Should Golden Retrievers Eat Grain Free?

Are you looking at different dog foods for your Golden Retriever?

There are so many different options of diets, even grain-free. 

You may be wondering if your Golden Retriever needs to eat grain-free food or if they should eat food with grains in order to stay healthy.

When picking out a diet for your dog, you need to consider all parts of food so that your Golden Retriever can live a long and healthy life. 

Should Golden Retrievers Eat Grain-Free Food?

Your Golden Retriever does not need grain-free foods.  Recent studies have shown that feeding a grain-free diet can lead to the development of Dilated Cardiomyopathy. While this breed is already predisposed to this disease feeding them grain-free food can cause this disease to develop even earlier.  

The FDA has been investigating a link to heart diseases such as Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) and grain-free diets. 

While DCM is not unusual to see in Golden Retrievers, dogs presented with this issue that is commonly not a breed predisposed to this issue.  

Usually, after switching back to a diet that contained grains, these dogs made full or almost full recoveries.  

What is Dilated Cardiomyopathy? 

Older Golden Retrievers can develop heart diseases as they age. 

A heart disease commonly seen in Golden Retrievers is Dilated Cardiomyopathy. 

This is when the heart gets bigger, and the muscle walls of the heart will get thinner causing their heart to not function as they should. 

As your Golden Retrievers get older, their heart may no longer pump blood correctly and function as if they should. 

Some of the most common signs seen in Golden Retrievers with heart problems are:

  • Coughing and gagging, especially after they have been outside playing 
  • Trouble breathing
  • Falling over after bouts of energy

Your vet can listen to your Golden Retriever’s heart to see if your dog has a heart murmur. 

They will also listen to their lungs since many heart diseases can cause problems with your Golden Retrievers lungs. 

A heart murmur indicates something wrong with your Golden Retriever’s heart.

If your Golden Retrievers have signs of heart disease, your vet will want to run diagnostic tests on your dog’s heart to see how it is functioning. 

The most common tests your vet may suggest you run are:

  • Chest x rays, 
  • Echocardiogram (an ultrasound of the heart), and 
  • EKG  

The test results will help your vet determine how heart disease is progressed. 

Once your vet figures out exactly what is wrong with your Golden Retriever’s heart, there are different medications that your Golden Retriever can be started on. 

These medications will help your Golden Retriever’s heartbeat more effectively and decrease any fluid in the chest and abdomen.

When would a Golden Retrievers Need to Eat a Grain-Free Diet?

Should Golden Retrievers Eat Grain Free 1 Should Golden Retrievers Eat Grain Free?

Grain-free diets are for dogs who are sensitive to different types of grains. 

Grains provide your Golden Retrievers with a good source of carbohydrates, which are needed for energy.

Grains also contain fiber, which helps your Golden Retriever’s gastrointestinal tract. 

Grains rarely cause any allergies in dogs.

What are the signs of food allergies in Golden Retrievers?

The signs of food allergies that are seen in Golden Retrievers are allergic reactions to your dog’s skin. 

You may see GI signs such as diarrhea, vomiting, and gas. 

When Golden Retrievers are allergic to the food they are eating, there are numerous symptoms that you may see. 

Common signs seen in Golden Retrievers with food allergies are:

Skin Rashes

One of the most common signs that you will see if your Golden Retrievers have a food allergy is a rash on their skin.   

The skin will have a reaction causing their skin will be red and irritated. 

This is usually a mild form of food allergy that causes a rash. 

If your Golden Retrievers have a skin rash, this does not 100% mean that they have food allergies. 

This could also be allergic to something they touched or even inhaled, causing this reaction on their skin. 

In Golden Retrievers with food allergies, the most common place for a skin rash is around their rectum. 

Hair loss

More severe food allergies will cause your Golden Retriever to lose their hair. 

Many times, this hair loss can also be due to low-quality food. 

Hair loss can be a sign of a more severe type of skin disease. 

Any time your Golden Retriever has lost hair, you should have your dog examined by a vet is recommended, as some diseases can become life-threatening. 

Ear Infection

Many food allergies cause your Golden Retriever’s ears to become inflamed and itch. 

When your Golden Retrievers are itching their ears all the time, they are harming the surface of their ears. 

This will set up the perfect place for your Golden Retrievers to develop an ear infection. 

Many times, these ear infections will be sore and painful. 

Even if you have switched their diet to a diet for food allergies, your Golden Retrievers may still need to see your vet for medication to treat their ear infection. 


If your Golden Retrievers have a food allergy, they may also develop diarrhea. 

The lining of your Golden Retriever’s intestines will become inflamed and irritated due to these allergies.

This causes the GI tract to increase its movement, leading to diarrhea. 

This type of diarrhea can often be fixed with a diet change and probiotics. 

Most Golden Retrievers with diarrhea due to food allergies will still be very happy but have a little abdominal discomfort.  


If your Golden Retrievers have a food allergy, it will cause them to have horrible gas. 

This is due to the extra bacteria that form in their GI system when the intestines become inflamed. 

Your Golden Retrievers may have gas all the time, or it just may be shortly after eating

This can even cause the whole room to smell so much that you want to leave. 

If you notice any signs and symptoms in your Golden Retrievers should see your vet. Your vet is a great place to reach out to for help to see if these issues are due to food issues or something more serious. 

What is the healthiest food for Golden Retrievers?

When looking for dog food for your Golden Retrievers, you want to get the best food that you can easily find. 

The best way for you to do this is to take some time looking at all the different diets at the pet store looking at the back of the bag. 

This is where you will find the list of the ingredients in the food. 

For an adult Golden Retrievers, you want to find a dog food that contains a great source of protein, fats, and carbohydrates.  


Proteins are essential ingredients that you need to feed your Golden Retrievers. 

A great source of protein you can feed your Golden Retrievers is lamb, chicken, beef, fish, or turkey. 

The muscles of these sources will contain the highest quality protein for your Golden Retrievers. 

It is best to feed your dog an unprocessed protein source. 

The processing methods used to make some of these foods can destroy the proteins, and your Golden Retriever will not get the full benefits of these proteins


All Golden Retrievers need a good source of carbohydrates in their diets. 

Carbs are an important ingredient in your dog’s diet to give your Golden Retrievers the energy they need. 

When it comes to your Golden Retrievers, you must be careful because there are many different types of carbohydrates. 

Some Golden Retrievers’ stomachs may have a very hard time processing some carbs, like soy and corn. 

These ingredients are found in inexpensive dog foods and are just considered filler ingredients. 

When looking for food, find a dog food with carbs that are easier to digest, like sweet potatoes and brown rice


Your Golden Retrievers will need to eat some fats. 

These fats will help your Golden Retrievers have a very shiny and healthy coat. 

When looking for dog food for your Golden Retriever, fish oils are one of the best things you can give your Golden Retrievers a healthy coat. 

Final Thoughts

While grain-free is not the best diet for your Golden Retriever, there are many great diets that you can feed them. 

It is important to find a diet with high-quality protein that is easily available for you to purchase everywhere. 

With a little time and research, you can find the perfect food for your dog that is both delicious and nutritious. 

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