I have a 16-month-old female German Shepherd named Cherry (she has adorable, cherry-like eyes). She had gastroenteritis at 3 months of age. The whole episode lasted two weeks, and finally our family nursed her back to health. Cherry is 24 inches tall and weighs just 52 pounds, the same as she’s weighed since she was 10 months old. She looks slim compared to other Shepherds.
She gets an hour of exercise daily. Her meals include brown rice, chicken, potatoes and other veggies all cooked together, or rice and hard boiled eggs, or Pedigree dry kibble. She also gets multivitamin syrup, digestive enzymes, and liver supplements along with her meals.
Her appetite is average and she never overeats. She eats well for three days and then will just eat nibbles for the next two days. How can I get Cherry to put on more weight? Also, what can I give her for Omega 3? Is cod liver oil good enough?
Being 52 pounds is a little on the light side for a German Shepherd, but still within the healthy range. The diet and supplements you are feeding Cherry sound great, even better than my own diet on some days!
Although it sounds good, this diet may not be entirely balanced for Cherry. Make sure you have her diet checked out by your veterinarian, or preferably a veterinary nutritionist. You don’t mention giving Cherry calcium supplements – this is important in a growing dog’s diet.
You are obviously concerned that compared to other German Shepherds she looks slim, but are these other Shepherds perhaps overweight? If her ribs don’t show and she is covered with a little fat, that sounds okay. With German Shepherds, you can expect their rate of growth to clearly slow after approximately 6 months of age, with minimal weight gain after 12 months of age.
Has Cherry had a first heat yet? Female dogs reach puberty when their body weight is roughly 75 percent of their adult weight. You could regard her as a human teenager – tall and lanky – but eventually they mature and put some weight on.
Has Cherry been spayed? Typically a dog’s metabolism slows down after being spayed, so that could be an option for Cherry. Some bitches also go off their food temporarily as they come into heat.
While it is more common for dogs to be very greedy and eat everything they see, some dogs, including German Shepherds, regulate their intake. In fact, German Shepherds are notoriously finicky eaters, so Cherry is just being true to her breed! Cherry may actually enjoy a longer life span – studies have shown that calorie restriction increases longevity in dogs.
Perhaps Cherry’s water source is a problem. Does she receive fresh, clean water? Are there any problems with the tap water where you live? Water can sometimes contain bacteria and parasites that cause upset stomachs.
Has Cherry had a dental check up? Are her teeth and gums healthy? If she has any mouth problems that cause pain, she would be unwilling to eat.
Regarding Omega 3 consumption, giving Cherry cod liver oil is good. If you can find salmon oil, that is also good.
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