Feeding a dog requires some know-how of its daily energy requirements and the essential nutrients it requires for its maintenance.
This becomes more complex in terms of a puppy due to its rapidly growing body that needs some adjustments as the pup grows.
Generally speaking, a GS pup needs to be fed 3-4 times a day till 4 months, after that a meal-a-day schedule would suffice.
The meals should be smaller ones for better digestion and must include proteins, carbs, and fats in adequate proportion with minerals as well to cover all of the pup’s needs.
In this article, we will discuss how much to feed a German Shepherd puppy at various age groups, the Feeding schedule, and finally will have a GSD puppy feeding chart to sum it all up.
German Shepherd Puppy Daily Caloric Requirements
A puppy’s caloric intake depends on its size, hence it is described per pound of body weight. Until 4 months, 80 to 90 calories per pound a day would cover the dog’s daily energy expenditure and still have some room for growth.
This could be decreased in a gradual manner because, by the age of 4-5 months, 40 to 60 calories per pound a day fulfill the pup’s daily maintenance and growth requirements.
These calories should come from a variety of sources covering proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. About 22% of the total calories should be contributed by proteins, which are required for muscle and skin growth.
The rest should cover carbohydrates as the major portion that fulfills the energy needs and fats should come next.
How Often To Feed A German Shepherd Puppy?
A German Shepherd pup will have a different number of meals at various months of age that suits its body’s needs as follows:
2 Month Old GS puppy
Till the age of 2 months, the puppies should be nursed by their mother. Breast milk of the female GSD covers all the nutritional requirements for the pup. It has the advantage of being naturally maintained at the body temperature and is easy to digest.
Moreover, it has antibodies that protect the pup in its early days from many infectious diseases and allergies alike.
A pup will feed itself whenever it is hungry and you do not need to have a schedule for it. Just make sure the mother is present near the pup all the time.
Read Also: Guide for Owning A 2-Month-Old German Shepherd Puppy
4 Month Old GS puppy
At about 9-10 weeks, the pup is weaned from the mother’s milk and is started on puppy mush.
This mush should be given to the pup 4 times a day. These timings should be equally spaced, allowing the pup adequate time to eat and digest the food before having the next meal.
Read Also: Guide for Owning A 4-Month-Old German Shepherd Puppy
6-Month-Old GS puppy
By this time, a GS puppy should be having 3 meals a day. Again these should be properly scheduled to avoid any overlap in digestion and hunger issues.
You should gradually move down from 4 meals at 4 months to 3 meals at 6 months by changing the meal schedules and having small snacks at times when the dog is feeling hungry due to a reduction in the meal numbers until it gets used to 3 meals a day.
8 Month-Old GS puppy
At 8 months, your pup should be eating 2 times a day. Use the same method as described above when moving from 3 to 2 meals a day so that your dog doesn’t feel a drastic shift in the number of meals.
GSD Puppy Feeding Chart
|Age||Ideal Weight(lbs)||Number of meals a day||Quantity in (grams)||Quantity in (cups)|
|4 months||35-40 lbs||4||396||4 3/8|
|6 months||49-57 lbs||3||500||5 1/2|
|8 months||62-66 lbs||2||500||5 1/2|
|10 months||66-73 lbs||2||460||5|
This table is for a male GSD pup with an ideal adult weight of 80 lbs. You may have a pup with a different ideal adult weight or of the opposite gender, you can learn more about them in the links below.
Best Time To Feed A German Shepherd Puppy
Your pup should have scheduled meals every day rather than eating at will, whenever it’s in the ‘mood’.
This ensures that the dog’s digestive system is ready to receive and digest the food without any irregularities. This also avoids diseases associated with indigestion such as heartburn or GERD etc.
The day should begin with a nice breakfast around 6-7 am before you leave for work. This would allow the dog to have adequate energy to start the day with.
Lunch should be served around noon, typically around 1-2 pm. This is for the pups who are at a 3 times a day meal. This is usually skipped for older pups who have a 2 meal a day diet.
Ideally, the dinner should be spaced 2 hours before sleep. This allows for better sleep without any indigestion hampering it.
What To Feed German Shepherd Puppies?
When starting to wean the pup, use softer foods that are easy to digest. Puppy mush aka puppy gruel is the ideal thing to go with.
Puppy mush is the kibble that you give an adult dog but is softened to a gruel-like consistency.
The three main ingredients are kibble, milk, and water. Take 2 cups of dry kibble and mix with 340 grams of milk. The amount of water will depend on how soft and thin you want it to be.
You can be a little experimental with it as well, adding different additional ingredients like fruits and vegetables to change the taste or texture, especially when the pup is used to the same food every day resulting in a decreased appetite.
Also, according to the health recommendations by your veterinarian, nutritious foods like broccoli, bananas, pumpkins, etc can be added.
With time you’ll learn about your dog’s taste and the foods that are easy on your pocket, finding the perfect balance between the two.
Kibble/ Dry Food
This comes in the form of pellets that are easy to manage in terms of storing, serving, and eating.
Kibble generally contains all the nutrients a pup needs in its diet, however, you should check the back label to match it with your dog’s dietary requirements as it may differ among different providers.
Also, Kibble comes in pellets of different sizes so choose the one that suits your dog’s eating habits and is easy to masticate.
As mentioned, it can be turned into Mush that is easy to digest with the additional water and milk. This also increases the water content of the diet as Kibble is generally dry and can aggravate dehydration.
Wet Canned Food
These foods have additional water content in them which makes them a better choice when the dog is dehydrated as in diarrhea.
Also, some dogs find canned food tastier due to its different consistency and prefer it over Kibble. So it is better to check the nutritional values of a can and compare it to that of Kibble as canned food generally provides lower nutrition in the same weight due to its additional water content.
One other issue with canned foods is that their water content does not provide any calories but is counted in the weight of the can.
This can lead to underfeeding of the dog when you’re replacing dry kibble with wet canned food and giving the same amount to the dog.
It is essential to check that the caloric and mineral content is the same regardless of the amount of kibble and canned food.
|Dry Kibble||Wet Canned Food|
|Easy to store||Requires more storage space|
|Better for mastication development||Not ideal for mastication development|
|The fiber content helps in digestion||Too easy to digest|
|Easy to serve||May spill|
|Needs an Air-tight container to keep fresh||Fresh with every can|
|Cheaper in bulk||Expensive|
Human Foods That A German Shepherd Pup Can Eat
A GS pup can eat a variety of human foods that are both tasty and nutritious, here is a list:
- Apples- Apples are a great source of fiber that helps in digestion along with many essential minerals, especially iron.
- Bananas- these are soft and go easy on the stomach, also bananas are a healthy source of carbohydrates with added electrolytes like potassium and magnesium.
- Carrots- Carrots are rich in carotene which is required for better vision and skin.
- Pineapple- Filled with vitamin C and B6, Pineapples are juicy and delicious.
- Berries- Berries can be given as snacks or added to the mush for meals.
- Cashews- Cashews provide iron, magnesium, and small amounts of calcium, they are also a source of lipids that are required for maintaining energy reserves.
- Pumpkin- Pumpkins can be added to the diet during periods of stomach upset
- Chicken- the source of protein and fats
- Pasta- Lots of carbs before exercise, only in small amounts
- Bread- Soft and easy to digest
- Cheese- Provides calcium and vitamin D
- Eggs- Eggs provide essential amino acids and are safe to eat when fully cooked
- Potato- when boiled, easy to eat and digest
- Rice- the source of carbs and vitamin B, easy on the tummy
Human Foods That A GS Pup Should Avoid
A lot of human foods contain toxic substances that are harmful to dogs, especially pups. The following foods should be avoided given to a German Shepherd pup
- Avocados– Persin is a compound found in avocados that dogs cannot detoxify and it accumulates in their bodies. It causes diarrhea and vomiting along with fluid entrapment in the lungs, which leads to dehydration and hypoxia respectively, and may kill the dog when large quantities are ingested.
- Seeds of Apples, Cherries, and Apricots- These seeds contain Cyanide that acts as a poison and should be avoided at all costs.
- Coffee and related stimulants- these contain caffeine that stimulates the gastrointestinal system, leading to diarrhea, palpitations, and increased heart rate which can cause anxiety.
- Chocolate– Dark chocolate contains theobromine that acts as a stimulant causing increased bowel movements and can act as a toxin in large quantities causing pancreatitis, abnormal heart rhythms, and seizures.
- Dairy products– Dogs that are lactose intolerant develop flatulence and diarrhea when they drink milk or consume other dairy products hence these should be avoided in them.
- Mushrooms– Many mushrooms carry toxins that cause fulminant hepatitis and kidney failure, hence it is better to avoid them all when you can’t specify the species.
- Garlic and Onion– These contain sulfur compounds that can cause the destruction of red blood cells leading to anemia in dogs.
- Xylitol– This substance is found in artificial sweeteners used in many sugar-free foods. Upon ingestion, Xylitol can cause rapid sugar drop in a dog, potentially fatal when consumed in large amounts.
- Raw Meat– Raw meat whether it is from fish or cattle can contain parasites that lead to infestation inside the dog’s body. It can involve multiple organs, especially the digestive tract and lungs and is potentially fatal.
How To Know Which Dog Food Is The Best For Your German Shepherd?
Although the answer might sound a bit odd, the best way to know which dog food suits your dog is through trial and error.
Concerning Kibble, you must check the nutrition values at the back of the package and check if they match your dog’s daily requirements in terms of calories and nutrients.
I personally use products from Royal Cannin as I’ve found them most suitable for me to use and my dogs also like the taste of their product a lot. You are free to try any one of the certified brands and pick one that suits you.
The Association Of American Feed Control Officials sets guidelines for all pet food marketers according to the best health standards, you need to make sure whichever product you choose complies with them.
Similarly, when making mush, you’ll come to find the right consistency that is neither too thick for your pup to swallow nor too thin that it becomes a drink.
Add other foods to make them more nutritious and tasteful like fruits, vegetables, and cereals.
The same goes for canned food as well and you can alternate between cans and Kibble so that your dog’s taste buds don’t feel bored with one particular food all the time.
As mentioned, you can add human foods to the kibble or wet canned foods for a better experience and nutritive value.
Also, you can use these as snacks between meals when the pup is hungry or before an activity to provide quick calories.
By mixing and alternating different types of food for your pup, you’ll eventually learn the perfect balance that suits your dog, in terms of quantity, consistency, and ingredients of the diet.
Cups vs Grams
Let’s settle the debate over what standard to choose for measuring the quantity of dog food, cups, or grams.
Cups, although sounding simple, can be very confusing as they vary in their exact sizes from one manufacturer to another.
A standard cup is labeled as 4 ounces(113g) however, these cups range from 3.5 to 4 oz.
Another issue while using cups is the level of the meniscus. You never know to what extent to fill the cup. Some people fill it to the brim while others leave a lot of room to fill and both of them would call it a ‘cup full’.
Hence, this will under or overfeed your dog in the long run.
Grams, on the contrary, are fixed and do not show subjective differences in measurement. That is why I prefer measuring the dog food in grams rather than cups.
The best way to measure them is to use a kitchen scale, these are cheap and will help you for years. Pour your dog food into a cup and then transfer it onto the scale. This will also tell you about the size of your cup.
Is It Okay To Feed Dogs Once A Day?
Once-a-day meals are okay when your pooch is an adult as they are capable of eating a full meal and digesting it to get maximum energy and nutrients to use the entire day.
Also, this prevents obesity and allows the dog to maintain its ideal weight.
However, for puppies, it is not okay to have a one-meal-a-day plan. Pups have small tummies that cannot digest a big meal and can get sick when overfed.
Thus, it is important to have their daily ratio split into 2,3, or 4 parts as appropriate to their age in months. This allows for better digestion with less burden on their digestive tract.
How Much Water Should A GS Puppy Drink?
AKC recommends that a puppy should drink about half a cup of water every 2 hours to keep itself hydrated. This equates to about 120 ml if you want to be too precise and handling cups is not your game.
This however will fluctuate according to the weather conditions and whether or not your pup is exercising.
This water should be supplemented with healthy food in order to replace the electrolytes that are lost with sweat as well.
Ideally, you should stop giving water to your pup before bedtime so that it does wet the bed or wakes up due to a micturition urge.
Remember, during the days when the puppy is solely being breastfed, it does not need any water as breast milk provides an adequate amount of fluid as well.
You need to look out for any signs of dehydration that may be present, these are
- Sunken eyes
- Dry skin with lost turgor (skin integrity)
- Dry tongue with pale gums
- Persistent diarrhea or loss of motions
Foods For A Pup With an Upset Stomach
Pups get sick easily and mostly it’s their gut with the issue. Diarrhea and vomiting are common ailments that dogs suffer from and where require treatment from a veterinarian, it also needs a change in the diet plan to be made.
Foods that are easy on the stomach and come along with fibers are the best way to go as they give bulk to the stools and do not impact the gut. Following is a list of foods that can be given to pups with upset stomachs:
Pumpkins are soft and nutritious and contain adequate amounts of dietary fiber to give bulk to feces and prevent loose stools. You can add these to puppy mush after boiling them.
White rice when boiled is super digestible and its blandness makes it easy to mix with other food without disrupting the flavors. Brown Rice on the other hand has high fiber content which is good for watery stools.
3. Boiled Chicken
Chicken is rich in macronutrients, especially proteins and fats, it also has a decent water content to prevent dehydration.
There are various ways in which chicken can be given to a dog. You can mix it in mush or make a broth. Also, chicken over rice is a favorite food of many dogs.
3. Sweet Potatoes
Just like Pumpkins, Sweet potatoes are rich in nutrients and fiber. They are easy to boil and mash, and can be mixed together with other fruits and vegetables in a gruel.
For more in-depth info about what German Shepherds can eat, I’ve written the following two comprehensive guides;
Fruits that GSDs can eat:
Vegetables that GSDs can eat;
Let’s look at some important FAQs regarding GSDs feeding.
Can dogs have tomatoes?
Yes, Tomatoes are a natural source of many minerals and electrolytes. It is safe for a dog to have these occasionally.
However, Tomatoes contain oxalates, and too much of these can combine with calcium in the blood to form calcium oxalate stones in the kidneys, a grave disease that should be prevented.
Can dogs eat popcorn?
Yes, but only in small quantities every now and then. Air-popped popcorn can provide calories as well as minerals and fiber. These can be a good treat for your dog every now and then.
Additional flavors like caramel-added popcorn should be avoided as they can lead to obesity and may contain artificial preservatives that are harmful.
Can Dogs eat Pizza?
Although not toxic in their nature, pizzas should be avoided for dogs. Pizzas provide too many calories for their weight and have extra fats and unhealthy levels of salt, this can lead to your dog getting obese and having high sodium levels.
Thus it is better to discourage pizzas altogether.
How Often Should You Feed A German Shepherd Puppy? – Conclusion
Feeding a pup is a function of its age, target adult weight, and any comorbid conditions.
German Shepherd puppies can eat a variety of foods but it is essential to know the portions and timings of the meals and to avoid certain foods altogether.
Read through the article to have a complete guide on a GS pup.