We are what we eat, and the same can be said about our dogs as well. Feeding your dog right is unarguably one of the most important parts of caring for them, and it’s not as easy as it looks.
Your golden retriever is going to have different nutritional needs at different ages, and they are going to have different tastes as well.
I have spent all of my life around retrievers – both goldens, Labradors, and their mixes, so I have put together this guide that can help you feed your golden retriever right at every age.
I’m only recommending foods that my dogs liked consistently over the years and which I found to be healthy for them and affordable for me. I think this guide can be a great starting point for you to create the perfect diet for your dog as well.
Foods for Golden Retriever Puppies ( 1 – 14 Months)
Their diet at the start of their lives is crucial to get right to help them develop into healthy dogs.
This is where their body and mind are very sensitive to what they’re eating, and they have specific nutritional requirements that they need at such young age. They can’t just eat any dog food, they need foods that are made for them.
So, how to choose the right food for your puppy? Well, there are four things that you should consider when you are choosing their diet.
Nutritional Requirements for Puppy Foods
The four key nutrients when you are choosing a diet for your puppy are fat, digestible carbohydrates, protein, and calcium.
Fats will keep their skin and coat healthy, it also helps your pup develop a healthy vision and a healthy brain.
They slow down the rate of stomach emptying and give the puppy the feeling of fullness after their meals.
Fats are also very important for the digestion and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
However, too many fats are risky for your pup and it can lead to obesity and the development of an orthopedic disease, that’s why they should consume fat content but do it in moderation.
The fat should be rationed between 10-25% on a dry matter basis for your puppy.
Carbs are the source of their energy, dogs are able to convert certain carbohydrates sources into simple sugars that are easily absorbed and give them the energy they need.
More complex carbohydrates will be broken down further by their body before they are able to be absorbed.
Protein allows your pup’s body to function properly and helps them build their tissues.
Dogs also get amino acids from protein and they contribute to muscle development, healthy skin, and healthy hair.
The recommended protein range is 22-32% on a dry matter basis for healthy growth for your puppy.
Calcium is one of the most important nutrients in your dog’s diet, it contributes to their growth, teeth maintenance, a strong heart, teeth maintenance, healthy nervous system, and proper muscle building.
The recommended calcium range is 0.7-1.7% on a dry matter basis for a healthy puppy.
You also can add vitamins and minerals to keep their diet balanced but before you do, you should ask their vet what vitamins do your pup specifically need.
Homemade food recipes
Your puppy can’t rely on canned or dry foods all the time and for a healthy puppy, you need to learn how to prepare some homemade meals for them.
Since puppies need special nutrients because they are growing very rapidly, you need to make sure that you provide them with a diet that keeps up with those nutritional needs.
So, here is a recipe that’s easy to prepare for your puppy and will give them all the nutrition they need.
It’s a slow cooker recipe so it’s really easy to make and you can make it in large batches and freeze it for a later time. Yes, meal prepping can and should be done for dogs to save you time and money.
So first of all, prepare your slow cooker.
- One pound of boneless chicken breast (it’s better if it’s skinless as well) and you can use any chicken available
- ½ a cup of uncooked brown rice
- 2 sweet potatoes
- Two large carrots or about a dozen of baby carrots
- Eight ounces of frozen peas (you can use fresh peas if you want)
- One can of diced tomatoes (15 ounces)
- A quarter of a cup of fish oil
- A half teaspoon of iodized salt
- One teaspoon of dried parsley
- Cup and a half of water
- Add the uncooked brown rice
- Peel and chop the potatoes into small pieces
- Chop the carrots and add them
- Add all the ingredients to the cooker
- Let it cook for five to six hours
- Every couple of hours, stir the pot
- When done, take it out, let it cool, then pack it and keep it in the fridge or the freezer
If you keep it in the fridge, it can be used for 7 days. If you freeze it, you can use it for up to 3 months.
Don’t forget to smell it after heating it to make sure it’s still good before you give it to your puppy every time. Dogs have no problems eating bad food, and they won’t tell you it doesn’t taste good, so this responsibility is completely on you.
Dry foods they’ll love
We are not always able to prepare homemade meals for our pups, I usually prepare large amounts of homemade meals and freeze them but some days I get too busy and I need something that doesn’t need preparation to feed them.
Dry food is my savior but it took me some time to find a dry food that actually provides them with the nutrients they need and to make sure that the ingredients are safe for them, so here are some of the best dry foods that your pup will just love.
Victor purpose Nutra pro dry dog food
This was my go-to dry food for my puppies for a while, it was perfect for my puppy and I could see the difference it makes on their coat, skin, and energy.
It’s high in protein: it will provide them with enough protein to keep their coat and skin healthy, it also prevents their hair from falling out and becoming weak, dry, or brittle
Fortified with vitamins: it will boost your puppy’s immune system, maintain healthy digestion, increase absorption rates, improve their skin and coat, they will age gracefully, it improves cognitive development as well.
Fortified with amino acids, minerals, and essential fatty acids: they fight common problems such as hotspots, lice, bacterial infections, fleas, dry skin, ticks, fungal infections, excessive shedding, itchy skin, and environmental allergies.
Gluten-free grains: it will help your puppy with getting less flaky skin, whiter teeth, and a shinier coat.
I have never seen any side effects on any of my dogs from eating it, and I have never heard any complaints from my friends whom I recommended this food to as well, so it’s a very safe choice.
Orijen puppy grain-free dry puppy food
This was one of my favorite options, it’s their second favorite dry food when they were puppies and it provides them with almost the same nutrients and had the same effect on their coat but I guess they just prefer the other one a little more but that doesn’t mean, they weren’t excited about that one as well.
It contains 85% poultry and protein: it will meet their protein, minerals, and vitamin needs and helps to keep their coat healthy, it also prevents problems such as flaky skin, dandruff, fleas, ticks, and lice.
Coated with freeze-dried liver: it’s a flavor that every dog craves, plus, it’s totally safe for your dog, it cleanses the blood of toxins and supports healthy vision, it’s a great nutrient boost for sick or injured dogs as well.
Wellness complete health puppy food
There is something about this one that always makes me come back to it, I don’t know if it’s the energy that my puppy had while I fed it to them or how thrilled they were when they saw the box.
It’s rich in omega fatty acids: it helps in the development of puppies, improves cognitive function, and it develops their brain.
It includes wholesome grains and premium proteins that help keep their skin healthy.
It is made for puppies and puppies do love it, at least that has been my own experience with it with all of my puppies.
Purina pro plan puppy food
You are already familiar with Purina, you know what’s good about their foods and what’s bad about their products. Their Pro Plan has been very good for golden retriever puppies in my experience, and I know a lot of people that absolutely love this one.
It’s rich in Live probiotics and antioxidants that should provide a health boost to animals of all ages but in young animals, they promote immune system activity before vaccination has been implemented.
Antioxidants help to slow cellular damage to the organs and brain and they provide healthier and longer life.
It is also omega-rich fish oil: it’s great for vision and brain development.
Wet foods they’ll love
You can switch from dry food so they won’t get bored, so here are some of the best-wet foods that dogs adore and they also provide them with vitamins, fats, calcium, protein, and carbohydrates at the same time.
Merrick grain-free puppy plate
My puppies love this one so much that they can come rushing from the other end of the world if they hear me opening it up or smell it. It Contains DHA that support healthy brain development
It also contains vitamins and minerals to offer complete balanced nutrition and they are necessary for the maintenance of teeth and bones.
They are also rich in high-quality proteins: it supports their muscles, immune system, skin, and hair.
Wellness complete health just for puppy
The Wellness complete health for puppies is an excellent wet food for golden retriever puppies. It’s rich in nutrient ingredients that designed to provide them with all the nutritional requirements they need and they absolutely love the taste of it (and it doesn’t smell horrible).
Rich in protein: It supports a strong immune system, digestive function, optimal energy levels, healthy skin, and coat.
Filled with veggies: it provides your dog with all the vitamins they need and helps their coat to grow and prevents shedding.
Instinct original grain-free wet puppy food
Contains natural DHA: it supports your puppy’s brain and eye development.
Packed with fruits and veggies: such as peas, cranberries, carrots, pumpkin, blueberries, tomato, and artichokes that will provide your pup with vitamins that are responsible for fetal development, growth, cell function, and immune function.
Features beef liver and salmon: it helps to grow their muscle properly.
You can consult your vet or any trained canine nutritionist about what’s the best food for your pup to make sure that your pup is not allergic to any ingredients.
The last thing to know is when you should actually stop the puppy food and feed them adult foods.
I have made a dedicated post about when and how to switch golden retrievers to adult dog food here, I highly recommend you check it out as I’ve tried to make it the ultimate simplified step-by-step guide to switching their dog food and I think it will be really helpful for you.
Foods for Adult Golden Retrievers (15 months – 8 Years)
When your golden retriever puppy starts becoming an adult dog, they will start having different needs from their foods because they are now expending much more energy than before but not developing as much.
Nutritional Requirements For Adult Goldens
Now that your puppy is an adult, they will have a different life, and so their food has to change to give them what they need in their daily lives.
When you are choosing food for your golden at their adult stage, you should look for the highest quality food and it should form a balanced and complete diet for your dog.
Your adult golden needs at least 10% of its daily calories from the protein.
The protein allows your dog’s body to function in the right way, also the essential acids that your dog gets from protein contribute to healthy skin and hair.
It repairs their tissue and is responsible for muscle development as well.
Carbohydrates help your dog’s body replenish and maintain glycogen stores.
They are basically the energy source, and they also produce the body heat that helps to keep your dog warm.
Fiber is one of the most important things for your dog’s health, it provides the bulk to move the food through their intestinal tract.
It’s also a source of energy for the cells lining their intestinal tract.
Fats provide energy, but they are also very important for the normal function and development of their body cells, nerves, body tissues, and muscles.
Fats are also important components in their body’s production of hormone-like substances, which are known as prostaglandins.
Homemade food recipes
Your dog can’t and shouldn’t live on packaged foods at any point in their lives. Yes, dry and wet foods can give them what they need, but everyone knows that dogs need homemade foods with fresh and natural foods to stay healthy and live longer.
Here is a very simple recipe which golden retrievers love that will also keep them full and is full of nutrients that they need:
- 1 ½ cups brown rice
- 3 pounds ground turkey
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cups of chopped baby spinach
- 1 shredded zucchini
- 2 shredded carrots
- ½ cup peas ( canned, fresh, or frozen)
- Choose a large pan
- Add 3 cups of water
- Cook the brown rice according to the package instruction
- Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat
- Add the ground turkey
- Cook the turkey until browned, it will take about 3-5 minutes (make sure to crumble the turkey)
- Mix and stir the spinach, zucchini, carrots, brown rice, and peas until the spinach has wilted, it will take about 4 minutes
- Let it cool before surviving it to your pup
Dry foods they’ll love
These are the foods my goldens have loved over the years and which have been excellent for their health as well.
Nature’s logic dry dog food
In this one, millet is used instead of potatoes or tapioca for a low-sugar content.
It contains minimally processed food such as dried kelp, spinach, cranberries, and blueberries.
Probiotics and digestive enzymes are added to help maintain proper digestion as well.
Instinct original grain-free dry
This one is rich in natural probiotics, antioxidants, and natural omegas: they support their digestive health, immune health, healthy skin, and coat.
It also uses Nutritious oils which keep their coat moisturized and shiny, they also improve their immune system and helps prevent and lessen the effects of diabetes and cardiovascular.
The oils are great for pups whose systems aren’t able to digest omega-3 fatty and omega-6 acids well.
You should also consult your vet about what is the best dry food for your dog.
Wet foods they’ll love
After a lot of trials and tests, I found my dogs’ favorite wet food which is the Canidae canned dog food for all life stages, but I will also recommend two more that they like as well.
Canidae all life stages canned dog food
This one is highly recommended, it’s my golden’s favorite meal and they get so excited when I feed it to them.
The recipe is balanced and provides them with all the protein they need.
It contains 41% protein, 22% estimated carbs, and 30% fat.
Even though I always take great care of their coat, ever since I started feeding them this meal, their coat got even shinier and it looks healthier, they also shed less.
Halo wet dog food
I tried this one before I finally found the one that they set their heart on and it was great, they liked the taste and the recipe contains many nutrients.
It has 50% protein, 28% fat, and 14% estimated carbs, it also was great with the shedding and gave them the energy they needed.
Weruva wet dog food
This one was awesome, it has 15 canned recipes so you can try lots of new flavors till you find their favorite one, my dogs really loooove the chicken, egg, pumpkin & ham in gravy one.
I even like the smell of it, it doesn’t smell like dog food but more like just food, and it’s really great if you are switching from puppy to adult food because you can feed it to them while they’re puppies and adults.
It contains 57% protein, 25% estimated carbs, and 10% fat.
Foods for Senior Golden Retrievers (Older than 8 years old)
Choosing food for your senior golden is kinda similar to choosing food for your puppy, you should be really careful and, if needed or if they have special needs, consult your vet about the right diet for them.
Your senior golden diet should be ideally preventive and healthy.
Their diet should be higher in protein and many of the senior diets have higher-quality protein sources than standard foods.
The protein helps to maintain their muscle mass and body weight without putting too much strain on their kidney.
It’s really important for maintaining good physical health as well.
Senior dogs’ diets require higher-fiber to improve their gastrointestinal health and because some senior dogs have trouble with constipation, the higher-fiber will help them to stay regular.
Unlike puppies, senior dogs’ food should be low-fat because they are more likely to become overweight or obese. Senior dogs are also much less active than puppies, and they will not need the same levels of energy from fats that puppies need.
That’s why many dog food companies offer senior dog food formulations because they are lower in calories and fats.
The sodium will maintain their cellular environment and prevent their cells from dehydrating or swelling, it’s important for maintaining proper muscle cell and nerve function as well.
Healthy carbohydrates contain fiber, and it’s really important for enhancing their digestive processes.
It’s also a great source of energy and can help build stamina and reduce their appetite.
There is no need to say that vitamins are one of the most important things in your senior dog’s diet because vitamins reduce inflammation and improve joint mobility.
They also help to improve your dog’s skin and coat and help their brain function which can slow down as your dog gets older.
Minerals are needed to maintain a healthy body, iron helps the immune system ward off foreign entities, they also help to carry oxygen throughout the body.
They are necessary for the maintenance of teeth and bones as well.
Homemade food recipes
There is nothing better than homemade food for your senior pup because when you prepare it yourself you can manage what they can eat and prevent common issues such as obesity.
So, here are some recipes for the best homemade food for your senior dog.
- 1 lb beef stew meat
- 1 tbsp organic vegetable oil
- ½ cup flour
- ½ diced carrots
- 1 small sweet potato
- ½ cup diced green beans
- ½ cup water
- Microwave the sweet potato for five to eight minutes until you notice it’s still firm but tinder
- Chop the beef stew meat into small chunks
- Heat the organic vegetable oil over medium heat in a large pan.
- Add the beef chunks and let it cook for about 15 minutes.
- Now, take the beef out but reserve the drippings
- Dice your cooked sweet potato
- Turn the heat to medium-low and add the dripping then slowly add the flour and the water to make a thick gravy
- Cook until the carrots are tender, it will take about 10 minutes
- Let the beef stew cool completely before serving it to your dog
- You can keep the leftovers in the fridge for up to five days.
Turkey and vegetables
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 6 cups water
- 2 cups of brown rice
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- ½ package of frozen carrots
- ½ package of frozen cauliflower
- ½ package of frozen broccoli
You can use fresh vegetables and cook them for four minutes until they are still firm but tender
- Choose a large pot
- Add the water first
- Then add the ground turkey and the brown rice
- Add the rosemary as well
- Stir to ensure that the ingredients are well mixed
- Boil them then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes
- Add the vegetables
- Keep cooking them for five minutes
- Let the mixture cool before serving it to your pup.
- 4 pieces of boneless and skinless chicken
- 1 cup cabbage
- ½ cup of spinach
- 1 ½ cups of brown rice
- 1 cup broccoli
- ½ cups of carrots (peeled and chopped)
- 2 tbsp of olive oil
- ½ cup of green beans
- Wash the vegetables and steam them until they are almost soft and ready to be mashed
- While you are steaming the vegetables, put the chicken in a pot
- Add water to cover the chicken (make sure that the water is an inch above the chicken)
- Slow boil the chicken until the meat is cooked well and the water turns into an aromatic broth, it will take about 25 minutes
- Cook the brown rice in three cups of the chicken broth
- Chop the chicken and your steamed vegetables into bite-sized pieces
- When the brown rice is finished, mix it with the vegetables, olive oil, and chicken in a large bowl, you can also add some chicken broth.
- Leave the casserole cool completely before serving it to your pup
You can keep the leftovers sealed in a container in the fridge for up to three days.
Dry foods they’ll love
Here are the best dry foods that you can get for your senior golden, they will love it and it will keep them on a balanced diet.
Wellness core senior dog food
It contains antioxidants: they provide support to their immune system, prevents inflammation, increases their energy, and supports their joint health.
Omega fatty acids: they keep the coat healthy and shiny
Fortified with glucosamine: they are great for hip and joint health.
Filled with premium protein: it keeps them active physically and mentally, and great for their muscles and body weight.
This dry food is specially formulated to promote their whole body health, and my dogs really love the taste, so it’s a win-win situation.
Purina Pro plan mind adult 7+ senior chicken and rice
Contains glucosamine and EPA: supports joint health
Fortified with live probiotics: it contains natural fiber to support the immune and digestive system
It has a crunchy kibble with tender, meaty shreds that your pooch will just love and it will provide them with all the nutrients they need to keep up with their energy.
Orijen senior dog food
Coated with freeze-dried liver: every dog adores this flavor and they cannot resist it.
Contains 85% poultry and fish ingredients: they are naturally rich in vitamins, essential protein, and minerals which will prevent common diseases.
Wet foods they’ll love
Here is the best-wet food for your pup so it won’t get bored of the dry food.
Wellness complete senior canned dog food
The nutrition in it was formulated to support your aging pup’s health.
It contains no soy, wheat, animal by-products, or corn.
High 32% protein on a dry basis: it maintains their muscle mass and body weight.
Designed to contain all of the antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals: it optimizes the whole body’s health.
Supplements – Does your dog need them?
Ah, yes, the tricky issue of supplements. Do dogs need them? Are they good for them? Can they be bad for them? Can you overuse supplements?
Okay, let’s break it down and see what you really need to know about supplements.
When does your dog need supplements (Vitamins – Omega-3)
If your dog is suffering from a chronic condition such as digestive problems, joint pain, or skin problem then the supplements could really benefit them.
Supplements could be great for your dog, and they can indeed be helpful in dealing with many health problems and avoiding a lot of health issues, and you can also give them to your aging dog as a preventative measure, however, it’s important to not give too many vitamins or supplements to your dog, overuse of supplements can be bad for their health.
When Do Dogs Need Supplements?
Here is a list of the best and most popular supplements for dogs and when they need them.
Glucosamine is the most popular supplement for dogs, it’s an amino sugar and it’s found naturally in the fluid around their joints to help build cartilage.
Many vets believe that glucosamine is really effective in treating arthritis, it may also relieve joint pain.
Antioxidants are known for counteracting some of the effects of aging such as cognitive dysfunction and memory loss.
They are used as a treatment for heart diseases in dogs and also used to reduce inflammation.
They are found in substances like vitamins E and C.
Antioxidants protect their body from free radicals and potentially harmful molecules that can damage cell membranes.
Antioxidants also help convert food into energy and fight free radicals.
Probiotics are used to treat diarrhea and other digestive problems.
You can find it in some yogurts, chews, some dog food formulations, powders, and capsules.
Fish oil is the second most common supplement that you can give to a dog.
It contains omega-3 fatty acids that improve coat quality, alleviates skin allergies, and makes their coat shinier.
Fish oil is also useful in treating heart health, joint health, and arthritis, it can also reduce inflammation.
Check out these Nutri-vet fish oil supplements for your dog on Amazon here.
However, before you rush and buy any of these things for your dog, you should consult your vet, and considering your dog’s condition, breed, age, and size, your vet will recommend the right thing.
Ice Creams & Refreshments:
Your dog can enjoy his healthy meals and treats but they also deserve some healthy refreshments every now and then, just like us. However, since ice cream can cause them many problems, I have other options to treat your pup without causing them any problems.
Homemade Ice Cream
- ½ cup chopped strawberries
- ½ cup thinly sliced banana
- ½ cup whole blueberries
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- ½ pretzel stick per popsicle
- Combine all the ingredients until they are mixed
- Add the pretzel stick
- Pour the mixture into molds
- Freeze for at least 4 to 5 hours before serving
Another recipe for homemade ice cream
- 2 cups (300g) frozen ripe cantaloupe
- 2 tbsp unsweetened yogurt
- Scrub the outside of the cantaloupe
- Slice the melon in half and remove the seeds
- Slice each half into quarters and remove the skin
- Dice the fruit into bite-sized pieces
- Place cut melon in the freezer
- After they are completely frozen
- Add 2 cup of melon pieces into the food processor
- Place 2 tbsp of unsweetened yogurt
- Blend it until you feel it’s combined
Packaged (that you can buy anywhere)
- You can buy your dog a plain vanilla ice cream
- You can buy your dog some frozen yogurt but make sure it’s fat-free
How to choose the best Dog foods For Your Golden
There are some things you need to look for when you are choosing your golden retriever food.
- Limited fat and calories to control the growth in puppies
- Made from wholesome (natural ingredients) so you have to make sure that it’s with no fillers or artificial additives
- Nutritionally balanced and complete according to AAFCO nutrient profiles
- Rich in protein from high-quality animal sources such as meat, fish, and poultry
- Moderation in calcium and phosphorus levels with glucosamine and chondroitin for their joint health.
Before you go, you might want to check out these 18 foods your golden retriever should never eat.
If you liked this article and it was useful to you, you can share it with your family and friends, it might be useful to them and I will certainly appreciate it 🙂
How much should a golden retriever eat daily?
If you have an adult golden retriever, they should eat on average between 2 and 3 ½ cups of food per day but the exact amount depends on age, weight, activity level, quality of food, and health problems.
What should a golden retriever never eat?
Here are some of the foods that your golden retriever should never eat.
- Anything containing the sweeter xylitol
- Raw meat
- Salty snacks
- Raw egg
- Uncooked bones
Basic Calorie Calculator for pets – Ohio University
7 Vitamins Your Dog Needs for a Healthy Life