Spoiler alert: the best dog food for German Shepherds is not the same for every dog. If you want to keep your GSD safe and in top condition, his diet has to account for age and health needs.
Best Dog Foods for German Shepherds
...and no, you won't find Royal Canin German Shepherd dog food on this page.
#1 Dry Pick
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Packed with natural ingredients like beef, chicken meal, and chicken fat, this choice is mostly for your adult German Shepherd. Check out Victor’s full line of amazing products if you need specific ingredients like turkey meal or glucosamine and chondroitin for hip dysplasia.
Best for GSD Puppy
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Packed with all-natural ingredients (like sweet potatoes & high-quality protein and chicken fat) while skipping grains (like brown rice).
Allergies, Gas & Sensitive Stomach
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The main ingredients include protein sources like salmon (#1 ingredient for healthy skin and coat), chicken meal and lamb meal.
Best for GSD Weight-Gain
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There’s something to be said for those fur baby parents who can run into the store, grab a particular food off the shelf, and get right back out.
The truth is, though, that’s not all of us! Especially if we’re just getting into learning about how to feed our dogs the very best of the best.
Yeah, it’s easy to just grab something and get out, but when you want that something to be safe and healthy for your dog, it takes a little while longer.
So you might be wondering “what is the best dog food for my German Shepherd?”
And we have the answer…
Check out the sections below to pinpoint the best dog food for YOUR German Shepherd.
Best Dog Food for German Shepherds with Skin Allergies
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When your dog has food allergies, the most obvious sign are skin issues.
And how do they show you they’re hurtin’ for certain?
Once-healthy skin…turns to scratching her skin and coat like crazy!
It’s hard to watch our babies go through this, and at first, you might not recognize it for what it is. With that in mind, I wanted to share a list of things that cause these food allergies.
I’ll also offer a list of the most common symptoms that can be a lot like a neon sign over your dog’s head that says,
“Help! I’m allergic to something in my diet!”– Your dog, probably
What’s worse, allergies can make your dog feel as bad as we feel with the flu.
Actually, lots of things can cause skin reactions, including flea bites.
Dog skin is a LOT thinner than human’s, so fleas get more bang for their bite when it comes to our dogs. They can also come in contact with things when they’re outside that can cause irritation and flare-ups.
However, there are two main reasons that our German Shepherds wind up with sensitivities:
- Grossly over-processed dog food
- Our willingness as pet owners to “let it ride”
So, how would you know if your dog is having symptoms of food-related skin complications?
I’m glad you asked – that shows what an awesome dog owner you are!
Here are some of the most common symptoms that should make you at least start looking at what you’re feeding your dog.
- Severe itching
- Single or patches of hives
- Overly itchy ears (worse than normal, in other words)
- Sneezing that doesn’t seem related to anything else
- Eye problems, like itching or running
- Swelling of the face in general, or of the ears, eyes, lips, etc.
- Diarrhea or very loose stool
- Repetitive licking
Note that this is not an extensive list.
If you see something that looks “off” and you think it might be related to allergies that point back to food, start making notes. Having just a few words jotted down on a calendar, for instance, can help you keep track of symptoms and how they progress as you begin to make changes you hope will help.
Best Options for Skin Allergies
Once you understand the pelt problems your dog has, and what’s behind it, it’s much easier to start working on a solution.
NEVER try everything all at once. If you think it’s a food allergy, for instance, to grains, don’t go out and buy grain-free, meat-free, soy-free, beet-free, etc., etc., etc., food.
If you really think it’s grains, then just get a food that is grain-free.
If the allergy doesn’t clear up, then go for one that lacks eggs. Move on until you find the precise ingredient that’s causing the allergy. And you’ll know because the allergy will clear up!
In some cases, you might want to alleviate the processing aspect instead of certain ingredients. In that case, you would be best served by feeding your dog raw food. Stepping up to a high-quality dog food makes more of a difference than you might think.
The addition of supplements to your German Shepherd’s diet will affect those allergies too. The best possible addition for irritations, especially those related to allergies, is an omega-3 fatty acid. These healthy fats help curb inflammation, lessen immune system response, and are just better for your dog’s outer shell.
If you’re already feeding a food that is fish-based, then the omega-3 is already there. Otherwise, choose a quality addition or supplement you’ve researched and see what happens.
Choosing to Make Homemade Food for a German Shepherd
Finally, you might want to try making your German Shepherd’s food from scratch at home.
Yeah, it’s probably going to be a little more expensive.
And yeah, it’s going to take more time.
But if you’re anything like me, their health issues are as important as yours. I’m not gonna skimp on whatever it takes!
If you want to go raw German Shepherd food, here are some tips, just so you won’t miss anything important:
- Talk with your vet. You want to make sure you’re not adding anything to the food that’s going to be bad for your GSD. Switching from a nasty commercial-grade food, to something that is equally bad because of bad ingredients isn’t actually making anything any better.
- Look for the very best recipes. There are lots of people who claim to have “the best” or “the most inclusive” homemade German Shepherd dog food. It’s best if you can find recipes from someone who really knows their stuff… like someone with a certification in nutrition!
- Balance the ingredients you use. If you can’t find an expert, at least make sure you’re balancing everything out well. You should include high-quality protein content, calcium, carbs, and fats, as well as essential fatty acids. Make sure you’re not adding preservatives by checking what’s in the ingredients you’re using.
- Count calories. Anyone who’s had German Shepherds can tell you, they’re likely to become obese if you’re not careful. Making sure you follow the recipe so you’ll have a good count on the calories offered, is a necessity.
If you’ve never made German Shepherd food from scratch before, you might not know about toxic foods for German Shepherds. Some foods are like poison to your dog and must be avoided at all costs! Here is a quick list.
- Alcohol — causes vomiting, central nervous system suppression, coma, or worse.
- Chocolate — causes vomiting, panting, hyperactivity, and eventually seizures or worse.
- Citrus fruits — Small amounts aren’t likely to cause problems past a little stomach upset. But larger amounts can damage the central nervous system.
- Raisins and grapes — can cause kidney failure (and worse).
- Raw meat — These foods can carry bacteria and parasites that are really dangerous.
- Artificial sweeteners — can cause liver failure, seizures, and hypoglycemia.
Best Food for German Shepherds with Sensitive Stomachs
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What exactly IS a sensitive stomach, anyway?
I think the question is easily answered by looking at the signs and symptoms of it, and what might be the culprit behind it.
It’s kind of like allergies in humans. Not everyone has the same allergies as someone else. And I might be allergic to something you’re not allergic to.
Some dogs have stomachs that are more delicate than others and you’ll know it. There are some sure-fire signs, and the best thing to do is not try to figure out exactly what a sensitive stomach is. No, I’m pretty sure the most important thing is to just stop it!
Believe me, it’s better for you and your German Shepherd too.
What can Cause Sensitive Stomach in German Shepherds?
There are many things that can cause your German Shepherd to have a sensitive stomach, but the “cause” isn’t nearly as important as the “symptoms” and the “what the heck do I do now?” part.
But it’s still helpful to have the knowledge, right?
In some cases, parasites can cause sensitive stomach. These might include hookworms, whip worms, and other microscopic pests. If this is the cause, the sensitivity can actually be pretty severe… and pretty hard on your dog.
A virus can really do a number on your GSD’s stomach – just ask any dog parent who’s had a puppy with distemper or parvo. 🙁
The bad news is, these viruses can be fatal to German Shepherd puppies. If you even suspect this might be the case, please don’t wait for something more concrete. Get them to a vet who can do the tests needed for a positive result.
Changing your dog’s diet can really bring sensitive stomach issues to the forefront!
That’s one of the main reasons you will be advised to make changes slowly and over a period of time. Changing to a new food usually means switching out about ¼ of the original amount every couple of days until you’re finally only feeding the new food.
If you have a dog that is naturally prone to anxiety, then you also have a dog with stomach issues. The two seem to go hand in hand.
For many dog owners, separation anxiety is one of those issues that seems almost incurable. However, there are ways of dealing with even this major stressor.
Lesser things can cause it too though, and it just takes a little detective work on your part to find out what it is. Once the stressor is gone, so are the stomach issues!
Some dogs are sensitive to specific foods. Common dietary items that can cause problems include onions, grapes, garlic, and chocolate, to name a few. The natural sweetener, Xylitol, should never be given to your dog, in any amount, as it can be fatal.
Signs of a Sensitive Stomach in German Shepherds
In some cases, it doesn’t take a college degree to figure out your GSD has a sensitive stomach. Symptoms like excessive or extremely foul gas, vomiting, and diarrhea leave no doubt, your fur baby is having tummy trouble. However, there are other signs of sensitive stomach that can be harder to catch.
But not anymore! We’re gonna tell you what they are!
- Eating grass
- No appetite
- Odd noises in the tummy
- Shaking (can point to pain, see your vet)
- Decrease in activity (if persistent, see your vet)
Of course, there are other signs of a sensitive stomach. The truth is, you know your German Shepherd better than anybody, right? If something seems “off” don’t just let it slide.
An untreated sensitive stomach can greatly reduce the quality of life for your companion. we don’t want that, do we?
What To Do for a Sensitive Stomach
For those little cases of “every once in a while” tummy troubles, it can sometimes be helpful to just remove food from the equation for up to a whole day. Yeah, it sucks, but believe me, they’ll feel better once it’s over.
If you keep on feeding your dog while he’s having these issues, it only makes it worse. So we have to decide, which is the lesser of two evils: taking away the food so he can get some relief, or keep feeding him and making the pain and discomfort worse?
Yeah, me too.
Coming off the fast, make sure not to give him anything to savory. A bland diet can really help get things back on track. Once things are back to normal, adding some yogurt can make a sick tummy feel better. Foods like bananas, pumpkin, and oatmeal can help too.
Is your German Shepherd often sick to his stomach?
Giving food that is based primarily on these foods mentioned above, as well as adding probiotics every day, can really work wonders. As always, refer to our food label guide to make sure you’re not adding insult to injury.
Other tips for feeding the German Shepherd with a sensitive stomach include adding plenty of fiber. This can come from the pumpkin and sweet potatoes mentioned earlier, or look for a dry dog food that has a high fiber content. On the other hand, limit fats as much as possible.
If you think allergies might be to blame, you can start by eliminating ingredients like soy, corn, and wheat. These are the most likely culprits in today’s foods for German Shepherds.
Best Dog Food for German Shepherd with Diarrhea
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Diarrhea is just another sign of a sensitive stomach, so most all the same measures listed in the section above will work to alleviate diarrhea. Almost all the same causes of sensitive stomach can also be causes of diarrhea as well.
There are, however, some great home remedies that are a little different when dealing with diarrhea. For instance, offering rice water, boiled sweet potatoes with no skin, or cottage cheese can often help.
Fennel, a well-known herb many people already have in the pantry, can really do wonders for gut-soothing.
In extreme cases, and only after consulting your vet, you can even give some of the same OTC medicine you might take for yourself if you had the same problem.
Best Food for German Shepherd to Gain Weight
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Before you start packing the muscle onto your GSD, let’s take a look at the underlying issues:
Is My German Shepherd too Skinny? (Here’s How to Tell, Why It’s Happening, & What To Do About It)
There are actually some easy ways to tell whether or not your dog is underweight. And you don’t even need a scale!
First of all, you can check his ribs.
Can you see his ribs through his thick coat? Too skinny! The same is true for checking the spine.
But why is he underweight to start with?
Well, the answer could be that he has pancreas issues. Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency often affects German Shepherds. In short, it means that he can’t properly digest his food. It takes vet testing to know for sure if this is the case.
Some other reasons for loss of appetite and, eventually, loss of weight, could be a recent illness, shots, medications, a behavioral problem, or it could be that he’s just getting old.
Many German Shepherd owners become absolutely heartbroken when they see their dog stop eating. And it doesn’t take long for that weight to start dropping off, which makes it even scarier!
As it turns out, a raw food diet could be just the answer you’re looking for to get your German Shepherd to gain weight. There are tons of other benefits as well, including a healthy coat and gums, better gut health, and so much more.
There are various diets you can choose if you attempt this route. It’s best to do your research based on your dog’s preferences, and how much they like to eat.
If you’re not ready to jump into the raw food diet, however, you can try other approaches. One is to simply offer more food at meal times. As simple as it sounds, some German Shepherds will respond well to this, especially if there are no other dogs in the house to take his food.
On the other hand, it can be just as helpful to give less food more often. Again, simple, but it’s likely he’ll eat everything on his plate, especially when you first implement the change.
If you wanna be sneaky about it, and if you think your dog will think he’s getting one over on you, just leave extra kibble lying around. He thinks you don’t know it’s there. He gobbles it up before you’re any the wiser. Win-win, right? You can even leave out really nice treats, like those all-meat freeze-dried bits of goodness.
Another treat your German Shepherd might appreciate is a homemade gravy, made with bone broth, to make dry food absolutely delicious.
I mean… not that I know, but I bet they’d like it!
Best Dog Food for German Shepherd Puppy
We all know that little growing bodies need extra nutrition, but GSD’s are really athletic and super strong. They need a puppy food source that really caters to the natural energy so they can grow into healthy adult German Shepherds.
The healthiest German Shepherd puppies receive the right balance of protein, healthy fats, and carbs. Starting them on a raw diet while they’re still young is a fantastic option if you can swing it.
(German Shepherd puppies actually grow faster this way.)
Whatever good, quality puppy food you decide to give your GSD breed puppy, make sure you’re following a reasonable guideline for amounts of food and times per day.
German Shepherd Puppy Feeding Schedule
A good rule to follow is knowing at what age increments to give certain types of puppy food.
- Newborn to 3 weeks — Breast Milk only (no cow milk)
- 3 to 4 weeks — Wet dog food
- 6 to 8 weeks — Dry dog food food moistened with broth or gravy
- 8 weeks forward — Solid foods can be introduced
There are advantages and disadvantages to both dry kibble and canned/wet dog food.
For instance, dry dog food is cheaper, but can have way too many carbs and cause sensitive stomachs to get worse. Canned food can be a great nutritional route to take, but it does nothing to remove tartar from your dog’s teeth.
Best Dog Food for Senior German Shepherds
As adult German Shepherds reach their senior years, nutritional needs will once again change.
Aging affects the mind, the eyes, the ears, joint health, and so it’s only common sense to know that he’s not going to eat as he once did.
Hip dysplasia is common in older dogs, so look for foods for German Shepherds with glucosamine and chondroitin.
Lamb meal is also great because it’s a novel protein, when most senior dogs have food sensitivities to common protein sources like beef and chicken meal.
A few things to look out for when feeding your senior German Shepherd is weight loss or digestive issues.
While not everything expected happens all at once, it’s always good to know what changes to expect and be ready to face them when they arrive.