During the early stages of life, the German shepherd puppy needs specific nutritional intake as well as growth. Mistakes made in this phase of life have repercussions on it throughout its existence.

The German shepherd puppy goes through three critical phases in the first months of life. This is when feeding is fundamental for its survival and healthy development.

This German shepherd puppy feeding guide will help you find the best nutrition needed to keep your GSD in the strongest state!

Feeding German Shepherd |3 phases:

The first phase is that of breastfeeding. During which the transition from endocrine to postpartum nutrition occurs. This period is influenced by the feeding of the mother during gestation and at the beginning of lactation.

During lactation, puppies should be weighed daily for the first four weeks of life and every week thereafter. The adequate production of breast milk can be assessed by the weight gains of the puppies, their satisfaction, and the distension of the mammary glands.

The second critical phase is that of weaning: This is a very stressful period for the puppy, due to food and environmental changes. The transition from breast milk to solid food to promote growth must be managed correctly.

In the weaning phase, puppies should be encouraged to eat solid food as soon as possible. This practice reduces dependence on the mother, the nutritional load of the mother, helps to reduce iron deficiency in puppies, and makes weaning less stressful.

Many puppies start eating solid food between the third and fourth weeks of age, the period in which the milk teeth begin to erupt.

The third critical phase is post-weaning: This occurs between 2 to 12 months of age, correct nutrition is crucial especially for large and giant breeds. As feeding is shown to be the most important non-genetic factor for correct bone development.

After weaning, puppies must be fed the same food to eliminate stress and reduce the risk of diarrhea.

When bringing a German Shepherd puppy home, special care should be taken not to abruptly change eating habits.

These are, in fact, rather delicate moments, because they usually add up to equally stressful situations, like separation from the mother and change of environment.

The new type of food to be administered should, therefore, be introduced slowly and progressively over 10-12 days. This will allow their body time to adapt the digestive processes and intestinal microflora to the new formulation. Thus, preventing poor digestion and diarrhea.

German shepherd puppy diet:

german shepherd puppy feeding guide

Given that industrial foods guarantee a correct nutritional intake for each period of life and type of activity. It’s also true many breeders and owners still prefer to feed their dogs naturally. Or there might be some clinical reasons requiring them to resort to this type of feeding.

In this case, care must be taken when trying to meet all the puppy’s needs without exceeding in vitamin or mineral caloric administrations. The help of a certified nutritionist veterinarian can overcome these problems by formulating complete and balanced ad hoc diets.

For the same weight, the greatest energy supply is provided by lipids, immediately followed by carbohydrates.

  • Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are essentially present in cereals. In addition to providing this nutrient, they allow enriching the diet with proteins, lipids, fibers, vitamins, and minerals present in different quotas. This depends on the species taken into consideration.
  • Protein: In the home diet the protein intake can be provided by sources of animal origin such as meat, fish, offal (such as spleen or liver), eggs, and dairy products. Please note that excess protein in this period of growth, will acts negatively on its development.
  • Minerals: Plays a vital role in the skeletal development of the puppy. And can be found in trace elements which, usually associated with vitamins, act in numerous biochemical reactions during the growth phase, but also subsequently, in adulthood.
  • Lipids: Animal fats present in meat are indispensable for the puppy. But equally fundamental are the fats of vegetable origin, as they’re a source of essential fatty acids.

The linoleic acid can be administered to the puppy through the use of oils such as canola, corn, and sunflower. These should be in different amounts depending on the size of the puppy and the forecast on its final body weight.

Lipids are the elements that bring the most calories. Care must be taken, therefore, not to misuse it in the preparation of the ration.

In fact, while a reduced energy content in this period of life will lead to a slowdown in growth. However, an excess of energy may cause an increase in excessive weight, not in line with skeletal development.

An excessive quantity or prolonged administration of calcium can cause serious skeletal changes in the puppy; in a balanced diet for growing dogs, the correct percentage of calcium is between 0.7-1.5% SS.

Regular and frequent meals for GSD:

german shepherd feeding guide

Whether you use industrial foods, or you opt for a homemade diet, the puppy needs regular and frequent meals.

The idea is to give him four daily meals up to 3-4 months of life, then move on to three; from six months we’ll have to begin to switch to two meals a day, to be kept constant for the rest of the dog’s life.

Balanced diet to win the challenge of growth

Particular attention must be paid to large and giant puppies and to those belonging to breeds predisposed to the risk of obesity. The growth curves of puppies depending on the breed, the nutrient density of the food, and the amount of food it provides daily: whether the growth is rapid or slow.

Growing subjects reach the same adult weight; a dietary intake to achieve maximum growth increases the risk of osteoarticular pathologies. The feeding for German shepherd puppies must meet the energy requirements for maintenance and that for growth.

The energy required for growth decreases to 8-10% of the total energy required when the puppy reaches 80% of the expected adult weight.

The food for puppies must be easily digestible and with adequate energy density. With poor quality food and reduced energy density, the maximum capacity of the stomach is reached before the puppies themselves have taken on nutrients in an adequate manner.

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