It can be quite scary when your German Shepherd is (too) fat.
You want to prevent health issues. And you simply want your pooch to be happy and healthy.
So it’s great that you’re reading this article. Here you’ll discover:
- 5 signs that your German Shepherd is overweight.
- The natural drug that can save your German Shepherd.
- 11 common reasons why dogs gain weight + 7 tips to prevent it.
- What a VIP is and when you should consult one for advice (hint: it’s not what you think it is).
- And even more…
Table of contents
- Why is my German Shepherd so fat?
- 5 signs your German Shepherd is so fat
- 11 reasons why your German Shepherd is so fat
- #1: Your German Shepherd is not taking this ‘drug’ enough
- #2: Your German Shepherd gobbles up anything
- #3: Your German Shepherd eats ‘junk foods’
- #4: Age is catching up with your German Shepherd
- #5: Spaying/neutering is the culprit
- #6: Underlying illness
- #7: Hypothyroidism is behind it
- #8: Cushing’s disease
- #9: It’s in the genes
- #10: Your German Shepherd loves human food
- #11: Injury
- Bonus: Someone is feeding your German Shepherd without you knowing
- 7 tips if your German Shepherd is (too) fat
Why is my German Shepherd so fat?
Several factors can explain why your German Shepherd is so fat. Overeating and insufficient exercise top the list as these easily lead to weight gain. It could also be diseases such as Cushing’s disease, which makes dogs hungrier.
5 signs your German Shepherd is so fat
#1: Ribs covered in fat
You spend a lot of time with your German Shepherd. But sometimes, it’s hard to see the extra pounds they keep packing.
Your eyes must be deceiving you, because you think they look okay. Maybe a bit to the chubby side.
And so you continue feeding them table scraps. Or giving them treats because they are good boys/girls.
The best way to ensure that your German Shepherd is not so fat is to consult a vet. But there are ways you can do at home to assess your German Shepherd’s weight.
Have your German Shepherd stand and feel their ribs. If there is a slightly excessive fat cover, then they could be overweight. But if you couldn’t feel their ribs, spine and hips, they are obese.
#2: Missing waist
Again, have your German Shepherd stand so you can look down on their back.
The waist should be visible behind their ribs.
If the waist is visible but not prominent, they could be overweight. But if you can’t see the waist, they could be obese.
#3: Missing abdominal tuck
Look at your dog from above and from the side. Is the abdominal tuck there?
There is an abdominal tuck if the abdomen is tucked up behind the dog’s rib cage.
In overweight dogs, there is only a slight evidence of their abdominal tuck. It’s still there, but is not as prominent.
If there is no visible abdominal tuck, they are obese. It means their chest and abdomen hang low.
#4: Sleeping all day
For fat humans, moving can be quite a drag. It’s easier to be a couch potato than be a health nut.
It’s the same among fat dogs. Moving is tiresome. It’s more enjoyable to just flop somewhere and get more zzzs.
Is this what your German Shepherd loves to do all day? Coupled with other signs, it could be an indication of weight problems.
#5: No energy
Dogs have such energy that they move all the time.
But if they’re fat, simple activities wind them down. Now running around the house is a chore. And climbing the stairs becomes intimidating.
That’s because they easily get tired.
Caution: Losing interest in what they usually love signals something is wrong. Especially if this has something to do with play.
For instance you throw a ball. A healthy German Shepherd would run after it. But if they don’t, or if they don’t participate in the play at all, something could be wrong.
Even if they play and get winded easily, it may be because of their weight.
11 reasons why your German Shepherd is so fat
#1: Your German Shepherd is not taking this ‘drug’ enough
There’s a risk-free natural drug that helps your German Shepherd to:
- Maintain full health.
- Reduce bad behavior.
- Prevent and reverse obesity.
- Adopt a behaved and calm behavior.
And if that isn’t enough…
This wonder drug doesn’t cause any harm (at least, not when you follow my ‘prescriptions’ below).
You might be thinking…
‘Hey, Petya. What is this drug that you’re talking about? And where do I get it?’
Okay, I won’t keep this drug longer away from you.
The miracle drug I’m talking about is…
… Drum roll …
Study after study shows the health benefits of exercise. There is even this study that showed that exercise can work as a drug for humans.
And for dogs this is no different.
To get the most out of this wonderful and risk-free drug, please follow my ‘prescriptions’ below:
Dos when it comes to the ‘exercise drug’:
- ‘Slowly but surely’ does it.
- Walk your dog at least 2 times a day. Preferably 3 or 4.
- Introduce other fun activities such as swimming or fetch.
- Make sure your German Shepherd does brisk exercise at least 30 minutes every day.
Don’ts when it comes to the ‘exercise drug’:
- Avoid lengthy exercise at first.
- Don’t exercise when it’s too hot.
- Don’t carry out exercises without consulting the vet first.
- Don’t ignore their health. If they are tired, then it’s time to rest.
#2: Your German Shepherd gobbles up anything
Your German Shepherd eats the right foods and still gets fat.
The very simple reason is this: they are overfed. If you keep feeding them, they’ll keep eating. As long as food is available, their mouths won’t stop munching.
Remember that the amount of food is different for a puppy and an adult dog. A puppy can eat more because they are growing. And they have fast metabolism.
But if you have an adult German Shepherd, this can be a problem. Their metabolism slows down with age, so it takes a while to digest all the food.
This is further worsened by lack of exercise, age and illnesses.
#3: Your German Shepherd eats ‘junk foods’
What’s the harm in the occasional chips or fries? Or a burger with a juicy beef patty?
But we all know it’s unhealthy to live on fast food all the time. Or junk food, for that matter.
If we worry about our health, we should worry about our dog’s as well. That’s because eating the wrong food can affect the quality of their life.
It’s like dogs are eating junk foods. Feeding them this type of foods can lead to weight gain.
These contain artificial ingredients such as corn syrup and food colors/dyes. These have absolutely no nutritional value.
On top of that, low quality foods are packed with preservatives such as BHT and sodium nitrite. These are very dangerous to your German Shepherd’s health.
In addition, dog ‘junk foods’ are packed with fillers. Fillers can be rice bran, hulls and corn bran. Again, these things have no nutritional value.
These ingredients are added to reduce the cost in producing dog food. Although fillers have fibrous ingredients, they only serve to increase the bulk.
So it seems as though you’re buying a lot for a cheaper price.
#4: Age is catching up with your German Shepherd
Age is just a number. So they say.
But when it comes to your German Shepherd, it could mean weight gain.
A lot of things happen when your dog gets older. First, their metabolism slows down. Second, they are less active but eat the same amount of food.
All of these factors eventually lead to weight gain.
#5: Spaying/neutering is the culprit
Spaying/neutering brings a lot of benefits for the dog.
It can lead to weight gain.
As a matter of fact, one particular study supported this finding. The study observed 1,930 spayed/neutered and 1,669 sexually intact dogs.
The results showed that the risk of obesity was greater among gonadectomized dogs. (Gonadectomized = spayed or neutered.) However, it was only during the first 2 years after gonadectomy.
Weight gain was attributed to spaying/neutering’s effect on metabolism.
Note: I am not discouraging spaying/neutering. Talk to your vet how you can manage your German Shepherd’s weight after being spayed/neutered.
#6: Underlying illness
Being overweight reduces your dog’s life expectancy by 2 years. That’s sad news for our beloved pets.
Apparently, there are diseases that lead to weight gain. This is likely the reason if your German Shepherd’s weight gain is so sudden.
Thus, it is important to monitor them. They may be showing other signs of being ill. For example, your dog is acting differently.
If you suspect the weight gain is due to an illness, consult the vet.
#7: Hypothyroidism is behind it
Many diseases afflict our beloved pooches. One of which is hypothyroidism.
This is a medical condition that leads to weight gain and decreased energy. When a dog has hypothyroidism, they have less tolerance for exercise.
So watch out when your German Shepherd packs the pounds even with the proper diet. Hypothyroidism could be behind it.
#8: Cushing’s disease
There is a hormone called cortisol. This is partly responsible for controlling weight.
Now, Cushing’s disease overproduces cortisol. Any change in cortisol production can lead to weight gain. Some symptoms of Cushing’s disease are excessive hunger or thirst. A pot-bellied appearance is also a sign of this disease.
Without medical intervention, it can be very difficult to treat this.
#9: It’s in the genes
Some breeds are more prone to obesity than others. This suggests the role of genetics in this condition.
Unfortunately, German Shepherds are prone to weight gain.
#10: Your German Shepherd loves human food
A high quality dog food is enough for your German Shepherd. It has ingredients that are specially formulated for your dog’s optimum health.
But most of us make the mistake of feeding them human food. Especially when they look at us with those big brown eyes…
So German Shepherds end up eating table scraps on top of their dog food. Human food is not the best for them. You could be giving them food high in fat or lack healthy ingredients.
In addition, you take the risk of giving them gastrointestinal upset.
Having injuries can lead to weight gain.
Let’s say your German Shepherd has hip dysplasia. They are less active because they can’t move around.
In addition, the amount of what they eat remains the same. And so they can’t shed the pounds they pack.
You can tell this is the case if the weight gain is sudden.
Bonus: Someone is feeding your German Shepherd without you knowing
No, it’s not Casper the friendly ghost feeding your dog. But someone in your household may be responsible.
It could be your kids giving treats more often than they should. Or your partner, who couldn’t resist those begging puppy dog eyes.
Your German Shepherd will end up having too much. And that leads to weight gain.
7 tips if your German Shepherd is (too) fat
#1: Consult with the VIP
There’s a very important person when it comes to your dogs. And that’s not you. At least not when it comes to your German Shepherd’s overall condition.
It’s your vet. The importance of consulting with a vet cannot be stressed enough. Especially if it’s about the health of your dog.
You see, we are not the best judge of our dog’s health. There’s no sense guessing, estimating and judging based on what we see.
Besides, it’s not the same for all dogs. One exercise may not be appropriate for all. Or a particular diet may not do it for your own dog.
Even the amount of food is not the same for every dog. That’s why you need your vet to assess your dog’s overall health.
So if your German Shepherd is ill, take them to the vet. Or if you’re not sure what to feed them for weight loss, ask the vet.
Your vet will be your partner in helping your German Shepherd lose weight.
#2: Let’s start with the diet
Losing weight is not a race.
It takes time and a lot of processes to follow. There are guidelines in food intake as well as in exercise.
In losing weight, you need to ensure your German Shepherd’s safety. It’s not advisable to just go ahead and decrease their food. Or make them run for miles without knowing if it’s safe.
That’s why you need to ask your vet first.
Your vet would probably recommend limiting your dog’s feeding to twice a day. If the vet recommends a change in diet, the transition should take place over a 2-week period. This is to avoid gastrointestinal upset.
In addition, never estimate your dog’s food. It doesn’t work by simply filling their bowl with food.
- Use a measuring cup.
- Do not use a bowl or your fist to scoop the food.
- Measure how much they should eat for each feeding.
You may be surprised how a little food can add up and lead to weight gain.
Another point that needs discussing here is leaving food out all day. That’s a small mistake that can lead to huge consequences. From now on, stick to your dog’s feeding schedule.
And when you have to leave the house, consider using a pet feeder. This is programmable to dispense a portion of food in the right amounts.
Also, it’s important to give your German Shepherd high quality food.
That’s one thing you don’t have to skimp on. They need the right kind of food that facilitates weight loss.
On the other hand, stay away from dog food with fillers. Though fillers contain fibrous ingredients, these are not natural. If your German Shepherd needs fiber, whole grains and vegetables are the best sources.
#3: Calories in, calories out
Here’s the equation to maintain a healthy weight:
calories burned ≥ calories consumed
How many calories your dog needs depend on a lot of things. But it’s probably between 1,100 and 1,700 calories a day for dogs weighing 67 – 88 pounds.
Dogs getting an hour of exercise may need between 1,272 and 1,540 calories. If unsure, consult with your vet.
#4: Watch the treats
What’s wrong with a few treats here and there?
A lot, apparently.
We are all guilty of giving our dogs some treats throughout the day. But as it turns out, treats could add to our dog’s weight gain.
Let’s say your German Shepherd needs 1,000 calories to maintain a healthy weight. Aside from their main meals, you give them 4 treats a day.
If one treat contains 40 calories, that’s an additional 160 calories per day!
Imagine doing that throughout the year. The extra calories could easily turn into a few pounds of fat.
#5: Don’t fall for hungry eyes
As much as you love your pooch, falling victim to their begging won’t help.
Do not give in. Easier said than done, right? Who can resist feeding a dog who still looks hungry?
You can. And you should. If you yourself can’t help your dog, then nobody else can.
Just look at this guy who helped a 150-pound German Shepherd lose 50 pounds. It wasn’t easy, but it’s possible.
#6: Get moving
After addressing your German Shepherd’s diet, it’s time to discuss exercise.
While weight loss is your goal, you should approach it with care. Your vet can suggest what activities to do and for how long. Ask for an appropriate exercise plan for your pooch.
Start with a walk around the neighborhood. Remember that your German Shepherd may easily get tired. It’s okay. Just be consistent and do this for a month.
Then increase the time of your walks. It could be an hour or so. Gradually introduce other activities. It could be a 30-minute game of fetch, a three-mile run or swimming, if there is a pool nearby.
Even if your dog is old, give them ample opportunities for exercise.
#7: Track progress
Keeping track of the progress is important. You’ll know if the plan you have devised for your German Shepherd is working.
Keep track of their weight by weighing them once a month. If there are no changes, then talk to your vet for a new plan of action.
Also, keep track of what and how much they eat. Including treats. It’s crucial that you stick to how much calories they should get.