Best Dog Foods for Golden Retrievers for Optimum Health 2019

You love your golden retriever, and what’s not to love? They make great family pets and loyal companions.

There is one thing that’s not so great about this breed, and that’s the number of common and devastating health issues that can affect them. In addition to joint diseases, allergies, and eye disorders, around 60% of American goldens will die from cancer.

If you’re serious about helping your golden stay as healthy as possible, you need to start with the very basics, and that includes providing the best diet for your individual dog. Read on to find out what the best dog food for golden retrievers is and how you can use diet to help them live a cancer-free life.

Common Golden Retrievers Health Problems

No one wants to think about the diseases and illnesses that are likely to affect their dogs, but as a golden owner, these are likely something you will likely have to face someday.

Like many retriever breeds, joint issues like hip and elbow dysplasia are common. They can also suffer from eye problems and seizures.

These beautiful blond’s can have skin problems as well. These issues can even effect that luxurious coat causing it to look dull and dry.

Golden’s are also prone to several different kinds of cancer, including mast cell tumors, lymphoma, and hemangiosarcoma, according to petmd.com. American goldens, in particular, seem to be cursed with incredibly high rates of cancer.

Luckily, many of these issues can be delayed or prevented altogether with a quality, balanced diet.

How Diet Can Keep Your Golden at Their Best

If you’re wondering where to start in keeping your golden healthy, take a look at your pup’s waistline. Just like in humans, obesity appears to be a major factor in dogs developing cancer and joint issues.

Animals on restricted calorie diets develop cancer at much lower rates than those with less-regulated calorie intake. Scientists believe this has a lot to do with the inflammatory effect fat cells have on the body.

This same inflammation affects joints and skin as well, leading to higher incidents of red, irritated skin and dull coats and lameness as your golden ages,

For dogs, inflammation can also be caused by excess carbohydrates in the diet. Glucose, a product of carbohydrate digestion, fuels the growth of tumors in particular.

Dogs, who are natural carnivores, aren’t built to process carbs, further adding to the inflammatory process of these kinds of foods.

To help fight your golden’s predisposition to cancer and joint disease, it is important to feed a diet that is low in carbohydrates and higher in the foods they were built to digest: protein and fats. Omega-3 fats, in particular, have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body and support skin and coat health as well as joint health.

Everyone knows about the common anti-inflammatory foods recommended for humans like blueberries and leafy greens. The antioxidant-rich foods are also great choices for your golden, just be sure to avoid starchy plant foods like potatoes, as these are high in cancer-feeding sugars.

Choosing a Quality Diet for Your Golden

Are you wondering if your golden’s current diet is helping them stay as healthy as it could? When picking a new diet for your golden retriever, there are a number of things you should look for.

Because of their increased risk of cancer, it is important to find a food that is high in quality protein and low in starchy carbs. High-fat foods are also great for helping your golden maintain a shiny, healthy coat.

But not all fats are created equal and the amount of different omegas matters. Omega-3’s are anti-inflammatory while omega-6’s aren’t.

The body needs both of these fats to stay healthy, but consuming them in the right ratio is key to your golden achieving optimal vitality.

What to Look for in Your Golden’s New Diet:

  • 30% or more protein
  • 15% to 30% fat
  • 4 to 1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids
  • Very low in starchy carbs

Reviews of The Best Dog Foods for Golden Retrievers

#1. Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Stella’s Super Dinner

Best Overall

Stella & Chewy’s Freeze Dried Dinners
Score: (5/5)

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Nutrient-dense freeze-dried diet with 95% animal ingredients to help your golden avoid inflammatory diseases.
Pros

95% animal ingredients

Very high protein and fat

Very low carb

Cons

Omega ratio not listed

Pricey

First up on our list of the best foods for golden retrievers is Stella & Chewy’s freeze-dried dinners. This amazing line of foods tops our list for their ultra-high animal sourced protein and natural, raw nutrition.

When looking for a diet to combat cancer growth and other major health problems, it is vitally important to find one that is not overly processed and does not contain any oxidative ingredients. The best dog food brands for golden retrievers are those that offer freeze-dried raw formulas.

And the Stella & Chewy brand is one of the best.

To start, this food is available in 11 meat flavors. Not only does this provide the opportunity to feed your dog a rotating variety of quality diets, but it means you can easily find a great diet for your dog even if they have allergies to multiple protein sources.

For that reason, and because all these diets are grain free, we consider this one of the best dog foods for golden retrievers with skin allergies.

But what truly sets this food apart is that all flavors contain an impressive 95% animal ingredients. That doesn’t leave much room at all for inflammation-causing carbohydrates.

The amount of protein in each flavor varies, but all contain somewhere between 38% and 48% with around 30% to 40% fat.

What this food does not contain is any starchy or protein-dense plant material. There are, however, a handful of nutritious, antioxidant plant ingredients like kale, cranberries, and beats.

Like most freeze-dried diets, all this quality will cost you. But what’s a little money if it means keeping your golden healthy for the long run?

#2. Primal Freeze Dried Dog Food Beef Formula

Runner Up

Primal Freeze Dried Beef Formula
Score: (5/5)

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High-protein, nutrient-dense, low-carb freeze-dried diet to keep your golden healthy.
Pros

High in animal-sourced protein and fat

Low carb

Quality ingredients

Cons

Omega ratio not listed

Pricey

We just can’t get enough of protein-packed, nutrient-dense freeze dried foods! That’s why our second choice is Primal’s freeze-dried beef diet.

Like Stella & Chewy’s, this food contains an impressive amount of protein and fat, with 48% protein and 38% fat. The only reason this food scores lower than our number one choice is because only 77% of the ingredients are animal-sourced.

Still, this food packs an impressive nutrient punch sure to keep your golden healthy and happy for years to come.

Like our first choice, this freeze-dried diet contains no grains and only a handful of non-starchy, antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruit. This is one of the best foods you can feed your dog to help them live disease free without actually preparing a raw diet yourself.

Like all freeze-dried foods, this diet is expensive. If your budget doesn’t allow you to feed this food exclusively, it’s super-dense nutritional profile still makes it a great choice to use as a meal topper in addition to a lower priced, quality dry food.

#3. ORIJEN Dry Dog Food, Original, Biologically Appropriate & Grain Free

Best Dry Food

Orijen Original Dog Food
Score: (5/5)

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High-protein dry food diet with 85% animal ingredients and optimal omegas for retriever health.
Pros

85% animal ingredients 

High protein

Optimal omega ratio

Cons

Contains some starch

More processed than freeze-dried diets

Pricey

Our third choice food for golden retrievers is a traditional dry kibble with a focus on the carnivorous dog’s ancestral diet. Orijen’s original formula is the perfect food for owners who feel more comfortable feeding dry food but still want high meat and nutrient content.

This food contains as much protein as some of the Stella & Chewy flavors at 38%. But what really makes this dry food stand out is the list of 15 animal-sourced foods that top the ingredient list.

Most dry dog foods you’ll find contain at most five meat ingredients, with many containing two or less. That’s why we consider this food the best dry dog food for golden retrievers.

Unlike freeze-dried diets, dry kibble requires some starch in order to hold shape during processing. This food gets its starch from lentils, beans, and peas.

While these foods do play some role in the total protein content, this food contains 85% animal ingredients. So even though this food does contain a long list of plant ingredients, their total contribution to the end product is relatively low.

Another thing we love about this food is the optimal omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. At just under four to one, this food contains the perfect amount of anti-inflammatory, healthy fats to keep your golden’s body and coat healthy.

At the higher end of the price spectrum, this food will cost you less than a freeze-dried diet but is still somewhat expensive.

#4. ORIJEN Dry Dog Food, Puppy Large, Biologically Appropriate & Grain Free

Best Puppy Food

Orijen Large Breed Puppy
Score: (5/5)

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High-protein, large breed puppy formula with 85% animal ingredients for growing golden puppies.
Pros

Large breed puppy-specific formula

85% animal ingredients

Optimal omega ratio

Cons

Contains some starch

More processed than freeze-dried diets

Pricey

We love the Orijen brand so much that we recommend it for golden retrievers of all ages! Their large breed puppy formula is one of the best foods for golden retriever puppies.

Because golden retrievers reach an adult weight between 55 and 75lbs, it is recommended that golden puppies eat a large breed puppy foods. These foods contain specific amounts of protein, phosphorus, and calcium to support proper bone growth in these large breed dogs.

In addition to optimal nutrient levels, Orijen’s puppy food also contains an impressive 38% protein from a long list of animal sources, including chicken, turkey, fish, and eggs. Like the adult recipe, this one also contains some lentils, beans, and peas, but because plant ingredients only make up 15% of the total, this food still has a relatively low starch content.

Also like the adult formula, this food contains an optimal ratio of omega-6’s and omega-3’s. This is especially important in a puppy food since these healthy fats support cognitive development as well as a healthy body.

With all these benefits and 85% animal-sourced ingredients, this food is easily one of the best dog foods for golden retriever puppies.

This food is priced similar to the adult formula, but well worth the extra investment to get your golden started out on the right paw.

#5. Victor Classic – Hi-Pro Plus, Dry Dog Food

Most Affordable

Victor Classic Hi-Pro Plus
Score: (4.5/5)

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High-protein, high-fat dry food with quality ingredients to keep goldens healthy.
Pros

High protein and fat

Affordable

Quality ingredients

Cons

Contains grains

More processed than freeze-dried diets

Lower in animal-sourced ingredients

You don’t have to sacrifice quality just because you have a limited budget for feeding your golden. We included Victor’s Hi-Pro dry formula on our list for its high protein content, quality ingredients, and affordability.

This food contains a nice 30% protein and 20% fat to keep your carnivore energized and healthy.

Like our number three and four picks, this is a dry food that requires starch for processing. For this recipe, the starch comes from sorghum and millet.

While these are grain ingredients, they are less likely to cause allergic reactions that more common filler grains like corn and soy. And, best of all, they have a low glycemic index, making them less likely to result in high glucose levels in the blood.

The first ingredient in this diet is beef meal. The recipe also contains pork meal, fish meal, and chicken meal which all add to the high protein and nutrient levels.

This recipe contains a slightly less optimal omega ratio at around six to one. But this is still much better than many commercial dry diets.

Best of all, this food is available for about a third of the price of our number three pick, making it an excellent choice if you’re a golden owner on a budget.

What is the Best Dog Food for Golden Retrievers?

When you consider the need for high-protein, high-fat diets rich in animal-sourced ingredients and high in nutrients, there really is one choice for the best dog food for golden retrievers. Stella & Chewy’s freeze dried dinner gives you the high animal protein and nutrient density of a raw diet without the hassle of raw meat.

This food comes in a variety of flavors with varying meat sources that provide your golden with healthy proteins and fats to keep cancer and other genetic diseases at bay. And because freeze-dried foods require less processing than kibble, you can feel confident that your dog is getting all the nutrition the package claims is in the box.

If freeze-dried foods aren’t in your price range, we also did golden retriever dog food reviews for dry kibble diets that will keep your golden healthy and happy for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will my golden gain weight on a high fat diet?
Fat contains more calories than carbs and protein, however, dogs were built to use fat as energy. As long as you keep your golden active and feed an appropriate amount, a high fat, low carb diet will provide more health benefits than detriments.
How much food should I feed?
Because excess calorie intake is associated with higher rates of cancer, it is important to feed the minimum food needed to keep your dog at a healthy weight. Talk to your vet about the exact calorie needs for your dog.
What is the best type of diet for a golden retriever?
Raw meat diets contain the highest amount of bioavailable nutrients for dogs. Freeze-dried, dehydrated, air-dried, and high animal protein kibble diets are the next best choices, in that order.

Summed Up: The Best Dog Foods for Golden Retrievers

Stella & Chewy’s Freeze Dried DinnersPrimal Freeze Dried Beef FormulaOrijen Original Dog FoodOrijen Large Breed PuppyVictor Classic Hi-Pro Plus
Features for Goldens95% animal ingredients, high-protein, low-carb, nutrient dense77% animal-sourced ingredients, high-protein and fat, low-carb, nutrient dense85% animal-sourced ingredients, high-protein, optimal omega ratio85% animal sourced ingredients for large breed puppy health with optimal omega ratioHigh-protein, high-fat diet with quality ingredients and low glycemic grains
Ingredient Quality5/55/55/55/54.5/5
Price$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Sources

  1. Gregory L. Tilford. “Essential Fatty Acids For Increased Canine Health” wholedogjournal.com, 19 April 2001.
  2. Chip Reid. “Why do so many golden retrievers get cancer? Massive study hopes to find out” cbsnews.com, 22 March 2018.
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