Starting your new Golden Retriever puppy out on the right foot by feeding him properly will help him grow to be a happy, healthy adult. Puppies receive their nutrients from the mother until they’re about 7 weeks old. But at about three weeks, it’s time to start giving them puppy food that has been soaked and mixed to a thin paste that resembles the food they get from mom. The breeder should have started this process before you pick up your new Golden Retriever puppy.
Before you bring your new puppy home, be sure to find out exactly what food he’s been given and the times he’s been fed. Because puppy stomachs are very sensitive, it’s important to continue the same regimen. When you begin to change to a more mature diet, gradually transition from 25% new mix with 75% of the old diet to the opposite (75% new and 25% old) over a ten-day period. This will give your puppy time to adjust to the new diet without undue discomfort or digestive problems.
When your Golden Retriever puppy is at least 8 weeks old, it is acceptable to separate him from his mother and bring him home to meet his new family. At first, your new puppy may not show much interest in eating. Changes this big can be very stressful. Don’t force him to eat. Once he figures out he doesn’t have to fit his brothers and sisters to get his fair share, he’ll become more curious and hungry. So don’t worry if he only sniffs and nibbles at first.
Puppies need twice the nutrients that adult Golden Retrievers need to stay healthy. Don’t be tempted to use too many treats with your Golden Retriever puppy, as they do not contain enough nutrients for his healthy growth. For the fist few weeks, stick to the type of food and the same feeding schedule as he was getting from the breeder. It’s hard for a new Golden Retriever puppy to adjust to changes, and maintaining a stable schedule with familiar food will be a nice balance to the shock of new surroundings and people. During the transition to the new food, watch closely for vomiting, loose stool or constipation. If these occur, slow down the transition until your Golden Retriever puppy adjusts and can eat without becoming upset or ill.
Professionals recommend that puppies should eat three times a day until they are about six months old. But it’s a good idea to take the puppy to your vet as soon as you can. Get him checked out, and discuss diet and nutrition with your vet. Your vet will be able to give you tips on appropriate weights so that you can avoid over- or under-feeding your new Golden Retriever puppy.
The feeding schedule will, of course, be largely determined by your own schedule. But set regular times, and stick to them. Your new Golden Retriever puppy need stability, and sticking to a set schedule will help you with house-training, as his bathroom habits will be regular and predictable. Be sure to provide ample water during and after his meals. Set aside some quiet time for your puppy after meals to avoid stomach problems. Expect your puppy to need to go to the bathroom within an hour or so. Ask the kids not to play with the puppy for the first hour to hour-and-a-half after he eats.
When your Golden Retriever puppy has learned to sleep through the night, make it a habit to take him outside for a potty break each morning. Then feed him, allowing for about an hour of quiet time afterward. Stick to your feeding schedule as much as you possibly can. You should schedule the last feeling at last an hour or so before you plan to go to bed so that you can give him a potty break before everyone settles in for a good night’s rest. Until your Golden Retriever puppy is house-broken, provide puppy pads or newspapers near (not in) his sleeping area in case he can’t wake you up for a trip outside.
By the time your Golden Retriever is 8 to 10 weeks old, he should be on a diet of dry dog food. You can add a little warm water to make it more appetizing, but don’t use canned or moist dog food. These are mostly water and not nearly as nutritious as the dry foods. The warm water will encourage your Golden Retriever puppy to eat all his food, though you may need to sit with him and add more warm water a little at a time. From three to six months, your Golden Retriever puppy will be teething. He may appear to be sick, but unless it lasts over two days, don’t worry. It’s growing pains.
Never feed your puppy table scraps. They are likely to upset his stomach, and they are not the food he needs at this stage of his growth. As your puppy grows, his stomach will grow, and he’ll eat more. At about six months, you should begin to feed him twice a day, in the morning and at night, but continue to use a diet of puppy food. Being larger dogs, you may want to keep your Golden Retriever on puppy food well into his second year. But you should reduce feeding to once per day, always offering plenty of water during and after his meal. When you do switch to adult dog foods, be sure to select aquality brand with adequate nutrition for your Golden Retriever.
If you follow these guidelines and show your new Golden Retriever plenty of love and affection, you’ll give him a great start to a long, happy, healthy lifetime with your family. He’ll be a valuable and beloved member of your family for years.