You can certainly tell the difference between a healthy German Shepherd and an unhealthy one. A healthy German Shepherd not only has bright, alert eyes and a shiny coat, but also a ton of energy. The good health of your dog comes from many factors, including genetic, environmental, as well as nutritional factors. The saying of “You are what you eat” is just as applicable to your German Shepherd as it is applicable to you. Indeed, there are many similarities between the German Shepherd diet and the human diet. Just like yourself, if continuously fed “junk food,” your German Shepherd will start developing health problems given that proper nutrition is required to maintain a healthy immune system. Also, because of this, a proper German Shepherd diet and sufficient nutrition will ensure a longer life expectancy.
In this article, we’ll be going over 10 essential German Shepherd diet tips that every dog owner should take into account in order to ensure the health of their German Shepherd dog or puppy.
1) Always Question What You See in Dog Food Advertisements
The dog food industry is a huge industry in the United States and there is tremendous amounts of competition among manufacturers. While advertisements often show a project the image of a healthy and happy dog, it is important to remind oneself that the goal of these companies is to make profit. In other words, dog consumers should be wary of the product that is trying to be sold to them. And no, we do not mean that dog food manufacturers are not providing the nutrition that your dog needs; it is just wise for dog owners to have the goal of selecting the best dog food for their German Shepherd.
At this point, you’re probably asking, why would one need to be so careful in buying only dog food? Well, if you recall, in 2007, there were massive dog food recalls as they were contaminated with melamine. This resulted in many pets having kidney failures, loss of appetite, lethargy, depression, vomiting and diarrhea. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received reports of approximately 8,500 animal deaths. If you’re up for it, here is where you can find more information on the 2007 pet food recalls. It is therefore important to check dog food labels and consult dog food experts, such as your veterinarian to ensure that your German Shepherd gets all the essential nutrition he needs. To ensure that you are feeding your German Shepherd high-quality food, make sure that the food contains sufficient amounts of protein, carbohydrates and fats. One thing that dog owners can do is to read the list of ingredients. If one of the first ingredients listed is a by-product such as kidneys, bone, stomach, intestines, and spleen, it should be a red flag. Certain dog food manufacturers meet protein requirements by including by-products. However, these by-products are protein that do not metabolize as well as muscle meat in the dog’s body. German Shepherds do well on dog food that uses muscle meat as the first/primary ingredient.
2) Dogs Can Eat Healthy Human Food
You can certainly feed your German Shepherd with healthy foods such as meat, bread, certain fruits and vegetables as treats. One reason to do this is that fresh foods contain natural enzymes that processed foods such as commercial dog foods don’t have. Be sure that human food does not account for more than 15% of your German Shepherd’s diet, given that more human food could upset your dog’s balance of nutrients.
3) If Commercial Dog Foods Don’t Work for You, Go With Homemade Dog Diets
There are certain German Shepherds who have allergic reactions to a number of things which are often found in commercial dog food, such as wheat, beef, and lamb. Dog owners of such dogs admit that it’s certainly a challenge to find good-quality dog food that doesn’t have such ingredients. In such a case, you can certainly aim to provide homemade meals for your dog with the advice of dog food experts. While it is homemade, it is essential to make sure that it contains all of the nutrients that your dog needs. In fact, after the 2007 pet food recalls, many people began making their homemade diets for their dogs just so they can control exactly what their dogs are consuming. Here is a good resource for creating a homemade diet for your German Shepherd.
4) Feed Your German Shepherd Several Times a Day
While it is often more convenient for dog owners to fill up a bowl with food and leave it out all day, allowing the dog to munch at will, it is not a good idea. One reason is that it may attract pests, especially if it is left outside. Secondly, during the housetraining duration of your puppy, free feeding makes it difficult to set up a routine. Puppies typically need to relieve themselves after eating; therefore, if your puppy is allowed to munch at will, you won’t be able to tell when she should go outside. Lastly, your dog needs to know that his food did not just came out of nowhere. By having your dog recognize that you are the provider/giver of the food, he’ll learn to appreciate you more! It is recommended to feed your dog two to three times a day.
5) Amount of Feeding Based on Lifestyle and Nutritional Needs
There is no fixed amount of food that every dog should be eating. While most dog food manufacturers have a chart showing the amount of food to feed your dog, it is to be noted that these are only recommendations. Each dog needs a different amount of food as this is based on your dog’s metabolism and activity rate, as well as lifestyle. Dog owners can often tell firsthand if their dog is not eating enough or eating too much. For instance, if your German Shepherd is thin and is always hungry, give your dog more food.
6) Foods That You Should Avoid Giving Your Dog
Chocolate, raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts, onions, spicy, greasy or too salty foods should be avoided. The first five foods mentioned can be toxic while spicy and junk foods can lead to an upset stomach. Instead, you should play it safe and give your German Shepherd nutritious snacks sparingly.
7) Do Not Change the German Shepherd Diet Abruptly
If you do decide to change your dog’s German Shepherd diet for any given reason, be sure not to do it all at once. You should mix the foods such that your dog as 25% new food and 75% old food for a week, Then, if your dog is doing well with this change, increase it to a 50-50 proportion for another week. Finally, change this proportion to 75% of new food and 25% of old food during week 3 before completely changing your dog’s diet in week 4. Doing so decreases the chances that your dog experiences an upset stomach.
8) Nutritional Changes Take Time
If you figure out that the existing food you’re feeding your German Shepherd does not provide the necessary nutrition and decide to switch your dog to a different diet, keep in mind that nutritional changes are slow. As such, you should not keep switching your dog’s German Shepherd diet every other week. Dog experts suggest that dog owners should stick to the same diet for 6 weeks before evaluating the results and making any changes.
9) Feeding Bones to Your German Shepherd?
While German Shepherd dogs have powerful jaws and could crack, splinter, and swallow smaller bones, this can cause not only choking, but also damage the gastrointestinal tract of your dog. Be extremely careful about giving your German Shepherd any bones. For more detailed information on which types of bones you can feed your German Shepherd, visit here.
10) Water is Extremely Important
While dog foods play an important part of the German Shepherd diet and nutrition, it is also important for your dog to drink sufficient amount of water on a daily basis. Just like us, 70% of your dog’s body weight is water and is therefore vital for your dog’s different biological systems to function optimally. In addition, dog owners should not assume that tap water will be fine for your dogs, especially if you are travelling. Be sure to bring water from home to limit and/or avoid. digestive upsets.