German Shepherds, like all dogs, are primarily carnivores. Their digestive systems are relatively straight and some parts are shorter than even other large breeds. That makes digesting vegetable or plant matter more difficult. As a result, the German Shepherd’s diet should be chiefly meat-based.
That doesn’t mean German Shepherds have to be fed nothing but raw, or even cooked meat, though many advocate just that. But if you examine the ingredients list on most dry, commercial dog foods you’ll see that meat or meat byproducts comprise the major elements. The percentage of ingredients follows the order in which they’re listed, even though they sometimes don’t give the numbers themselves.
It’s better to pay a little more and feed a higher quality dog food. That’s better for your dog and better for you. High quality dog food has no cheap fillers, which can cause digestive upset. Even when they don’t produce stomach problems, they often produce more stool, making clean up for you more trouble.
Nutro Natural, Eagle Pack, Prairie by Nature’s Variety and other commercial dog foods provide a balance of quality ingredients. Most adult German Shepherds will consume about 30-40 lbs per month of dry food. At a current cost of about $30-$35 that’s a very modest expense for providing a main ingredient to good health.
Some owners may find their dog needs a little extra help. That can result from a tendency to Hip Dysplasia, skin problems or other reasons. A number of supplements are safe and easy to add to their diet. Some common commercial supplement mixtures contain one or more of the following:
Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)
Omega 3 fatty acids
Cod liver oil
Vitamin C is an antioxidant and helps connective tissue and muscles. MSM/Glucosamine is beneficial for joints. Fatty acids are a boon to the immune system and cod liver oil is good for the coat. Kelp contains iodine, an aid to proper thyroid functioning. Garlic contains bioflavinoids that are good for the heart.
For those who prefer an all meat diet made from fresh ingredients, the following recipe is a good one:
Get 10 lbs of regular hamburger meat. Dogs need fat so it shouldn’t be too lean. Mix it together with a box of Total cereal if your dog is not sensitive to wheat and a box of oatmeal flakes. Add in 10 eggs and a jar of wheat germ, softened with 1 1/4 cup of canola oil and 1 1/4 cup molasses. For extra firmness, you can add in 10 small packages of unflavored gelatin.
Mix the ingredients together and roll into meatballs about an inch or two in diameter. Freeze anything you don’t use within a day or two.
German Shepherd Dogs can digest this raw meat and grain combination very well, but you may have some concerns about possible organisms. Freezing will usually take care of that, but for an extra level of security, the meat can be cooked until medium well done. Then cool and feed. Add supplements as needed.