Food Basics

Puppies between seven to fourteen weeks normally eat about one cup of dry food three times a day. As they reach the fourteen-week mark, most puppies can give up their midday meal. They will still get the same amount of food, just split into two feedings. Golden Retriever puppies are always ravenous, and they will bolt down their food as fast as their little mouths will allow them. A Golden can literally eat himself sick. Don't be tempted to fill your puppy's bowl up to the top and walk away. It is important for your puppy's physical development that he not overeat.

Use a measuring cup to scoop out your puppy's food, and watch him closely to see whether you need to adjust his intake according to his appearance. In our experience, the side of the bag of dog food will tell you to feed your dog a lot more food than your puppy really needs. Overfeeding your dog will make him eliminate more than normal (more than two or three times a day) and could cause structural abnormalities as he grows up. Keep your puppy on the lean side to ensure the best chance for him to grow up healthy and structurally sound.

There are a staggering number of dog foods on the market today. Trying to choose the best brand for your puppy can be an intimidating task. First off, should you buy puppy food instead of adult dog food? Most modern research actually advises against feeding puppy food because the fat and calorie content is high, which tends to make for faster growing puppies. The nutrients in puppy food and adult dog food are essentially the same; feeding adult dog food will not harm your puppy, and slower growth may mean a healthier adult dog.

After raising Golden Retrievers for years now, we are convinced that you do indeed get what you pay for. The quality of the ingredients that go into your dog's food will have a direct effect on how often your dog visits the veterinarian. The lower the quality of ingredients in the food, the more allergies, skin problems, and digestive upsets your dog will experience. Take the time to educate yourself about dog food (see Chapter 12) and make an informed decision about how you feed your best friend.

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