Seeing your German Shepherd too skinny can be worrying.
It can even be dangerous.
You’re in panic mode wondering what you’re doing wrong.
And if there’s anything you can do to get them back in shape.
If you’re looking for answers, you’re in luck.
In this article you’ll discover:
- If it’s normal for German Shepherds to be skinny.
- Top 10 reasons why your German Shepherd is so skinny.
- How changes in the environment can affect their appetite.
- What you can do to make your German Shepherd gain weight.
- And a lot more…
Why is my German Shepherd so skinny?
The reason your German Shepherd is skinny could be due to poor diet, parasite, or age. It can also be because diabetes, dental problems, liver disease, or cancer. Changes in the environment and being picky eaters can also affect their weight.
Why is my German Shepherd so skinny – 10 reasons
#1: Poor diet
Are you feeding your furry friend a proper diet?
Cause if not, that could be the reason why they’re skinny.
German Shepherds are an active and athletic breed. They need high-calorie food that will keep them energized.
And they will lose weight if they’re fed the wrong kind of food. Or if they’re not getting the right amount of food.
Adult German Shepherds should also eat food that is high in protein and fat content.
While the amount of food should depend on their size and level of daily activity.
There may also be times when they’re eating the right kind of food.
But the calorie content is not enough to replace what they burn.
Making sure that your pooch is eating a well-balanced meal is key to keeping them healthy.
Fun fact: Did you know that puppy food can help an adult dog gain weight?
This is because it has added nutrients that support growth. And that can fatten up your underweight pooch.
#2: Parasite or worms
Thinking that your beloved pup has worms or parasites inside of them can be distressing.
You may even make sure that they’re vaccinated. But they might still be at risk of contracting some parasites.
Some of the common ways your German Shepherd may contract these include:
- Being bitten by fleas, ticks, or mosquitoes.
- Sniffing, licking, or rolling in contaminated dirt.
- Consuming animals such as birds, rodents, etc.
- Coming into contact with an infected poop or vomit.
- Being in close contact with infected dogs or other animals.
So if you notice they’re rapidly losing weight, it may be time to have them checked.
Especially when it’s accompanied by the following signs:
- Hair loss.
- Blood in stool.
- Chronic coughing.
- Skin inflammation.
It’s important to take action immediately as this can lead to severe health conditions.
Fortunately, worms and parasites are generally treatable.
That’s why we need to make sure they’re diagnosed and treated early by a vet.
We can also apply some preventative measures to lower the chance of picking up parasites.
Vetstreet recommends the following:
- Keeping your yard clean from animal poop.
- Making sure they have their regular stool check.
- Preventing them from drinking contaminated water.
- Disposing of your dog’s poop immediately during walks.
- Giving them preventive medications as prescribed by a vet.
Another factor that causes your German Shepherd to be skinny is their age.
You may notice that as they get older, they become less active.
And they may also eat less and lose their appetite.
This may be due to health issues that develop while they’re getting old.
A senior German Shepherd should be given a proper diet to avoid losing weight.
They should be given food that is high in nutrients.
PetMD also recommends giving your old buddy higher-quality protein food.
This would help in maintaining their body weight and mass.
#4: Changes in diet
If you recently changed your German Shepherd’s diet, you may also notice them lose weight.
Unlike humans, dogs don’t actually need to have their food constantly changed.
So if you change the meals that they’re used to, they might not be able to absorb some nutrients.
They may also become skinny because their bodies are still adjusting to the new diet.
This is most likely to happen if you’ve changed their food into low-quality ones.
If you want to change their diet, do it slowly. Try mixing their old food with the new one first.
And it’s best to always check the nutrient list of dog food that you buy for them.
#5: Dental problems
Keeping your dog’s teeth healthy is an important factor in their health and well-being.
Dental problems such as tooth loss or swelling gums can affect their whole buddy.
And this causes them to have a hard time eating which makes them lose weight.
It’s the same way we feel when we have a painful toothache.
We prefer not to eat because using our mouth to chew makes it hurt even more.
Dental problems that are common in German Shepherd includes:
- Periodontal disease.
According to VCA, periodontal disease is the most common health problem in dogs.
It affects at least 80% of them that are over 3 years old.
This is caused by bacteria that infect both their gums and teeth. It usually starts with tooth discoloration.
Other symptoms that will show are:
- Bad Breath.
- Loose teeth.
- Swelling eyes.
- Nose discharge.
- Red, swollen gums.
- Pawing at the mouth.
The key to preventing dental issues is properly taking care of your dog’s teeth.
Here are some things you can do:
- Feeding them with dry dog food.
- Ensuring to regularly brush their teeth.
- Taking them to doggy dental cleanings.
- Giving them chew toys or dental treats.
Watch this adorable video of a German Shepherd who loves to brush his teeth:
The reason your German Shepherd is so skinny could be due to diabetes.
Dogs who have diabetes tend to lose weight rapidly.
They are also more prone to some conditions such as UTI, cataracts, and kidney failure.
But with proper management, a diabetic dog can still enjoy a happy life.
Noticing early signs is the most important step. And these are:
- Cloudy eyes.
- Lack of energy.
- Excessive thirst.
- Loss of appetite.
- Increased urination.
- Sweet-smelling breath.
If you see any of the mentioned signs, get your pooch examined.
The earlier they get diagnosed, the better chance they’ll get treated and live a long life.
When your German Shepherd has this condition, it’s important not to let them get underweight.
AKC recommends giving them a diet with high fiber and good quality protein.
This will help in slowing down the absorption of glucose.
It’s also strongly advised to still keep them active with regular exercise.
And if you have a female pooch, consider getting them spayed.
This is because their hormones can affect their insulin production.
Aside from these, diabetic dogs will also need regular shots of insulin.
Interesting fact: Researchers found that the risk of developing diabetes was 28% higher in dogs with owners who had type 2 diabetes.
#7: Liver Disease
The liver is an important organ. It helps with digestion and removes toxins from the blood.
It’s also responsible for releasing nutrients from the food they eat.
If your German Shepherd has liver disease, their body won’t be able to properly absorb nutrients.
And this will result in losing a significant amount of weight.
Having your pooch regularly checked by a vet will help in detecting liver disease early.
You should also watch out for the following symptoms:
- Loss of appetite.
- Bloody urine or stool.
- Fluid build-up in the stomach.
- Yellowish eyes, tongue, or gums.
Liver disease may develop as your pooch age or it could be genetic.
It may also be due to diabetes, infections, fatty foods, or medications.
To manage this disease, your German Shepherd will need a special diet.
In fact, VCA says that managing nutrition can be effective in handling liver disease.
Consulting your vet is the first thing you should do. They will suggest an appropriate diet for your pup.
According to a study, it’s not recommended to reduce protein in their diet.
This is because it may lead to protein malnutrition.
But the type of protein should still be considered.
Good proteins such as eggs, salmon, cod, and poultry can be given to them.
While red meat that is high in phosphorus should either be reduced or avoided.
It’s heartbreaking when you find your beloved pup suffering from cancer.
You’ll notice how thin they will become when there’s a tumor growing inside of them.
This will make them physically ill and will make them lose interest in eating food.
Research shows that in the USA alone, over 4.2 million dogs are diagnosed with cancer per year.
German Shepherds are at higher risk of developing the following types of cancer:
It can be hard to determine the causes of this condition.
The cause may be due to different factors such as a weak immune system, toxins, age, or genetics.
The good news is there are measures you can do to prevent your pooch from getting cancer.
One of these and probably the most vital is providing them with proper nutrition.
Their meals should include:
- Omega 3 fatty acids.
Canine cancer is usually hard to detect but remember, early detection is key.
So keep an eye out for the following signs:
- Nose bleeds.
- Loss of stamina.
- Abnormal swelling.
- Trouble breathing.
- Difficulty swallowing.
- Strong unpleasant odor.
- Skin wounds that don’t heal.
- Discharge from different body parts.
#9: Change in environment
Did you know that a change in environment can make your German Shepherd stressed?
Moving to a new place or having a new family member can lead to an anxious pup.
And when they get stressed or anxious, their appetite will also decrease.
Some signs of a stressed German Shepherd include:
- Lip licking.
- Whale eye.
- Ears down.
Dogs live a life based on routine and when there are sudden changes, they will need time to adjust.
But there’s no need to worry, this may only be temporary.
Plus, your German Shepherd can adapt to any changes so they will get their appetite back in no time.
#10: Picky eater
Some German Shepherds can be picky about the food they eat.
And they likely become picky eaters because you allowed them to.
As loving fur moms and dads, I know we tend to spoil our fur babies.
There are times we give them too many treats. Or even give them table scraps.
The problem with this is that your pooch will avoid eating with hopes of getting a more exciting snack.
They’ll think that your food is tastier than what you’ve prepared for them.
So if you see them begging for snacks or table scraps, assess yourself and their feeding habits.
Luckily, you can correct this behavior. Here’s an effective strategy you can do:
- Make them understand that the meal you prepare is their only option.
- Place the meal down for about 30 minutes. If they don’t eat it, put it away.
- Time their every meal. (When the time is up, take it away whether they eat or not)
- Do this consistently until they stop being picky.
People also ask:
Is it normal for German Shepherds to be skinny?
It’s normal for German Shepherds to be skinny if they are still puppies. This is actually common for puppies because they’re still not fully developed. They grow at different rates and their bones are still growing.
A German Shepherd puppy should eat at least 3 times a day.
It’s also advisable to give them a consistent amount of food.
They also need enough nutrients to grow and maintain a healthy weight.
Why is my German Shepherd not gaining weight?
Your German Shepherd is not gaining weight because of two main reasons. One is due to poor nutrition. The other is that they may have an underlying health condition.
If you’re looking for ways to help them gain weight, it would be wise to check first with your vet.
They will be able to rule out any health issues that your dog might have.
And they will be able to recommend a proper diet for your dog.
Should you be able to feel a German Shepherd’s spine?
You should be able to feel a German Shepherd’s spine but the bones shouldn’t be prominent. They’re underweight if the spine is visibly sticking out. On the other hand, they’re overweight if you can’t feel the bones.
To check if they’re too skinny, run your hand down to their back.
Begin by touching the base of their neck then run your fingers down their spine.
If you don’t feel any layer of muscle or fat, it means they’re too bony.
What to feed a German Shepherd to have it gain weight?
To help them gain weight, you need to feed your German Shepherd with food that’s high in protein. Their diet should also have enough fat content. It will also be helpful to give them food that will increase their daily calorie consumption.
High protein food will help in maintaining healthy muscles.
And it also keeps the immune system strong.
While the fat content will help in the absorption of nutrients and production of energy.