Golden Retriever Eating Dog Food

The Best Dog Food for Golden Retrievers

Golden Retrievers are ranked in the top 5 for their intelligence due to their ability to problem solve and think independently. They’re also energetic, easy-to-train and ready to work.

With their unconditional love and devotion, it’s important that we consider expert nutrition opinions when choosing the BEST DOG FOOD FOR OUR GOLDEN RETRIEVERS!

According to a recent research paper published in Plos One, cancer is the leading cause of death in adult dogs in the United States, Australia, Japan and Europe, and is now considered a major health care concern of pet owners. Approximately four million dogs are diagnosed with cancer each year in the United States.

Golden Retrievers as a breed have an increased prevalence of cancer! Your Golden will live with you for many years. That said, it’s necessary to consider the many factors that may contribute to longevity, and also the risk of cancer and cardiomyopathy (DCM).

“In July 2018, the FDA announced that it had begun investigating reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs eating certain pet foods, many labeled as “grain-free,” which contained a high proportion of peas, lentils, other legume seeds (pulses), and/or potatoes in various forms (whole, flour, protein, etc.) as main ingredients (listed within the first 10 ingredients in the ingredient list, before vitamins and minerals),” via FDA.

“The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) and the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network (Vet-LIRN), a collaboration of government and veterinary diagnostic laboratories, continue to investigate this potential association.”

Golden Retriever pet parents need to recognize the importance of feeding a high-quality dog food formula. Today, with numerous excellent choices, knowing what to look out for when choosing the Best Dog Food for Your Golden is important.


How to Select the Right Dog Food Formula for Your Golden Retriever?


Image Credit: Pixaby

All dog food formulas are regulated by the FDA and the U.S. This provides protection to pet parents and pooch. A high-quality dog food depends on the ingredients within the dog food.

Today, dog food formulas are always changing so as to update current formulas with new research. There are also numerous high-quality dog food formulas to choose from, which makes it all the more difficult for pet parents.

There are also many alternative meat options for protein-focused nutrition that offer duck, alligator, venison, rabbit and boar supplemented with chickpeas, sweet potatoes or lentils.

So How Do You Choose The BEST Food for Your Golden Retriever?

In a recent 2019 FDA dog food update about grain-free dog food that contained legume seeds, lentils, potatoes or peas as main ingredients, dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs was linked to grain-free dog food formulas.

Dilated cardiomyopathy is becoming more common in dogs on grain-free diets that as a breed are not predisposed to DCM. This includes the Golden Retriever!

In grain-free formulas there is often a high level of potato. FDA medical records indicate that dogs with DCM had low levels of taurine which may result in DCM. Dogs fed diets that included exotic proteins, and that were grain-free resulted in higher rates of DCM.

Here’s what the FDA had to say. “To better characterize diets reported in DCM cases, product labels were examined to determine whether the product was grain-free (did not contain corn, soy, wheat, rice, barley or other grains), and whether the products contained peas, other lentils including chickpeas and beans, or potatoes (including sweet potatoes).  Because so many products contained peas and/or lentils, a category was created for “peas and/or lentils”. More than 90 percent of products were “grain-free”, and 93 percent of reported products had peas and/or lentils.  A far smaller proportion contained potatoes,” via FDA

“Animal protein sources in the reported diets varied widely, and many diets contained more than one protein source.  The most common proteins in the reported diets were chicken lamb and fish; however, some diets contain atypical protein sources such as kangaroo, bison or duck. No one animal protein source was predominant.”

Video credit: AAFCO

Here’s What Petfoodology, Tufts, had to Say:

“However, recently, some astute cardiologists noticed higher rates of DCM including Golden retrievers and in some atypical dog breeds.  They also noticed that both the typical and atypical breeds were more likely to be eating boutique or grain-free diets, and diets with exotic ingredients- kangaroo, lentils, duck, pea, fava bean, buffalo, tapioca, salmon, lamb, barley, bison, venison, and chickpeas.  Even some vegan diets have been associated.  It has even been seen in dogs eating raw or home-prepared diets,” via Dr. Lisa Freeman, DVM, PhD, DACVN, Tufts University. (Petfoodology blog)

What Does Cummings Veterinary Medical Center, Tufts Suggest You Do?

“Reconsider your dog’s diet. If you’re feeding a boutique, grain-free, or exotic ingredient diets, I would reassess whether you could change to a diet with more typical ingredients made by a company with a long track record of producing good quality diets.  And do yourself a favor –  stop reading the ingredient list!  Although this is the most common way owners select their pets’ food, it is the least reliable way to do so.  And be careful about currently available pet food rating websites that rank pet foods either on opinion or on based on myths and subjective information. It’s important to use more objective criteria (e.g., research, nutritional expertise, quality control in judging a pet food). The best way to select what is really the best food for your pet is to ensure the manufacturer has excellent nutritional expertise and rigorous quality control standards,” via Tufts.

Consult with your veterinarian for the best advice for dog food formulas for your Golden. Watch your Golden Retriever closely for signs of DCM if he or she has been on a grain-free diet.

Symptoms of DCM may include the following:

  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Shortness of breath
  • Inability to exercise
  • Fainting
  • Coughing

If your Golden Retriever shows any signs of DCM, consult immediately with your veterinarian. Improvements in DCM take from 3-6 months. Your veterinarian may recommend taurine supplementation. It’s always best to consult with a veterinary cardiologist if your Golden Retriever has DCM.

“Nutritional research indicates that taurine is generally not considered an essential amino acid for dogs, because these animals can synthesize taurine from cysteine and methionine. Nearly all the grain-free products had methionine-cystine values above the minimum nutritional requirement of 0.65 percent for adult maintenance food for dogs published in the AAFCO Official Publication (OP),” via FDA

Taurine Deficiency in Golden Retrievers

“Past publications and research suggest that Golden Retrievers may be genetically predisposed to taurine deficiency, which is well-documented as potentially leading to DCM,” via FDA.

“Veterinary cardiologist Dr. Joshua Stern from the University of California at Davis has been studying the rise in cases of DCM in Golden Retrievers, including a potential dietary link. Many cases of DCM in Golden Retrievers are taurine-deficient.

Pet owners who suspect their Golden Retrievers may be affected may wish to consult their veterinarian to discuss checking taurine levels or conducting an echocardiogram.”

For more on this, visit:

Expert Tips for Canine Nutritional Management

  • Understand your Golden’s activity level
  • Age plays a role when choosing a formula
  • Your dog’s breed needs to be taken in to consideration
  • Assess your dog’s medical condition
  • Consult with your veterinarian for the best nutritional advice
  • Look for brands that assist with nutritional management for dogs with medical conditions.
  • Dog food formulas need to be tested using the AAFCO feeding trial testing methods instead of by formulation
  • The nutritional adequacy statement needs to be on the label
  • The dog food formula that you choose needs to be complete and balanced
  • The formula needs to be for the correct life stage of the dog (puppyhood, adult)

When it comes to choosing the best dog food for your Golden Retriever, keep in mind that a high-quality dog food will have better results in helping to keep your Golden healthy than a lower –quality dog food.

Goldens may have diseases which are heavily impacted by their diets like inflammatory bowel disease or atopic skin diseases. These can be helped by feeding the correct diet, since Goldens with health conditions will need to follow a diet that is appropriate to their medical conditions. Always consult with your veterinarian for advice before changing diets.

Your Guide to Preventing Disease by Choosing the Best Dog Food for Your Golden Retriever

  • Stay away from artificial flavors, colors or preservatives such as propylene glycol
  • Formulas should offer real meat or chicken instead of meat meal or chicken meal
  • Must contain a good source of calcium
  • Dog food formulas must meet AAFCO nutrient requirements for the correct life stage
  • Must be manufactured by a reputable company
  • Dog food formulas should offer antioxidants, healthy ingredients, Omega 3’s, and the right amount of micro nutrients.
  • The formula should not contain hormones or steroids
  • Dog food should not be overly processed
  • Dog food formulas should state which life stage they are intended for
  • Ingredients should not contain unnamed meat sources
  • Ingredients should contain veggies and fruit

Fat-Fighting and Anti-Inflammatory Ingredients

With Goldens that are fighting chronic inflammation which may lead to arthritis, diabetes, cancer and infection, dietary factors play an important role. Feeding poor-quality dog food formulas that are highly processed may contribute to obesity and inflammation. Obesity in Goldens results from poor diets and lack of exercise. It is also connected to chronic cellular inflammation in Goldens.

Obesity in Goldens

The Golden Retriever as a breed is one of the most likely to become obese. This breed has a genetic predisposition to obesity. Today, pet obesity is an epidemic in the U.S. A 2018 survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) demonstrated that 55.8% of dogs were classified as obese or overweight.

“APOP also found pet owners and veterinary professionals were confused by conflicting pet nutritional advice and continue to struggle to help pets achieve safe and ideal weights,” via APOP.

“Veterinarians need to offer more obesity treatment options than: Feed less and exercise more.” states APOP President, veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward. “The majority of pet owners are overwhelmed with pet food choices and conflicting dietary advice and desperately want help and nutritional recommendations from veterinarians. Prescription weight loss diets” were given a 13% “very effective” rating and 14% “somewhat effective.” Further analysis of “prescription diet” revealed 50% of veterinary professionals and 70% of pet owners reported they “never tried” this weight loss method and 27% of veterinary professionals and 9% of pet owners ranked it as “very effective.”

Golden Retrievers that are overweight have an increased risk for certain diseases. These may include:

  • Urogenital disorders
  • Cardiorespiratory
  • Metabolic
  • Orthopedic
  • Endocrine
  • Body dysfunction
  • Neoplasia (cancer)

By feeding your Golden a low-quality dog food, you may also be changing the expression of obesity-related genes in your dog. The key to a healthy Golden Retriever is to feed foods that actually limit or suppress obesity which in turn helps your Golden to lose weight, and reduce the chances of obesity –related diseases. It’s also important to note your Golden Retriever’s food sensitivities, and to discuss them with a veterinarian.

Certain food intolerances may cause cellular inflammation which in turn may result in weight gain and inflammation. Most importantly, Golden pet parents need to feed the correct manufacturers feed recommendations. Don’t overfeed or underfeed. Pet parents need to take the following into consideration:

  • Golden’s age
  • Lifestyle and daily activity level (how often does your Golden exercise?)
  • Medical conditions

After taking all of these factors into account, it’s best to consult with your veterinarian for nutritional advice, most especially if your Golden is overweight. Your veterinarian will adjust the amount of daily calories for a safe and weight-loss program.

If you are unsure about your Golden’s weight check out our article – Is My Golden Retriever Overweight or Underweight?

Bonus Dog Food Ingredients to Watch Out For

Just like people, Golden Retrievers need nutritious ingredients like coconut oil, Omega -3 fatty acids, L-Carnitine, fruits and veggies. Here’s what to look for:

  • Kelp offers additional minerals and vitamins. It is also rich in calcium and maintains skin and coat health in your Golden.
  • Chelated minerals that are chemically attached to a protein, thus making them easier to digest.
  • Chicken fat provides Omega-6’s through linoleic acid.
  • Oatmeal contains B-vitamins and dietary fiber for gut health.
  • Flaxseed contains omega-fatty acids and is also rich in soluble fiber when in meal form.

Antiangiogenic Foods for Dogs

These are beneficial foods that help destroy blood vessels necessary for tumor growth and metastasis. These include:

  • Curcumin
  • Olive oil
  • Parsley
  • Pumpkin
  • Ginseng
  • Bok Choy
  • Blackberries, Blueberries, and raspberries
  • Kale
  • Apples

After reviewing over 500 cases of DCM, the FDA alerted the public as to the 16 dog food brands which resulted in the most cases of DCM. ACANA, Zignature, and Taste of the Wilde are among the brands that are mentioned. That said, we have intentionally omitted the listed dog food brands from our reviews for the time being.

Here is the list of the dog-food brands on the FDA’s DCM “POTENTIAL CONNECTION” list. “91 per cent of the products were labelled grain-free (did not contain corn, soy, wheat, rice, barley or other grains), while 93 per cent contained peas, lentils (including chickpeas and beans), or potatoes (including sweet potatoes),” via CBC news.

The brands identified include:

  • Acana
  • Zignature
  • Taste of the Wild
  • 4Health
  • Earthborn Holistic
  • Blue Buffalo
  • Nature’s Domain
  • Fromm
  • Merrick
  • California Natural
  • Natural Balance
  • Orijen
  • Nature’s Variety
  • NutriSource
  • Nutro
  • Rachael Ray Nutrish

For more information, visit:

Our Favorite Top 3 Picks for The Best Dog Food for Golden Retrievers

Royal Canine Adult Dry Dog Food Golden Retriever

30 lb. bag at Chewy.

The Royal Canine Dry Dog Food for Adult Goldens is formulated especially for Goldens 15 months and older. The formula is tailored specifically to your breeds needs according to size, breed, lifestyle and age.

Royal Canine uses essential nutrients for coat and skin health. The formula also promotes cardiac health and contains taurine, and DHA for healthy heart function. The fat and calorie content is also ideal for keeping your Golden a healthy weight, and preventing obesity.


  • Affordable
  • Scientifically formulated
  • Well-known brand
  • Educational website with great customer service
  • Effective formula for weight control in Goldens
  • Contains Taurine, EPA, and DHA to support cardiac health
  • EPA and DHA maintain coat and skin optimal health
  • Holistic
  • Contains minerals and vitamins
  • Also available for puppy, and mature life stages.
  • Works to support healthy aging and cellular growth
  • Can be purchased online, at pet stores, and from veterinary clinics.
  • Contains prebiotics for gut health.


  • Only available in chicken flavor and Goldens may become bored with the taste.
  • Contains gluten and corn
  • Contains chicken meal which is a by-product.

The Honest Kitchen Human Grade Dehydrated Organic Whole Grain Chicken Recipe

10 lb box makes 40lb of Food – Available at Chewy

The Honest Kitchen REVEL uses the dehydration method to preserve the quality of all ingredients. With the ingredients also being finely diced for easier consumption, this brand not only offers affordability, but a high-quality dog food formula.

Nutrients, phytonutrients and minerals are also well- preserved through the dehydration process with a 10 lb. box delivering up to 40 lb. of food.

All the ingredients are natural and human- grade. It is a high-quality dehydrated dog food. The website adds that that “all ingredients are guaranteed 100 percent Human Food Grade” and that it “has been the only pet food manufacturer in the U.S to have proved to the FDA that every ingredient it uses in its products are suitable for human consumption.” This dog food is easy to prepare, and easy to take along when traveling or showing with your Golden Retriever.


  • No byproducts, no fillers, no additives and no GMO ingredients
  • 100% human-grade standard
  • Available with fish, chicken, turkey, and beef options
  • Made in the U.S.A
  • Organic whole food grains like oats, barley and quinoa
  • Fresh veggies and fruits like bananas, green peas, carrots, kelp, parsley, celery and more
  • Easy- to- mix with water formula


  • Grain-free may be a problem today depending on further results from the FDA

“The Honest Kitchen foods include taurine as part of their nutritional guaranteed analysis, based on natural taurine from the meat sources, as well as an added human grade taurine supplement. Additionally, all Honest Kitchen canine diets are rich in natural sources of cysteine and methionine and neither potatoes nor legumes constitute a large portion of the diet,” The Honest Kitchen “Owners of breeds prone to DCM should consult with their veterinarian and/or board-certified veterinary cardiologist for feeding and supplementation needs.”

For more on The Honest Kitchen’s comment about DCM: click here

Purina Pro Plan SAVOR Shredded Blend with Probiotics Adult Dry Dog Food

35 lb bag & 47 lb bags available at Chewy

This brand is made with a high-quality protein, and contains probiotics for digestive and immune health. With real chicken as the first ingredient (main ingredient), vitamin A and linoleic acid for healthy skin and coat condition, Purina Pro Plan Savor is a high-quality dog food formula.


  • Live probiotics for gut health
  • Reasonably priced
  • Formulated with a high-quality protein
  • Easy-to-chew bite sized kibble mixed with small shredded pieces of chicken
  • Calcium, phosphorous and other minerals added for optimal health
  • Great website
  • Well-known and reputable dog food brand
  • Delicious flavor for picky eaters
  • Helps to maintain a healthy weight
  • Scientifically tested by veterinarians, scientists and behaviorists
  • Honest and reliable information
  • Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures to ensure a well-balanced, high-quality dog food for adult dog maintenance.


  • None

Final Thoughts

While dehydrated dog food for your Golden Retriever is an excellent option for the best dog food option, canned and dry dog foods also provide high- quality nutrition. Goldens also enjoy variety when it comes to what they eat. So be sure to provide them with fresh fruits, plain yogurt, veggies and supplements every day for optimal health!

With the huge selection of high- quality dog foods available, it’s always good to try different varieties in the same way that we try new foods. And as always, consult with your veterinarian for expert dietary advice for your furry best friend!

Find out if you Golden is underweight or overweight here.










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