How to Fatten Up a German Shepherd (15 Bulk-Up Tips)

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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?

is your german shepherd underweight
Your dog should have a trim, athletic appearance.

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.

Keep Track of Weight Gain and Loss

keep track of weight gain or loss
Use a physical calendar or your phone to keep track of your dog’s weight gain.

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).

So…

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

food with higher protein and fat
Look for foods high in protein for a healthy weight gain program.

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!

The best food for a German Shepherd to gain weight is this high protein red-meat adult formula dog food which contains 30% protein to bulk-up your German Shepherd and get them fat in a healthy manner.

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

puppy and high performance foods
If you have an adult dog, switch them to a puppy or high-performance dog food to help them gain healthy weight.

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.

If you want quality high-performance or puppy food then go with Victor Active Dog & Puppy Grain-Free dog food for a healthy way to add fat to your German Shepherd.

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 Calories Feed Dry Kibble

dry dog kibble food
Dry kibble dog food generally has more calories if you want your dog to gain weight.

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

offer an extra meal
Increase your German Shepherd’s weight by offering another meal during the day.

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

let your german shepherd free feed
GSDs don’t all eat at the same time, so find what works for your dog.

If 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.

Dogs 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 bored.

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

sit with your dog while they eat
Give your dog some company when 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

add more treats that are healthy
Avoid junk treats and pick healthy options instead.

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.

Find a healthy treat from this list of the best German Shepherd treats to help your dog’s weight gain.

Look for healthy treats and keep them to around ten percent of your dog’s daily calories. Don’t feed your GSD only treats or they will get fat instead of muscular and bulked-up.

8. Add in Healthy, Natural Foods

add in healthy snacks of natural food
Pumpkin puree (without seasonings or spices) can help an underweight German Shepherd.

It’s safe to give your dog small amounts of cooked chicken or turkey mixed with steamed sliced carrots, unflavored Greek yogurt, or canned plain pumpkin every day in addition to their normal food.

Adding these foods into their regular kibble may also entice them to eat more of their dry dog food, which can help an underweight puppy or adult.

They also add extra calories which are healthy and nutritious. Be sure to check that the foods are dog-safe and avoid anything you’re unsure of.

9. Sprinkle on Tasty Toppers

add in a healthy topper
Add a tasty topping to your GSD’s meals to get them to gain weight.

To get your dog more interested in their food, try sprinkling on a topping to their usual meals.

Toppers make your dog’s food smell more appealing and can stimulate a dog’s senses to encourage them to eat more. They’re also healthy and natural.

You can even buy healthy toppers that are easy to add. They come pre-packaged and make sprinkling them on top of your dog’s food easy and inexpensive.

You literally just sprinkle them on top of your dog’s food to entice them to eat and add extra calories. Simple.

10. Ensure Your Dog is Eating the Right Food for Their Age

ensure your german shepherd is eating the right food
There’s a big difference between puppy and adult foods.

Depending on your dog’s age you may need to switch foods.

Seniors, adults, and puppies all have various nutritional concerns.

Most commercial and pre-made dog foods specify their intended age range on the packaging and state what groups the food is aimed at feeding.

If you’re feeding your senior Shepherd adult food, you may consider changing to a more age-appropriate food with the correct nutrition made specifically for senior dogs.

And, if you’re feeding a puppy adult food then that’s not usually appropriate, so buy appropriate puppy food.

11. Make Sure You’re Feeding the Right Amount

the right dog food amount
Too little food isn’t healthy for your GSD.

Underfeeding a German Shepherd puts your dog at a serious health risk.

You need to make sure they get enough food for their age and energy needs.

This amount varies depending on the activities your dog does each day, the quality and type of food you’re feeding, and how sedentary your dog is.

Puppies generally eat almost double the number of calories an adult dog needs, so be sure to check out this post on what amount to feed a German Shepherd puppy to keep them healthy.  

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

german shepherd exercise for health
Your German Shepherd needs exercise to keep a steady weight gain.

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.

Learn what to include in your German Shepherd’s exercise workout for healthy ideas.

13. Use Appetite Stimulating Herbs

appetite stimulating herbs
Dandelion isn’t just a plant, it’s also herbal medicine.

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

include b vitamins
B vitamins can help with increasing your dog’s appetite.

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.

Offer your dog Brewer’s yeast tablets following the manufacturer’s instructions for dosing.

Brewer’s yeast also helps with skin and coat health, which may be lacking in an underweight dog.

Here are even more ideas to improve your German Shepherd’s skin and coat that are healthy and may add additional calories for weight gain.

15. Visit Your Vet Regularly

visit your vet
Always see your vet regularly.

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.

Owners who read about their German Shepherd’s health also found this post on training a GSD at home with manners helpful.