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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 need tips for safe weight-gain?
Don’t let your dog stay too skinny any longer—use these beneficial tips to get your dog to their 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!
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.
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. 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.
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 be eating 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.
Your puppy should be kept 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.
Mixing regular adult and puppy or
high-performance food helps your GSD gain weight 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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Look for high fat treats and keep them to around
ten percent of your dog’s daily calories.
8. Add in Healthy, Natural Foods
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 regular food, which can help an underweight puppy or adult.
They also add extra calories which are healthy and nutritious.
9. Sprinkle on Tasty Toppers
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.
10. Ensure Your Dog is Eating the Right Food for Their Age
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.
11. Make Sure You’re Feeding the Right Amount
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 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
Walking and swimming are activities that build muscle and are lower impact and less intense. 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
Keeping muscle mass is important to prevent wasting and help maintain their health and mobility. 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
Some of the herbs used to increase human appetite
are also safe for use in dogs. For dogs that are underweight try dandelion–the
same yellow flower sprouting all over lawns and fields.
Dandelion is available in a capsule form from
health food stores or online retailers. You can open the capsule and mix with
wet dog food or wrap the capsule in a small bit of cheese for a soft treat.
Chamomile, celery seed, and milk thistle may also
help to stimulate appetite in your dog. Be sure to check with your vet before
giving herbs to a sick dog.
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.
Offer your dog a Brewer’s yeast tablet 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.
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. 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.
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. Find out more at Shepherd Sense to help your dog grow strong and fit.
You need German Shepherd training to get the best behavior from your dog and enjoy a happy life with them. Read these posts to find out what type of German Shepherd training works the best for your breed.
Your German Shepherd’s health, as well as your dog’s specific breed history, contributes to their overall life span. These posts will help you become aware of your dog’s health problems and how to help solve or improve them.