What Do I Feed My Underweight German Shepherd?

What Do I Feed My Underweight German Shepherd?

We get a lot of questions from German Shepherd owners about how to keep weight on their pups. Chronically skinny, underweight Shepherds can be heartbreaking for an owner who is desperate to put weight on them. The most common questions we hear are: “My Shepherd is looking too skinny, why?" or "My shepherd is experiencing regular bouts of diarrhea and/or vomiting, why?" or "I’ve been feeding him more food than his recommended size and I still can’t get him to gain any weight. What do I do?”

Not only does this problem tend to be breed-specific, it often relates to your dog’s pancreatic function. (Schnauzers can have this problem too). So what is it?

Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency or EPI is a condition in which the pancreas is not able to produce adequate enzymes to digest and absorb food properly. To determine if this is the case with your shepherd, make an appointment with your veterinarian and request some blood testing. Shepherds are also susceptible to pancreatitis so it's important that you think preventatively!

So what can you do if your shepherd has EPI? Your first line of defense as a pet owner is choosing the type of food and supplements you put into your shepherd.

Here are 6 tips to help your dog’s digestive system function better. Try the following:

  1. Provide as many dietary enzymes as possible. Our recommendation is by feeding a raw diet. Raw meat, bones, organs, and juiced veggies combined will contain all the necessary enzymes for better digestive function. By relieving the pancreas of having to produce additional enzymes you can prevent pancreatic inflammation (Pancreatitis). Shepherds that are fed only processed or cooked diets are often missing these vital nutrients. Suggestion: A rotation of our 3P veggies # 1 and # 4 is a great way to give natural-source vitamins and minerals as well as metabolic support for a dog suffering from a pancreatic disease.

  2. This may be a bit gross for some, but excellent for your pup! Add a good portion of raw, green tripe to the diet. Green tripe, an animal stomach that smells horrible, but it works! If fed raw (not canned) it contains the highest levels of digestive enzymes available in a natural form. Wild canines eat the stomach of their prey first because of this fact. Your shepherd will benefit too. 200 g or more daily will help increase his digestive function. Us it as a supplement on top of regular food portions. Ensure you are purchasing freshly frozen, grass-fed tripe.

  3. Provide a canine-specific digestive enzyme supplement that includes ox bile and a variety of other digestive enzymes. This will also provide some extra digestive support. Start slowly and build up to a full dosage if your shepherd is experiencing regular diarrhea.

  4. Provide a pre/probiotic supplement. Keeping the gut flora in good working order will help your dog to absorb as many nutrients as possible. Good bacteria in the gut will also help with enzyme production, so don't leave the good bacteria out! Look for canine-specific, high potency, multi-strain probiotics with a pre-biotic added.

  5. Feed a lean, low-fat raw diet. High-fat diets can overwork the pancreas and the liver and are not recommended for shepherds with EPI or other pancreatic dysfunction. High-quality lean protein will help pack on the pounds for shepherds having difficulty gaining weight. Steer clear of lamb, duck, and other naturally high-fat meats. Lean meats with no higher than 8% fat are ideal. Suggestion: 3P’s lean meat options: turkey with bone, goat, venison, rabbit, and kangaroo are the leanest.

  6. Cook yams or squash to add as low-glycemic carbohydrates. About ½-1 cup per day. This can help young, active/working shepherds who need a little more bulk to their diet without adding extra fat. Cooked yams and squash are more nutritious and easier to digest than other forms of carbohydrate, such as rice or oatmeal. Also yams and squash pair better with the digestibility of raw foods. Remove the skin, unless vegetables are organic then you can keep the skins on.

Make all dietary changes slowly and add one thing at a time. 

Categories: dogs

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