Skinny German Shepherd

Having a very thin dog can be disturbing. Trying to determine the reason your pet won't gain weight is an important step toward getting your pet up to a healthy weight. This is a guide about a skinny German Shepherd.


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August 15, 2013 Flag

You should have any skinny GSD, Doberman Pinscher, Labrador Retriever, or other breed known to be born with EPI checked to make sure their pancreatic acid is working. EPI is exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, which means they don't manufacture enough pancreatin, hence the food is improperly broken down and doesn't digest, causing diarrhea and weight loss. EPI is not uncommon in certain breeds.

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October 30, 2013 Flag

My 1 year old female German Shepherd is gulping her food, but is thin. She ate a mouse weeks ago; is this the problem? She has been wormed.

By Sue

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November 2, 20130 found this helpful

Have you considered talking to your Veterinarian?

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November 2, 20130 found this helpful

Have you considered talking to your Veterinarian.?

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August 9, 20160 found this helpful

http://upstatea  tic_insuffi.html

Check out this web site - my german shepherd eats a lot, has diarrhea and goes to the bathroom at least 3 times and day and sometimes can't hold it at night. She is very skinny so the vet is doing some blood work. No worms.

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October 19, 2015 Flag

I have a German Shepherd female dog. She is 5 months and she is 22 kgs. She is properly vaccinated and de wormed. I want her to put on weight, she eats properly, is very energetic, and very playful. She does not look skinny or thin, but I want her to look a bit more fat. Is it possible? If yes then how?

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October 19, 20150 found this helpful

It is typical for young, large breed dogs to look thin and gangly. They put the energy from their food into their growth.

Your dog is mainly just a puppy, and still too busy and energetic to eat more than she cares to.

You do not want to encourage your dog to "put on weight" now because any food habits your dog acquires now she will keep. That means if you feed her a lot of high-calorie food now she will keep eating that way and then when she is an adult she will be overweight.

Assuming you are feeding her a high quality food, the best thing to do is just wait. When she stops growing so fast she will start putting on the weight.

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October 21, 20150 found this helpful

What Abigail A said is very true. Larger dogs take longer to mature and fill out. She'll put on weight in time - and then you'll have to watch that she doesn't gain too much weight!

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January 21, 20170 found this helpful

I have a 8 month old half german shepherd half american pit mix (gsd genes are way stronger, cant tell hes pit, just looks like short hair gsd) anyways hes 8 months old, last i had him weighed he was 64 lbs at 6 months old.. Although he looked thin..just REALLY tall. He is 8 months now like i said and is still very thin. But is growing. I am trying to feed him as much as i can. He eats a rachel ray brand food mixed with can food and home cooked chicken mix in and he is still looking like hes starved! Hes current on shots and has had regular vet care. But he is so skinny! Any thoughts?!

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August 31, 2013 Flag

I have a 1 and a half year old male German Shepherd. He is right around 80 lbs, but seems small when compared to other male Shepherds or even the female we had before him.He doesn't seem to have that fluffy coat that makes them look fuller. Any suggestions on how to help him put on some healthy weight and muscle?

By S. DeRosia

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September 2, 20130 found this helpful

The posted information regarding different country conformations are correct. Talk to the licensed breeder that is registered with the Canine Control in your country. Veterinarians are not Breed survey experts. In any case will it really matter what his appearance is unless you intend to show him (he must have pedigree papers). Just love this beautiful boy for who he is and the loyal companion this world wide breed will be to you.

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September 3, 20130 found this helpful

My male German Shepherd is 10 years old and weighs 75 pounds. He just had a vet checkup today and is in great health. 80 pounds is not underweight. What does your vet say?

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Anonymous Flag
February 22, 20160 found this helpful

Ive had gsd's my whole life and even at 1 1/2 they're actually not fully developed they'll have their height but not their full weight potential they grow than out I wouldn't worry about it. Just keep feedind them and exercise they will bulk up before you know it and fast

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February 27, 2016 Flag

Roxy turned nine back in September, but she has been awfully skinny for the past few years. Lately it seems worse than usually. She has long fur, so it's hard to tell unless you pet her. She's probably around 45 pounds. She hardly eats her food without us putting something in it to make her want to. And even since she was probably around three or four, she goes out to poop a lot.

Is it actually normal for a dog of her weight to have to go poop four or five times a day, if not more? Yesterday she had diarrhea. She's going to the vet today at 11, so we're hoping for at least some result (although the there hasn't been in years). Do you guys have some weight gain tips for her or have anything I should have the vet check for?

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February 29, 20160 found this helpful

Check her for worms.

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March 1, 20161 found this helpful

Hmmm... She does seem underweight and I think she is going too often.

I assume you have tried a grain-free, soy free food for her to help rule out allergies.

Apparently German Shepherds are prone to Inflammatory Bowel Disease, so have them check for that.

http://insideth  disease-ibd.html

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December 1, 2009 Flag

I have a 7 year old German Shepherd mix. She is so skinny you can see her ribs and her back bone. We put food out for her, but she just won't eat. And when she does, she doesn't gain anything.

We took her to the vet for blood work; she has no worms, no cancer, and no parasites. She has diarrhea. I am afraid that I will lose her. We used to give her dry dog food. Now we switch food every day from meat to fish to pasta. She doesn't eat, she only rests. Please help me.

By Dakota from New York

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December 8, 20090 found this helpful

Just another voice here repeating what others have already said: please take your dog to another vet; the current one MUST release your pup's records to you when you request them. (At this point, I wouldn't be concerned about hurting anyone's feelings by doing this--even if you've been going there for a while. A good vet will understand your concern for your animal is the bottom line).

Also--we've had a few GSD's over the course of our lifetimes here and a way too thin, non-eating Shepherd is not common with a healthy specimen of that breed--just the opposite. They should eat you out of house and home and be full of muscle and energy.

Sending best wishes for a better diagnosis of your dog.

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December 11, 20090 found this helpful

Raw beef liver minced, I also give 2 ml of olive oil. I hope this helps.

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December 22, 20101 found this helpful

I just want to give my own personal experience. And for the record, I am a vet, but not currently practicing. In any case, I ended up with a rescue German Shepherd with a severe megaesophagus (Sami) that he did really well with for about 6 months and suddenly began to lose weight. All other vets I talked to said his megaesophagus was incompatible with life and that was the reason, but I didn't think so since he had done well with it for so long. He'd always had a loose stool, but the weight loss was sudden and scarily severe. I tried supplementing him with pancreatic enzymes to trial treat and see if exocrine pancreate insufficiency (EPI) could be playing a role, but it didn't help at all. I was at a loss, and he was looking positively skeletal.

Then a friend of mine who is also a vet made a suggestion. She is from Germany, and she said she saw lots of GSDs with a similar problem in Germany, and the problem was responsive to doxycycline. Well, I was worried about the doxycycline because I was afraid that with the megaesophagus that Sami would have a hard time with nausea and esophagitis, but I finally tried it. This poor boy was skeletal, and had even become anemic.

Only other abnormality on blood work was white blood cells. Well, I tried the doxycycline at a dose of 50 mg twice daily... within a month he gained 15 pounds (he had gotten down to a mere 40 pounds, and he was a year old).

Now he is playing again, and acting like a happy boy, despite that megaesophagus that is "incompatible with life" according to every vet that ever saw his radiographs. My German vet friend said that she had seen many German Shepherds whose weight loss responded to doxycycline. She told me that after they gain weight, you can gradually try to wean them down until you find the lowest dose that allows them to maintain their weight. She said she had one dog that did great as long as he got doxycycline twice a week, but that he would lose weight if it was given any less frequently.

I haven't yet started weaning Sami down yet. It was only two months ago that I tried this, and the results have been so amazing that I am almost afraid to wean him down, but I also hate the idea of giving antibiotics all the time. Regardless, I have no doubt he would have died by now if I had not decided to take my friend's advice. Oh, and I even asked other vets, before I tried it, what they thought, and they all acted like it was a crazy idea because they had never heard of it and it didn't make sense to them.

Well, the whole reason I don't practice is because I have many special needs rescues, and many of them should have died years ago based on what the textbooks say. I have learned that given a chance and persistence, animal's do heal from things that supposedly shouldn't heal, and they do manage to live with conditions that are "incompatible with life." And I don't mean that they barely get by and it's almost cruel to keep them alive. I am referring to a cat paralyzed from the neck down that supposedly would never walk again (no deep pain in any limbs) and did, a cat with a heart problem that usually causes death within 3 months of diagnosis that is still alive and thriving 8 years later. That is just a sample.

Anyway, enough rambling, but the doxycycline is worth a try if you have tried everything and nothing seems to work. Of course, you have to find a vet that is willing to prescribe it, and that may be difficult if they have never seen such a condition, but they never will see such a condition respond if they never actually try it! I tried it, and it worked. If I saw the same condition again, and eliminated EPI as an option, I wouldn't hesitate to try this again. Oh, and I tried metronidazole, and even Clavamox, and neither of these medications did anything to remedy the weight loss!

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August 20, 2015 Flag

My Shepherd just turned a year. He was the runt and has always been kind of small, even though everyone who sees him says "wow he is going to be a big boy". He is long and has always been on the slender side, but still looked healthy. He has had food allergies since he was a pup and it took me a long time to find a food he would not throw up. I recently changed from puppy to adult food and found something that seems OK, but over the last couple of months he looks too skinny. You can even see his ribs a little. He eats but not a lot. He is still very active and energetic, but it worries me. I tried adding some wet food to the dry and he threw up really badly, even acid, after he lost everything he ate that day. I am back to straight dry food, lamb and rice seems to sit well with him, but is there something else I can do or anything I should be concerned about? Please help. He is my baby and I don't want anything to happen to him. He is up to date on shots.

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August 20, 20150 found this helpful

Just feed him what he can tolerate.

Dogs and cats are like humans- being overweight can shorten their lifespan, but eating a calorie-restricted diet can actually prolong life.

If someone thinks you aren't feeding him, just say he has food allergies and won't tolerate most foods.

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August 5, 2014 Flag

I rescued a adult German Shepherd named Big Guy, from the pound. When I got him he would not eat and was afraid of everyone and everything. I have had him for about 8 months he seems to have built a trust relationship with me. He eats all of his food now and weighs about 80 lbs, but I can still see his ribs and his hip bones. What can I do to get him to gain fat and muscle. The vet told me he is perfectly healthy and is at a healthy weight, but probably he just needs to gain some muscle.

By Sharon

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August 6, 20140 found this helpful

A lot of running and playing at the dog park will build some muscle. Hiking is good too.

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August 7, 20140 found this helpful

We have had 5 G/S dogs ranging from 65 lbs to 105. Make sure you always leave a bowl with dry food so he can eat whenever he is hungry. Running or just plain walking will build muscle. Buy an inexpensive tennis ball and play with him. The muscle will come in time.

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December 10, 2013 Flag

I have female German Shepherd, she is 7 months old and looks very weak and skinny. She's having milk, eggs, and dog food, but still not putting on weight and she is under weight. What should I give her to eat or supplement ?

By Varun

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December 12, 20130 found this helpful

Have you taken it to a vet? If not, you need to. It may have worms, which it sounds like to me. Only a vet check will be able to tell. Good Luck.

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March 19, 2005 Flag

I have a beautiful German Shepherd named Bullett, he is 2, but to look at him, he looks like I do not feed him. He goes to the vet for his check ups and does not have worms, parasites, etc. He eats like a pig but will not put any weight on.

I have tried different foods but nothing is working. I know dogs are like people as far as some will be fat, some will just be skinny, but he is REALLY skinny, you can see his ribs, and his bones in the back. When I watch animal cops and see the dogs that they take away because they are being abused I say to my hubby, if they saw Bullett they would think the same thing.

He goes outside, but he is an inside dog, I do not trust people (terrible to say) since three of my dogs were poisoned. I give him extra treats, he is a big spoiled baby but just plain skinny.


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Anonymous Flag
March 17, 20110 found this helpful

My german shepherd is the exact same way!! I have spent over $1000 at two different vets and they cannot find anything wrong with him, but they both told me to feed him puppy food because it is higher in calories and there is a vitamin paste that you can buy from Petsmart or Petco, etc. and hopefully this will help my dog and yours!

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April 4, 20110 found this helpful

We just 'rescued' a 2 year old GS. He is only 68 lbs - we found out from his records that he was 80 lbs when he was 9 mos old. He eats a raw diet (Majestic), eats like crazy. He's very active. No diarrhea. He is very thin and has lost muscle mass on his back and chest area. We are very concerned. The vet did some blood and stool tests and we're waiting for the results. I don't think it's his pancreas because he has no bulky stools or diarrhea.

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July 16, 20120 found this helpful

No vaccines. His immune system may have been compromised. A homeopath would be a good start. No doubt he was vaccinated numerous times while at the shelter or the jail he was in. Good homeo for that is THUJA. Worms? easy to rid of intestinal worms by adding to his food, non harmful diatomacious earth. MUST be food grade. The other has poisons in it. D E - Small amounts, often. Helps with many things. Google it.

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December 30, 2010 Flag

I have a beautiful German Shepherd named Bullett, he is 2, but to look at him, he looks like I do not

feed him. He goes to the vet for his checkups and does not have worms, parasites, etc. He eats like a

pig, but will not put any weight on.

I have tried different foods, but nothing is working. I know dogs are like people as far as some will

be fat, some will just be skinny, but he is really skinny, you can see his ribs, and his bones in the

back. When I watch animal cops and see the dogs that they take away because they are being abused I say

to my hubby, if they saw Bullett they would think the same thing.

He goes outside, but he is an inside dog. I do not trust people (terrible to say) since three of my

dogs were poisoned. I give him extra treats, he is a big spoiled baby, but just plain skinny.



Skinny German Shepard

Sometimes the stool check they do at the vet's office does not pick up on all parasites (some parasites

are very difficult to pick up by scope like giardia, etc.). A prophylactic measure may be to have your

vet prescribe a broad-spectrum dewormer. (I'm not crazy about giving any medications, but may be

necessary in this case).

Also, I wonder if Bullett is getting enough protein. Bullett sounds like a high-energy dog. Most

dogs need approximately 80% protein in their diet. Check your dog food bag and make sure it says 80%+. If not,

I would recommend supplementing with "people food", i.e. real meat, even hamburger. I have seen many

skinny dogs improve on a diet of high quality protein (the protein in most commercial dog foods is low

quality, ie chicken beaks, etc., stuff not fit for human consumption.) If they won't feed it to humans,

why are they giving it to our animal companions?

Check out the "BARF" diet on the web. Good luck! (03/19/2005)

By kriso

Skinny German Shepard

Great advice Kriso. But I wouldn't recommend the barf diet to just anyone although I know it has been

very successful with many dogs. Personally, I don't like to handle all the raw meat & have it on my

surfaces, etc. The Whole Dog Journal is a very respected dog journal written by holistic/traditional vets

and I consider it my dog bible. They have recommended dog foods every year and I've learned a lot. Also will send free brochures about what's in dog food. Shocking. I have educated myself

extensively over the years and only feed a good all natural dog food. Yes, it's a little more expensive,

but guess what, I have had almost no health issues with my dogs over the years and I save on vet bills.

The last dog I had put to sleep was 20. She was the oldest dog in the history of my vet. Besides, they

are entitled to the best. In the past I have gone without to make sure of it. (03/19/2005)

By Vicki

Skinny German Shepard

When in doubt, ask your vet. (03/19/2005)

By Linda

Skinny German Shepard

Try Bil Jac. It's sold in the freezer section of your store. (03/19/2005)

By Kelly-boxer owner

Skinny German Shepard

Does he get enough water? Has he been tested for diabetes? Must be something else going on. I would

take him back to the vet. (03/21/2005)

By guest

Skinny German Shepard

My German Shepherd/Akita/Chow mix is having the same problem. No matter how much fatty food we give her,

we can't reverse it. My aunt says that some growth spurts can cause this, and that they'll eventually

grow as tall as they are long. (05/30/2005)

By Cara

Skinny German Shepard

I'm not a vet, but you might want to ask yours to check for any thyroid problems. The thyroid controls

metabolism. If his thyroid levels are too high, it will cause his digestion to be faster than normal.

This would result in a skinny puppy.
Just thought I would throw that out there.
Best of luck!

By Julie

Skinny German Shepard

I too have a very lanky German Shepherd. He is two and although very big, still so very thin. Our vet

told us quite honestly that if you have an "American" German Shepherd, they will indeed be lankier and

leaner than their bulked-up "German" German Shepherd counterparts. If he's eating well, and active and

happy, let sleeping dogs lie and just enjoy your pet. (12/21/2005)

By Althea

Skinny German Shepard

I own a 6 year old German Shepherd wolf mix. He is very energetic, but so thin that people would rudely

comment on his weight. I tried every thing and finally found the key, Innova Evo with 42% is

the best dog food on the market that I have found for this issue. It costs $40 a bag, but is well worth

it. He finally is at a perfect weight and his coat is gorgeous! (02/12/2006)

By miakita3

Skinny German Shepard

Thank goodness I'm not the only one!
I get looks for my super-skinny Shepherd. Had her checked for everything, including EPI, and she's just

skinny. Not a big eater either. I had her on raw food and that worked for a while (though she was eating

four to six pounds of food a day and weighs only 50 lbs herself, so she was eating her own weight every

10 days!)
Innova Evo is one food that she will eat, but my vet thinks the protein is too high and carbs would help

her keep weight on. I mix it with mashed potatoes, and that's helped her weight stabilize. (04/10/2006)

By Fiona

Skinny German Shepard

Hi there, I'll bet your dog has Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency. This is actually quite common in

German Shepherds, however I never heard of it till my German Shepherd was diagnosed at 8 months, she is

now 2 and I'm still having trouble getting her to gain weight. So my suggestion is go back to your vet

and have them test for this. Best of Luck (07/20/2006)

By Melissa

Skinny German Shepard

I also have a skinny Shepherd. She is healthy according to Vet. I have now put her on Wellness Puppy

food. I also use some stage 2 weaning milk mixed in with it when she doesn't seem to want to eat her

portion at any given time. She is recovering from having some foreign body in her throat. She got down to

45 lbs. She has gained 10 lbs in one week is continuing to recover. I have also found her to be an

extremely picky eater. She won't eat anything with beef in it. She will eat anything with chicken in it.

The Vet told me to keep her on puppy food until she has her weight on. (01/20/2007)

By Gloria

Skinny German Shepard

I see a lot of you don't realize that Shepherds are prone to the pancreatic disorder that does not enable

them to metabolize the food they eat. No matter how much they eat, they do not absorb the nutrients from

the food. I had a friend who had a cat with the same problem. He gave his cat a product called "Total-

It replaces the enzymes that the pancreas is not secreting enabling the body to once again absorb

nutrients. His cat had lost more than half it's body weight. After taking the supplement for a few

months, the cat is almost back to his original weight. I now have a Shepherd that has the same problem.

I've ordered the product for him and I plan to start him on it ASAP. Hope this helps. (07/09/2007)

By Rosemary

Skinny German Shepherd

I have a 3 1/2 year old female GSD and she finally is gaining some weight. She is about 75 lbs. now, I

have been feeding her with Eukanuba dry food for GSD, about 4 cups a day and I mix it with rice and

sardines (1 or 2 pieces) and she loves it. She was skinny for a long time till about 6 months ago, which

is in a way is better, you don't want a dog that looks like a pig. Anyhow as long as they are healthy it

should be OK if they are a little light, try mixing the food with rice and sardines, it worked for me.

Sometimes I give her pork or chicken also, she is very healthy, they are great dogs. (11/28/2007)

By jporres

Skinny German Shepherd

Bullet is only two so he will still bulk up more. Have you tried feeding him a raw meat diet? Our

Shepherd had the same problem and our vet offered high fat packaged dog food. However, that was the worst

thing to give our Shepherd. She didn't need fat, she needed nutrients. It was a naturopathic vet that

turned us on to raw meat. Bullet will love you for it. Check out holistic breeder web sites and websites

that support holistic feeding and medical care. A good site to start with,


By Katy

Skinny German Shepherd

This can also be a lack of proper exercise. German Shepherds with good genes will typically not get

overweight, so feeding them a lot doesn't mean they will gain weight. In fact, you don't want your dog to

gain fat, you want them to gain muscle. Now, unfortunately a lot of people are taking in German Shepherds

as pets and not offering them the exercise they need to develop muscularly. If you want to "bulk up" a

Shepherd, it needs vigorous, difficult exercise. I start by running my Shepherds with a bike until they

can run at least 10 miles without breaking. Then, get them a weighted training vest and do hill charges

with them. This is how we get working dogs in shape, and if you want a bulky, muscly Shepherd, this kind

of training is the best way. They love it too. I should mention you shouldn't have them do this vigorous

of work until they are 18 months due to their hips still developing, up until then, swimming is the best

and healthiest approach. Give them exercise, feed them well and you will have a beautiful, in-shape dog.


By Steve

Skinny German Shepherd

Another thing to consider is Addison's Disease! If your dog has been checked for EPI and does not have

it, think about Addison's. Addison's can go undiscovered until a crisis hits and then it can be awful. I

had no idea what was wrong with my first Shepherd. She was tall and skinny, had a lot of diarrhea, but not

the characteristic greasy yellow stools of an EPI dog. The vet tested her for EPI and it was negative and

he had no idea. She went in for grooming and the groomer mistreated her and she went into an Addisonian

Crisis! I rushed her to the vet who quickly gave her an injection of prednisone and she "arose from the


A month later we tested her for Addison's and it was a borderline positive. We started treating her

and she is doing well. She is now 10 1/2 years old and her Addison's is under control and she has gained

20 healthy pounds. Addison's affects their ability to eat as it affects their jaw muscles, as well as

other things.The vet did some studying on Addison's and he feels there are a great number of undiagnosed

AD dogs who never get treated and are destroyed because they simply never do well and their owners give

up. (09/20/2009)

By Meezermom

Skinny German Shepherd

By all means get another vet. I feed my GSD Purina One Large Breed Weight Management food. That works

well for her and she likes it. She's healthy and her weight is good. You don't want an overweight GSD,

but you don't want him emaciated either. Let another vet get a good look at him. There seems to be

something causing him to be so thin if he doesn't have parasites, etc. I've had so many GSD's, and I have

been fortunate that they have all been healthy. Good luck! (10/02/2009)

By Stngray

Skinny German Shepherd

In the past few months I've been forced to read a lot of literature about mal-absorption in dogs and

specifically in German Shepherds. Ignorance among various vets including even faculty members of

allegedly well respected institutions is astounding. For example, most vets do not understand that B12

deficiency itself can cause mal-absorption of B12, i.e. a chain reaction whatever started it originally.

If a dog is B12 deficient most treatments of any underlying GI problem will not work.

Second, German Shepherds are prone to SIBO as a standalone disease. I think I may have caused it in

mine by treating his Lyme and forgetting to re-inoculate his intestines with probiotics. Hopefully I can

correct it, but it has been hell. My dog is finally gaining weight, I feed him probably 10 cups daily and

spritz sublingual B12 behind his cheek. Most of it is wasted, but some gets absorbed through the mucous

membranes in the mouth. Since daily need is only micrograms, 1.2 milligrams is probably OK. Vets can

give injections of 500 micrograms weekly. If your dog cannot absorb much because of Small Intestinal

Bacterial Overgrowth you may need to treat it with Oxytetracycline (best), Tylosin, or Metronidazole.

At Tufts Vet. School, they think 10 days of anti-biotics is enough. It is NOT. If the intestinal

permeability is increased then the infection will recur. 4-6 weeks or longer is needed to let the time

for the intestinal lining to heal (if not permanently damaged by stupid vets putting your dog on a food

trial for 1-3 months and wasting time while your dog suffers). The problem is that if intestinal

permeability is increased your dog will probably be allergic to ANY normal food after a short while. I

tried a bunch of foods and after a couple days rest the diarrhea always came back. Allergies in this case

maybe the effect, NOT the cause. (12/29/2009)

By pensive

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December 1, 2009 Flag

My German shepherd won't eat. Please help.

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