Does your German Shepherd beg for a slice of pizza when you bring home a fresh box – the smell of sausage in the air?
When you sit down at the table, she might sit at your feet and beg, and you may be quite tempted to share a slice.
But is it safe – can German Shepherds eat pizza?
The short answer is “yes and no”. German Shepherds can eat parts of pizza, like the crust and cheese. However, the toppings are the issue. Some pizza toppings, like bell peppers and olives, are harmless. But other toppings can be poisonous, such as onions or garlic.
In the following article, we will discuss just why feeding your GSD pizza is probably not the best idea.
Ingredients in Pizza: Are They Bad for Your German Shepherd?
To gain a better understanding of what your GSD can or cannot eat off your pizza, consider each of the ingredients:
Raw yeast dough can cause not just a bloated stomach but a bowel obstruction, and when the yeast ferments the dough this can lead to alcohol poisoning in your dog.
However, you only need to worry about this if your pizza was undercooked.
Assuming that your pizza was cooked to perfection and the crust is crunchy and perfectly browned, your next concern should be about the fact that it’s providing your GSD with the same empty calories that it provides to you!
It is also very important that you check for any additives or sweeteners in your crust the same as you do for your sauce.
Xylitol is a common sugar substitute that you might find in sugar-free or reduced-sugar crusts but it can be extremely toxic to a German shepherd and result in liver failure, low blood sugar, seizures, or death.
German Shepherds can eat cheese safely as long as it’s in moderation, and your particular dog isn’t lactose intolerant.
Not every dog owner knows if their particular pet is lactose intolerant, but after the first time you feed her cheese from your pizza you will certainly know.
If your German Shepherd is lactose intolerant, she will show symptoms of abdominal pain, bloating, gas, maybe even vomiting and diarrhea.
It’s not fun for anyone, but it is something you and your GSD will have to ride out.
Even if your GSD is not lactose intolerant it’s important that you don’t give her too much cheese, and that you know what type of cheese is on your pizza.
Cheaper pizzas made with bags of shredded cheese are usually tossed with additives like potato starch to prevent the shreds from caking, and a few other unhealthy chemicals to preserve longevity.
Avoid feeding your GSD these forms of cheese, as the preservative chemicals in them are especially hard on your dog’s digestive system.
Different pizzas are made with different sauces – red or white, and sometimes pesto.
It’s important that you know what’s in the sauce in order to ensure that it won’t cause digestive problems for your dog.
German Shepherds cannot have green tomatoes, or even unripened or under ripened tomatoes.
These tomatoes contain solanine which can cause a severe upset stomach, difficulty breathing, or heart problems in your GSD.
It is highly unlikely that your sauce will consist of unripened tomatoes, but it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Other than this you really have to look out for sweeteners or salts, or any additives that might be put into the sauce.
The burst of pleasure that your GSD will get from eating these things is just not worth the potential consequences!
The toppings on pizza are where you need to pay the most attention.
Plenty of common toppings like bell peppers, pepperoncinis, spinach, or olives are not harmful to your German Shepherd – so if they steal a slice , it’s not the end of the world.
Toppings like shallots, chives, garlic, and onions are poisonous to German Shepherds.
So if your pup eats a significant portion of your pizza and it contains these toppings, it can make her very sick.
Additionally, highly processed meats like pepperoni, bacon, and sausage are just as harmful to your dog as they are to you.
Unhealthy levels of fat and sodium, along with additives or seasonings contained in these meats as pizza toppings may cause a host of health issues for your GSD.
Beware of the additives. Canned sauce, shredded cheese, and other toppings on your pizza are very likely heavy in salt.
If your German Shepherd consumes too much salt it can lead to dehydration or sodium poisoning – the symptoms of which can include a high temperature, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, or seizures.
Why Human Foods (Pizza, too) Should Be Avoided
Human foods like pizza can have short-term and long-term negative health effects on your German Shepherd.
Short-term, they can lead to the range of gastrointestinal problems mentioned above as well as potential heart problems or sodium poisoning.
Digestive disorders can also be problematic short-term issues. If your GSD consumes foods or spices that their system is not accustomed to they can get diarrhea, gas, bad breath, or it may cause vomiting.
And if you keep up these feeding habits it can lead to severe digestive problems like pancreatitis down the line.
Long-term, poor feeding habits can lead to a host of severe of health problems. There are a handful of diseases that dogs can get as a result of eating unhealthy food.
These diseases include:
- Bone disease
A diet with too many fatty foods and simple carbs can result in cholesterol problems, heart disease, even cancer.
When you feed your German Shepherd pizza from your plate or any other food off of your table, you deprive her of a nutritionally balanced meal.
The nutritional needs of your German Shepherd are different than what you need.
The more pizza or other human food that you feed to your dog, the more likely she is going to fill up on your food and not eat as much of her own.
Most table scraps are nothing more than empty calories, so giving your dog just the crust of your pizza every time you have some is a sure way to have an obese German Shepherd on your hands.
Health problems aside, if you make a habit of feeding your GSD the leftovers from your pizza, or just giving her the crust, you might end up creating a dog that is more likely to develop bad habits.
Whether it’s stealing food off of the counter, begging more often, or rummaging through trash to find leftovers, you will be left with a behavioral problem to correct.
The more that your dog becomes accustomed to being fed table scraps, the more likely it is that she will expect it – you will essentially be spoiling your GSD, and not in a cute way!
Just like a child, a spoiled German Shepherd may behave stubbornly and even refuse her own food in exchange for demanding something that she prefers.
What to Do If Your GSD Stole a Slice of Pizza
Chances are, no matter how vigilant you may be, your German Shepherd knows when you aren’t looking – especially when it comes to an unguarded pizza!
But, if your GSD does happen to steal a slice of pizza – don’t panic!
If this does happen, and it’s just one slice, keep an eye on her and watch out for any unusual behavior or symptoms.
Most of the symptoms associated with eating pizza like vomiting or diarrhea will present themselves rather quickly, and the problem will right itself within a day or two.
Your veterinarian might be able to suggest things like Pepto Bismol over the phone, and what symptoms to watch for over the next 24 to 48 hours.
However, if your dog gets her mouth on a larger portion and you know that the pizza has potentially poisonous topping on it, then we strongly advise that you contact your veterinarian immediately.
Training Your German Shepherd Not to Beg for Pizza (and People Food in General)
One affirmative step that you can take to help keep problematic begging behavior at bay with your GSD is counter-conditioning her from begging.
This can be done with a few simple steps.
- Get a slice of pizza, and hold it close to your GSD (this will no doubt excite her – drooling and tail wagging is to be expected!)
- Have your GSD sit and stay in place.
- When your GSD approaches the pizza, snap your fingers and voice a firm “NO.” Gently tap your dog as well – no hitting, just a firm and gentle tap.
- Repeat this behavior several times on different occasions.
Each time that you do this, it will work as an investment into changing GSD’s reaction to pizza, and people food in general, for the long-term.
Homemade Pizza Recipe for Dogs
If you really want your GSD to partake when you have some pizza, perhaps consider making one from scratch.
By making pizza at home, you will be in charge of all that goes into it, and you can make sure that none of the ingredients will be harmful to your German Shepherd.
Here is a great recipe for some pup-friendly pizza that you may actually love as well!
- 1 cup coconut flour
- 1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 cup unsalted chicken broth
- 1 boiled chicken breast or 1 cup turkey sausage cut into small cubes
- 1 cup low-fat, high quality mozzarella cheese
- 1 egg
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
- Spray a pizza pan with a light coating of non-stick vegetable oil.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg.
- Mix the egg together with the chicken broth.
- Slowly add the egg and chicken broth mixture to the dry ingredients and stir just until the ingredients are combined. Avoid over-stirring.
- Dust a clean surface with the coconut flour and roll out the “dough” into a think layer.
- Spread the dough on the pizza pan and bake for 25-30 minutes.
- Carefully remove the crust and add the boiled chicken or turkey sausage
- Place pizza back into the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes.
You can also be creative here – use any (safe) topping that your pup desires.
We’ve experimented with anchovies, cooked sweet potatoes, and even carrots – and we have yet to come across a disappointed dog!
Again, and this bears repeating, there are just some foods that you should never give to your German Shepherd.
For a closer look at what some of these are, we have a great article for you right here:
16 Foods You Should Never Give To Your German Shepherd
While giving your German Shepherd the occasional slice of pizza isn’t ideal, it’s not the end of the world.
We get it, you love pizza, and your GSD does too. But if you do decide to allow your pup to partake, then it’s important that you pay close attention to the toppings and ingredients to avoid any serious health issues for your GSD.
Perhaps more importantly, making a habit out of feeding your GSD pizza, or table scraps in general, will not serve you or your dog well in the long run.
Health problems and bad habits down the line are just not worth the short-term pleasure.
It’s simply better to keep your German Shepherd on a healthy dog-based diet that includes the vitamins and minerals she needs most.