Preparing homemade dog food is time-consuming, but the extra work can be worthwhile, especially if you have German shepherds. These intelligent, loving and fascinating dogs are genetically predisposed to numerous diseases. Families with healthy German shepherds and those whose shepherds have medical conditions are discovering various benefits of homemade diets.
Diet and Health
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Feeding your German shepherd appropriate homemade meals throughout her life may increase her odds of staying healthy. Prevalent in German shepherds are autoimmune diseases, allergies and skin problems, and digestive disorders that can result in gastrointestinal ailments and food intolerances. Some veterinarians, including Dr. Karen Becker, an integrative wellness veterinarian who wrote Dr. Becker's Real Food for Healthy Dogs & Cats, believe that a balanced fresh food diet containing no preservatives, additives and artificial coloring contributes to managing diseases that afflict illness-prone breeds such as German shepherds.
If you decide to prepare homemade dog food for your shepherd, it is essential to properly balance the ingredients. Even when feeding fresh, high-quality individual foods, unbalanced meals can damage your dog's health. In addition to fresh food, which contains most of the nutrients your dog needs, homemade meals might require certain vitamins and supplements. Ask your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist to help you create a specific diet that you will follow and your German shepherd will thrive on.
Shaking off shepherd. image by wrangler from Fotolia.com
People who feed their German shepherds homemade dog food typically use meat, poultry or fish as main ingredients. Muscle meat, organ meat and meaty bones are proteins that contribute to balanced, nutritionally complete meals. Other protein sources in home-prepared meals might include plain yogurt, cottage cheese or eggs. You will need to decide whether to cook the meat and other ingredients, feed an entirely raw diet, or combine raw and cooked foods. Consult your veterinary health practitioner, do research and learn about the ongoing controversy about raw food diets for dogs.
Vegetables and Fruits
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Homemade dog food recipes can include fresh vegetables and fruits, including dark leafy greens, carrots, cooked sweet potatoes and high-antioxidant fruits such as berries. The digestibility and nutritional value of vegetables and fruits increase when you puree them or lightly steam them. Whole, raw vegetables will not harm dogs who enjoy fresh or frozen green beans, carrots and other vegetables as treats or chewy snacks. Never let dogs eat tomatoes, avocado, garlic, onions, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts and chocolate. These foods are toxic and dangerous for dogs.
Grains and Commercial Pet Food
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Veterinarians specializing in nutrition and wellness recommend preparing homemade dog foods because they closely mimic the biological and nutritional requirements of the dogs' ancestors. Some dog families turned to homemade food during the 2007 recall and subsequent recalls of contaminated commercial pet food. Another reason is that dogs have short digestive tracts that are not designed to efficiently digest grains or absorb their nutrients. Many commercial foods contain grains like wheat, soy and corn, which are difficult for a German shepherd's sensitive system to digest and may cause allergies and skin disorders.
- Your Purebred Puppy: German Shepherd Health Problems and Raising a German Shepherd Puppy to Be Healthy
- Healthy Pets: Three Major Reasons to Feed Your Pet a Homemade Diet
- German Shepherd Dog 2nd Edition; Liz Palika
- Healthy Pets: Considering the Switch to Homemade Food? 5 Things You Must Know
- DogAware: Homemade Raw Diets for Dogs
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Melamine Pet Food Recall of 2007
- Whole Dog Journal: A Review of the Best Books on Home-Prepared Dog Food Diets on the Market
- Dr. Becker's Real Food for Healthy Dogs & Cats; Beth Taylor and Karen Shaw Becker, DVM
Maura Wolf's published online articles focus on women, children, parenting, non-traditional families, companion animals and mental health. A licensed psychotherapist since 2000, Wolf counsels individuals struggling with depression, anxiety, body image, parenting, aging and LGBTQ issues. Wolf has two Master of Arts degrees: in English, from San Francisco State University and in clinical psychology, from New College.