Golden Retriever Health Care & Feeding
By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2018
Quick list of Golden Retriever health problems
Cancer is nearly an epidemic in Golden Retrievers, with about 50% of the breed developing cancer. It's easily the leading cause of death, which often occurs in middle age. Cancer treatment is very expensive.
Skin problems are also rampant, with about 50% affected by some form of skin condition. Growths, cysts, tumors, seborrhea, and especially chronic allergies, which cause itchy skin that can morph into a bacterial or yeast infection. Chronic ear infections are also common.
Golden Retrievers suffer from high rates of hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia, which can be painful and crippling. Goldens are very prone to tearing the ligaments in their hind legs. All of these orthopedic problems can require expensive surgery.
Hereditary eye diseases, especially cataracts, can cause blindness. Epilepsy and several different heart diseases are major health problems in Golden Retrievers.
Thyroid disease. Megaesophagus. Myasthenia gravis. Laryngeal paralysis....
(See more health problems below.)
Preventing health problems
Some health problems are inherited. For example, if both parents of your Golden Retriever have certificates proving they were tested and cleared of hereditary eye diseases, heart diseases, and hip and elbow dysplasia, your Golden Retriever has less risk of developing those conditions.
Other health problems can be prevented, or partially prevented, by the ways you raise your dog. If you're serious about doing everything you can for your Golden Retriever, my best-selling book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to raise your Golden Retriever puppy (or adult dog) in all the right ways. It will help you be your dog's health care champion!
Here are my dog health tips for raising a healthy Golden Retriever puppy or adult dog:
Dog Health Care – The Sensible Way
Read my advice on daily health care so your Golden Retriever lives a long, healthy life and seldom needs to see the vet.
The Best Dog Food For Feeding Your Golden Retriever
Food is the #1 foundation for good health. The best diet for feeding your dog is real food. Real chicken, turkey, beef, fish....these are not just "people foods" and I'll tell you why.
Kibble or Canned Dog Food – Almost As Good As Homemade?
Are you looking for the best dry kibble or canned dog food?
Feed Homemade Dog Food Without Needing To Make It
Would you like to feed your dog homemade, but think you don't have the time or skill to make it? I have the solution for you....
Should You Buy Pet Insurance? An Honest Review
My advice on the pros and cons of pet insurance, and the best pet insurance company I've found.
Vaccinations and Booster Shots: Needed or Not?
How many vaccinations does your Golden Retriever puppy really need? Does your adult Golden need yearly booster shots? The vaccination guidelines have changed! Find out what some vets aren't telling you.
Spaying Your Female Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of spaying your female dog.
Neutering Your Male Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of neutering your male dog.
The Type of Veterinarian I Recommend
Is your veterinarian really the best choice for your dog? Learn about the differences between vets who practice conventional, holistic, and alternative veterinary medicine.
Assisi Loop Review: How I Helped Treat Inflammation and Pain
Does your dog suffer from arthritis, hip dysplasia, disk disease, colitis, a skin wound? My honest review of a veterinary device you can use at home to help reduce inflammation and pain.
Complete list of Golden Retriever health problems
The Golden Retriever Club conducted a health survey that included nearly 1500 Goldens and concluded that 1 of every 2 Golden Retrievers will develop cancer. Hemangiosarcoma is the most common cancer in Goldens, followed by lymphosarcoma, mastocytoma, and osteosarcoma. In the club survey, 65% of the Goldens who died at 3-8 years old died of cancer. 70% of the Goldens who died at 8-13 years old died of cancer.
Skin diseases are also rampant, with 1 of every 2 Goldens developing some type of skin condition, especially allergies, which cause itchy skin and often lead to bacterial skin infections (pyoderma). Other skin diseases in Goldens include seborrhea, sebaceous adenitis, and lick granuloma. Non-tumorous growths (sebaceous cysts and lipomas) are frequently found on Golden Retrievers.
Golden Retrievers suffer from high rates of hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. The Orthopedic Foundation of America evaluated the hip X-rays of 148,000 Golden Retrievers and found 20% dysplastic. That's bad, and the true rate is even higher because most of the obviously bad X-rays were not sent in for official evaluation. Over 42,000 elbow X-rays were evaluated and 11% were dysplastic, with the true rate even higher. For comparison, Flat-Coated Retrievers have a 4% hip dysplasia rate and less than 1% elbow dysplasia rate.
Other common orthopedic health problems in Goldens include luxating patella (loose knees), osteochondritis, panosteitis, and cruciate ligament rupture.
Heart disease (especially sub-aortic stenosis and cardiomyopathy) is a major problem in Goldens, with up to 15% of the breed affected by some form of heart problem.
Epilepsy (seizures) is a major concern in Golden Retrievers, with an estimated 7% of the breed affected.
Cataracts are the most common eye disease in Goldens, with up to 13% of the breed affected. Cataracts can occur in Golden Retriever puppies or in middle-aged dogs and may or may not lead to blindness.
Eyelash abnormalities and an eyelid abnormality called entropion are common in Goldens. More serious eye diseases such as glaucoma, retinal dysplasia, and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) can also occur.
Hormonal/endocrine diseases include hypothyroidism (the Michigan State University Thyroid Database reports up to 18% of Golden Retrievers have low thyroid levels), Cushing's disease, and occasionally diabetes.
von Willebrand's blood-clotting disease occurs regularly.
As with all deep-chested breeds, Golden Retrievers are at higher-than-normal risk for the emergency gastrointestinal syndrome called bloat.
Ear infections are common in Goldens due to all the hair inside the ear canal.
Other Golden Retriever health problems include autoimmune hemolytic anemia, megaesophagus, myasthenia gravis, laryngeal paralysis, and liver shunt.
Goldens are prone to losing pigment on their nose in the winter – this is usually a harmless condition called "snow nose". Also note that many Goldens turn white around their muzzle at a fairly young age, and this is normal for the breed.
To help you train and care for your dog
To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.