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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You should have any skinny GSD, Doberman Pinscher, Labrador Retriever or other breed known to be born with EPI check 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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Here are questions related to Skinny German Shepherd.
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 NEWFIEGIRL  11/02/2013
Have you considered talking to your Veterinarian.?
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
By Cisco's Mom  09/03/2013
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?
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 Tina 12/22/2010
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!
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.
By vicki hood  07/16/2012
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.
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 Cisco's Mom  08/07/2014
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.
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.
By Abigail A.  08/20/2015
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.
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 Kathy  12/12/2013
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.