And of we go on our quest to find the best dog food for German Shepherds. Many owners will not give much thought to what kind of food they feed their German shepherds. The truth is that German shepherds need to eat a lot of food.
These dogs, which can weigh as much as a hundred pounds, can and will eat more than bag of food every week, if their owner is not paying attention. It is very important to watch what a GSD eats and how much he eats, as these dogs are prone to gastro-intestinal distress, especially due to overeating.
These large, intelligent, active dogs need a highly nutritious, filling food that sustains their activity and their brains. Unfortunately, the cheapest foods on the market are not going to provide the kinds of nutrition that is going to support a German shepherd’s health and wellness. Here are some tips to make sure you find the right kind of food for your adult German shepherd dog and to make sure he is fed properly.
It’s more about the right food for your dog than about the best dog food for German Shepherds
Finding the best dog food for a German shepherd can be difficult. There are many conflicting signals about what shepherds eat, what foods are best, what kind of allergies they face, and whether nor not a German shepherd raw food diet will benefit your dog. Finding the right dog food to keep up with German shepherd eating habits doesn’t have to be impossible, however. Follow these tips to make sure that your dog gets the right nutrition for his breed and for his stage of life.
Consider your Shepherd’s nutritional needs
Because these dogs are large and strong—nearly 80% of a German shepherd’s weight is comprised just of muscle and bone—their primary nutritional need will be protein and fat. Your dog’s specific needs may be different. If he needs to lose weight or put it on, he might need a dog food formulated to help dogs lose weight or put it on. High quality dog foods will be at least 18% protein and 5% fat. Puppy formulations will have a higher protein and fat content, but most German shepherds only need to be on puppy food until they are six months old.
Make note of your GSD’s activity level
Dogs who live an active lifestyle will need more than 1700 and less than 2200 calories every day. Most German shepherds are naturally active, but they will become less active as they age. Additionally, your dog might just not be as active as others, just as some humans are naturally less active. These dogs will need a lower caloric intake. In between 1700 and 2200 is a good place to start, and then calories can be upped or reduced if you notice the dog is too skinny or gaining too much weight.
Know what ingredients to look for
The number one ingredient to look for is a healthy source of protein. The very first ingredient on the bag should be a source of protein—and one that your dog is not going to be allergic to. Chicken, beef, and fish are all great choices for dog food, but there are dogs in the German shepherd breed that are allergic to one of these three sources of protein, so always make sure to read the bag.
Additionally, there should be a healthy source of fat. Fish is another good option, but vegetable oils are primarily used as a healthy fat for German shepherds. In order to keep his energy up, you will want to look for carbohydrates like barley and rice. In short, you want the dog food to be dominated by real food with names that you know and recognize. Anything that contains “by-products” should go back on the shelf.
Know the Dog Food brands
Not every brand is going to produce a dog food for German shepherds specifically. In fact, most brands don’t. However, both Royal Canin and Eukanuba produce high quality dog foods that are formulated specifically for German shepherds. Many natural brands like Blue Buffalo or Blue Wilderness will have a formulation that is perfect for large breeds like the GSD. These will usually have a good ratio of carbs to fat to protein that will keep a shepherd strong and healthy, even if the formula isn’t just for German shepherds.
Dry Dog Food or Wet Dog Food
Dry food or wet food? Because there are many great dry food and wet food options for German shepherd owners, many have difficulty picking between these two types of food or knowing whether they can be mixed. While wet food might seem like the best option, especially because it is sometimes contains raw pieces of meat or other nutritional draws.
Dry food is usually the best option, unless you have an elderly shepherd who has lost teeth or is having trouble chewing crunchy bits of food. Why? Because dry food has some dental health benefits, overall more convenient, as well as being nutritionally stable for German shepherds. The texture can help to remove and prevent plaque from forming on teeth, and especially in early life, chewing dry food can help to build strong jaw bones and muscles.
We combine dry and wet food at times. Especially with our last GSD who is a fairly difficult eater. Wet food makes him happy. If you buy a decent brand you’ll also get all the nutritional value you need. It’s also more easy to digest. Just make sure it doesn’t expire or becomes bad in the bowl during the summer.
The truth is that high-quality German shepherd dog food is going to be more expensive than low-quality food. It can be tempting to buy and feed a dog lower quality food simply because German shepherds need to eat so much food throughout the day and because keeping up with that demand while buying the higher quality food can put a dent in your bank account.
However, those lower-quality foods rarely have the right nutritional content in order to keep large, active dogs healthy. Just like with humans, if all you feed your dog is junk food, they will be tired, more likely to develop serious diseases, and will have a hard time maintaining a healthy weight, no matter how much exercise they do. On the other hand, there are fairly inexpensive high-quality foods you can buy, especially if you compare prices before purchasing.
Be aware of German shepherd food allergies
The most common German shepherd food allergies include corn and wheat. It’s usually best to avoid dog foods that have high corn and wheat contents. Food colorings, preservatives, and other chemicals that a dog would never have encountered if they lived in the wild, are often cause of allergies. Many German shepherds are allergic to dairy, while eggs, soy, and even beef and chicken can be allergies.
Most of the time, if a dog is experiencing food allergies, especially those related to the kind of protein in the food, should be switched to a food that uses lamb as its protein and rice as its carbohydrate. If you notice that your dog is having bowel issues or is itching constantly, try switching the current brand for a brand that uses totally different protein, fat, and carb sources.
Raw Dog Food or cooked?
Raw or cooked? Many owners will give their dogs a raw food diet, claiming that raw meat and vegetables are what a dog would be eating if they lived in the wild. However, dogs that live in the wild rarely live to be older than four or five years and domesticated dogs are different enough from wolves and wild dogs that feeding them the exact same diet does not always make sense.
In some instances a German shepherd raw food diet is a great choice, but do not immediately assume that it is the only choice for your dog. As long as the food is properly cooked, dry food and even homemade dog food can be great for your shepherd.
Feeding a German Shepherd
How do you know if your dog is getting enough to eat? How do you know if he is getting too much? How do you know if he is getting the right kind of food? Paying attention to your dog’s eating habits, setting up a feeding schedule that he can learn to rely on, and following these tips can make it much easier to feed your German shepherd.
How much should my German shepherd eat?
The average German shepherd should eat in between three and four cups of dog food every day. If you are not sure how much he needs to eat, refer to the dog food bag’s caloric content and feed him enough food to make sure he is getting at least 1700 calories a day, noting that most adult German shepherds require more calories than 1700.
In general, the best and only way to know if your dog is getting enough to eat is to feel his sides. You should be able to feel his ribs, but not see them. If you can both feel and see them, he needs more food. If they can be neither seen nor felt, he needs less food.
What can I do to avoid “bloat?”
As is common in large dogs, German shepherds can come down with a condition called gastric dilation-volvulus or bloat. This happens when a dog eats too quickly, gulping in the food instead of actually chewing it and taking his time. This is a serious condition that can cause shock and can even stop his heart. Finding a way to slow down his eating is the best way to avoid this issue.
Putting a tennis ball in his food bowl is a good way to slow him down, as is finding a food bowl that is more of a ring than actually a bowl. His caloric intake should be split into at least two meals a day and don’t walk him or run him for more than hour before and an hour after a meal.
German Shepherd weight gain
Why is letting my GSD gain weight a bad thing? Letting a German shepherd gain weight can be a very bad thing, largely because of how large these dogs are and how prone they are to arthritis and conditions like hip and elbow dysplasia, even without excess weight. Keeping him trim and active will help to prolong his healthy life and prevent these conditions from developing, or at the very least, keep from exacerbating them.
Where to buy the good dog food for your Shepherd
Where to find food? One of the most difficult parts of feeding your Germans shepherd good food is actually finding that good food. Unless you live in an area where there are natural pet food stores, your local grocery store might not carry the kind of dog food that you want to feed your shepherd. This means putting a little extra time and effort into the food finding process.
It is easier than ever to find and buy high quality German shepherd dog food online and have it delivered right to your door. Additionally, if you talk to the properitor of your local pet store, they might be willing to order the right brand for you.
Finding the best dog food for German Shepherds, or more precisely the right food for yours isn’t always easy. The right choice and following the right German shepherd feeding schedule can keep your dog healthy and happy from birth into old age. We hope we’ve helped a little on your search for the best dog food for German Shepherds. The question is more about personal preference when you keep in mind basic nutritional tips (quality), allergies and age.