Wrapping up the Diablo Valley German Shepherd Dog Club’s advice on caring for your German Shepherd, we approach the issue of feeding with special consideration. Our members swear by everything along the canine feeding spectrum from raw to highly processed wet food with strong opinions about the nutritional value of each diet. In this section, therefore, we present only general guidelines.
First, start by feeding your puppy or dog what it ate before it came to you. The breeder or rescue organization are excellent resources for what to feed your German Shepherd. If you decide to change your dog’s diet, do so gradually. Replace parts of its meal with the new food and, over days or a week, increase the amount of new food until it makes up the whole meal. Follow this approach whenever you change your dog’s food to prevent intestinal distress.
Second, know what you are feeding your dog. When you read the ingredients list on a dog food bag or can, the first three to five ingredients represent most of what the food contains. You want to see those first ingredients being protein sources instead of fillers such as plant meal. Don’t be fooled by marketing directed at your sensibilities over your dog’s health. You and your dog have different nutritional needs. If, because of allergies diagnosed by your vet, your dog needs to be gluten-free, then by all means follow that prescription. Don’t pay more for dog food to satisfy the latest human diet craze.
Third, most of our members feed two measured portions a day, morning and evening. Carrying excessive weight, even as much as no longer being able to see your dog’s “waist” stresses its whole system and, in particular, its joints.
Lastly, we tend not to allow our German Shepherds to engage in heavy, active play before or after their meals. The breed’s deep and long body makes it particularly susceptible to bloat and torsion – twisting of their guts – that, if not treated by a vet within a few hours, are life-threatening.
Scary stuff aside, you’ll know that your German Shepherd is thriving on its diet when you admire its glossy coat and pick up solid stools.