Did you just get a Golden Retriever puppy? That’s so exciting, but also a little bit stressful. There are quite a few things you’ll need to take care of, including learning how much to feed your Golden Retriever puppy. You can read this article to find guidelines on how much to feed a golden retriever puppy.
In general, you should feed puppies more frequently than adult golden retrievers. Feeding an adult golden retriever twice per day may be sufficient. However, puppies should be fed at least three times each day.
During the First 6-8 Weeks
During the first six to eight weeks of its life, a puppy should be fed by its mother since the mother’s milk is the best food at his age. Mother’s milk contains the right amount of balanced nutrition and it can also supply antibodies which develop the immune system of the pup and protect it from diseases.
Sometimes the puppy will have to be withdrawn if the mother suffers from mastitis or eclampsia. You will then have to feed specially formulated milk to the pup from purpose-built bottles. These items can easily be obtained from large pet stores.
Weaning a Puppy from Formula
Weaning is a gradual process and it cannot be done overnight. The weaning process will last about two to three weeks. During this time period, you should gradually increase the proportion of solid food.
It is best to select a formula that has been designed for puppies. You can consult with your veterinarian or pet nutrition expert to understand more about the best options.
When the puppy is between six weeks old, you can make gruel by mixing a small amount of solid food with the milk formula. The gruel can be offered 3 to 4 times a day. You should gradually reduce the formula milk content during each serving.
If you wean your pup to solid food in this way, the chances of any gastric upset will be minimized. The pup’s digestive system will slowly get accustomed to solid food. When your pup becomes eight weeks old, it should be exclusively fed on solid food.
How Much to Feed a Golden Retriever Puppy
When your golden retriever pup becomes three months old then its daily food consumption should be two cups. This can be split into three meals. The size of each meal will, therefore, be two-thirds of a cup.
At the age of four months, your pup will need two and a half cups of dog food each day. This should be divided into three meals.
When your pup reaches five or six months old you should feed it about 3 to 3.5 cups each day in three servings. A lot of people feel that they can start giving two meals a day to puppies after six months but this may not be the best choice.
Common Problems with Feeding Golden Retriever Puppies
It is better to offer three or meals per day in order to avoid potentially life-threatening gastric problems. Unfortunately, many Golden Retriever owners don’t realize that their breed is susceptible to gastric problems that can require emergency care.
Gastric dilatation or volvulus is a common problem in larger dog breeds. While it is not understood exactly what causes the problem, it is well known that breeds with deep-chest are more susceptible and golden retrievers are one of them.
Volvulus or gastric dilatation can occur when there is a large buildup of gas due to large meals. The stomach will dilate due to an accumulation of food and gas and a point may be reached when the excessive food and gas cannot get expelled. The stomach may get distended until it eventually twists and ruptures. The ability to breath is negatively affected since the pressure on the diaphragm may not permit the lungs to expand adequately. There will also be decreased blood flow to the stomach.
If your pup is suffering from volvulus or gastric dilatation, it might show the following symptoms:
- Stretching awkwardly
- Heightened anxiety
- Looking towards its abdomen
- Distended abdomen
- Retching without expelling food
- Excessive drooling
- Hyperventilation and panting
If you see these symptoms you need to rush your golden retriever pup to the veterinarian and provide it emergency care.
In order to reduce the chances of gastric dilatation, you should feed your puppy at least three meals per day. It is better not to feed older puppies two meals each day so that the chances of gastric dilatation are minimized.
You should also prevent your puppy from engaging in strenuous activity within an hour of eating.
Choosing the Right Formula
It is better to feed those formulas to your pups which have been specifically developed for growing puppies. If the formula has been developed specifically for the growing needs of puppies, it will be mentioned on the package.
You should avoid those foods which do not have meat listed as the first ingredient. If, for instance, you see a package with corn or meat by-products listed as the first ingredient, you should not purchase it.
Should I Feed Dry or Wet Food to My Golden Retriever Puppy?
Another question which is asked quite often by pet owners is: “what are the pros and cons of feeding dry food vs. wet food to my puppy?”
Wet food is typically more expensive and it comes in single serving packets, pouches or cans. Dogs often find that wet food is tastier than dry food.
Dry food is often relatively cheaper and it is also known as kibble. You can scoop it out of its packet and serve it directly to the dog. In the case of a puppy, you’ll want to add some water to make it a little moist and soft so that it is more appealing.
When you are weaning your puppy you should make sure that you are giving it wet food. This is often the best option. If you serve dry food, then you should soften it by adding a little water.
You should be a little bit more careful with dry kibble since it can be calorie dense and it can make your pup overweight if you are not watchful.
Feeding Your Puppy Optimally Is Necessary to Avoid Rapid Weight Gain
Although chubby puppies may look really cute, it is better to avoid too much weight gain. Overweight puppies are more likely to develop bone or orthopedic problems.
You can easily check if your puppy is overweight with two simple tests. You should touch the puppy’s ribcage lightly. If you are able to feel the ribs then the puppy is not overweight. But if you cannot feel the ribs then your puppy is overweight.
You should also stand up and look down directly at your puppy while it is standing. If the abdomen is well defined then the puppy is not overweight. But if the abdomen is bulging or rounded, then your puppy is overweight.
You should also take your puppy on regular visits to the veterinarian to keep track of its weight and overall health.
It is important to keep your golden retriever puppy’s weight in the right range because this will prevent the occurrence of certain medical conditions to which golden retrievers are susceptible. If you can maintain the right weight, then there is a better chance for your pup to avoid problems faced by golden retrievers such as elbow and hip dysplasia, cancer, eye problems and cardiac conditions.
On the other hand, if your pup is not gaining waiting even though you are feeding it the right amount of food, you should then take it to the veterinarian. Lack of weight gain could be a sign of parasites, congenital problems or some other health issue.
How to Switch Food for Your Puppy
The digestive system of humans is better at handling changes in their diet as compared to dogs. Due to their versatile digestive system, people can enjoy different types of healthy diets without suffering from digestive distress. However, dogs must be given the same food every day without change to prevent the risk of an upset stomach.
If you want to switch to a better formula, remember to make the change gradually. You should not change the formula abruptly otherwise this will give your pup an upset stomach.
You can try changing the food of your pup over the course of a week. Start by adding a minimal amount of new food to the old formula. Increase the proportion of the new food with each successive meal. Keep doing this until the old food has been eliminated. Due to this gradual change, the digestive system of your pup will be able to adjust more easily to the new food.
If your pup has a very weak or sensitive stomach then you may have to make this change over a duration of 10 days.
Don’t Feed These Ingredients to Your Puppy
You should make sure that the following substances are not included in the formula that you are feeding your puppy:
- Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) and Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) – these substances are carcinogenic according to the World Health Organization
- Ethoxyquin – this chemical is used as a pesticide. You certainly don’t want to feed pesticide to your pup. This substance is already banned in the EU and Australia.
- Propylene Glycol – this is used in some dog foods to preserve moisture. The FDA has banned the use of this substance in cat food since it causes anemia in felines.
- Tertiary Butylhydroquinone – according to research, this substance can cause cellular DNA damage and stomach tumors.
- Propyl Gallate – this is a type of xenoestrogen and it can therefore lead to certain types of cancers
In general, you should try to avoid artificial preservatives and flavorings as far as possible. On the other hand, natural preservatives such as tocopherols and ascorbates may not be harmful. In fact, tocopherols are a mixture of vitamin E while ascorbates are the derivatives of ascorbic acid which is also known as vitamin C.
Is It Better to Feed Grain-Free Food to My Puppy?
Some people reason that since dogs and their coyote relatives thrive on a highly carnivorous diet in the wild, it is much better to avoid grains for optimum health of canine pets.
This reasoning is definitely true if your pup is sensitive to grains. There are several symptoms which indicate intolerance to grains such as skin problems, bloating, itching, loose stools, and fatigue. If you see these symptoms or suspect that your pup is allergic to grains you should take your pup to the veterinarian and explain your concerns.
On the other hand, if your pup is thriving on a formula that includes grains then it may be better to continue with this recipe.
Avoid Feeding Fillers to Your Puppy
In general, at least 70 percent of the formula should be comprised of high-quality meat. This will provide the full range of amino acids that your pup needs to grow into a strong and energetic adult.
Some cheap formulas use fillers like soy, corn, and wheat to cut down costs and raise their profit margins. These may be good for the company’s bottom line but it is not good for your pup’s health. These fillers are highly allergenic and add to calories without much nutritional value. Read the label and make sure that the formula is free from these fillers.
Some of Our Favorite Puppy Foods
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed Puppy
Kirkland Signature Puppy Formula
Our Final Thoughts
You can now feed your new puppy with more confidence, now that you know about how much to safely feed your Golden Retriever puppy.