The Right Way to Feed German Shepherds
by Stephanie Ward, published January 2009, last revised 2/19/2013
When deciding what pet food to purchase, many pet owners with the best of intentions are listening to the recommendation of their trusted veterinarian, or what they have seen on commercials, advertising etc. The truth is, most of these foods are horrible for your dog. They all are overly preserved and sprayed with tasty artificial flavors that make them palatable for dogs. The ingredients used to create what is listed as "meal" will make you want to vomit. Here is a site that goes into detail about the Truth About Pet Food. I have been raising German Shepherds since I was a child (it seems I've always been in love with the breed), long enough to see many dogs die from liver or kidney disease, cancer, or suffer from terrible skin problems, ear infections, yellow teeth with bad breath, canine diabetes, hip or joint problems, and behavior issues, just to name a few. Shepherds should live a minimum of 10 years with the exception of accidents, yet many are dying at age 7 or less. It is my firm belief (and there's some research out there that's starting to surface to prove it) that most of these early deaths are due to feeding the wrong type of food. It has been my personal experience that my dogs are truly healthier and are living longer, now that I feed a raw diet.
Large breed dogs are at even higher risk of suffering due to the lack of knowledge and over-emphasis of dog food or kibble, but there is hope. More and more forward thinking veterinarians who know the right way to feed and do not let big money companies influence them for a buck are starting to surface. There are also more clinical studies researching the effects of supermarket pet foods than ever before, and many websites like Raw Fed Dogs are popping up on the internet, helping to get the word out. It's still a problem and will continue until information finds a way through the big money television commercials. The average vet will tell you that your dog has any ailment under the sun to get you to pay a ridiculous amount of money and then put your dog on their food of choice, which they make a profit on. Don't be fooled by this greedy behavior. Instead, buy your dog some raw chicken or turkey. Yes, it really is that simple!
Check out this very well written article from the website Precious Pets. It's up to pet owners to stop buying bad foods. If pet owners take a stance, the fat pocketed pet food companies would be forced to create foods that are beneficial to our pets. Somehow pet owners have to learn about, and then believe in, this diet that just makes so much more sense for large breed dogs.
At Von Ward Kennels, we feed raw chicken, raw lamb, raw beef, raw pork and raw turkey, all with the bones. Many people have said to me, I thought you are not supposed to feed bones to dogs. My answer: Have you ever seen a dog build a fire? Never feed cooked bones. When you cook a bone, it turns brittle. The slivers of brittle, cooked bones can become lodged in the throat or intestine and can kill a dog, but raw bones are natural and provide what large breed dogs need, without all the harmful additives, preservatives, and artificial flavors. We also feed hearts, kidneys and livers of chicken and beef, raw, of course! We get most of our meat wholesale for a very low price. Call us if you are interested, we am thrilled to share!
If you are feeding a variety of raw meat and bones to your dog, you won't need to supplement with glucosomine and condroitin. Raw bone and meat has it all and it costs less too! Plus, prepare to be amazed at how eagerly your dog eats on this raw diet! The puppy you get from me will have had some form of raw meat at least every other day since it was 4 weeks old.
Click Picture Below to See Video of German Shepherd Puppies For Sale Eating Raw Chicken
There are some decent dry dog foods on the market, you just have to know what to look for. Despite what the media and most veterinarians will tell you, dogs need a variety of foods, just like humans do. Variety is especially important for German Shepherds, who are closely related to their wild ancestors. If you feed the same food all the time, your dog will get bored and may not receive all the nutrition it needs. A good dry food could have too much of something and not enough of something else. By feeding a variety of foods you are helping your dog live a longer and healthier life. Further in this article you will find a list of some of the good dog foods I purchase.
Raw eggs are also a great source of nutrition a couple times a week, along with cooked rice or oatmeal with an occasional cooked sweet potato or carrot mixed with raw ground beef. I've been asked why the rice, oatmeal, carrot and sweet potato are cooked; the answer is that these are all excellent sources of fiber for dogs that simulates what they would naturally get from the partially digested foods in the intestines of an animal they killed. Have you ever seen a dog eat horse or cow poop? They really like it. It is disgusting to watch but they instinctively eat what provides the nutrients they need.
If feeding raw is a little too extreme for you, then at least consider the following: When you are buying kibble for your dog, look at the ingredients. The first ingredient should always be some sort of real meat, not meal, and nowhere in the ingredients should corn or wheat appear. Corn and wheat are not good for dogs. Also, despite what you've heard or read, you should rotate foods, because remember, dogs need variety too. Rotating foods is especially important with the German Shepherd breed, because it has been my experience that they can become picky and uninterested in eating when they are fed the same food at every meal.
Some of the Dry Kibble I Recommend:
- Innova Evo
- Taste of the Wild
- Eukanuba wild blend. Be careful of Eukanuba. Not all are good.
- Holistic Select
- Canidae is thought to be a good kibble but dogs do not like it very much. I used to feed it until I realized that my dogs just do not eat it well.
- Blue Buffalo - excellent dog food at an affordable price, and my dogs like it! Careful though, they had a recall a few months ago. Be sure you are buying food that was recently shelved.
- These foods have so many different blends that anyone wanting to feed only dry should have a good variety.
- Remember, this is not a complete list, I'm sure there are many more quality dry dog foods on the market. Read the labels and find some that work for you and your budget.
Foods not to feed:As much as I love to shop at discount department stores, I've never found a good kibble there. Iams (forget what you have been told), Science diet (bad food boosted by big money), Purina, Beneful and Ol Roy are the worst rated foods of all. Avoid kibble that has corn or wheat anywhere on the ingredient list!
As your German Shepherd puppy is growing, keep it lean and healthy. A fat GSD puppy is much more prone to joint problems than a lean one. Even puppies from OFA parents can get joint problems, and slowing down the growth of your puppy by carefully feeding appropriate amounts every day will keep extra weight off of its growing joints. Its growth will not be stunted by being lean; it will just grow slower and healthier.
I like to feed a puppy about 3 times a day with enough raw that it can finish eating in about 15 minutes. On occasion I do feed quality kibble but most days I feed raw. You can feed raw meat 1-2 times a day, being sure that the bones are small and puppy chewable. Again, only provide enough that they can eat in about 15 minutes, do not free feed. Chicken wings and necks are great for really young puppies.
Vitamins: If you feed raw, there is no need for supplements and studies have shown that too many vitamins in dogs can wreak havoc on growing bones. Your German Shepherd will protect you with its life. Why would you not protect its life?