If you are concerned that your German Shepherd isn’t as big as other dogs, it is only natural to be concerned. Here is an in-depth look at why your dog may not be meeting their goal weight and what you can do to address the situation and fatten your pup.
Should You Be Able to Feel a German Shepherd’s Spine?
First things first, how do you know that your German Shepherd is too skinny? You may be able to tell this simply by looking at your dog. Noticeable ribs, skin hanging off their bones, appearing to be emaciated are all signs that your German Shepherd is underweight.
The above signs are when your dog has reached extreme levels. A better guide may be to gently run your hands over their torso. Is the skin pressing against their ribs with very little cushioning? Do you feel the sharp edges of your dog’s spine when you run your fingers over it?
If you notice these signs then it means that your dog is too skinny and needs to be plumped up.
When Should You Get a Professional Opinion?
Take your German Shepherd to the vet when you notice that your dog is skinny or has lost weight. Your vet will be able to identify the problem more readily and offer a solution fast.
Just as importantly, your vet can determine just how dire the situation is. In case your German Shepherd is severely underweight or malnourished, they will have to take immediate action. They may need to give your dog supplemented fluids, prescribe medications and supplements, and make alterations to your dog’s diet as well.
The cause of your dog’s thin physique may be minor and easily treatable. It is still a good idea to have your dog examined by a vet. This can prevent further issues, complications, or long-term consequences.
Why is My German Shepherd Not Gaining Weight?
There are several reasons why your German Shepherd could be losing weight and has trouble gaining it back:
Are They Infected with Stomach Parasites?
This is one of the main causes of dogs losing weight. Your dog can ingest worms from the soil, feces, and it is even possible to track them into your home as well. Once these worms make their way into your dog’s digestive system, they absorb the nutrition, leaving little behind for your dog.
Some telltale symptoms of worms are that your dog will continue to lose weight even if its appetite is hearty. Their stomach may appear bloated or distended and they may experience vomiting or diarrhea. You may notice that your dog also scoots its bottom on the floor more often.
In case you suspect worms, take your dog to the vet. They will probably take a stool sample to confirm the diagnosis and then prescribe medication.
Do They Suffer From Intestinal Malabsorption?
German Shepherds have a higher incidence of a condition known as intestinal malabsorption. The issue is sometimes linked to another health issue known as exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. This, too, is a health condition that German Shepherds can develop.
With intestinal malabsorption, the absorptive layer of the stomach is damaged. This means that your dog’s digestive system isn’t able to absorb nutrients from the food, causing them to lose weight.
You may notice excessive or continuous diarrhea in dogs inflicted with this issue. Their appetite will also remain the same but the weight loss will be steady.
Your vet will need to run blood and fecal tests to check for this condition.
Are Other Illnesses to Blame?
There are a host of other illnesses that can cause weight loss. Keep an eye out for any additional symptoms such as fatigue or lethargy, changes in behavior, or anything unusual. Even if you can’t see any specific symptoms, it is still best to take your German Shepherd in for a checkup.
Are They at Risk of a Poor Diet or Malnutrition?
Not all dog foods are the same. Far too many dog food brands on the market offer incredibly low-quality options. These can contain low-quality food sources, be full of fillers and preservatives, and not have a proper balance of nutrients.
German Shepherds on these diets will not get the nutrients they need, causing them to lose weight. Read the label of your dog food and discover what ingredients they contain. Do some research into the brand as well to determine how they rank among other brands.
Is Accidental Underfeeding a Possibility?
It can be tricky to know how much and how often you should feed your German Shepherd. If you are accidentally giving your dog too little to eat, it will not be able to maintain a healthy weight.
Every dog’s caloric needs are different. Some larger, high-energy dogs need more calories. Smaller dogs that are couch potatoes may need fewer calories. When in doubt, ask your vet how much you should be feeding your dog each day.
A few signs of underfeeding your dog are that they may be lethargic and unwilling to exercise. They may also be constantly on the lookout for food, stealing out of the garbage and off of people’s plates.
Does Your German Shepherd Have Dental Problems?
German Shepherds aren’t necessarily more susceptible to dental conditions, but this can be a problem with this breed. Inflamed and painful gums, loose or missing teeth, and other issues can make it more difficult for your dog to eat. This is quite common among senior dogs.
They may not eat as much at mealtime as a result, causing them to lose weight.
Check your dog’s mouth for signs of loose or missing teeth. Check the state of their gums and take note of any bleeding or excessive drooling. Foul breath can be another sign that something is wrong.
If you notice any of these issues or suspect dental problems, make an appointment with the vet.
Is Your Dog a Picky Eater?
Some dogs are pickier than others. These pups may be put off by the smell, taste, or even texture of particular dog food. They may also tire of a specific food more easily and stop eating once they are tired of it.
Finding a new food for such dogs isn’t easy and can involve quite a bit of trial and error.
Are They Dealing with Anxiety or Depression?
Dogs experiencing emotional or mental stress will often not eat, resulting in weight loss. Any number of things can cause this. This includes a change in their environment, missing a particular person, being nervous around certain animals or individuals.
In some instances, addressing the circumstances of their nervousness can help your dog to get its appetite back. In extreme cases, your vet may need to prescribe certain medications to help your dog deal with this condition.
How Can I Fatten Up My German Shepherd?
If you have managed to address the underlying issue, it is time to fatten your dog up. Picky dogs or those that may be slow to get their appetite back may still struggle with food. Here are a few things you can try under these circumstances:
How to Choose High-Quality Dog Food?
There is an increasing number of high-quality dog food brands on the market. These are considered superior for a couple of reasons. First, they use high-quality sources for proteins, fats, and carbs. As such, they tend to offer more nutrition as well as a more balanced diet.
To add to this, these foods pay closer attention to taste and texture. With fresher and more wholesome ingredients, these brands may be more appealing to your pup. Such foods can be more expensive but tend to be worth the added expense.
Should You Try Combining Wet Food?
Wet food can improve the taste and the texture of kibble. This type of dog food is more aromatic as well and can help to make your dog’s meal more appealing. You can drizzle some on top or mix it well, depending on what your German Shepherd prefers.
How Can You Add Aromatics?
Instead of wet food, you can add broth and other aromatic liquids to entice your dog. Just make sure that you use broths that are as natural as possible and don’t contain herbs, onions, garlic, or other ingredients that may not agree with your German Shepherd. You can also make broth by boiling bones or meat in water for a while.
Why You Should Give Home Cooked Food a Try?
This is something you should check with your vet as it can be tricky to give your dog a balanced diet with home-cooked food. As long as your vet agrees, your dog may respond better to fresh food, especially as it may offer a better texture or flavor.
These are the main reasons why your German Shepherd may be underweight. The good news is that there is plenty you can do to rectify the situation. The first step is to seek medical assistance for your dog, however.