Golden Weight Loss

Is My Golden Retriever Overweight or Underweight?

Healthy Weight Management Tips For Your Golden

The Golden Retriever is one of the most popular dog breeds in the U.S. Unfortunately, this awesome dog breed is prone to becoming obese. To make sure that your Golden stays healthy, fit and lives a long life, here are some tips on what you can do to prevent your Golden Retriever from becoming overweight.

If you were to ask your Golden if he wanted a treat, he would answer yes every single time! Without a doubt, the friendly Golden Retriever always enjoys his food. Today, obesity is one of the biggest problems most dog breeds face. But let’s start with the basics! Pet obesity is our fault as well. As pet parents we often give in and spoil our dogs with plenty of treats and dinner tidbits.

Golden Retrievers have it down to pat when it comes to begging! Yet all those tidbits may just be contributing to your Golden Retriever’s weight gain! And unfortunately for this dog breed in particular, there’s a spectrum of health issues that are directly caused or made worse by excessive weight gain or obesity. So what should you do if you feel that your Golden is a tad on the heavy side?

Having a healthy and happy Golden that is lean and fit is most important, and will prolong his life. If your Golden Retriever is overweight, you will need to consult with your veterinarian as to the best diet to reduce calorie intake, and to also have a complete health check to rule out Cushing’s Disease, Type 2 diabetes, and any other health problems. You can also peek at the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study to become familiar with the Golden Retriever’s risk factors for hereditary disease, and how obesity can play into that. The study also discusses the direct correlation between the age that a Golden Retriever is spayed or neutered, and obesity.  Another study by the Morris Foundation, demonstrated that 20% of Golden Retrievers that were not neutered or spayed were obese.

Safe Weight-Loss Program

An effective and safe weight-loss program will help your Golden lose weight gradually. Although a major concern with Goldens is their weight, by making simple changes at home, you’ll ensure that your dog’s senior years are the best they can be. That said, geriatric Goldens will need a change in diet to avoid deficiencies. All Golden Retrievers need a heathy diet, supplements, regular exercise and routine veterinary care to maintain a healthy weight, and to be strong, healthy dogs. There are also certain medical conditions that may allow for your Golden Retriever to become overweight like Cushing’s Disease.

Cushing’s Disease

If your Golden Retriever has been diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease, chances are that dietary issues may be playing a big role. No one knows why, but there has been a large increase in Cushing’s Disease in dogs over the past couple of years. This condition is caused by an overactive adrenal gland that produces too much adrenal hormone. Sometimes it may be caused by a tumor in the adrenal gland, most times a benign tumor. Inflammation from over-vaccination, pesticides, and the overall exposure of our dogs to toxic chemicals that seem to be everywhere, contributes to Cushing’s.

Why a Healthy Diet Is Important for Your Golden Retriever?

Your veterinarian may change your Golden Retriever’s diet, and eliminate all grains and many of the carbohydrates in his diet. Golden Retrievers with Cushing’s should be on a raw, high-protein diet or a grain-free, potato –free diet that has a high protein content made from a high-quality salmon, chicken or beef. Canned dog foods also work, but they need to contain high-quality ingredients. Your veterinarian will also prescribe medication to control Cushing’s. That said, Cushing’s disease seems to be linked to Type 2 diabetes, both of which are induced by high quantities of carbohydrate in your dog’s diet.

Golden Eating Dog Food

Check Your Dog Food

With Cushing’s and Type 2 diabetes, your Golden Retriever may develop metabolic syndrome. This occurs when the body has a problem with the amounts of carbohydrates and high glycemic index ingredients that are found in numerous dog food formulas. That said, it’s always best to consult with your veterinarian for advice as to what to feed your Golden Retriever. Diets that are high in carbohydrates and that have high glycemic index ingredients result in inflammation throughout the body, and this triggers problems with the endocrine system which in turn may result in insulin resistance, inflammatory diseases in your Golden, as well as the development of pituitary tumors.

How to Tell If Your Golden Is Overweight?

So what does it mean if your veterinarian tells you that your Golden Retriever is overweight? During the veterinarian check with your Golden Retriever, your veterinarian will weigh your dog, and may suggest that he or she loses some weight. This is often recommended before you participate in new canine activities with your Golden, most especially with an older Golden Retriever, and will help avoid putting stress on your dog’s heart, joints, bones, and lungs. With very obese Golden Retrievers, a veterinarian-approved canine diet with a special exercise regime will often be recommended for safe and effective weight -loss.

Golden Retrievers have varying colors and sizes. This breed should not be 100- pounds, just as they should not have pure white coats. Keep in mind though that the Golden Retriever that is bred for showing has heavier bone and a thicker coat. The first thing that you should notice when looking at your Golden, is your dog’s waist. That said, when you run your hands along both sides you should be able to feel your dog’s ribs. Every effort has to be made to avoid obesity with this fabulous dog breed. Apart from obesity being a health hazard, your Golden Retriever will feel lethargic and lazy if overweight, and have trouble breathing after exercising.

How to Tell if Your Golden Retriever is Overweight. Weight Reference Graphic

Golden Retriever Pup’s Growth Plan

When purchasing a Golden Retriever puppy, your breeder will advise you as to the potential adult height of your Golden, and also the ideal weight. From here on it’s best to follow the Hovan Slow-Grow Plan which shows specific weight and exercise benchmarks for your Golden Retriever. This plan helps all Golden Retriever Pet parents control growth until pups reach adulthood. Dog food formulas are all different and special care needs to be given when choosing a dog food formula. Nonetheless, for active Goldens, here are some feeding guidelines.

Guidelines for active Golden Retrievers

55 pounds1550-1800
65 pounds1650-1950
75 pounds1950-2250

If your Golden Retriever is a working dog, he or she will need to have more calories when hard at work or in training. That said, it’s best to consult with your veterinarian for sound dietary advice. Active working Golden Retrievers should not eat a heavy meal prior to going out in the field or participating in intense exercise like hunting. Your Golden Retriever can have more calories when back home after exercising. Here are the feeding guidelines for working Golden Retrievers.

Guidelines for working Golden Retrievers

Weight of Golden RetrieverCalories
55 pounds1750-2200
65 pounds1850-2350
75 pounds2050-2450

 How Does This Affect My Golden’s Health?

It’s important to know what your dog’s ideal weight should be before changing dog food formulas. With both your dog’s current weight and ideal weight in hand, you will need to change to a new dog food gradually to avoid digestive issues. This should be done over a period of 3 to 4 weeks.  If your Golden Retriever has picked up weight suddenly or lost weight very quickly, and it’s not due to a change in diet, it should be cause for concern. A visit to your veterinarian is recommended to make sure that there are no underlying medical issues.

Tips on How to Keep Your Golden Retriever in Shape

  • Don’t feed unhealthy treats
  • Limit the amount of treats that you give your Golden Retriever (only 10% of your dog’s daily calories should come from dog treats.)
  • Increase the amount of daily dog walks
  • Participate in new canine sports like surfing or doga with your Golden Retriever
  • Check your dog’s weight every week by seeing if his ribs are prominent (too thin) or hard to feel.
  • Be ahead of portion control by working together with your veterinarian
  • Read the ingredients list and start with the minimum amount listed on the package for your   Golden’s weight
  • Divide meals up in to several feedings
  • If your Golden Retriever loses too much weight, increase the amount of kibble slightly until your dog reaches his ideal weight.
  • Healthy and fit Golden Retrievers have lots of energy, palpable ribs, but not prominent ribs, and a visible waistline.
  • Combining a high-quality dog food formula with regular exercise works well. Obesity can be deadly, and is never healthy or cute.

Once again, it’s important to know your dog’s ideal weight, so that you are able to make gradual dietary changes. Obesity can be prevented by increasing exercise and curbing calorie intake. As with obese or overweight humans, Golden Retrievers will more likely be prone to multiple health issues like hip dysplasia, diabetes, heart problems and joint issues if overweight.

Prevention is critical when caring for a Golden. This breed is prone to numerous health issues. Unfortunately, vaccinations and parasite prevention are not the only expenses to think about. You’ll also need to take into consideration breed specific health issues that are common to the Golden.

Possible Health Concerns for Overweight Golden Retrievers

The Golden is an active dog breed that may be susceptible to the following health conditions:

  • Elbow and Hip Dysplasia: These are common developmental disorders of the hip and elbow joints. The Golden Retriever has an increased risk of both hip and elbow dysplasia. It is an inherited disorder. That said, although hip dysplasia is an inherited condition, rapid growth, excessive weight gain and vigorous exercise contribute to this painful condition.
  • Hypothyroidism: This occurs when there are decreased levels of thyroid hormones. Symptoms include hair loss, a dull coat, flaky skin with weight gain and muscle loss. Consult with your veterinarian for advice if your dog shows any of these symptoms.
  • Cancer: Golden Retrieversmay be predisposed to osteosarcoma, lymphosarcoma, mastocytoma, melanoma, histiosarcoma, and hemangiosarcoma. Consult with your veterinarian regarding any changes in your dog. Adult Golden Retrievers should have a complete veterinary check-up at least twice a year.
  • Heart Disease:  Golden Retrievers are prone to subvalvular aortic stenosis (SAS), an inherited heart condition. SAS is when there is a partial obstruction of the heart that is due to a narrow opening between the left ventricle and aorta. With SAS, the dog’s heart has to work harder so that the right amount of blood is pumped to the body. This condition may worsen with obesity and age. Your veterinarian will detect SAS during a routine veterinary check-up.
  • Heat Intolerance: Golden Retrievers need to be kept indoors during the hot summer months, and exercised during the early mornings and late afternoons when it’s cooler. Dizziness and lethargy are symptoms of heat intolerance. If your Golden Retriever shakes, trembles and is very tired after being outdoors, consult with your veterinarian.

Getting My Golden Retriever to His / Her Ideal Weight

So you may be wondering as to how to get your wonderful Golden to his ideal weight? Increasing exercise and playing Frisbee with your Golden a few times a week helps shed those extra pounds. Nonetheless, genetics and ancestry play a big part in your dog’s ideal weight. Some Golden’s will have heavier bone than others. The ideal weight for a male adult Golden is between 65-75 pounds. Females should weigh anywhere from 55 pounds to 65 pounds.

As usual, adding fresh whole foods to your Golden Retriever’s diet works wonders. Blueberries, kale, fresh salmon, beef, carrots and broccoli can profoundly impact your Golden Retriever’s weight and health. With so many ways to help your Golden Retriever live a long and healthy life, making sure that you’re feeding the correct foods that are also disease fighting and easily integrate into his diet, will help. That said, as a Golden Retriever pet parent you’re always in control of what your Golden Retriever eats! Get to the root of your Golden Retriever’s obesity today by first consulting with your veterinarian for the best advice!

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