German shepherds are large dogs with fast metabolisms when they are healthy, so it is important to maintain a regular feeding schedule with proper foods to maintain a healthy body weight. They can eat from 15 to 25 pounds of dry food in a week, depending on their age and size. If your dog is unweight, increase feeding or switch to high fat dog food, even temporarily.
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Feeding less than 15 to 25 pounds of dry food can lead to malnourishment while more might lead to obesity, especially if your German shepherd does not get enough exercise. A healthy dog might at first seem slightly underweight because healthy German shepherds have ribs that aren't visible, but can be felt. Their belly should be tucked in a bit at the waist. If your dog has visible ribs, you might have to help your German shepherd gain weight.
Monitor dog weight
Determine the cause of your dog being underweight before you try and help your German shepherd gain weight. Healthy male German shepherds should weigh between 65 to 88 pounds and females, 48 to 70 pounds. Then take your German shepherd in for an examination by your veterinarian. It is possible you are just not feeding your dog enough each day, or perhaps you aren't giving them enough of the right kinds of foods.
It is also possible they have a disease, infection, or injury that is causing them to lose weight. German shepherds are prone to several illnesses such as too few digestive enzymes (exocrine pancreatic insufficiency) that can cause inadequate digestion and absorption of nutrients and fats resulting in weight loss.
After the vet visit, document the progress of your dog's weight. Start a schedule of weekly weigh-ins to see if your German shepherd is gaining weight, losing more weight, or staying at the same weight. This will help you determine if your weight gain plan is working or if you need to alter it. If you continue to see a lack of results, or if your dog continues losing weight even if you change feeding plans, take them back to the veterinarian.
Offer regular meals
Provide food several times a day. Some dog owners leave dry food available all day long and supplement that with wet food once or twice a day. If you do this, make sure the dry food is high in protein and low in fillers such as ash and cornmeal. You can also give German shepherds dry food at several feeding times throughout the day. Consider feeding your German shepherd three or four times to make sure they are getting enough food if their weight is low.
Offer fresh "people" foods with meals or as snacks. This does not mean give them leftovers from the table or scraps from the refrigerator. Give them vegetables, such as carrots and celery, as treats and bland cooked turkey and chicken as part of their meals. Lean meats, roughage, and unprocessed foods can help their digestive systems work properly, which might help a German shepherd gain weight.
Provide regular exercise
German shepherds require regular exercise. Walking, jogging, or swimming are activities that are muscle building and can possibly be done every day. It is important that German shepherds are not just gaining weight through eating and consuming high fat dog food. Building muscle mass is important to maintaining proper dog weight and health.