If you’ve noticed that your golden retriever has put on weight lately, or you’re worried they may in the future you’re probably looking for answers about what to do. It’s great that you’re getting informed about how you can best help your pet!
Helping your fat golden retriever lose their excess weight isn’t too difficult. It just requires some knowledge and extra attention around feeding and playing.
Golden retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds and are fantastic animals to have as pets. But if your golden retriever is overweight it can be dangerous for their body and overall health.
Are Golden Retrievers Prone to Obesity?
Golden retrievers are one of the dog breeds most likely to become obese! In fact, nearly 63% of golden retrievers in the United States are overweight or obese. There can be several reasons for this excess weight gain ranging from overfeeding and lack of activity for your golden retriever to health problems such as Cushing’s disease or hypothyroidism.
It’s always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian to find the cause of your golden retriever being overweight and to rule out any of these health issues.
How Do I Know If My Golden Retriever Is Overweight?
Most of the time it will be fairly apparent if your golden retriever has lost weight, especially if it has happened suddenly. But if you’re not sure if your golden retriever is overweight a general rule of thumb is to feel their ribs.
Use gentle pressure and start at the chest and work down your golden retriever’s body to the waist. If you can’t feel all of their ribs or the waist isn’t indented, these are signs your golden retriever is overweight and you need to take action now.
What’s A Golden Retrievers Ideal Weight?
Typically, full-grown (two years and older) male golden retrievers weigh between 65 and 75 pounds, while females will weigh 55 to 65 pounds.
Increased Health Risks for Fat Golden Retrievers
If your golden retriever is overweight — even by as little as a few pounds — it can put extra stress on their joints, tendons, and ligaments. This can lead to dangerous strains and other injuries — which would lead to your golden retriever being more sedentary while they recover, and therefore at increased risk for major health conditions.
Golden retrievers are already prone to elbow and hip dysplasia which can worsen if they are overweight and putting more strain on these already painful joints.
In addition to putting undue pressure on their bodies, being overweight can also increase the risk of your golden retriever developing some serious diseases and other health issues such as:
- High blood pressure
- Heart issues
- Respiratory diseases
- Digestive disorders
- Weakened immune system
- Certain types of cancer
- Kidney and liver disease
- Heat intolerance
In many cases, if your golden retriever is obese even simply laying down can prove to have health consequences! They will often form sores and have thickened skin on their joints because of the extra pressure they have there when laying down. These can be extremely painful for your dog and can lead to infections and other complications.
Helping Your Fat Golden Retriever Lose Weight
One important thing to remember is that it’s not your golden retriever’s fault they’re fat! They will happily eat what you give them — including treats and table scraps — until they’re gone. And they’re quite happy to lay around unless they’re taken for walks or engage in other forms of exercise.
And if it’s not a case of overeating or lack of exercise which is making your golden retriever fat, it could be an underlying health condition. Luckily, most of these conditions are fairly easy to heal or manage.
It’s important to consult with a veterinarian who can assess your golden retriever for any health conditions and give you some advice on how to get started helping your dog lose weight. Here’s some general advice:
Calculate Daily Calorie Intake
It’s generally recommended that a daily calorie intake of between 989 and 1,272 is ideal for an older, more sedentary golden retriever who may already have some joint conditions, and a daily calorie intake of between 1,353 and 1,740 for golden retrievers who are younger and generally more active on a daily basis.
Talk to your veterinarian to double-check which range your golden retriever fits into, and for advice on which food is best to feed your dog.
Most dog food comes with calorie counts on their bag or website so you can use this as a general guideline. It should also tell you their recommendations for how often to feed. If the bag of food you have bought invest in a measuring cup or small scale to make sure you’re not overfeeding your golden retriever.
Remember to take into consideration the calorie counts all food sources — dry food, wet food, and any treats given. And always remember to offer your golden retriever plenty of fresh, clean water.
When your golden retriever is a puppy you should indulge in plenty of floor time with them — rolling balls they can fetch, and taking them for walks. Your older golden retriever will also benefit from playing fetch but outside where the balls can be thrown further, as well as walks. Older golden retrievers will also benefit from swimming which they naturally love, and which will help their joints.
No matter which activities you choose it’s most beneficial for your golden retriever to have several play sessions in one day instead of one larger one.
As you may imagine it can be difficult to weigh your full-grown golden retriever — it’s not exactly easy for them to fit onto your home scale. But monitoring their weight is important to make sure they are losing weight gradually and consistently.
Most veterinary offices will allow you to drop by every so often to get your dog weighed by the staff, or they may be able to direct you to other places in your community where you can do so.
Monitoring your dog for signs of weight loss at home is easy too. As we mentioned above, you can feel their ribs and their waist on a weekly basis to note some signs of weight loss progress.
Cut Out Treats
If you’ve been giving your golden retriever table scraps — stop now! Not only are certain foods poisonous for dogs or could prove to be a choking hazard, but table scraps are a big part of what can make your golden retriever overweight.
Even proper dog treats are often high in calories and fat, which can be making your golden retriever overweight. If you still would like to give your dog treats find ones lower in calories and limit them to only a few once or twice a week.
Set a Schedule
You likely pour food into your golden retriever’s dish whenever you notice it’s empty. But instead of doing this, feed your dog on a schedule. Once or twice a day is enough. Check with your veterinarian or look at the bag of food for feeding guidelines and follow them.
And if your golden retriever isn’t getting enough exercise, set a schedule for that too. You need to ensure your dog is being walked and getting enough playtime on a daily basis. Schedule in times for this so this time doesn’t get missed.