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German Shepherd Diarrhea


Diarrhea is the excessive and frequent evacuation of watery feces, usually indicating gastrointestinal distress or Digestive Disorder (see 5). While we humans can just run to the toilet each time we feel pressure on the anal muscles, your dog may have to wait for you to take it outside for a quick "walk".

This is the one situation where proper Dog Housebreaking incurs a problem: A housebroken dog is trained to hold on until it has reached the "relieve location" taught during Toilet training your dog. This training now puts huge stress on your dog in a Diarrhea situation. Imagine you were declined toilet use when you have Diarrhea!

Who Gets Diarrhea

German Shepherds can get Diarrhea just like human beings, for any number of reasons. Let's drill down. The three most common reasons are:

  1. Wrong diet
  2. Contaminated water
  3. Anxiety

The most common reason for a wrong diet is feeding a dog table scraps. While the human body can usually absorb the different forms of sugar, fat, grain, salt, spices, chemical emulsifiers, color and flavor additives, preservatives, etc relatively well, a dog's digestive system and metabolism cannot. Every spoonful of table scrap brings your German Shepherd closer to the scrapyard.

The second most common reason for a wrong diet is feeding a dog industrial dog food. Naturally, the dog food companies market their products as nutrient-enriched and balanced diets. However, there are many flaws to this. First, industry-fed dogs on average seem to live 3 to 6 years less than home-fed dogs.

Second, it should be obvious that the metabolism of a Papillon that weighs 8 pounds and is kept in a one-bedroom apartment requires a different diet than the metabolism of a German Shepherd that weighs 80 pounds and gets 3 to 4 hours outdoor exercise a day. Nonetheless, industrial dog food is the same for all dogs, despite the packaging being different - that's marketing, not food.

The third most common reason for a wrong diet is ingesting trash, poop, pee, and anything in between.

Finally, your German Shepherd can also contract Diarrhea if you change its diet too abruptly.

The most common reason for contaminated water is that the water bowl hasn't been washed and refilled with fresh water for days. Stale water is a very attractive breeding ground for various types of bacteria, worms, and viruses - especially when the water is warm and/or when it has accumulated outside substances like foliage, pollen, bird feathers or feces, etc - or simply dust from inside the house.

The second most common reason for contaminated water is that the tap water could be good enough for us, but may not be good enough for our German Shepherd: Since digestion and metabolism of human and dog are different, it is not unusual that we have no problem with minor impurities of our tap water, while our dog has a problem with that (and vice versa). If you suspect this to be the reason for your dog's Diarrhea (or other ailments), try tap water that has been filtered eg with Brita or similar. Never give your dog sparkling mineral water though, not even the mild form.

Finally, if your German Shepherd is suffering from eg separation anxiety (family members, friends, or neighbors can tell you), make it a dog training goal to cure your dog from this.

Warning Signs

To identify whether your German Shepherd's Diarrhea is due to an upset intestinal tract or due to a possible disease, look closely in the diarrhea feces for signs of visible worms and parasites, for blood, mucous or colors that do not look natural.

If you see that the Diarrhea feces are moving or they look unreal (unlike what your GSD presumably ate last), then your dog's body is infested with parasites and you should take your dog to the vet immediately. Better safe than sorry.

Avoiding and Treating Diarrhea

To avoid Diarrhea, try to stick to healthy, natural, and varied dog meals, regular meal times, and a consistent feeding routine - as described in House Training a Dog. Serve two or even three smaller meals during the day, not one large meal. Do not make abrupt changes to your dog's diet. When you change the diet materially (say from industrial to home-prepared food), always mix half and half during the first week. Add boiled rice once or twice a week.

Use either the best Eat-Slow bowl or the best metal Eat-Slow bowl to help your dog's digestion and overall well-being.

Always provide a bowl of fresh water. Yes, day and night. Serve all food and drink at a temperature between room temperature and the dog's body temperature (as a rule, never hotter than 35 degree Celcius or 95 Fahrenheit). Try to serve it at roughly the same temperature each time.

Strictly avoid all table scraps, and prevent that your German Shepherd is scavenging outside. On-leash walks are not necessary for this, it is really just a dog training issue. With the right training, your off-leash GSD will not scavenge, even if there's an opportunity.

To treat Diarrhea, first do what you read under Warning Signs above. If the Diarrhea does not improve on the second day, consider to take a stool sample and to take your dog and the sample to the vet.

Don't give food during the first day of Diarrhea, but provide plenty of fresh water to which you've added the recommended dosage of electrolytes to replace those lost with the Diarrhea.

If your German Shepherd doesn't mind, mix half water and pure pumpkin juice (if it's industrial, make sure it has no added preservatives, sugar, etc). Again, add electrolytes as recommended on the package that you got specifically for situations like Dehydration (see 1), Vomiting (see 29), and Diarrhea. You MUST ensure that your dog drinks the recommended amounts to make up for the loss of fluids and electrolytes.

When you reintroduce food on the second day, start with a mix of half rice and half of whatever your dog got last - and together no more than half of the usual amount of food at that meal time. Continue with this during the entire day, hence two to three times - if you serve the recommended two or three smaller meals, rather than one large meal - if not, seriously consider this now. On the third day, return to the prior diet and amount of food.

Continue to add electrolytes to the water (or to the mix of water and pumpkin juice) for as long as your German Shepherd has Diarrhea. Make sure that the food and drink temperature is right (see above).

Once your dog’s feces return to normal, continue with the above for one more day, then return to sensible dog meals, meal times, and feeding routine as recommended in House Training a Dog.

Avoid processed industrial dog food for at least a full week after the Diarrhea has disappeared. If you had served your dog processed industrial food before, try to switch now. But always introduce a change in diet slowly: During the first week, serve half of what your dog got before, and the other half the new diet.

  30 Responses to “German Shepherd Diarrhea”


    TY so much ..My puppy is 3and half months old ..Just recent ally switched him to blue dog food ..He was fine up to yesterday..Made him rice and gave him pepto..his stool was fine this morning and now this afternoon back to diraera….my email is not working at the moment I can give you a phone number just in case….[deleted for privacy] ..Ty so much I’m going to Walmart to buy pumpkin in a can and put that in his food Tom..


      Hi Susan,
      If with “blue dog food” you mean this then yes you have chosen a top industrial food.

      However, you say you introduced it “recently” – how long ago? And did you introduce the new food slowly (mixing it in) as we recommend?

      Subject to your dog getting it already for a week or more AND you introduced it slowly as recommended, the Diarrhea can be due to:

      – a substance in the industrial food that your GSD doesn’t digest well (GSDs are VERY sensitive with their GI tract!), or is allergic to

      – or an issue unrelated to food (see the article on Diarrhea above!)

      An indication is that you wrote “back to Diarrhea” – what did you mean, when did your dog have Diarrhea before, was it before you switched to Blue or after??

      Until I know more details I’d say follow the advice in the article above to the letter, and if the Diarrhea continues until tomorrow nonetheless, then visit the vet straight away.

      Till then, make sure your dog drinks A LOT and to recoup minerals lost do give some canine electrolytes or even drool fuel if you have it (it’s perfect to balance the mineral levels, regardless what they market it for).

      The rice should be boiled but cooled down to room temperature – I hope it was??


    My senior GSD (age unknown- he’s a rescue).. had CHRONIC runny/blow-out stools for months.
    I tried boiled chicken, brown rice-then white rice & yogurt… I tried alot of other things too..
    I’m writing because my vet found the PERFECT solution & now he’s better, and so am I!
    He now eats a prescription dog food called ID by Hills Science Diet & my vet gave my dog 1 injection (like Humira)… The vet said it’s new, something Pfizer has come up with..
    One injection 2 mo. ago, his 1 kind of food- that’s it! He had runny stools for 1 day after the shot-
    PLEASE ask your vet about this if you’re at your wit’s end….


      Thank you so much for this info Gina, much appreciated! In the name of thousands that visit this page, they would thank you too. :-)


    Hi my Gsd is having trouble going to the loo but she just seems to walk round doing teeny splatters of diarriah which is all down her tail. Ive bathed her in flea sensitive flea shampoo and treated her for fleas & worms. she is 7.5 yrs old. Shes off her food and is itching on her stomach and wont leave it alone and shes lost weight! Im taking her to vets tomorrow just wondered if u could give any advice in the meantime . Thanks


      Puuh, that’s not much to go on. Based on that it could be food allergy or intolerance, GI tract infection, stress, side effect of medicaments (antibiotics, corticosteroids), or tumor. Crucial is: how long has it been going? Let me know the vet’s diagnosis tomorrow, okay?


    My husband just got a beautiful german shepherd from the Czech Republic as his police K9 partner. We’ve had him about 7 weeks now and he has had loose or watery stool the entire time. Initially of course we thought it was stress from his move to the US and a new home, then the stress of canine school. We put him on chicken/rice diet for about a week when the stools became watery, and started adding pumpkin/apple fiber to each meal. We slowly then replaced the boiled chicken w/his Royal Canine German Shepherd food that the kennel and police training facility had him on. The stools firmed up to (sorry) pudding consistency and never improved. We then took him to the vet for o and p, giardia, culture. All negative. No blood in stool. Vet started him on metronidazole and Iams Prostora probiotic. It’s been 5 days now and he continues to have 1-2 very loose yellow stools. He will on occasion, every couple days have a soft/formed brown stool. ( I am a nurse, apologize if a little TMI, I’m just used to it). We continue to add the pumpkin/apple fiber to the food, and he is on full strength food, no rice for about 4 days also. He drinks plenty (but not excessive) of water, has A LOT of energy, and has gained 2 1/2 pounds since his arrival here in the US. He needs to stay lean to maintain peak police dog performance but he does look a couple pounds underweight to me. I am well versed in the care of “mutts”, and actually have both our other dogs on special diets for skin allergies and sensitive stomachs, but German Shepherds are new to us, and given their propensity for GI sensitivity, I’m looking for any suggestions you might have. Do you recommend grain free diets? Royal Canine is chicken protein primarily but w/multiple grain sources. We want to do everything we can to make sure our new “baby” is getting the best care we can provide. Thank you!


      Teri, I would not give grain food, no. It’s not good for them. I would stop the royal canine.
      Since you are a nurse you know how to cook him hospitable food (forgive the pun, having my funny day).

      I guessed that initially his diarrhea was due to the different water (in USA vs Czech). But that should have resolved by now. Also, that the stool is yellowish is of concern. Did the vet check for pancreas, kidney, and liver?

      I would phase out the pumpkin/apple fiber and reintroduce brown rice with lamb, consistently for one week.
      What do you know of the parents’ health status?


    Thank you so much for getting back to me. Vet check for pancreas, etc. is up next given that initial stool studies were negative and it hasn’t resolved on the probiotic and metronidazole. Thought we would try a dietary change while waiting to get to vet and/or for results. Seems that pancreatic insufficiency can be common in German Shepherds, so will definitely have him tested. He was a big investment for us and the PD, so we of course, want him in tip top form. Not to mention, he’s just our big baby and we adore him! Health of parents is clean. The training facility here that imports the dogs is very reputable and sends someone periodically to look things over. Did phase out the pumpkin this week as it obviously wasn’t helping. Regarding the brown rice, not considered a grain? I have a local pet store that I shop at (nearly every day it seems, given 3 dogs and 2 cats-we are in process of building an ark!), and the owner, who is quite knowledgeable, suggested I try Nature Variety Chicken and Brown Rice. It is otherwise grain free. I know you’re not in the business of recommending specific foods, but should I return the bag I bought and look for a lamb/rice variety? Both my other dogs are on lamb/rice wellness because one has a skin allergy to poultry. Not sure if the rice component is brown or white in the Wellness. Also, usually we introduce a new food sloooooooooooowly, but given that he doesn’t seem to be tolerating what we’re giving him, should we stop the Royal Canine abruptly and replace 100%, or go the slow route? Or, should we cook him lamb and brown rice, forgetting about commercially prepared foods?
    Thanks again, really appreciate your help and knowledge!


      I’d increase each day by a quarter. No abrupt change of R.C., no. GSDs generally tolerate lamb much better than chicken. Brown (unprocessed) rice cleans the GI, is calming. Yes, forget about commercially prepared foods, if you are willing to go homemade. If you are subscribed(??) you’ll get clear dietary advice at some point. I still plan to create a “daily dinner” product (paid) but have no time at the moment. :-(


        Great, thanks! I will subscribe!


        Just wanted to let you know that the raw lamb/brown rice diet appears to have solved the problem! Just as an FYI, as I wanted to get him started asap on the lamb/rice, I bought “Primal” raw lamb, which is grain free and has a good amount of fruit/veggies in it. We will look into recipes for making our own at some point, but for now, sticking w/the Primal. Stools are normal for first time since his arrival here in US 8 weeks ago. Thank you!


        Oh Teri that is such great feedback! I had meant you do homemade lamb & rice, I didn’t know you can buy it (in USA at least, ha!)
        We could suggest it (for those lot who require “convenience”), but I can’t see the ingredients on this page – is that the one you got? Could you pl write down the ingredients? Key ingredients is enough.

        Glad my suggestion solved the dog’s problem so quickly!! Did you add it slowly or changed abruptly?


    Hi Tim,

    Yes, this is the product, although we have been giving him the raw/frozen version, which is identical in ingredients to the freeze-dried. We went ahead and just abruptly switched, which is not the usual recommended way of doing things, but we felt like we just wanted to clear his system of the Royal Canine and additives. We have another dog that has had GI problems for years and are fairly well-versed on the changing dog food routine, but this time we were getting so frustrated and really felt like we were doing him a disservice by continuing to feed him something he clearly wasn’t tolerating. So, we just stopped the RC and started the Primal lamb and home cooked brown rice. Voila, by the next day the stools were improving to a normal color and consistency and now he is completely normal-color, volume, frequency, all normal. We would like to transition him to a homemade raw lamb diet, but I need a good recipe that includes the proper veg/fruit proportions. The Primal is quite costly, and the police dept. isn’t going to be happy w/the bills so far (ha ha), but ultimately, they will pay for whatever we end up on, as he is technically owned by them right now.

    Here are the ingredients for the Primal lamb: (same for freeze-dried and frozen)

    Lamb Hearts, Lamb Livers, Ground Lamb Bones, Organic Kale, Organic Carrots, Organic Yams, Organic Broccoli, Organic Apples, Cranberries, Blueberries, Organic Pumpkin Seeds, Organic Sunflower Seeds, Minerals (Zinc Sulfate, Copper Carbonate, Sodium Selenite), Organic Parsley, Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, Salmon Oil, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Quinoa Sprout Powder, Dried Organic Kelp, Alfalfa, Natural Vitamin E, Mixed Tocopherols (natural preservative).

    Again, thanks for the help. Waiting for him to come home from work to measure him so I can sign up for your weekly newsletter.

    Cheers from the ark!


      Re/ The Primal is quite costly: yes, how much is in a bag, it doesn’t say, looks tiny, do you know?
      Re/ the proper veg/fruit proportions: those are perfect! See this Periodical.
      Re/ natural preservative: Commercial food will always have – shelf life!

      When you go homemade, leave out. No additives at all, healthy homemade will have the right (natural) balance of everything. So, the preservative of Primal is actually a bad choice: Tocopherol basically is Vitamin E, one with antioxidant properties, that’s why they chose it.
      Unless a dog is ill or pregnant, when homemade, no additives.

      Otherwise Primal’s ingredients look excellent (only slight worry I have is the amount of Organic Apple Cider Vinegar? Is very acidic, bad for dog’s GI tract!).

      If both have same ingredients, what’s the difference between your raw/frozen version and freeze-dried, do you know?


        Hi Tim,

        Cost for a 6# bag of raw is $30! Our dog is eating about $60 of food per week-so you can see the need to transition to something less costly! I haven’t been able yet to figure out how much is in the freeze-dried bag (put a ? out at the amazon site). Our pet store doesn’t carry the freeze-dried version, otherwise if it were somehow cheaper I might have bought that instead. So, once I figure out how to make a raw diet I think that’s what we’ll go with-unfortunately, because he is technically owned by the PD,we have find a vendor who is willing to bill the PD for the food. So for now we are sticking w/the Primal and paying for it ourselves until we can figure out how to bill the PD for what I buy at the grocery store-bureaucracy!



    Hi Tim,
    Merry Christmas to you! Just wanted to let you know that we have noticed that our very stinky german shepherd no longer is so stinky after switching to the raw lamb/rice diet you recommended! We just noticed the other day, “hey, Gimmo doesn’t smell anymore”. Lovely side benefit to a better diet! Thanks again for the great advice.


    Hi there, we have an almost 2 yr old GSD with a somewhat regular onset of diarrhea and solid stool in between. He has no symptoms of lethargy, no signs of any illness, he is energetic, loves to go for runs, eats heartily and plays and sleeps regularly.

    For his food we feed Taste of the Wild Lamb formula and we have been making our own raw food (turkey, beef, chicken/turkey with organ meat, pumpkin, carrot, apple etc..) we mix it in with the Taste of the Wild Lamb to assure his getting all the nutrients we feel are required. His sister, also a GSD, is doing fine, she is 5 years senior to him.

    The diet we feed is grain free, so adding rice to the diet is giving us pause. But perhaps to give his system and the pup a break, making a wild brown rice, pumpkin, blueberry, chicken slurry might be the way to go for now?


      Lars, pl test thim for worms. Because the food can’t be the problem (but to be sure, feed the lamb with brown rice for a week), and you say he isn’t ill either (I assume that’s vet-checked).


    Hi Tim,
    first, we are all better! :-) With that out of the way… Yes our boy is well, he had his vet check about a month ago, he is on regular Trifexis so that takes care of ‘some’ of the worms (round, hook and whip). So with the exception of the diarrhea, he has no other symptoms, that said we already called the Vet for a visit.

    At the night of my first post I mixed together plain yogurt, human grade acidolphilus and Gentle Digest for dogs n cats and ground eggshells.

    He was not very impressed with it, so I added it to some food, which he begrudgingly ate. By the next morning his stools were more solid but did not maintain shape, by the evening we had one shaped stool, which held form and was soft solid. We ran out of the yogurt and I opted to not add any more for now, just to see what would happen. Today, we had a good solid stool x 2.

    We are holding off on the Vet visit for now and continue to monitor his input/output.

    Just for the record he is a German German Shepherd (straight back, working dog, longstanding reputable local breeder) not an American German Shepherd (sloped back).


      Hi Lars, I am confused now:
      – I suggested some days ago to test him for worms
      – You now write: “he is on regular Trifexis”
      – Does that mean you got him tested, and he tested positive for worms?
      – Then what does this mean: “we had his stools analyzed, they all came back negative”

      Confused.com ;-)
      Please shed light.

      And who prescribed Trifexis? Was that after checking your dog for MDR-1? Pl. see here our note under Trifexis, why it is relevant.

      “Just for the record he is a German German Shepherd (straight back, working dog, longstanding reputable local breeder) not an American German Shepherd (sloped back).”
      –> That’s interesting: I always considered the German GSDs the sloped back ones, and the American GSDs rather the straight back, no?
      I got that impression eg from the “Sieger shows” in Germany, where the SV Augsburg makes sloped back GSDs “champions” – OMG!

      I’d love to ask our members about their dog’s back/shape, but didn’t dare to, some may feel offended (although why?? It’s not their fault, it’s the breeders’ fault!).


        Sorry for the confusion. :-( Let’s see if I can make things better or worse :-\

        So our boy Faolan had these bouts of digestive issues since we got him. That said, he is mostly a solid stool dog, but these incidents are frequent enough to make us take notice.

        On several occasions we had the Vet examine him ($$), send in stool samples (more $$), with the last one being 4 months ago, to find out if he has any worms. Every test came back showing no worm or other parasite infection. The vet suggested that he simply has a sensitive stomach and we should observe what he consumes outside feeding time and/or possible change his food.

        Around this time I had completed my research for homemade dog food, as we too don’t like what the mass produced pet food industry is adding and using for the dog foods. To make a long story short, we started to supplement the Taste of the Wild dry food with 80:10:10 ratio cooked food, then half cooked and finally to raw over a months time.

        Both dogs took to the food with enthusiasm, showing all the signs of better health and vitality, especially our 7 year old rescue.

        The diarrhea bouts went down in frequency but are still happening every now and then.

        We live in a heartworm and hookworm prevalent area so the vet suggested that the easiest for all of us is to have the dogs go on Trifexis as it is one pill to take and it takes care of the majority of issues. Both dogs have been on this medicine for almost 1 year now. As far as the gene mutation is concerned, we asked out breeder/trainer and he never had lost a dog or had a client to this mutation. That said, we both agreed that if we wanted to be really sure, we should do the test.


        Hm, sounds like the food is good and you look well after your dog!

        One-off stool samples though rarely show worms, see here why (and much more). And putting him on Trifexis without being diagnosed positive and without the dog’s individual living environment being affected is plain insane of the vet from YOUR viewpoint (but clever from HIS: earns perks).

        “The vet suggested that he simply has a sensitive stomach and we should observe what he consumes outside feeding time and/or possible change his food.” – Very good, hope you do that (scavenging I mean), our renowned Feeding Routine pretty much prevents scavenging too.

        If he really isn’t ill, and he gets the right food, the only reason I can think of is stress (then probably due to the experienced Pack conflict!). I’d aim to avoid that, and to exercise him more.

        Best of luck Lars!


        On the ‘German’ German Shepherd topic :-) … having grown up in Germany and having longed for a dog myself, I was focused on German Shepherds. Having finally realized my dream of having a GSD, I read up on GSD on English and German language sites (Wikipedia is a big help) The topic of the body shape ideal is a hotly debated issue.

        From my recollections and my research into the GSD, the original working GSD is closer in body type to the Malinois. If you look at Von Stephanitz’s first GSD, Horand, you can see the ideal Von Stephanitz was after. I have never seen GSD dogs in Germany were the back slant was so pronounced as it is common today, especially in the US. For some reason that slant became the obsession for show dogs and it was imprinted into our minds (mine as well) that this is what the GSD *should* look like.
        Nowadays, I am not sure that this is a good bio-mechanical trait for a working dog. As I am getting older, I can relate to hip problems :-)

        That said, all dogs deserve our love and appreciation, for me having a lean, straight -ish backed dog means less hip and joint issues at retirement age.


        Lars, you may want to jump ahead to a Periodical you would get sometime in future, it explains and shows what my personal opinion is on this topic – I can’t even think about it, it makes me cry: The decline of the GSD.
        Your other message I need to read tomorrow, too tired now.

        (for others: sorry, this is NOT about GSD Diarrhea, we diverted – yes, let’s stop the diversion)


    oh and the last 2 times we had his stools analyzed, they all came back negative


    My 3 year old (tall 110 lber!) has had consistent sensitive stomach on and off, and when off, it’s awful and ‘runs’ everywhere if he can’t get out. Vet tested him and he had ‘sp’ colustridiam (?), a bacteria and put him on meds/probotic spray and I/D dry food. He got better for a while, but now having issues again. Vet thinks stopping probotic spray is reason and doesn’t want a retest for bacteria yet. Meanwhile, he thinks he gets anxious/lonely when alone (which isn’t often, 4 kids at home) and gave me low dose of Dog prozac. Anyone heard of that? Could that be bad for his tummy?
    Also open to other suggestions. He rarely gets scraps, unless kids spill something small…


      James, I’d stop all the vet prescribed!
      – Completely avoid the dog’s current stress level (see the Prime Secret about Dogs for a start, and get House Training Dogs to Behave Well to understand more)
      – Train the kids how to behave well with the dog! (So you need to learn it first, hence above links)
      – Feed Lamb with unprocessed (brown) rice for at least a week to see how it improves
      – Decline all antibiotics and corticosteroids!
      – Subscribe to learn how to treat a GSD right


    Hey tim, we have had our german shepherd duke for since he was 8 weeks hes now 22 weeks and has always had runny poo pretty much always! we took him to the vet and he gave us an anti biotic and sugested scrambled egg it worked for a week but again ever since hes back to runny poos. We introduce egg which helps the next day but its just a repeat cycle. Hes very playful and always happy and his coats lovely,he get fed 3 times a day on pedigree puppy and loves it! I just wondered is it that that making his poo runny as we cant think of anythin else! Tho he does eat his own poo sometimes and is always at puddles in our garden

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