5 Common German Shepherd Stomach Problems

Updated on May 23, 2019
Sam Shepards profile image

Sam Shephard is an experienced German Shepherd owner and has learned throughout the years how to optimize the breed's health and wellness.

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German shepherds make wonderful pets, but, unfortunately for them and their owners, they often suffer from health problems. Common among these are digestive issues and a sensitive stomach. These range from mild to fatal, so it’s very important to keep an eye on your dog’s health and (although it may be gross) bowel movements.

If you own a German shepherd, you should consult regularly with your vet about your dog’s diet. Depending on what issues it has, you may need to adjust by eliminating certain kinds of food, adding supplements, or even designing a raw food diet.

With attention and care, you should be able to keep your dog's stomach issues in check so that he can live happily and you don’t have to clean up too many messes.

Stomach and or Bowel Disorders Covered Here

  1. Diarrhea
  2. Esosinophilic Gastroenteritis
  3. Ulcers
  4. Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI)
  5. Toxic Gut Syndrome

1. Diarrhea

Diarrhea in German shepherds can be caused by a number of factors, but it’s most commonly caused by a food intolerance or parasite. If your dog is having diarrhea regularly, your first step should usually be to check for parasites, which your vet can then help you treat.

If there is no parasite, it’s likely your dog is reacting negatively to something in its food. Foods such as milk, fats, heavy fiber, and grains can all contribute to diarrhea. You may need to do a bit of trial and error to find what helps your dog.

Other behavioral factors such as overeating and anxiety (or being high-strung) can also lead to diarrhea. You should always make sure that you are not over-feeding your dog, German Shepherds have a sensitive stomach and can relatively quickly get diarrhea. So, make sure that you are not over-feeding your dog and that you provide regular moderate exercise to alleviate stress. Don’t do serious exercise right after eating.

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2. Esosinophilic Gastroenteritis

Esosinophilic gastroenteritis is an inflammation of your dog’s intestines and stomach. Chronic diarrhea, particularly watery diarrhea, may be a sign of this disorder. Other symptoms are vomiting, lack of appetite, and weight loss.

Your vet should be able to diagnose the problem using a stool sample. Esosinophilic gastroenteritis is treatable using steroids or other medications that line the digestive track and help to reduce the inflammation. Inflammatory bowel disease, a group of disorders that also cause inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, causes similar symptoms and should also be treated by your veterinarian.

3. Ulcers

German shepherds are susceptible to ulcers, which can occur in relation with other digestive problems are as a result of medication for other issues (such as pain medication for hip dysplasia).

An ulcer is a sore that results from a break in the lining of the stomach or intestine. It can cause your dog pain and may result in loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting (sometimes including blood), bloody stool, weakness, and anemia. Often, treating an ulcer requires treating an underlying condition. Your vet may also need to treat your dog to bring its fluid levels back to normal.

4. Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency

Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, or EPI, occurs when your dog’s pancreas doesn’t produce enough digestive enzymes. Their digestive system needs those enzymes to break down protein, fat, and starches. If a pup has EPI, it is unable to absorb nutrients for foods. That means that even if it is eating a proper diet, it can become malnourished and even starve to death if not treated properly.

If your dog has EPI, you may notice that he always seems hungry and is losing weight despite eating normally. They may also eat things they normally wouldn’t, including poops. Dogs with EPI often have a high amount of flatulence and may poop very frequently. Their stools may be runny and take on a yellow color.

EPI can be diagnosed with a blood test. Because it is so dangerous, it is important to have your pooch tested whenever it has a prolonged digestive issue, particularly if it starts to lose weight. Your vet can help you to treat EPI with a specialized diet, enzyme and vitamin supplements, and antibiotics.

5. Toxic Gut Syndrome

Toxic gut syndrome is less common than the other digestive health issues, but it occurs more commonly in German shepherds than in other dog breeds. It’s important to be aware of this syndrome because it is often fatal and can kill very quickly.

German shepherds naturally have a high level of a kind of intestinal bacteria called clostridium. In certain conditions, this bacteria can reproduce in excessive numbers, entering the dog’s blood stream and creating a toxic effect. Sadly, when this happens, the dog will usually die within a few hours. Because toxic gut syndrome kills so quickly, it is important to prevent it.

Some vets recommend a yoghurt-based supplement that helps to moderate the levels of bacteria in your dog’s intestinal tract. You should talk to your vet about the best plan for preventing toxic gut syndrome.

Which stomach issues did your Shepherd have?

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Preventing Stomach Problems in German Shepherd Dogs

There are some things that you can do to prevent your dog from developing any of these conditions. The most common and simple ways to do this are by making sure that your dog is eating a diet that’s suitable for it.

To make sure that you’re not going to put your dog at risk for developing stomach problems, it’s important that you make sure you know that you’re getting quality food. Quality food, for a Shepherd, isn’t necessarily the same quality food that you might get for another dog.

Of course, you’re going to need to make sure that you get a good mixture of protein, fat and carbohydrates. For a Shepherd, this equates to roughly 20% of its calories coming from protein and 5% coming from fat (subtracting about 2% if you’re feeding a puppy.) However, more important than the breakdown of nutrients is the quality of the ingredients and the specific ingredients used. Try to go without glutenfree or at least low grains.

In terms of protein, you’re going to want to make sure that you choose a high quality protein source. Good sources of protein for Shepherds would be those that come from whole meats like beef, fish, and other organ meats. Chicken isn’t the best food for Shepherds because foods made with chicken often come with a lot of byproducts that aren’t good for anybody, especially not a Shepherd with a sensitive stomach.

In terms of fat, make sure that you get your food with a high-quality source of fats. Omega-3 fatty acids are the best, and you can get foods that have omega-3s added or you can choose a brand of food that uses fish as its main source of protein since fish are such great sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

Conclusion

A German Shepherd with an upset stomach is a common. Although I’ve had a one that could eat nearly everything and was very fit all the time (14 years and never an issue in his life), this is not always the case.

I had one GSD that had worms a couple times a year like clockwork. He would get diarrhea, stop eating and get skinny in a couple of days he already looked like a sad dog. The first couple of times this can get you by surprise and you’ll not know what is happening, but you’ll learn to see the signs and take proper action. In the end I think he was more susceptible for bowel issues, he died of bowel cancer troubles around age 10.

An other one we had to change his food a couple of times before he would happily eat it. He’s eating well now, but enjoy eating stuff from the garden and sometimes throws up or has diarrhea, I think he’ll never learn and you can’t watch him all the time. He’s 7 years now, so I fear he’ll get himself in some serious issue when he gets older and doesn’t recover as well anymore.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2017 Shepards

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    • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

      Shepards 

      9 days ago from Europe

      @Priscilla

      Sometimes dogs eat something wrong or get some stomach trouble, it happens and often it's over in a day.

      If it is more than a couple of times (days) you should at least talk to a vet and/or visit a vet.

      When in doubt contact a professional...

    • profile image

      Priscilla 

      9 days ago

      My dog oh s 4month old and he vomiting up his food and had diarrhea what should i do

    • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

      Shepards 

      13 days ago from Europe

      @Manasi You need to get your help from a vet. If it takes this long and there is blood in your dogs stool it sounds serious. If your current vet doesn't know after multiple visits, maybe you need a second opinion from another vet.

    • profile image

      Manasi 

      13 days ago

      My German shepherd is having loose motion vomiting and also sometimes it have blood in her stool please help me it's from last 3 months I am tired of taking her to the doctor she's being getting thin and weak

    • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

      Shepards 

      7 weeks ago from Europe

      Hi Sarah,

      Sorry to hear that. Hope all will be alright.

    • profile image

      Sarah 

      7 weeks ago

      Our GSD is 3 and over last 4 months or so has had constant diarrhoea has received a course of Vit b 12 iinjections, enzyme powder and having hills prescription dry food diet nothing seems to work waiting now for ultrascan . Really worried about him.

    • profile image

      patti petty 

      2 months ago

      ok thanks -- I won't do that with the meds again! after i read don't give on an empty stomach i was sick -- i will wait a few days and if still not acvtive i will call vet

    • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

      Shepards 

      2 months ago from Europe

      Patti don't give you shepherd pain methods without contacting a vet. If your dog hurts his leg, back or anything and he limps giving him painkillers can make him hurt himself more.

      Many painkillers are also not that good for the stomach. Could take a couple of days to bounch back from medication. Also possible he's just careful now, because he hurt himself and still feels it? When in doubt you can always contact a vet.

    • profile image

      patti petty 

      2 months ago

      my shepherd is almost 11 months but has slowed down alot in the last week or so! he had been limping a little on his back leg - he runs off the deck alot and jumps on the beds - running back and forth to the bedrooms so i was thinking he might have just strained it since nothing was swollen or he wasn't crying in pain - i gave him some pain meds - the kind you chew up for joints and he had them on an empty stomach and i gave them to him for about 5 days - the limp has stopped but he's been really lazy lately - laying around more then usual - i stopped the meds 3 days ago - he's eating but not alot - he's drinking and his bowels are normal but he has slowed down so much - he still barks and runs a little in the yard at the neighbors dogs -- no throwing up - should i be concerned or wait a few more days to see if he bounces back more

    • profile image

      Cecelia McCarthy 

      3 months ago

      Hello Sam,

      Wondering if you can provide any advice. I adopted an 8 month old GS pup a month ago. Sadly I do not have any history on the pup. common for most shelter dogs. In any event the pup is suffering from diarrhea for most of the the time we have had him. He is now vomiting and not eating. I took him to vet and ran stool and blood tests. Both are clear. He is not eating. vet has provided RX to calm his stomach. I do hope that it will help. Can you provide any advice on next step and perhaps a food that will help (we tried the chicken and rice and turkey and rice it just seemed to make matters worse).

    • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

      Shepards 

      3 months ago from Europe

      Hi Jennifer,

      It is difficult to recommend food, all dogs are different. People are very divisive on pet food. Some people hate the fact you would recommend dry food instead of raw food etc. Still most people will give their pets dry food so from personal experience with dry food for our shepherds the best food seem to have been certain variations of Royal Canin (maybe some lam + rice variation). If you give dry food you should always watch if your dogs drinks enough and doesn't get any blatter issues (always keep an eye out if your dogs keeps peeing as normal over the years, urinary problems are common in older dogs on dry food or salted canned food etc). Some dogs will reach a healthy powerful age of 14 years old without ever having an issue, others will barely make it to 10 years on the same diet and have lots of issues...

    • profile image

      Jennifer 

      4 months ago

      my German Shepherd puppy is 6 months old I believe he has a sensitive stomach he has been to the vet more than 5 times they found no parasites so I changed his puppy food he still having diarrhea what puppy food do you recommend for a gsd's

    • profile image

      Yatin Kandpal 

      5 months ago

      Hi, my GSD 12 year old had stopped eating since last few days. It started with constipation. He forced himself many times to poop but can't do anything though the colour of poop was normal. And now he has stopped eating. Please help me out what should I do.

    • profile image

      Courtney 

      6 months ago

      Hello,

      I’m after some advice please. My GSD is 2 years old and over the last month as been having regular episodes of diorrhea in the house! He had never had an accident in the house but this has happened 4/5 times in the house now and he’s only ever left for 1-2 hours max. He is also eating his diorrhea and then vomiting it back up! He seems ok just a little down in the dumps! Would love to hear what you think!

      Thanks

    • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

      Shepards 

      8 months ago from Europe

      Hi Ben difficult to say. Did you change food or routines recently?

      Does she have stress during the day? Are both at work during the day?

      Any worms?

    • profile image

      Ben 

      8 months ago

      Hello, i would like to get your opinion on our shepherd. She is almost two and have had her tested for any allergies and it came up neggative for anything. Recently she has had regular poops to start the day then it turns more loose. This has been going on for about a week. And now it seems to be mostly loose. Not watery but definately not normal. We feed her a cup of dry nutro-lamb and rice, with a can of wet from nutro as well. Would love if gou could provide any insites for our little lady. Thank you, Ben

    • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

      Shepards 

      9 months ago from Europe

      Hi Robin,

      I'm very sorry to hear this. When german shepherds have stomach problems or other health issues it can be a burden.

      You want your friend to be healthy, but when it is chronic it can take a lot of the (easy) fun away.

      We have had 3 german shepherds, each one was different, the first one never had any issue and became 14 years old without being sick once...

      The second one had worms often and became thin because of not eating. He had this once or twice a year. He also died because of a stomach cancer at age 10.

      Our last one needs urinary food now he's 10 years old, he's not the strongest, but overall he's ok.

      Getting the right food and checking for allergies can help. If he's prone to getting worms, you'll always need to watch how he's eating and or losing weight.

    • profile image

      Robin 

      9 months ago

      We have a gsd for the last year we have had stomach issues. At first it was worms then they would put him on steroids and he would do good then it would happen all over again. We have had his blood work done and even a biopsy with the conclusion irritated stomach an lower intestines. The doctor said his stomach looked like said paper. We are now back on a steroid and I believe another medication that he might be in for a while. He has lost weight and sometimes don’t eat. I feel frustrated bc we have spent thousands on this wonderful dog and he still looks miresable. We have changed his food but once he gets sick on it he will not eat and we start over again

    • profile image

      Andrés 

      11 months ago

      Sam, I'm wondering if you could help me with my dog's stomach issues, I'd love to understand it better.

      I have a female german shephard, 4 years old now, over the last year she started having recurrent losses of apetite, sometimes with what sounds like loud bowel movement, for some days she would eat very little... and all of a sudden she eats like a beast again for a couple of days, and then stops, and the same over and over...

      We've tried changing the food's brand, which is a pretty good one, but im thinking now about feeding her just rice and mince (not sure if thats the correct word, i mean something like ground beef) ...

      Would that be easier for her to digest?

      Is it bad if I mix dog food with rice and mince?

      Or directly, whats the smoothest food for a german shephard with a weaker stomach, so to speak?

      Thanks in advance!

    • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

      Shepards 

      12 months ago from Europe

      No worms?

      Does he have stress when there is company or when you lock him in the crate?

      Did someone of the company feed him from the table/snacks?

      Rice water is good against diarrhea (it's more important than the rice itself).

      Is he bloated?

      If it persists ask a vet.

    • profile image

      Allan 

      12 months ago

      I have a 2 yr old German Shepard mix. Up until Saturday May 12 2018 we have never had an issue with him pooping in the house. He roams freely, and like clockwork let's us know around 7am that he needs to go outside to potty. Friday morning he didn't feel like eating, so at dinner time we have him an extra cup of food, which he didn't seem to have a problem with eating. Saturday morning I woke up to him leaving several puddles of poop (very soft) near the back door. Saturday morning feeding time consisted of 1 cup of boiled white rice, and at dinner we have him 1.5 cups along with 1/2 boiled chicken breast. Sunday morning meal consisted of the remaining chicken breast and rice again. We went back to his regular diet on Sunday evening and this morning I woke up to him leaving more poop on my floor. Mind you I had company all the week prior, and he was locked up in his crate through the night. It was Friday when the company left so he roamed freely Friday night and left me the surprise on Saturday morning.

      Can you give me some ideas? He does get released several times in the evening before we retire to bed, and some times he does come in and is smacking and gagging. I don't have anything but grass in my yard, so there is no flower beds or garden for him to get into.

    • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

      Shepards 

      13 months ago from Europe

      Naveed, when the issue is serious talk to a vet. Could be a lot of things. Some of them can be severe, some less.

      Could range from (food) allergies, gastric inflammation, to blatter issues, to cancer, but I'm not a vet and I don't know your dog so seek actual medical advice when in doubt.

    • profile image

      Naveed ahmed 

      13 months ago

      My german shepherd tummy swelling problem age 29 month eating and bleeding is ok plz ye me whats the medicine for this.Tell the Medicine name.

    • profile image

      Kelly 

      14 months ago

      My GSD is 2 years old and we have been have issues of chronic diarrhea along with lack of appetite and lethargy. I have taken him to the doctor a few times over this. He is currently on Flagyl and they gave him a "hydrolyzed protein prescription" diet - which he doesn't like and refuses to eat. He just had a Cobalmin Folate test (checks to see if there is chronic malabsorption due to bacterial overgrowth). They also did a test to check his pancreatic enzymes.

      I eliminated all poultry (found that to be one trigger) and still trying to work through which foods he can tolerate. He does lick his paws and they are red between the pads - which makes me think maybe allergy related? I've tried Orijen, Arcana Merrick - top of the line foods. I am even happy to cook/prepare his food.

      I love him so very much - I'm considering taking him to UGA for their opinion. Of course I have read about GSD having Inflammatory Bowel disease, toxic gut, panreatic insufficiency, etc... which worries me to death. I would do anything for him - any suggestions?

    • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

      Shepards 

      15 months ago from Europe

      If your dog is bleeding and not eating you should go to the vet asap.

      Bleeding, diarrhea for multiple days, extensive puking etc. are all issues that could require professional help.

    • profile image

      neil june R. baer 

      15 months ago

      my german daid becuose of his hot viry hot

    • profile image

      Ahsan mahmood 

      15 months ago

      My German shepherd puppy 4months old is not eating and bleeding

      He is going through the drips and I am worried about that's all

      I need your suggestions

    • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

      Shepards 

      15 months ago from Europe

      I'm very sorry to hear that. Did he have an infection or something?

    • profile image

      Shais bhat 

      15 months ago

      My 1 month old German shepherd puppy died... the only reason is vomiting n diarrhea..

    • profile image

      Russ 

      17 months ago

      My gsd puppy less than 5 months goes from diahrea back to solid poop within same week and even yelps at times while pooping. Last week she went from yelping to pooping normal for 4 days back to yelping rhis morning. We are takinf her to vet just curious if anyone else is experiencing this.

    • profile image

      ANN 

      17 months ago

      MY GERMAN SHEPHERD DIED FROM FAILURE OF NORMAL EMBRYOLOGICAL INTESTINAL DEVELOPMENT

      SIGNS NOT EATING, THIN, VOMITING, DIAHERRA

      WOULD XRAY OF STOMACH SHOW THE PROBLEM AND BLOOD WORK

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