Like most dog breeds, German Shepherds enjoy snacking and will quickly gain weight if you do not monitor their calorie intake. Feeding your dog a nutritious diet will keep him physically and mentally healthy. German Shepherds are active and athletic dogs and should be fed quality dog food that meets their nutritional requirements. Ensure your dog is on a power packed diet filled with adequate amounts of proteins and fats. Here are a few guidelines you must follow while feeding your German Shepherd:
German Shepherds are Carnivores
German Shepherds are a carnivorous breed. They do not have a digestive system suited for greens and vegetables. Avoid feeding your dog leafy greens as they will not be able to digest them properly, leading to intestinal blockage. Additionally, carnivorous dogs require ample amounts of protein in their diet. Protein act as building blocks and serve as key components for proper cell growth and reconstruction of tissues. Ensure your dog’s diet contains at least 22% protein by feeding them high quality dog food and pure proteins instead of inexpensive options that are loaded with corn syrup.
Corn syrup is used as filler in most commercial dog foods and can be incredibly harmful for your pet. Apart from proteins, ensure your German shepherd’s diet also contains healthy fats. While feeding your dog too many fatty goods can lead to obesity, adequate amounts of healthy fats will reduce the risk of skin problems and will result in a shiny and glossy fur coat. Because German Shepherds are heavy shedders, their diet must contain at least 5% to 8% of healthy fats for healthy fur.
Following a Feeding Schedule
Most pet owners make the mistake of leaving out food bowls for their pets to indulge in whenever they want. German Shepherds are prone to overeating and may drastically gain weight if they do not stick to a feeding schedule. Start by feeding your pet five small meals a day and then slowly move over to two to three hearty meals a day. Letting your dog eat freely can lead to number of health problems in the future. Here are a couple of pointers you should keep in mind:
- Puppies under three months of age must be fed whenever they are healthy hence do not restrict them to a feeding schedule as it will only hinder their growth.
- A highly active dog will require more food than a lazy or elderly dog so feed your pet according to their nutritional requirements. The amount of food your dog eats depends on their age, build, metabolism, health and size, hence keep these factors in mind when designing a feeding schedule.
- If your dog is not eating enough, take him to the vet.
Dealing with Bone Disorders
German Shepherds are a large breed that is susceptible to bone disorders. Ensure you take special care while feeding your pet as German Shepherds tend to grow rapidly between the ages of four to seven months. Feed your pet high quality dog food that prevents them from growing too quickly. Also ensure they get enough calcium in their diet by crushing an egg shell and adding it to their dog food.
If you are worried about your pet’s health, ditch commercial dog food for good and cook your dog’s meals yourself. There are tons of healthy recipes online you can conveniently prepare at home. If you have a busy schedule, prepare healthy doggie meals over the weekends and freeze them. To further prevent bone related disorders, do not let young German Shepherd puppies jump and scamper on hard surfaces as it may cause damage to their developing bone and joints.
Dealing with Obesity
To prevent your German shepherd from getting obese, restrict them to a high quality and low calorie diet. Dogs that are overly nourished and do not get enough exercise are prone to excess weight gain. Obesity is common in all dog breeds of all ages. Excess body weight can discourage the proper functioning of body organs and can lead to bone and joint related problems in the future.
Occasionally measure your German Shepherd’s weight, paying close attention to their ribs and lumbar region. To check if your dog has put on extra weight, place your hands on their chest. If you unable to feel your dog’s ribs through all the layers of fat, you need to put your dog on a diet. On the other hand, if your fingers can run through the outline of their ribs, your dog is too thin and must be a fed a highly nutritious diet.