’s food.
For more information and our recommendations on Golden Retriever puppy kibble, be sure to check out our informative guide: The Best Food for a Golden Retriever Puppy.
Kibble and Wet
While kibble is a convenient option, it doesn’t provide your dog with any moisture in their diet. Many people choose to feed their Golden Retriever puppy a combination of kibble and wet food.
Wet food alone may not offer complete and balanced nutrition, so it’s best used in addition to kibble. It can be a good way to add moisture to your Golden Retriever puppy’s diet or make their kibble tastier.
The trickiest part about feeding kibble and wet food is making sure your puppy gets the right number of calories.
Overfeeding your Golden Retriever puppy can make them grow too quickly. That can cause bone or joint problems.
Want to learn more about wet dog food? Check out the Best Wet Dog Food: 10 Top Picks for Large Dogs.
BARF stands for biologically appropriate raw food or bones and raw food. Raw diets have become popular – and controversial – food choices for dogs. Vets disagree about whether you should feed your dog a raw diet.
Potential benefits of a raw diet include:
- Healthier skin
- Higher energy levels
- Shinier coat
- Cleaner teeth
- Smaller poop
Potential risks of feeding a raw diet include:
- Whole bones could break teeth, choke a dog, or puncture the digestive tract
- Raw diets are often unbalanced
- Bacteria in raw meat could sicken humans or dogs
The experts do agree on one thing, though: Puppies should NOT eat a raw diet.
The ratio of calcium to phosphorous is crucial to puppy development. It’s almost impossible to get that ratio exactly right with a raw diet.
One way to reduce some of the risks associated with a raw diet is to feed dehydrated raw foods. To learn more, check out the 10 Best Dehydrated Raw Dog Foods (Review and Guide).
Many people prefer to cook for their dogs. You know exactly what ingredients are used and you don’t have the bacteria or bone risks of a raw diet.
The biggest problem with feeding a homemade diet is that it can be difficult to ensure it’s nutritionally complete. You should use a recipe created or approved by a veterinary nutritionist.
You may also give your Golden Retriever supplements to make sure your dog gets all the nutrition they need.
Want to learn more about a homemade diet for your Golden Retriever puppy? Head over to our article on the 10 Best Homemade Dog Food Recipes For Large Breed Dogs.
Dangerous Foods for a Golden Retriever Puppies
You may already know that some people foods, like chocolate, are harmful to dogs.
Some foods that are dangerous for dogs might surprise you, though. Make sure you avoid giving your Golden Retriever puppy any of the following foods:
- Citrus fruits (in large amounts)
- Fatty foods
- Garlic, onions, or chives
- Grapes and raisins
- Macadamia nuts
- Milk and other dairy (may cause stomach upset)
- Salt or salty foods
- Xylitol (an artificial sweetener
- Yeast dough
Maintaining a Healthy Puppy Weight
Keeping your Golden Retriever at a healthy weight is tricky but crucial. You may be concerned about your puppy being too skinny.
However, the bigger concern is that your puppy may grow too quickly.
You should constantly monitor your puppy’s weight and adjust their diet accordingly. You should be able to feel, but not see, your puppy’s ribs.
If it gets harder to feel your puppy’s ribs, cut back on the food a little. If your puppy’s ribs become more prominent, increase how much you feed them.
It’s also important to monitor how much calcium and phosphorous your puppy gets in their diet. Too much calcium or phosphorous can cause your puppy to grow too quickly.
Look for puppy food with no more than 1.5% calcium and 0.9% phosphorous.
What if my Puppy Is Still Hungry?
In general, Golden Retrievers are eating machines. They will happily eat their way to an unhealthy 100 pounds if you let them.
One way to slow down your puppy’s eating is to put a clean rock in their food bowl. If they must work food out from around it, they won’t be able to scarf their food as quickly.
Puzzle bowls are another great way to slow down your Golden Retriever puppy’s eating.
Also, consider using low-calorie vegetables as treats for your Golden Retriever puppy. They will help your puppy feel full with less risk of them growing too quickly or getting fat.
What if my Golden Retriever Puppy Won’t Eat?
Stress can cause dogs not to eat. If you just brought your puppy home, give them a day to settle in before worrying too much.
However, if your Golden Retriever puppy stops eating for more than a day or shows any other symptoms, take them to the vet immediately. Puppies can get extremely sick very quickly.
When in doubt, call your vet’s office and ask whether you should bring your puppy in to get checked out.
Calorie Needs Decrease Around 1 Year
When your Golden Retriever puppy turns 1 year old, they should be most of the way done growing. That means it’s time to switch them to an adult dog food that’s less calorie-dense than puppy food.
While overfeeding your puppy can cause joint and bone problems, overfeeding your adult Golden Retriever causes even more problems. Obesity is just as damaging to dogs as it is to humans.
Some health issues that can be caused by obesity in dogs can include:
- Heat intolerance
- Breathing problems
- Reduced immune system function
- Exercise intolerance
- High blood pressure
- Increased cancer risk
- Higher anesthesia risk
- Liver disease or dysfunction
Transitioning to a New Food
Whether you’re changing your puppy from the food their breeder fed them to something new or switching your puppy to adult food, you need to make the transition slowly. Abrupt changes to your Golden Retriever puppy’s diet can cause stomach problems.
Start by adding a little bit of the new food to the old food. Gradually start using more of the new food and less of the old for about a week.
Stress can also cause diarrhea, so try not to change your puppy’s food during stressful times. That includes the first month or so after you bring them home.
Talk to Your Vet
We have done our best to include the most accurate and current information here.
However, it is always best to discuss questions about how much food to feed a Golden Retriever puppy with your veterinarian. Your puppy may have different nutritional needs than we talk about in this article.
Wrapping Up: How Much Food for a Golden Retriever Puppy
Unfortunately, “How much should a Golden Retriever puppy eat” doesn’t have a simple answer. Hopefully, though, we’ve provided you with enough information to set your puppy up for a lifetime of success.
There are a lot of things to worry about when you’re raising a puppy. How much to feed a Golden Retriever puppy shouldn’t be one of them!