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Do you want to know how to fatten up a German Shepherd to make them gain weight in a healthy way?
Are you worried that your German Shepherd is thin and underweight and want to know how to bulk up a German Shepherd for safe weight-gain?
Don’t let your dog stay too skinny any longer—use these helpful tips to get your dog to its athletic ideal weight.
Is Your German Shepherd Underweight?
Depending on your Shepherd’s size and age, they can eat from 15 to 25 pounds of dry kibble in a week!
And that’s not including their treats.
They are large breed dogs with fast metabolisms that are active and energetic in their daily lives. It’s necessary to keep a consistent feeding schedule with suitable foods that maintain their ideal body weight and sustain their energy needs.
Fit German Shepherds may at first seem slightly underweight. They have a body shape that tucks in at the waist and their ribs aren’t visible.
They are lean, athletic dogs with a strong, firm figure and you should avoid learning how to make a German Shepherd fat.
Instead, you want to bulk-up your German Shepherd to make them fit.
But if you see their ribs protruding or their hip bones raised and easily felt when petting, this is a sign of being underweight.
You should first check with your vet for possible medical issues.
Track of Weight Gain and Loss
Begin a schedule of weekly “weigh-ins” to keep track of your German Shepherd’s weight when looking to bulk-up your dog’s body. You want to know if they are gaining weight, losing weight, or remaining the same.
This helps you to decide if your weight gain plan is working – or if you need to adjust your plan. If your dog continues losing weight or if you see a lack of progress, take your dog back to your veterinarian.
How to Bulk-Up a German Shepherd the HEALTHY way
When looking for way on how to make your German Shepherd gain weight stay away from just giving them junk food or lots of fatty products. That is NOT the right way to bulk-up your German Shepherd.
You need to see this as a long term plan and not an overnight fix to get your German Shepherd fat (and by fat, I mean bulk-up not obese or overweight).
follow these tips and keep track of your German Shepherd’s body mass to make your German Shepherd gain weight in a HEALTHY WAY.
1. Choose Foods with a Higher Protein and Fat Content
If your German Shepherd eats normally but isn’t gaining weight, you may need to switch to different food. Look for foods that have a higher percentage of fat and protein than your current food.
Adults and seniors should eat about 20 to 25 percent of their daily calories from protein and 25 to 50 percent from fats. The rest of the calories should come from carbohydrates.
Those are just the minimums, so if you aren’t feeding your German Shepherd this amount fix this issue immediately!
Keep your puppy on a puppy-formulated food until they’ve reached 80% of their adult weight. This is anywhere from 8 months to a year or longer.
2. Change to Puppy or High-Performance Food
Some adult and senior dogs’ benefit from a puppy or high-performance food. Both puppy and high-performance (also known as a working breed) food is higher in calories to support complex energy needs and sustained growth.
Test out a mixture of half of your dog’s regular food combined with half of the puppy or high-performance food to help with weight gain.
Puppy foods generally have added nutrients to support puppy growth which can help your underweight German Shepherd gain weight and fatten up in a controlled manner – which is what you want.
Mixing regular adult and puppy or high-performance food helps your GSD gain weight and fat in a regulated manner. But dogs with certain kidney problems shouldn’t eat a high protein diet – which is why it’s best to check with your vet first.
3. For More CaloriesFeed Dry Kibble
Dry kibble is denser and contains more calories than wet food because the moisture has been removed from dry foods.
Therefore, dry food has up to 4 times the number of calories as the same amount of wet food – dry kibble is a weight gaining powerhouse!
If your dog is currently eating wet
meals, then try mixing in some dry food with their wet food to help stimulate
weight gain. Wet foods may taste better to your dog, so mixing in the dry foods
with the wet still encourages your dog to eat in order to not lose more weight.
Look for dry food with higher protein and fats to encourage weight gain in a healthy manner and go with one of the foods mentioned above for fat gain that is healthy.
4. Offer an Extra Meal to Their Normal Routine
Begin by feeding your dog a bit
more of their current food spread out over one more meal per day. Add a quarter
to half a cup of extra food per meal.
You can also take their regular
feeding and the additional food and increase their feeding schedule to four
times per day, splitting the food equally at each feeding.
This routine allows your dog to space out their food more evenly, so they don’t fill up too quickly and then ignore their later meals. It’s also gentler on their stomachs and makes digestion easier since there’s less food sitting in their belly at one time.
If you want to make a German Shepherd gain weight the right way, you’re going to have to plan for multiple feedings and watch how much you feed them so they don’t get fat, but build muscle.
5. Let Your Dog Eat When They Want
your German Shepherd is picky about when they eat, then it may help to leave
food out for them all the time. This is called free feeding.
who can free feed tend to gain more weight than dogs fed on a schedule. Free
feeding allows your dog the chance to eat a little whenever they are hungry or
This type of feeding may help them eat more overall. But only use free feeding with dry food, since wet foods spoil when left out for more than a couple hours.
And remember to watch their weight gain, as a fat German Shepherd isn’t healthy.
6. Sit with Your Dog While They Eat
Some dogs simply don’t like to eat alone.
They may follow you around rather than eat when you offer their food bowl – this may be especially true of Shepherds since they tend to get fixated on their caretaker.
But, just keeping your dog company while they eat may stimulate their appetite. Find a comfortable spot to sit and wait on your dog while they eat.
Bring a book or do a quiet activity while they eat close to you. Don’t force them to eat or stick your hands in their food.
Simply sit with them and enjoy your time together while they eat.
7. Offer Treats Along with Their Regular Meals
Most treats aren’t complete in their nutrition, but
some contain extra calories with healthy ingredients that can help your German
Shepherd gain weight.
Don’t feed your dog only treats but do give your dog a few extra treats throughout the day. Keep the treats handy and offer them to help get extra calories into your dog.
While a senior GSD may eat significantly fewer calories, if they are losing weight or underweight and a vet has been consulted, they may need extra feedings or food to help them gain the weight back.
12. Stick with a Regular Exercise Program
Don’t skip on your dog’s exercise because you want them to gain more weight and think they’ll burn too much fat.
German Shepherds thrive on consistent physical activity.
Walking and swimming are activities that build muscle and are lower impact and less intense on their joints and bones. They can be done every day to keep your dog active and help them to maintain their muscle mass.
It’s important to consider if your dog is healthy enough for longer walks or swimming. But these two exercises can be performed at a lower intensity so that even older dogs and puppies can enjoy their benefits (make sure your puppy can swim first).
Keeping muscle mass is important to prevent wasting and help maintain their health and mobility, as well as their athletic appearance.
Don’t use intense exercises when your Shepherd is losing weight, as this can make matters worse!
Try walking up hills to improve muscle growth or a gentle game of tug using a spring pole in which your dog can start and stop on their own.
Some of the herbs used to increase human appetite are also safe for use in dogs. For dogs that are underweight try dandelion–the yellow flower sprouting all over lawns and fields BUT ONLY IN HERBAL FORM.
Dandelion is available in this 10-for-1 multivitamin, along with other herbal supplements to make your GSD gain weight. Follow the manufacturer’s and your vet’s advice for dosing instructions.
While a multivitamin alone won’t help an underweight German Shepherd with weight gain alone, you should include it to ensure their nutritional needs are getting met.
14. Include B Vitamins
B vitamins are natural appetite stimulants and are
readily available over the counter and online. Brewer’s yeast is a great source
of B vitamins that not only helps increase appetite but also gives more energy
to an underweight dog.
Regular vet appointments are especially important for your underweight German Shepherd.
Be sure to make good notes regarding what your feeding plan is and how your dog’s weight fluctuates.
Your vet will use your notes to help make medical adjustments, as necessary, and to give you the right tips and advice.
If your home treatments don’t work, then visit a vet immediately as your vet may need to run some tests to see if a disease or medical problem is the cause of your dog not gaining weight and being underweight.
Helping Your German Shepherd Gain Weight
Knowing how to fatten up a German Shepherd can help you and your dog achieve their ideal weight and maintain this healthy condition.
There are many reasons why your dog or puppy may not be gaining weight.
But there are also ways to help your dog at home to become healthier and have more energy.
Buy the highest quality food for your dog to keep them from losing any more weight and adjust your feeding plan by keeping track of your dog’s weight loss and gain.
Seek vet treatment if your dog doesn’t gain weight or their condition worsens.
Catherine Krasavin owns Shepherd Sense, a dog website aimed at German Shepherd owners and lovers. She has a Bachelor of Science degree, with Honors, and has been training dogs for over a decade. Catherine’s currently attending continuing education courses to keep up with the latest in animal science, as well as earning her diploma in dog training. She owns a plush coat German Shepherd who was awarded Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme Gold Award - the highest level of achievement.
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