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I just joined the site. Figured I would reach out to other german shepherd lovers for some help. My boyfriend and I have a 16 month old female German Shepherd. She is underweight, a very finicky eater, her ribs poke out and you can see her spine. People are always commenting about how skinny she is. Any recommended quality dog foods to help her gain just a little weight?
 

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What and how much are you currently feeding her? Has she always been like this?

Have you ever had her checked by a vet to rule out something like EPI?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
She has been to the vet and they haven't mentioned EPI at all, they just said she is a "finicky eater", and that a lot of female german shepherds are like that. We are currently feeding her a lamb and rice formula from the feed store and she eats 3-4 cups a day, depending on her appetite that day.
 

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She has been to the vet and they haven't mentioned EPI at all, they just said she is a "finicky eater", and that a lot of female german shepherds are like that. We are currently feeding her a lamb and rice formula from the feed store and she eats 3-4 cups a day, depending on her appetite that day.
Some are just finicky eaters but not all vets are aware of the digestive issues that GSDs can have. Has she had a fecal or any bloodwork done?

What brand of food are you feeding her? How much exercise does she get? If she is eating 3-4 cups most days then I wouldn't think it is just being "finicky" but could be that she isn't getting all of her nutrients.

My female was a picky eater when she was young but never had ribs poking out or her spine visible and sometimes she only ate a cup or two of food a day.
 

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Do you have a picture? For reference, I have a 16 month old female and she eats about 2-3 cups of food per day, with a few tablespoons of ground tripe.
 

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Take a stand picture from the side, one from over top and one of her sitting. The one sitting, take from her backside.

Couple of questions:

  • What were the results of her fecal at the vets? 1st thing to check and possibly still to do a full worming. We do scheduled wormings, no matter what.
  • How often do you feed her? 2 times per day? Once?
  • How long is the food down?
  • Does she get treats (known or unknown) during the day?
  • What exactly is she on for food? What is the protein and fat %?
 

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Agree with MRL

If she is eating 3-4 cups a day and not able to maintain her weight and is losing it to the point that her rib bones stick out I am guessing EPI. If your vet is not willing to test to find out what's wrong with your dog you need to find a new vet because this is not normal. Finicky eaters do not starve themselves like this.

Read up on the typical signs of EPI and see if that sounds like her. How are her poops? There are other common digestive issues as well. Here are some more links...

Digestive Issues: SIBO, EPI, IBD and more! - GermanShepherdHome.net

Also, if you can please post a picture of her from the side and a top view.
 

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3-4 cups a day and ribs sticking out?! That's not a finnicky eater at all! I would definitely rule out all medicla issues, including EPI....most definitely EPI. My 68-70 pound female only eats 2 cups a day in the winter, 2 1/2 in the summer. That is a LOT of food.
 

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3-4 cups a day and ribs sticking out?! That's not a finnicky eater at all! I would definitely rule out all medicla issues, including EPI....most definitely EPI. My 68-70 pound female only eats 2 cups a day in the winter, 2 1/2 in the summer. That is a LOT of food.
Why would you rule out EPI? One of the symptoms is a large or ravenous appetite and continued weight loss.

My vet didn't mention EPI either when I took Gretel in after she looked like you describe your dog; showing ribs and spine.

Overview - EPI * Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency is a great site for info. I would spend some time over there and read up. 70% if all EPI cases are in GSD's

One of the more common symptoms is persistent diarrhea, coprophagia and skin and bones weight loss.

Good luck,
John
 

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And if it is EPI, don't lose hope. Gretel has regained 30 pounds and is now a healthy, fit, happy dog. It didn't take long for her to rebound once we figured out her EPI.

John
 

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I have to agree with the others. That is quite a bit of food she is eating so she should not be underweight. I would also have her checked for EPI and remember you are paying the vet. If your current vet does not want to test for it then find another asap!
 

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Have been battling this same issue for 6 months.
Here is our progression, hopefully you can take our scenario as a starting point.

Timber: 1.5 yr old White GSD. Began losing weight immediately after neuter.
75 lbs. at neuter.

1st.) Ran CBC. Everything normal. Vet recommended treating for malabsorption, started on Fortiflora once per day in food. 70 lbs.
2nd.) Still losing weight. We ran fecal. Came back normal. Continue Fortiflora, told it could take at least 6-8 weeks to notice a difference. 68lbs.
3rd.) Ran TLI/Folate test. Came back normal. Folate was low-normal so started B12 weekly shots and Tylan for 30 days. Along with Fortiflora to add good bacteria back in. 65 pounds.
4th.) Ran another fecal just in case. Some parasites don't lay eggs every day so two fecal tests is recommended. Still normal. Vet decided to deworm and again in 3 weeks just in case. Also added Hills A/D critical care food to his normal kibble. 63.8 pounds.
5th.) Success! Timber is at 70 pounds and gaining.

We are still battling, have 2 more B12 shots and are watching very carefully for any slideback.

The above was two vets working together. My first vet is on the conservative side which is why I went to another for a 2nd opinion. I say push the issue. I was literally watching Timber starve before my eyes, and that was with feeding 3 meals per day of VERY high quality food, at 2 cups per meal. His feeding recommendation was only 2 3/4 cups per day and he was eating 6 cups!
 

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My female is just now starting to fill out at 21months. She is fed 2 cups in mornin and 2 cups in evening but has always been skinny to the point of seeing ribs and hipbones. My vet said alot of German Shepherds are really skinny as adolescents (sp?) and the very active ones are sometimes very hard to get weight on. My vet thinks I worry too much! Thankfully she is starting to look like a well cared for dog and not a neglect case.
 
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