Foods Your German Shepherd Puppy Will Love
These food formulas are all recommended for large breed puppies and meet and exceed regulated nutritional standards.
The better the food, the healthier your pup will be inside and out. Dont feed your German Shepherd puppy the cheapest food you can buy. Cheaper GSD puppy food lack quality proteins that are essential for your working breed dog.
Here are some of the best top-rated German Shepherd puppy foods.
What Can German Shepherds Not Eat
Many foods are toxic to German Shepherds, and I have listed the main ones in this handy table
I found that Pet Poison Helpline also lists tons of other poisonous stuff, including plants, household items, and medications. It is constructive, but hopefully, you wont need their help if your dog avoids these!
I also wrote an article on poisonous foods to German Shepherds, including one or two hidden dangers that are good to know!
German Shepherd Puppy Food
German Shepherds grow quickly, so they should only be fed a puppy-specific formula for about six months before they start eating an adult dog food. Feeding them a puppy food for too long can cause rapid growth in the bones and joints, which can cause developmental orthopedic disease down the line.
Plan on feeding your German Shepherd puppy three to four meals a day, depending on the formula you choose.
Orijen Puppy food prides itself on providing a formula that aligns with nature serving puppies a biologically appropriate amount of protein and nutrients to best nourish their growing bodies. This food contains quality protein sources, is low-glycemic, and is USA-made in Kentucky kitchens with fresh regional ingredients.
Main Ingredients: Boneless Chicken, Chicken Meal, Chicken Liver, Whole Herring, Boneless Turkey
- Protein: 40%
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German Shepherd Homemade Food Risks
A poor diet is a major threat to the health of your German Shepherd. Here are some things to avoid to provide a healthy diet to your pup.
- Not understanding the nutritional needs of your German Shepherd
- Using inadequate or dangerous recipes
- Not preparing a balanced meal
- Using unsafe or harmful ingredients
- Not understanding the impact of food and dietary changes
- Not understanding your dogs life stages nutritional needs
- Neglecting your dogs health conditions
Researchers at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary found that most homemade dog food recipes are lacking critical essential nutrients while others contained dangerously high quantities of some nutrients.
Further research published in The Journal of Nutritional Science found that 48% of dog homemade diets contained improbable amounts of ingredients and that 71.3 % of dog owners did not know how much food to serve per meal.
For these reasons, its advised that you speak with a veterinary nutritionist, who should also be able to provide you with trusted recipes, provide nutritional guidance, and/or recommend a dog food delivery service for your GSD.
How Much And How Often To Feed A Senior German Shepherd
Senior German shepherds tend to experience weight fluctuation, meaning that the amount of dog food your dog should eat varies greatly depending on your dogs body condition. Generally, senior dogs will be benefited from eating more often with less portion size.
Lets say if I used to feed my dog twice a day, then I would feed him three times a day during his senior year. Three meals per day is a maximum you should give unless your vet specifies otherwise.
As for the portion size, I would suggest speaking to your vet to get an optimal ration. One last thing that Id like to add is that water is an essential part of your dogs diet. Its necessary to aid in digestion, flush the toxins out, and maintain a body temperature, so dont forget to provide easy access to clean, cool fresh water at all times.
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Fats And Other Essential Vitamins And Minerals
A German Shepherd puppy needs around 8% fat in their diet, while an adult GSD should have about 5% fat in their diet.
Natural fats from fish, meat, and plant-based oils contain beneficial properties that are great for your dogs cognition and muscle movement.
These fats will also have visual benefits, as your German Shepherds coat will have a beautiful shine when they get enough fat and oil in their diet!
Because German Shepherds are a powerful breed of dog, their energy levels will be served well by feeding them dog food that contains a range of vitamins like Vitamin A, B12, and E.
German Shepherd Dog Feeding Guidelines
It is important that the owners of the German shepherd know the amount of food that their dog requires daily. Feeding too much or too little can cause health problems in your dog . If you provide a diet with excess fat to your puppy, it is more likely that you can develop hip dyslexia.
With a balanced diet one can ensure that the dog properly develops its internal systems and maintains its energy levels.
Your German Shepherd will grow rapidly during its first 12 months of life, so it is necessary to increase the amount of food in your diet as it grows. Ensuring that the puppy of the dog receives the proper amount in its nutrition, and in the right proportions is essential for the development of a healthy adult German shepherd.
Up to 6 weeks
At 6 weeks of age, you should make sure that your puppy is receiving the same level of nutrition that they were receiving from breast milk.
Ideally at this early age, a puppy should be breastfeeding for its mother, because it is difficult to replace with food the necessary micro and macronutrients, along with the natural antibodies found in breast milk.
From 6 to 10 weeks
Between 8 and 10 weeks, you can start to wean them from your mother, and start increasing the amount of food for puppy dogs that you are giving them.
It is best to start with a diet of wet food, to help your body adapt to the transition. Wet foods contain about 85% moisture, which prepares your digestive system for all the food that we will give you in the coming weeks.
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Royal Canin German Shepherd Puppy Breed Specific Dry Dog Food
Nothing beats Royal CaninGerman Shepherd puppy food, as you will find from the raving reviews from satisfied pet parents of GSDs. It is a formula specifically made for a German Shepherd. And, they know their German Shepherds. So, they have taken into account the smallest of considerations.
The unique kibble shape is easy to grip with the long and robust muzzle of your German Shepherd. The glucosamine and chondroitin make for smooth digestion. Vitamin E is excellent for your puppys muscle development, healthy heart, and liver. Plus, the antioxidants keep the immune system up and running. In short, Royal Canin ranks as a topper in the list for the best diet for German Shepherd puppies.
A Mixture Of Dry And Wet Foods
Most dog owners may prefer to feed their German Shepherd with a hybrid of both dry and wet foods. The beautiful thing about this food option is that your pet will enjoy the best of both foods. If your pet is on a dry meal diet, you may change to wet foods as toppings or a special treat.
However, it would help if you were sure that you are not exceeding your dog’s recommended calorie intake. Else, you may end up breeding an overweight, obese, and inactive dog.
Most dog owners mix both dry or wet foods in a bowl during each meal. Other people alternate both food types for morning and evening meals . In any case, you should seek your nutritionist or veterinarian’s advice to ensure that you are within the calorie limit for your pet.
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How Do I Choose Food For My German Shepherd Puppy
When choosing German Shepherd puppy food, you should consider the following factors first:
1. Quality meat
Having quality meat means your puppy food comes from reputable farms and sources, such as grass-fed cows and cage-free chickens. This also includes wild-caught fish. Protein sources are important for your canine friend so they have to come from quality sources.
Avoid meat that has unknown origins. Always buy meat or dog food in which certain specified meat is the first ingredient. Among the most common meat sources for puppies include chicken, beef, bison, fish, lamb, and turkey. However, you should consult your vet if you have concerns for food allergies should your pup develop some .
2. Free from fillers
When you choose the best puppy food for your pet, as much as possible, look for little to no fillers such as corn or soy. Unfortunately, most brands of dog food in the grocery store contain fillers because they make the product cheap in terms of production. They arent of any nutritional value to your pup so you should choose another brand instead. There are many other options online that dont have such fillers and instead, contain veggies such as peas and carrots.
3. A healthy blend of nutrients
Protein is good for your growing pup but a balanced mix of nutrients is better. Talk to your vet for any nutritional deficiency of your pet and consider adding more of the certain nutrient to your pets daily meal.
4. No animal by-products
Judging The Quality Of Your Labradors Food
The difference between high-priced high-quality food and budget food is not always immediately apparent, especially in heavily processed dry foods.
Ideally, dog foods should list the micro-and macro-nutrient contents and the whole food ingredients used in the food.
Dog food companies have learned to hide low-quality ingredients by using complicated scientific terminology that few pet owners understand.
The best way to ensure your Labrador receives the optimal food is to speak to your veterinarian or canine nutritionist, who can advise you on which locally available foods are ideal for your Labrador.
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Know When You Are Feeding Your German Shepherd Puppy Too Much
While not every puppy owner is overly keen to do it, you can tell a lot just by examining your puppys stool.
Doing so can give you a more clear handle on how often you should be feeding your German Shepherd puppy and how much it should be consuming during the course of the day. If a GSD puppy has too much food to process through its digestive system, it will begin to show in its stools.
Soft or wet stool is a good indication that there is too much food for the puppy to digest or process through the digestive system.
If your puppys stool is consistently solid and does not cause your puppy to overexert itself while going potty, this is a good indication that you are striking the proper balance in terms of how much food you are feeding your puppy.
Even if you feel that your puppy is too skinny, do not dramatically increase its food intake. Do so gradually, and keep an eye on the consistency of their stools to give you an idea of how much of their increased food intake is actually being retained.
Is My Puppy The Right Weight
You can also refer to German Shepherd puppy growth charts to see if you puppy is gaining weight and within the normal range.
However, keep in mind that some dogs will be unusually small or large but still be perfectly healthy.
Do not try to maximize growth rates as this can lead to health problems later.
But if you puppy is not showing a steady increase in size, or your puppy lacks appetite, consult with a veterinarian.
Ensure that you are familiar with how to assess the body condition of your puppy. You can ask about your puppys condition at veterinary wellness examinations.
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How Often Should I Feed My German Shepherd
German Shepherds have different nutritional requirements at different stages of their lives. Although most food brands recommend feeding frequencies based on their meal formulation, here’s the average number of times you should feed your pet daily.
If your puppies are between six to 12 weeks old, you should feed them four meals daily. Puppies between the age of 12 to 24 weeks should eat at least three meals a day.
When your German Shepherds are six months old, you can reduce their meals to twice a day. Also, you can further reduce their meal to once a day when they are one year old.
Protein And Fat From Quality Sources
German Shepherd puppies should eat a diet that is approximately 22% protein and 8% fat. As adults, German Shepherds should have 18% protein and 5% fat.
Whats the importance of this? You might think that more protein is better. However, with large dog breeds like German Shepherds, too much protein is actually a bad thing.
You see, protein helps German Shepherd puppies grow. However, too much protein can cause a puppy to grow too quickly.
Why is that a bad thing?
Large breed dogs who grow too quickly are far more prone to bone and joint problems. German Shepherds are highly prone to hip dysplasia and arthritis. Growing too quickly may not cause the conditions, but it can certainly make them worse.
So, you dont want a puppy food that is too high in protein. However, you should feed a food where the protein comes from quality sources.
Many cheap puppy foods get their protein from animal meal or by-products. By-products are the worst protein source. By-products are the parts of the animal with the least nutritional value. That includes things like beaks, feet, and hooves.
Meat meal is somewhat better than meat by-products. Meal is made primarily from ground bones. While its better than meat by-products, it isnt as nutritious as a whole meat.
In short, you should look for a puppy food for your German Shepherd that gets its protein from whole meat sources.
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Food & German Shepherd Health: Why Feed Homemade
Despite being a wonderful dog, German Shepherds are notorious for developing food allergies and/or food hypersensitivities. A study published in BMC Veterinary Research Journal found that German Shepherds are at a high risk of developing cutaneous adverse food reactions 1, or in simpler terms, dog food allergies.
CAFR can be responsible for a multitude of skin allergy issues like atopic dermatitis. Chronic allergic reactions are accompanied by excessive scratching, itching, and biting2. Eventually, this could lead to secondary bacterial or yeast infections in your GSD. Unfortunately, a lot of German Shepherd allergies arise from commercial dog food. Kibble ingredients like protein sources, high levels of animal fat, preservatives, meat by-products, food coloring, grains, and fillers contribute to more allergies in this breed.
Sadly, GSDs are predisposed to degenerative myelopathy, elbow and hip dysplasia, and osteoarthritis3,4,5,6. Because German Shepherds are prone to these skeletal and bone problems, its vital to maintain a healthy weight for GSD. An obese German Shepherd may have an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis and other joint maladies because the excess weight puts more strain on their joints, bone structure, and back . It could also potentially lead to degenerative myelopathy in GSDs.
Keep in mind that even grain-free kibbles with high-quality ingredients can have high levels of starchy carbs and bad carbs that contribute to the pet obesity epidemic.
Training Goal #: Crate Training
This is also a good time for crate training, which Adams recommends as well. GSD trainer and dog sports enthusiast Alexa Hagood, LVMT, agrees: Crate breaks, even when brief, can help the puppy become acclimated to going in the crate and having some alone time. She notes that this can help reduce the risk of a puppy developing separation anxiety, and recommends beginning with using the crate for feeding times , and at times when the owner needs to do daily chores.
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German Shepherd Puppies Vs Adults Guidelines
Our last topic involves the difference between a puppy and an adult.
This is an important subject as it will help you figure out the best way to take care of your dog depending on whether theyre an adult or a puppy.
The following are some of the facts that recent studies have proven:
- Puppies have higher energy levels than adults. This means they need to eat more than adult German shepherds.
- German shepherds will need higher protein and fat content in their early age. The amount of fat and protein will decrease as they grow older.
- Puppies cannot tolerate too many nutrients. Ingesting extra minerals and vitamins may lead to serious health disorders. Meanwhile, adults are only risking being overweight when taking in more than intended.
With this German shepherd feeding chart, you can now decide on your dogs feeding plan, However, Id suggest seeing your vet first so you can confirm if your plan is actually effective.
Many owners simply feed their German shepherds without second thoughts of the dogs needs. But since youve read this blog post, you are now aware of the needs of your German shepherd.
After talking about the feeding amount, frequency, and lengths of a German shepherd, you can now easily plan how much, how many times, and how long you feed your dog. You even learned how to hydrate your German shepherd the proper way.
From 9 Months To 24 Months
Dogs of different breeds and sizes mature at different ages, and while one year of age is commonly considered the end of puppyhood in general, a German Shepherd Dog may not reach an adult level of maturity before the age of two or three . So continuing to work on impulse control, improve obedience skills, and advance to training in more focused activities like tracking, scent work, protection work, agility, and herdingall of which are capabilities of this breedmust continue throughout this period and then be reinforced as your GSD reaches adulthood.
Keep in mind that this is a breed that thrives on constant and consistent work and training, and loves to have a jobor many jobs!to do. If you can provide your GSD with outlets for their intelligence and versatility, both you and your dog will reap the rewards.
Yasmine S. Ali, MD, is a cardiologist and writer based in Tennessee, where she lives with three Canine Good Citizens, including an AKC-registered German Shepherd Dog.
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