Complete Guide to What German Shepherds Can & Can’t Eat


German Shepherds are never far away when you are cooking and eating. As such, you may often be tempted to share a bit of whatever you are cooking or eating with your German Shepherd.

But what can you safely share? What foods can and can’t a German Shepherd eat?

In this article, we have compiled as comprehensive a list as possible of the foods that your German Shepherd can eat and those that it cannot.

The lists are divided into food groups for ease of reference – the ‘can eats’ of each food group are listed first, immediately followed by the ‘can’t eats’ of that group.

dog food veggies and meat

Animal Proteins That German Shepherds CAN Eat

Animal proteins are an important part of your German Shepherd’s diet. Even though they are omnivores, the majority of their diet should be comprised of protein, and you find this to be the case with most of the high-quality kibbles.

Proteins provide amino acids, which are considered the building blocks of the body.

You may be tempted to cook your German Shepherd’s animal proteins with a little oil, butter, or seasoning, but this will only make it more appetizing to you. It can make it unhealthy or even harmful to your German Shepherd.

Plain cooked (never fried) is the best way to serve your dog cooked animal proteins.

Raw red meat is full of vitamins, minerals, and iron that are great for your German Shepherd, and as will all foods, cooking red meat will cause it to lose some of those nutrients.

However, if you feed your German Shepherd raw meat, only feed them high-quality, fresh raw red meats that you are certain are free of parasites and bacteria.

Related:

Feeding Your German Shepherd a Holistic Diet: What You Need to Know

German Shepherd Feeding Guide: All You Need to Know

Bones are a great source of minerals and fats for your German Shepherd. Raw bones need to be fresh because they can carry bacteria and parasites just like raw meat.

However,you should never feed your German Shepherd cooked bones as they can splinter and perforate the digestive tract.

You should never feed your German Shepherd bones from smaller animals. Bones from smaller animals like poultry, pork ribs, and fish splinter easily, even when raw, and are choking hazards.

You can boil the bone to yield a bone broth and feed your Germans Shepherd the rich, fatty bone broth. Some people freeze it into cubes and then melt a block or two into their dog’s food. Other people give them to their German Shepherds as frozen summer day treats.  

Animal ProteinAmountServing RequirementsAdditional Notes
BeefMealRaw OR bakedN/A
Beef jerkySmallHomemade and plainNo spices at all.
BonesModerateRawOnly certain bones. Cooked meat bones can splinter and perforate your dog’s digestive tract.
ChickenMealBaked or boiledNo bones or skin Great for dogs with sensitive digestive systems.
DuckSmallBaked or boiledNo bones.
EggsModerateCooked (not fried)N/A
HamSmallPlainHigher fat and salt content, so bad for dogs in larger amounts
KidneysVery smallCookedN/A
Lamb/MuttonSmallCookedN/A
LiverVery smallCookedN/A
PorkSmallCookedNo bones.
SalmonSmall (not daily)CookedNo bones. Great source of Omega oils.
ShrimpSmallCooked and shelledN/A
TunaSmall (not daily)CookedNo bones.
TurkeyMealBaked or boiledNo bones or skin.

Animal Proteins That German Shepherds CANNOT Eat

Bacon

While bacon is just a different form of pork, you should not feed it to your German Shepherd. It is highly salted and very fatty, making it a bad choice for your German Shepherd.

Too much salt can be toxic, causing diarrhea, excessive urination, fever, increased thirst, seizures, and vomiting. Too much fat is very unhealthy for German Shepherds, just as it is for humans.

Chorizo Sausages

Chorizo sausages are heavily spiced and very fatty, making them a bad choice of animal protein for your German Shepherd. The spices often include onion or garlic, which are extremely toxic to your dog (see alliums in the vegetable section for more details).

Sausages can also contain preservatives, which are unhealthy for your German Shepherd.

Salami

Salami is also highly salted, spiced, and fatty. All three of these factors make it a bad choice of animal protein for your German Shepherd.

As with chorizo, the spices often include onion or garlic, which are extremely toxic to dogs (see alliums in the vegetable sections for more details).

Cereals And Grains That German Shepherds CAN Eat

All cereals and grains are carbohydrates, and this list contains common carbohydrate foods like pasta and breads that have been made using grains.

German Shepherds do need carbohydrates in their diet, but too much can lead to sugar-related health conditions, such as diabetes, obesity, and pancreatitis.

Cereals, grains, and related carbohydrates are good sources of fiber to aid in healthy digestion. However, too much and they will cause your German Shepherd to get diarrhea.

German Shepherds are also prone to bloating, which may be triggered or aggravated by cereals and grains, so you will need to assess your particular German Shepherd’s reaction to these foods.

Bloating in dogs is not the same as boating in humans. In dogs, it is known as Gastric Dilatation Volvulus, and it is a life-threatening condition in which the stomach can actually twist and cut off the blood supply to the stomach and other organs.

Related: German Shepherd Bloat: Prevent This Dangerous Condition

Some people recommend grain-free diets for German Shepherds, and you can consult your veterinarian about the advantages of this option.

 

Cereal/GrainAmountServing RequirementsAdditional Notes
BarleySmallCookedN/A
Bran FlakesSmallPlainN/A
Brown breadSmall to moderatePlainNot for overweight dogs.
Brown riceModerate to mealCookedN/A
CheeriosSmallPlainVery little nutritional value for your dog.
CornflakesSmallPlainVery little nutritional value for your dog.
CouscousSmallCookedN/A
Cream of WheatSmallCooked and plainN/A
Noodles or pastaSmallCooked and plainN/A
OatmealSmallCooked with water and plainNot instant as this is more likely to contain harmful preservatives.
PopcornSmallAir-popped and plainNo oil, salt, butter, sugar, or spices. Only homemade popcorn.
QuinoaSmallCooked and plainAlso contains proteins.
Rice CrispiesSmallPlainVery little nutritional value.
White breadSmall to moderatePlainVery little nutritional value for your dog.
White riceModerate to mealCookedGood for upset stomachs.

Cereals And Grains That German Shepherds CANNOT Eat

Muesli And Granola

You should avoid feeding your German Shepherd muesli and granola. These often contain raisins, which are toxic to dogs (see grapes and raisins in the fruit section for more details).

Additionally, nuts like macadamias and walnuts are toxic to dogs. Muesli and granola can also be difficult for your dog to digest and may contain unhealthy sugars or toxic sweeteners.

Sugary Or Chocolatey Breakfast Cereals

These cereals contain too much sugar to be healthy for your German Shepherd. Some also contain cocoa, which is toxic to German Shepherds (see chocolate in the other foods section for more details).

Yeast Doughs

Uncooked yeast in doughs can cause gastric or intestinal torsion in your German Shepherd’s digestive tract. This results from the natural expansion of yeast in a warm, moist environment. Fermented yeast can also cause alcohol poising in your German Shepherd if ingested.

Symptoms of yeast toxicity:

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Retching, but with no positive emesis
  • Weakness and lethargy

Dairy Products That German Shepherds CAN Eat

All dairy products should be given in minimal amounts to German Shepherds because of their high-fat content. German Shepherds’ bodies are less tolerant of these animal fats than human bodies. You also need to introduce them slowly because some dogs can be lactose intolerant.

If you feed your German Shepherd dairy products, try to go for the low-fat, plain options, but be careful because low-fat dairy products also usually have reduced sugar content.

The danger with reduced sugar dairy products or flavored dairy products is the addition of the sweetener xylitol, which is incredibly toxic to dogs (see xylitol in the other foods section for more details).

Related: 16 Foods You Should Never Give To Your German Shepherd

Cheeses are a great source of B vitamins, calcium, fatty acids, proteins, and vitamin A. However, they are often high in fat and high in sodium. With cheeses, you should rather go for low-salt, low-fat, plain cheese.

DairyAmountServing RequirementsAdditional Notes
Cheddar cheeseVery smallPlainN/A
Cottage CheeseSmallPlainN/A
Cow’s milkSmallPlainAs a treat, not a substitute for water.
Emmenthal cheeseSmallPlainN/A
Goat’s cheeseSmallPlainN/A
Greek yogurtSmallPlainLook out for xylitol. Great source of probiotics.
Low-fat natural yogurtSmallPlainLook out for xylitol.
MozzarellaSmallPlainN/A
Sour creamSmallPlainN/A
Whipped creamVery smallHomemade and plainNot cream from cans or tubs (chemical preservatives, sugars, xylitol).

Dairy Products That German Shepherds CANNOT Eat

Butter

Butter is composed of saturated fats. As with humans, saturated fats are unhealthy fats for German Shepherds and should not be eaten.

If your German Shepherd gets hold of a stick of butter, it won’t kill them. However, they will feel pretty grim and will likely have an upset stomach for a day or two.

Blue Cheese, Roquefort, And Stilton

Blue-veined cheeses like blue cheese, Roquefort, and Stilton contain mold. Mold contains mycotoxins, which are toxic to German Shepherds, causing agitation, fever, loss of coordination, seizures, tremors, and vomiting.

Brie Cheese And Camembert Cheese

Brie and camembert are too rich and fatty to feed to your German Shepherd.

Feta Cheese And Parmesan Cheese

Feta cheese and parmesan cheese are too salty to feed to your German Shepherd. Salt can be toxic for your dogs, even in small quantities (sea salt in other foods section for more details).

Ice Cream

Ice cream has too much sugar in it for you to share with your German Shepherd. Maybe a lick here and there of plain vanilla won’t be too bad, but really, they don’t need it. Anything with a chocolate flavor is potentially toxic to them, as are certain nuts, which can be found in some ice-creams.

If you are looking for a refreshing frozen treat for your German Shepherd, freeze some watermelon or berries instead.

Fruits That German Shepherds CAN Eat

German Shepherds are not carnivores; they are omnivores; this means that you should include a certain amount of non-meat foods in their diet. You can add a portion of this in the form of fruits.

Fruits should only be given to your German Shepherd in small amounts and should be introduced slowly.

Fruits contain antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that are great for the overall health of your German Shepherd. They can also be used as treats, either fresh or frozen.

Dried or canned fruits are missing the most beneficial vitamins and nutrients and have high sugar concentrations, so avoid giving your German Shepherd dried or canned fruits.

Fruits are high in fiber, so they can benefit your German Shepherd’s digestive tract in small amounts, but larger amounts will cause diarrhea and other gastric disorders. Fruits are also packed with natural sugars. You can use them as energy boosters on long walks.

However, even though these sugars are natural, they can cause problems for your German Shepherd. Avoid feeding fruits to German Shepherds with diabetes, pancreatitis, excess weight issues, etc. Certain berries have low sugar counts and can be given in larger amounts.

It is safe for your German Shepherd to eat the flesh of most pitted and seeded fruits. However, the pits and seeds themselves are choking hazards, potential intestinal blockers, and can also be toxic.

Fruit pits and seeds contain cyanide compounds, which can cause cyanide poisoning in German Shepherds, symptomized by drooling, hyperventilation, and vomiting.

Peels and rinds can also be a problem in fruits such as bananas and watermelon. A good rule is that if you would not eat the peel or rind, you should not feed it to your German Shepherd.

Most citrus fruits are fine to feed to your German Shepherd, but you need to be cautious with the amount. Citrus fruits contain citric acid, of which your dogs may be intolerant. 

FruitAmountServing RequirementsAdditional Notes
AppleModerateFresh and choppedNo seeds or core
ApricotSmall (not daily)FreshNo pit.
BananaSmall to moderateFreshNo peel.
BlackberriesSmall to moderateFresh OR frozenLow-fat and low-sugar.
BlueberriesSmall to moderateFresh OR frozenLow-fat and low-sugar.
ClementineVery smallFreshNo rind or pith. No seeds.
CoconutSmallRaw flesh OR OilNo husks or shells. No milk or water.
CranberriesSmallFresh OR frozenGood for bladder issues.
DatesVery smallRawNo pit.
GrapefruitVery smallFreshNo rind or pith. No seeds. Minimal nutritional benefits for dogs.
LemonVery smallFreshNo rind or pith. No seeds. Minimal nutritional benefits for dogs.
LimeVery smallFreshNo rind or pith. No seeds. Minimal nutritional benefits for dogs.
MangoVery smallFreshNo pit. No rind.
MelonSmall to moderateFresh and choppedNo rind. No seeds. Very hydrating.
NectarineSmallFreshNo pit.
OlivesSmallPlainNo pit.
OrangesVery smallFreshNo rind or pith. No seeds.
PapayaSmallFresh and choppedNo peel or seeds.
PeachSmallFreshNo pit.
PearSmall to moderateFreshNo seeds or core.
PersimmonSmallFreshNo pit.
PineappleSmallFreshNo peel.
PlumSmallFreshNo pit.
PomegranatesVery smallFresh OR extractNo peel. Best to incorporate into dog treats.
RaspberriesSmallFresh OR frozenLow-fat and low-sugar. Contain small amounts of xylitol, which is toxic in large amounts.
SatsumaVery smallFreshNo rind or pith. No seeds.
StrawberriesSmall to moderateFresh OR frozenLow-fat and low-sugar.
TangerineVery smallFreshNo rind or pith. No seeds.
WatermelonSmall to moderateFresh and choppedNo rind. No seeds. Very hydrating.

Fruits That German Shepherds CANNOT Eat

Avocados

Avocados contain persin, a chemical that is toxic to German Shepherds and potentially fatal (although the fatal dosage is not known). Persin is mainly found in the leaves, skin, and pit of the avocado. However, a small amount is also found in the avocado flesh.

Symptoms of persin toxicity:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Damage to the myocardium

Avocados also have high-fat content and can cause weight gain, intestinal problems, and pancreatitis.

The pits are also definite choking hazards.

Cherries

Cherry pits can cause intestinal blockages and also contain cyanide compounds. The flesh is not harmful, but there is very little flesh on a cherry, so there is no point in feeding them to your German Shepherd.

Symptoms of cyanide poisoning include:

  • Appetite suppression
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Constipation
  • Shock
  • Vomiting

Grapes And Raisins

Grapes and raisins can be poisonous to your German Shepherd, even in small quantities, and it can be fatal. The mechanism of toxicity is unknown, and some dogs show no adverse reaction, but the unpredictability of this toxic response makes avoidance the best preventative.

Symptoms of grape or raisin poisoning:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Kidney failure

Kiwi Fruit

Kiwi fruit flesh is fine for your German Shepherd to eat; in fact, it is packed with vitamin C and potassium, which can be quite beneficial. However, the seeds contain cyanide and should not be fed to your German Shepherd.

As the seeds are tiny and scattered throughout most of the flesh, the effort it would take to cut off seed-free pieces is not worth it.

Starfruit

Starfruit contains calcium oxalate, which can be fatal to your German Shepherd. It negatively affects the renal system and can cause sudden kidney failure.

Symptoms of starfruit poisoning in German Shepherds:

  • Bloody urine
  • Excessive urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

For an even more thorough explanation of what fruits German Shepherds can and can’t eat, be sure to read this excellent article linked below:

30 Vegetables German Shepherds Can Eat: And 7 to Avoid

Nuts And Nut Products That German Shepherds CAN Eat

Nuts and nut products (depending on their preparation) can be a great source of healthy fats and proteins. However, their high calory count means that they should only be fed to your German Shepherd in small amounts to prevent excess weight gain. If your dog is overweight or suffers from pancreatitis, etc., you should avoid nuts altogether.

You should shell all nuts before giving them to your German Shepherd. Avoid salted, glazed, caramelized, or spiced nuts entirely, no matter what type of nut it is. Nuts are also potential choking hazards, so you should only feed them to your German Shepherd one at a time.

People who own nut trees often struggle to control their German Shepherd’s weight because they self-supplement their diets with the buts that fall off the tree. If you own a nut tree, you should be diligent about raking up the nuts and collecting them before your dog can eat them all.

Nuts/Nut ProductAmountServing RequirementsAdditional Notes
AlmondsVery smallRaw OR plain roasted; unsaltedIt can be difficult to digest.
Brazil nutsVery smallRaw and unsaltedExtremely fatty.
CashewsSmallRaw and unsaltedN/A
ChestnutsSmallRaw OR plain roasted; unsaltedNot horse chestnuts, which are inedible and toxic even to humans.
HazelnutsSmallRaw and unsaltedN/A
Nut milksSmallPlainCheck for xylitol.
PeanutsSmallRaw OR plain roasted; unsaltedN/A
Peanut butterSmallPlain and smoothCheck for xylitol, which is poisonous to dogs.
PecansVery smallRaw OR plain roasted; unsaltedExtremely fatty.
Pine nutsVery smallRaw OR plain roasted; unsaltedIt can be difficult to digest. Extremely fatty.
PistachiosVery smallRaw OR plain roasted; unsaltedExtremely fatty.

Nuts And Nut Products That German Shepherds CANNOT Eat

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are very toxic to German Shepherds, even in tiny amounts. The mechanism of toxicity is unknown, but they cause diarrhea, fever, shaking, vomiting, and weakness.

You should also not feed your German Shepherd any macadamia nut products like milks or butters.

Walnuts

Unknown toxins in walnuts cause seizures and other neurological problems in German Shepherds.

Vegetables That German Shepherds CAN Eat

As mentioned previously, German Shepherds are not carnivores; they are omnivores; this means that a certain amount of non-meat foods, including vegetables, should form part of their diet. Vegetables provide your German Shepherd with important minerals and vitamins which they can’t get from meat.

German Shepherds can eat most vegetables. They should never eat large quantities of these vegetables, and you need to make sure that you serve them correctly. Some are better raw, and others are better cooked. If you cook vegetables for your German Shepherd, or you want to share your own with your dog, you have to remember to cook them without fats or seasonings.

Most vegetables are high in fiber, which is beneficial to your German Shepherd’s digestive tract. However, the high fiber content also means that vegetables will cause diarrhea in your German Shepherd if the quantities are not moderated.

Additionally, some individual German Shepherds can be intolerant or allergic to vegetables that are supposed to be safe for them to eat. Introduce each vegetable to your dog slowly and always watch them for an hour or so after they try a vegetable for the first time to make sure it is not adversely affecting them.

Very starchy vegetables are a risk to over-weight or diabetic German Shepherds, so if your dog suffers from one of these diseases, avoid feeding them starchy vegetables. Vegetables like celery and carrots can make excellent low calory treat alternatives for your overweight German Shepherd.

Some vegetables contain calcium oxalate or oxalic acid, which can be harmful to German Shepherds who suffer from kidney disease and bladder stones. Peas contain purines, which are used to produce uric acid. Uric acid is filtered through the kidneys, and too much will cause bladder and kidney stones, so don’t feed peas to dogs with kidney disease.

Nightshade vegetables should be treated carefully as they contain a chemical called solanine, which is toxic in high doses.

Vegetables belonging to the Brassicaceae family contain isothiocyanates, which can be toxic to your German Shepherd in larger quantities. They cause gastric irritation in your dog and can also give them bad flatulence, even in small quantities.

VegetableAmountServing RequirementsAdditional Notes
ArtichokeSmallRaw and diced OR diced and roastedN/A
AsparagusSmall-moderateCooked and dicedAsparagus fern and asparagus berries are toxic to German Shepherds.
BeetsSmallRaw and shredded OR diced and roastedContain calcium oxalate.
Bell PepperVery smallCooked, sliced, and without seedsRed pepper is the most nutritious. Potential allergen.
Bok ChoySmallOnly green parts of leaves and choppedBrassicaceae family.
BroccoliVery smallRaw and diced OR steamed and dicedBrassicaceae family.
Brussel sproutsVery smallSteamed or boiledBrassicaceae family.
Butternut squashModerateMashed or roasted and diced, without seeds or rindGreat for digestive problems.
CabbageVery smallCooked and choppedBrassicaceae family.
CarrotsModerateRaw and diced OR steamedRaw carrots assist with dental hygiene. Low calory treat.
CauliflowerVery smallCooked and dicedBrassicaceae family.
CeleryModerateRaw and dicedBreath freshener. Low calory treat.
CornSmallCooked and off the cobDon’t feed the cob to your dog. Not for overweight dogs.
CucumberModerateRaw and dicedVery hydrating.
EggplantVery smallGrilled, roasted, or bakedNightshade vegetable. Inflammatory so bad for dogs with arthritis or kidney disease.
FennelSmallRaw and dicedN/A
Green beansModerateRaw and diced OR Steamed and dicedLow calory treat.
LettuceSmall to moderateRaw and choppedLow calory treat. Little nutritional benefit.
OkraSmall (not daily)Raw OR cookedSupports cancer prevention. Supports blood sugar regulation.
ParsnipsSmallRaw and diced or shredded OR cookedGood for the renal system, so support dogs with renal disease. Not for overweight dogs.
PeasSmallRaw Or frozen, out of the podNot for dogs with kidney disease.
PotatoVery smallCooked, peeled, and diced or mashedNightshade vegetable. Not for overweight dogs. Not for dogs prone to bloat. No green potatoes.
PumpkinModerateRaw and diced OR cooked and diced or mashed; seed goodGreat for digestive problems.
RadicchioVery smallRaw and chopped OR cooked and choppedBitter taste, so your dog may not enjoy it.
RadishSmallRaw and in bite-sized piecesVery strong taste, so your dog may not enjoy it. Raw radish assists with dental hygiene.
RhubarbSmallRaw and diced OR cooked and dicedOnly the stalks. Leaves are poisonous.
RutabagaVery smallCooked and dicedBrassicaceae family.
SpinachVery smallSteamed and choppedContains oxalic acid.
Sweet PotatoSmall to moderatePeeled, cooked, and diced or mashedNot for overweight or diabetic dogs.
TurnipsVery smallCooked and dicedBrassicaceae family. Can support dogs with kidney disease. Can suppress the thyroid.
ZucchiniSmall to moderateRaw and diced OR steamed and dicedLow calory treat.

Vegetables That German Shepherds CAN’T Eat

Alliums

Alliums include chives, garlic, leeks, onions, and shallots. They contain a compound called N-propyl disulfide, which is extremely toxic to dogs, causing a German Shepherd’s red blood cells to break down (hemolytic anemia).

All parts and forms (raw, powdered, cooked, etc.) of allium plants are toxic to your German Shepherd. Never use any of these plants for seasoning your German Shepherd’s foods.

If you know or suspect your German Shepherd has ingested alliums, watch them for symptoms of poisoning and take them to the veterinarian as soon as you see any of these signs.

Be careful with using holistic medications on your German Shepherd as many of these contain garlic and could poison your dog.

Symptoms of allium poisoning:

  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Decreased appetite
  • Pale gums
  • Fainting
  • Red-colored urine
  • Vomiting
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Excessive panting

Chili Peppers (And Jalapenos)

Chili peppers and jalapenos belong nightshade family of vegetables. In addition to solanine, chili peppers and jalapenos contain capsaicin, which provides the spiciness. Spicy foods are not good for German Shepherds.

Effects of ingestion of chili peppers and jalapenos by your German Shepherd:

  • Pain
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Kale

Kale belongs to the Brassicaceae family of vegetables and therefore contains the intestinal irritant isothiocyanate. However, kale also contains calcium oxalate, which can damage kidneys and promote the growth of bladder stones. Additionally, regular kale ingestion by German Shepherds can interfere with thyroid function.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are technically fungi, not vegetables, but we have included them here as they are often used as vegetables.

Not all mushrooms are toxic to your German Shepherd, but it’s better to avoid them completely. The signs of toxicity depend on what mushroom is eaten, but you should watch for the usual gastrointestinal signs of poisoning, as well as seizures, tremors, and urinary pattern changes.

Rhubarb leaves

Rhubarb leaves contain oxalic acid. This is poisonous to German Shepherds.

Symptoms of rhubarb leaf poisoning:

  • Drooling
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors 

Tomatoes

Tomatoes belong to the nightshade family of vegetables and therefore contain solanine. Completely ripe, red tomatoes are fine for your German Shepherds to eat in small amounts, but green tomatoes and any other part of the tomato plant is toxic.

Symptoms of tomato poisoning:

  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Cardiac effects

Watercress

Watercress belongs to the Brassicaceae family of vegetables.

Symptoms of mild poisoning (small amounts):

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Effects of excessive consumption (large amounts):

  • Thyroid damage
  • Kidney damage

Other Foods That German Shepherds CAN Eat

Honey

German Shepherds can eat small amounts of honey on occasion. It is a natural anti-inflammatory and can also assist with allergies in your dog.

Other Foods That German Shepherds CANNOT Eat

Alcohol/hops

Alcohol and hops, an ingredient of some alcoholic beverages, are toxic to your German Shepherd.

Symptoms of alcohol poisoning in German Shepherds:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Panting and other respiratory issues
  • Excessive thirst
  • Salivation

Hops are used in the brewing of beers. Ingestion of hops by your German Shepherd will cause a rapid increase in temperature, hyperventilation, and tachycardia.

Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant that is poisonous to your German Shepherd (similar to chocolate). You should never give your German Shepherd foods or drinks (including tea and energy drinks) that contain caffeine.

Symptoms of caffeine poisoning:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Agitation
  • Increased heart rate
  • Shakings
  • Vomiting

Canned Foods

Canned foods typically contain loads of sugar, salt, and preservatives, so you should not feed canned foods to your German Shepherd.

Chocolate And Cocoa

Chocolate isn’t good for dogs; we’ve all heard that. But chocolate isn’t just ‘not good’ for dogs; it is poisonous to them, even in small amounts. This is because chocolate and other cocoa products contain a substance called theobromine.

Your body can easily metabolize theobromine, but your German Shepherd’s body can’t, and the theobromine will quickly build up to toxic levels. The theobromine compound is contained in the cocoa bean, so darker chocolate is more toxic to your German Shepherd.

Symptoms can be delayed, so you will need to closely watch your dog for at least two days after they accidentally ingest chocolate or cocoa products. Small doses will cause vomiting and diarrhea.

In larger doses, theobromine affects the renal and cardiovascular systems of German Shepherds. It acts as a diuretic, so you will notice your German Shepherd urinating excessively and drinking lots of water. Its effects on the cardiovascular system are to causes tachycardia (increased heart rate) or cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heart rate).

Your German Shepherd will look distressed; they will pant and be restless. Chocolate ingestion can cause fatal cardiac arrest in your German Shepherd.

If your German Shepherd starts to display any of these symptoms, seek medical care for them immediately.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is not toxic to German Shepherds, but they are intolerant of it in large quantities, experiencing vomiting, diarrhea, altered heart rate, and reduced blood sugar.

It is also quite a strong spice and can cause mechanical irritation to the respiratory and digestive tracts in your German Shepherd.

A final caution against cinnamon for German Shepherds is that large quantities can contribute to the development of liver disease.

Junk Food

You know that junk food is bad for you. It is potentially even worse for your German Shepherd. Don’t feed them potato chips, corn chips, candy, cakes, pastries, jelly, jello, soda, etc.

These typically contain large quantities of unhealthy or toxic preservatives, sugars, sweeteners, spices, and or sodium.

Moldy Foods

The mycotoxins in moldy foods are toxic to German Shepherds; they may even cause liver failure.

Symptoms of mold poisoning in German Shepherds:

  • Agitation
  • Fever
  • Loss of coordination
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting

Nutmeg

Nutmeg contains the hallucinogenic toxin myristicin. The toxicity is only seen on ingestion of large quantities of nutmeg, but rather avoid it altogether because along with hallucinations, myristicin causes abdominal pain, disorientation, elevated blood pressure, seizures, and xerostomia (dry mouth).

Salt

German Shepherds are more sensitive to salt than humans. Too much salt is bad for humans, and small to moderate amounts of salt can be toxic to German Shepherds. Salt is an essential mineral involved in proper cellular and renal function. Too much salt can upset this balance lead to renal failure.  

Symptoms of salt poisoning:

  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive urination
  • Fever
  • Increased thirst
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting

Xylitol

These days, many food producers are using an artificial sweetener called: xylitol as a replacement for sugar. Using xylitol or its derivatives lowers the sugar content without losing the sweet taste. It is used in gum, peanut butter, and many more foods.

However, xylitol and its derivatives are extremely toxic to dogs. If a food claims to be low in sugar, read the label and do not feed it to your German Shepherd if it contains this alternative sweetener.

In German Shepherds, xylitol triggers the release of insulin. As a part of normal functioning, insulin is produced by the body to facilitate the absorption of sugar from the bloodstream into certain tissues.

In triggering the release of insulin, xylitol can cause hypoglycemia or low blood sugar in German Shepherds because it removes sugar from the bloodstream, but this sugar is not replaced with other sugars, as the body expected from the sweet taste of xylitol.

Symptoms can develop 10 to 60 minutes after your German Shepherd ingests the xylitol.

The symptoms of xylitol poisoning in German Shepherds include:

  • Weakness
  • Lethargy or tiredness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rapid pulse rate
  • Pale gums
  • Confusion
  • Collapse
  • Seizures

Final Thoughts

There are many more foods that your German Shepherd can eat than foods they can’t. When deciding how much human food you should feed to your German Shepherd, the key is moderation.

German Shepherds have a lower tolerance for salt, sugar, and fats than humans do. Certain compounds are processed easily by humans but are toxic to German Shepherds.

Having a relatively comprehensive list of the foods your German Shepherd can and cannot eat is extremely helpful, and you can refer to it until you become more familiar with your dog’s ideal dietary requirements.

You should always introduce the new food to your German Shepherd’s diet slowly to monitor for any adverse reactions. Additionally, you should always contact a veterinarian before introducing a new food to your dog’s diet if your dog has an existing medical condition.

Hunter Reed

I've owned and trained German Shepherds for over 20 years now. While I've lived in many different places and traveled extensively - the places change, my dogs don't. German Shepherds have been my constant companions. I love every aspect of training them and simply just having them around. I also enjoy sharing my knowledge about German Shepherds with the world, and I encourage all future dog owners to consider one as a companion as well. Read my story here.

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