Why is My German Shepherd So Skinny and Won’t Eat? – 5 Potential Reasons



Why is My German Shepherd So Skinny and Won’t Eat?” is the first question you might ask when you notice your German Shepherd has lost its appetite.

Without over reacting, you should be aware that even healthy dogs will sometimes only eat 60-70% of the recommended amount on the label if you buy packaged food. 

In this guide we discuss issues like

  • how much a healthy German Shepherd might eat,
  • 5 reasons your GSD might not be eating, and
  • what you might do when your GSD isn’t eating as they should be.

Let’s get into it!


(NOTE: this is a general information guide only, and is not professional advice, or a substitute for professional advice. A qualified vet or animal expert is the only person qualified to give you expert advice in regards to your pet/s)


Why is My German Shepherd So Skinny and Won’t Eat? – 5 Potential Reasons


How Much Might A Healthy German Shepherd Eat On Average?

The amount a dog might eat per day depends on a number of factors like type of food they are fed, how many times a day they eat, their size, their metabolic rate, the amount of exercise they get and so on – so it depends on the dog.

Some say the recommended amount over a 24 hour period for a German Shepherd puppy is 1.5 to 2 cups (about 0.44 lbs), and 4 to 6 cups for a full grown German Shepherd adult dog (about 1.1 lbs).

The above amounts should be divided by the number of meals per day which is 2 for an adult and 3-4 for a puppy.

Your vet should let you know how much, and what your specific dog should be eating though.


5 Potential Reasons Your German Shepherd Won’t Eat, and What You Might Do

Ribs which are easily visible are a good sign that your German Shepherd is too skinny, and perhaps is not healthy nor eating properly.

You should always go see your vet if your GSD is not eating for an extended period, and/or you suspect something serious is going on.

If your GSD is not eating as much as it should be, or not at all, it could be for one or a combination of the following reasons:


      1) Illness

The sickness may not be that serious, in which case you can wait it out.

Your GSD may just have canine influenza, or the common dog flu. But, this can be enough to cause loss of appetite. Common symptoms include sneezing and a runny nose.

Vomiting and diarrhea can occur with non-serious sicknesses. 

On the other hand, your German Shepherd not eating may mean something more significant like cancer, liver or kidney disease, dental disease and more.

Symptoms of some of these more major sicknesses will obviously differ. But, always look for a change in behavior, and in the case of cancer, unusual lumps and bumps and lack of energy.

Problems with the teeth and mouth in the case of dental diseases are sometimes easy to check for. Look for sores, ulcers, bad teeth, bleeding and sensitivity when you touch your GSD in this area.


What Might You Do To Manage Illness

See a vet for over the counter medications for common illness, or to get a treatment plan for serious illness.


      2) Vaccinations & Medical Treatments

Vaccinations & medical treatments sometimes cause adverse effects in animals.

Vaccinations can cause mild and short-term sickness and loss of appetite, especially if your German Shepherd has an allergic reaction.

In most cases, the effects won’t be lasting.


What Might You Do To Manage Vaccinations & Medical Treatments

If getting vaccinations and medical treatments for your dog, make sure you ask the medical professional who recommended it for side effects, and how you can best manage them.


      3) Travel and Change in Environment Or Food

Your GSD may get motion sickness from travel (most commonly car rides), although it’s more common in puppies than adults.

Similarly, your German Shepherd may nervous and uncomfortable in a change of environment, like moving house, or being placed in doggy day care.

These feelings of nausea or uneasiness may cause your German Shepherd to lose its appetite.

A dog may also take some time to get used to their new food if you’ve switched it over recently


What Might You Do To Manage Travel & Change In Environment

You might limit vehicle exposure for your dog, and give your GSD time to settle into a new environment.

You may also gradually increase new food to your dog in smaller %’s, mixed in with old food, before fully switching to the new food.


      4) Pickiness or Behavioral Issues 

Some German Shepherds might be born with, or develop selective habits or behaviours.

These habits and behaviors might include wanting only certain food, needing certain circumstances to eat their food, or even not being able to eat in the presence of others.


What Might You Do To Manage Pickiness or Behavioral Issues

Depending on the reason for your German Shepherd’s behavior at eating time, you might try these things to resolve the situation:

  • Don’t overfeed or be inconsistent with when you feed your GSD
  • Let your GSD feed alone without other humans or animals around
  • Change the food you are feeding your GSD
  • Change the location or bowl in which your GSD feeds

Sometimes the treats or leftovers you are feeding your GSD are simply more tasty and interesting than it’s main meals.

In this case, you might cut back on the treats, and potentially revert back to dry food only for a select period of time.


      5) Senior German Shepherds

Older dogs can be like older humans, where they suffer age related problems that effect their eating.

In particular, senior dogs might be prone to dental problems with their eating.

It may be as simple as changing the diet to more friendly foods that agree with their body.


What Might You Do To Manage An Aging GSD

Get your vet to help you out with a long term solution in this instance.



Friendly Disclaimer 🙂 


TheDailyShep.com are not veterinarians, or animal professionals/experts. Information provided is for informational purposes only – it is not a substitute for professional or qualified advice.

The information is based on either our own thorough research, and/or own experiences, as a means of free speech.

By consuming this information, you accept that TheDailyShep.com do not have client or patient relationship with you, and TheDailyShep.com are not advising you to act on anything you read.

You should always consult your own veterinarian, animal expert, or health care professional and follow their advice before making decisions on all matters.


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