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Our Golden Retriever puppies nurse from their mother until approximately six to six and a half weeks of age.  At three weeks of age they are introduced to puppy food, which is soaked and made into a warm gruel.  What a sight, the first few feedings have the little golden pups "wearing" more food than eating it.  They learn quickly though.

foodbag.gifWe have used Iams Puppy Food Original Formula with our Golden Retriever puppies for many, many years.  Recently we began using Iams Large Breed Puppy Food.  This food has a slightly different formulation made specifically for dogs which will grow up to be large (golden retrievers, for example).  Somewhat lower in protein and calcium, it is believed that this food will decrease the incidence of growth spurts and allow your golden retriever  puppy to grow at a more even pace.  Current research shows that an even growth pace is helpful in warding off the incident of hip dysplasia, OCD, and other problems associated with rapid growth in Golden Retrievers (and other large breeds).

When you get your new golden retriever puppy home it is imperative that you keep your puppy on the same food it has become used to.  Little golden retriever tummies can be very sensitive to changes in food.  Besides, we absolutely believe in Iams!!!

Now, what do you do?

When your new golden retriever first comes home, s/he may not eat too much for a few days.  This is, in part, due to the change from our home to yours.  It is also, and maybe moreso, due to the fact that the puppy now does not have the competition of it's golden brothers and sisters beside him/her at the feeding bowl.  Do not worry, the puppy will begin eating normally.

We highly advocate scheduled feedings for Golden Retrievers (remember however, that cool, fresh water should be available at all times except during crating).

Your golden retriever  puppy has been eating three times a day at approximately 7:00 a.m., 2:30 p.m., and 10:00 p.m.  This schedule is not cast in stone.  We recommend the final feeding to be approximately 1-1/2 hours before your bedtime (allowing you to get puppy outside immediately after eating (see "Housebreaking") and again just before your bedtime.  The morning feeding should be after you've taken the pup outside, let it have it's pee and poo, and had a little play session.  Time the middle feeding at a halfway point between the morning and evening feedings.

At first offer your golden retriever puppy about 3/4 - 1 cup of food.  At the age of 8 weeks the pups are on dry food.  You may however, opt to add a little warm water (soaking not required) as this may just be enough enticement to get your new golden retriever  puppy interested without competition.  Let the pup have access to the food for about 20 minutes.  What s/he hasn't eaten after this time disappears (manmade competition and the start of scheduled feedings).   Continue this through the scheduled feeding times.

As golden retriever puppies grow, so too do their appetites.  If your puppy consistently finishes all of the food offered, then begin increasing the amount feed, 1/4 cup at a time.  Some golden retriever  puppies eat a lot, others eat less.  Growing golden retrievers can eat what seems to be a phenomenal amount (we've had a couple of male golden retriever pups which actually got up to 8 or 10 cups a day in their seventh and eighth months).  Just be careful not to overfeed.  It is important that golden retrievers not become overweight.  You should be able to feel it ribs quite readily when s/he is standing, by running your hands along it's sides.  You should not have to "poke in" with your fingers.

Three feedings to two ...

At some point between 12-20 weeks your golden retriever puppy will no longer require three feedings a day.  A lot of puppies will let you know when that is.  They will begin to pick at one of the meals, or sometimes eat a little of all.  If you find your puppy is consistently not interested in a meal (often the mid feeding), take the same amount of food you have been feeding in a day and divide it into two feedings.  Voila!!  Puppy is eating the same amount, just twice a day instead of thrice.  It is highly recommended that you maintain two feedings a day for the life of your golden retriever, unless otherwise recommended by your veterinarian.   Two feedings a day benefits good gastrointestinal health.

Should your golden retriever puppy not signal you that s/he is ready for two feedings a day, at six months we recommend that you initiate the two feedings per day.

When to switch to adult food ...

At one year of age or when your veterinarian recommends.  When we fed Iams Puppy Original Formula we switched our pups to adult between 4 and 6 months to try and limit the growth spurts.  I have spoken with Iams and am advised that they do not recommend this practice when feeding Iams Large Breed Puppy Formula, but rather to keep the pup on this formula until 12-15months.  This makes sense to us, in that the food is formulated to avoid these growth spurts.  Thus, we recommend what Iams recommends.   Typically, adult female golden retrievers eat between 3 and 4 cups per day, while male golden retrievers eat between 3-1/2 and 5 cups per day.  This may vary from golden to golden based on individual metabolism and activity level.

We have, in the past,  fed our adult Golden Retrievers both Iams MiniChunks and Purina Proplan Turkey and Barley.   Again recently, we have switched all of our Golden Retrievers to Iams Minichunks.  Perhaps coincidental, perhaps not, we have found a complete end to looser stools and the dreaded "poop eating habit" by switching back to Iams.  We don't have an explanation for this, as we feel that Proplan is an excellent food, but find that the proof is in the pooping!!! (at least with our dogs anyway).

Fat dogs, obese dogs, and lazy dogs ...

All golden retrievers, just like people, have different metabolisms.  This is further altered by activity level and age.  "Less Active" and "Senior's" formulas are available and you may find that you have to switch your golden retriever to these under certain circumstances.  We certainly suggest that you enlist the opinion of your veterinarian should you feel that your golden retriever is gaining weight (check to make sure you are helping your dog to get it's daily required exercise (see Exercising Your Puppy/Adult Golden Retriever).

 In conclusion ...

It is important that your puppy/adult/senior Golden Retriever receive quality nutrition.  It is also very important that your golden retriever is maintained at a suitable weight.  Sometimes golden retrievers need to be switched to other foods due to obesity, allergies, etc.  Switching should be at your veterinarians recommendation and, where possible, be done gradually over a period of a few days to minimize gastrointestinal reactions in your golden retriever.



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