As a German Shepherd owner, you will know only too well how delicate their stomachs can be. They are renowned, like many dogs, for being sick after certain foods, particularly as puppies. It’s not always possible to keep your dog from reacting badly to certain foods, but you can eliminate a lot of sickness by not letting them eat foods that are bad for German Shepherds.
I recommend you print this list off and stick it your refrigerator… some of the foods I list that your dog should avoid, aren’t just bad for your German Shepherd, they could even be fatal. Some could even poison your dog and are are foods that are toxic to not just GSDs, but all breeds.
Because of this, I’ve put the most poisonous foods to German Shepherds first on the list. It explains why they are toxic and even how much they might eat before you call a vet.
Bottom line though; if your GSD eats anything they shouldn’t, don’t wait to read notes like this on the Internet – call your vet!
So, if you want to find out what bad foods German Shepherds can’t eat, plus some plants that are poisonous to them too – read on.
Poisonous foods for German Shepherds
Like most dogs, German Shepherds will eat whatever you put in front of them. If you happen to drop something on the floor and they gobble it up, in most cases, they should be fine with eating things in moderation.
However, there are some foods that are extremely toxic and not safe for German Shepherds to eat, even in small amounts. Knowing what German Shepherds cannot eat is really important in keeping your dog safe.
Here’s the most dangerous foods for German Shepherds, followed by things that they eat that are not poisonous as such, but are still bad.
This is most commonly misunderstood food that German Shepherds cannot eat, and the one that leads to most people having to call a vet.
It’s all due to the toxic theobromine substance in chocolate. Just small amounts can make your German Shepherd sick, so if chocolate drops on the floor, pick it up immediately. In large quanties your dog will vomit, and in more serious cases develop an abnormal heartbeat, tremors, seizure, and even death.
Dark chocolate is the most dangerous and poisonous to German Shepherds as it contains more of the theobromine. Be careful to not even leave it on the side in your kitchen as GSDs are able to counter surf very easily compared to smaller breeds.
2. Onions, garlic, leeks and chives
All of these foods are in the Allium family. Anything in this bracket is a poisonous food for German Shepherds, whether it’s been boiled, cooked, or whatever – it’s not something your German Shepherd should eat ever.
These foods are said to makes dogs feel poorly and in larger amounts can lead to red blood cell damage. You won’t always see symptoms of poisoning straight away as it can take a few days for the toxic effects to take effect.
3. Artificial sweetener (xylitol) in gum and mints
Xylitol is one of the most toxic things a German Shepherd can eat, and is commonly found in some mints and sugar-free gums.
According to research (see research published on MSU.edu), xylitol is 100 times more toxic than chocolate is for dogs. If they just eat one stick of gum with xylitol, a small dog could see their blood sugar levels dip considerably.
If the small dog went onto to eat a whole pack of gum with 10 sticks containing toxic xylitol, it could damage their liver irreparably and possibly even kill them.
Other foods and household items that can contain xylitol include:
- Peanut butter
- Sugar-free candy
- Sugar free breath mints
- Fruit drinks
- Jellies and jams
- Baked goods
- Sugar-free puddings and Jello
- Over the counter vitamin supplements
4. Candy and sweets
It’s not just the foods above that come with toxic xylitol. Some candy brands do too, so always check the labelling.
To be frank, you shouldn’t be letting your dog eat candy anyway, even if it’s free of poisonous xylitol. Why? It’s due to the sugar levels plus there’s also the risk of choking or blockages in your German Shepherd’s digestive tract or tooth fractures.
5. Certain peanut butter brands
Show me a German Shepherd who does not love peanut butter. It’s renowned as being a favorite treat for all dogs, especially when we put it in a Kong Toy.
However, some peanut butter brands include xylitol. This substance is toxic to dogs and needs to be avoided at all costs due to poisoning.
6. Corn on the cob
Corn on the cob is not among the poisonous foods for German Shepherds, but it is dangerous due to the cob part. These can lodge in the throat of your dog and intestines, so should be avoided at all costs.
Sweetcorn is fine, as this will be easily digestible though.
7. Cooked bones
Dogs love to eat bones. Everyone knows dogs love bones, but there are dangers with this food type, particularly with puppies.
When bones are cooked, they become brittle and can break apart. This means that when German Shepherds eat cooked bones, small slithers can perforate their internal organs, leading to big risks to their health… with possible fatal consequences.
Fruit is a great food for German Shepherds, but not all fruit! Avocado is one such, as it can be bad for German Shepherds but only when prepared in a particular way.
Avocados contain a poisonous toxin called persin which when eaten in large quantities can lead to vomiting and diarrhea. However, persin is mostly concentrated in the avocado skin and pit, rather than the fleshy part.
So, should your German Shepherd eat an avocado, chances are you won’t have any problems. But, it’s still worth avoiding, especially the toxic parts – the skin and stone.
9. Grapes and raisins
Another group of fruits that can be poisonous to your German Shepherd are grapes and raisins. They are a toxic food for German Shepherds and can lead to kidney failure when eaten in large quantities.
10. Macadamia nuts and walnuts
All nuts should really be avoided in a German Shepherd’s diet, as they are just the right size and texture that lead to choking. However, these two nuts which are potentially toxic to dogs.
When eaten at volume, both can result in diarrhea, sickness, and the possibility of canine pancreatitis.
The side effects of Macadamia nuts are very nasty and rank high on the list of poisonous foods for German Shepherds… the poisoning can result in hyperthermia, tremors, vomiting, and lethargy.
11. Cherry, peach, and plum pits
Due to the size of pips and seeds like this, they can become lodged in the intestines of dogs. Blockages are a very real risk, so don’t let things like this anywhere near your dog’s mouth.
There are also trace elements of cyanide in the pits of some fruits like peach and plum. It would take a heck of a lot to poison your German Shepherd, but it’s a bad food either way.
12. Mustard seeds
Mustard is so vomit-inducing to German Shepherds that vets sometimes use it to make dogs sick up for medical purposes. The seeds in particular are very toxic as they contain poisonous elements to dogs.
13. Coconuts and coconut oil
A little bit of coconut is unlikely to harm your German Shepherd, but the milk and white flesh of a coconut is known to cause stomach upsets in dogs.
The reasons coconut water should be avoided is due to the potassium in it, at high levels too.
14. Yeast dough
When ingested, yeast dough will heat up and then start to rise and create gas. This is very problematic in a German Shepherd’s digestive system, leading to extreme pain, bloating, and possibly the twisting of their gut.
It’s potentially fatal, so if your German Shepherd eats yeast dough, visit a vet immediately… the yeast can also change into ethanol, a highly potent alcohol.
This is good time to talk about alcohol dangers and how dangerous this drink can be for dogs.
Alcohol consumption can make your German Shepherd have diarrhea, vomit, difficulty in breathing, tremors, a lack of coordination, abnormal blood acidity, central nervous system depression, and even a possible coma or death.
Giving your dog alcohol isn’t funny and can kill them.
On a similar topic, the hops that are used in home brewing kits are also a dangerous ingredient for German Shepherds to eat. There are compounds in the hops that lead to malignant hyperthermia.
That means your German Shepherd’s temperature can rise rapidly, possibly causing permanent damage to the organs and brain or even death.
17. Coffee, caffeine, and tea
Drinks with in are bad for German Shepherds. It’s all down to the methylxanthines in the caffeine which causes similar bad reactions in dogs to chocolate.
If your German Shepherd has licked up a couple of coffee granules, chances are he will be fine. But in large amounts such as loose tea and coffee beans, it could be very harmful and require vet’s help.
Myristicin us a toxic substance with trace amounts found in nutmeg. When dogs eat it in large amounts it can lead to various problems including abdominal pain, increased heart rate, seizures, and even the possibility of hallucinations.
19. Moldy food
If your dog has access to trash, be very careful. Moldy food is bad for German Shepherds as it can contain mycotoxins. Mycotoxins grow on moldy food and make it poisonous when ingested.
Bad food for German Shepherds
In addition to the foods that are bad for German Shepherds, there are others. Whilst they are not strictly considered poisonous and toxic, you should avoid them due to the potential negative side effects. For example, weight gain.
20. Milk and dairy products
Many German Shepherds will be lactose intolerant, meaning dairy products can make them sick. Dogs don’t have the same digestive system as us and can find it hard to break down lactose in milk, meaning runny diarrhea issues!
21. Blue cheese
Given that you know dairy is bad option for dogs, it should come as no surprise that some cheeses can be dangerous. Avoid the blue cheeses, Roquefort, and Stilton. They have roquefortine C which is known to cause very bad reactions in dogs.
This can include symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting. In more extreme cases your German Shepherd could develop seizures and tremors if they eat a lot of blue cheese.
22. Meat and eggs that have not been cooked properly
Many owners now feed their German Shepherd a raw diet, and there’s nothing wrong with that providing they get all the nutrients and goodness required.
However, there is some research to suggest that bacterial infections such as Salmonella and E. coli can be contracted by dogs eating raw meat.
23. Food and drinks with high sugar content
Sugary food and snacks aren’t good for us, so they certainly aren’t for your dog. In fact, this is one of the worst foods for German Shepherds, and can result in a range of health problems.
Dogs that have too many snacks with sugar content are at risk of developing diabetes, weight gain, and even decayed teeth and gums. Sugar can also upset delicate German Shepherd tummies too, so something to avoid at all costs.
24. Food high in salt and sodium content
Just like lots of sugar, the same applies to salt content. Food that is high in sodium can potentially poison your German Shepherd… but is most likely to lead to them getting extreme thirst and increased urination in the volume it would be in dropped food. This is why you need to be very careful when your dog eats things from the McDonalds’ menu like this…
If your German Shepherd does eat lots of salt, the warning signs are very severe and include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, high body temperature, and seizures.
25. Fatty foods
Fatty foods such sausage, bacon, burgers, and fried food can result in upset stomachs. If your German Shepherd gets to eat these tasty snacks over a prolonged period of time, it could even result in pancreatitis.
Yes, it’s hard to say no to those pleading eyes when they beg for your food, but often the tastiest food is the worst for German Shepherds.
What plants are poisonous to German Shepherds?
There are also things your German Shepherd should not eat outdoors including the following toxic plants.
- Amaryllis bulbs
- Asparagus fern
- Daffodil bulbs
- Day lilies
- Dog’s Mercury (Mercurialis perennis)
- Lily of the valley
- Morning glory
- Mushroom plants
- Rhubarb leaves
- Sweet pea
- Tomato leaves and stems
- Tulip bulbs
- Umbrella plant
This list contains just the most common plants that are poisonous to German Shepherds. For a more comprehensive list, please download this print out from the Dogs Trust.
The reality is, most of the time if your German Shepherd has just eaten a very small amount of any of the bad foods listed here, they “should” be ok.
But, please never leave anything to chance and also consult with a professional veterinarian for advice.
I am not a vet, just a dog owner so all I have written here today is what I have personally learned and research myself. It should not replace veterinarian advice.
You might also like…
In addition to this list of foods toxic to German Shepherds, I also write individual guides about other things they can eat, and the health implications. Here’s a small sample of recent content.
Image in header via https://pixabay.com/photos/dog-sheep-dog-german-shepherd-1613976/