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GSD Life Extender Number 1

 Reviewed 10 June 2018 share-a-picture Or go to discussion?join-the-discussion dogphoto

==> "Want a LONG and HEALTHY life for your GSD??"

Let's look at this unbiased for a moment, shall we?

GSD Life Extender #1

Any number of 'Dog Experts' or vets you ask about this, is the number of different opinions you will get.

'Dog Experts' in apostrophes? Yes:

This is a hugely controversial topic for most dog owners too, because they do not have the time to do what's best for their dog. - Do they not?

Hey, they don't even have the time to investigate or read what's best for their dog! And what's best for themselves, right?

If you love your German Shepherd and want the best for your dog, then lean back now, take a deep breath, and relax. So that we can take an unbiased look at...

the FACTOR #1 to extend the life and quality of life of your dog - and hence for yourself too.

Best Dog Food - Best Dog Diet

Yes, this IS the factor #1, the GSD Life Extender Number 1.

There is a neck-and-neck race with factor #2 though: The right exercise regime. However, food and diet for your dog is the factor #1 because if this is not chosen wisely, then no exercise regime in the world can make your GSD live longer and healthier. You'll see below why.

While too little or the wrong exercise will first have dramatic behavioral and then health consequences, if you feed your GSD the wrong diet you can be sure to significantly reduce its life span - by 3 to 5 years on average, and in some cases it may halve the dog's life span.

Sure, it is convenient to quickly tip dry dog food or canned dog food into the eat-slow bowl f until it's full... - and in 'emergency' situations we have done this too. Such 'emergency' situations are unscheduled and unanticipated appointments and traveling with the dogs. Normally however we will have a food container with us that has fresh homemade food in it!


Serving your dog commercial dog food is convenient, no doubt. But what if I tell you that, after we gained some practice, it now takes us just 45 minutes a week to prepare the healthiest diet for our own GSDs? That's only 6.5 min a day. Total time, yes. Including the shopping (you have to do that for canned dog food and kibble too), cutting, chopping and cooking (usually for the week ahead and then freezing parts of it), and including our renowned Feeding Routine incl '10-sec' Gesture Eating. For all of it!

Plus, of course, we really feel this as pleasure time with and for the dogs. From their behavior you can tell that they too feel the love and care you put into feeding them.

Edit: By the way, I am just seeing that there are dog "food" (LOL) ads on this page which is about REAL dog food. You shall NOT buy that crap. Amazon servers put those ads automatically when they read our page content (which is about "dog food" here after all).

So, with the argument "more convenient/quick" out of the way, there isn't really a reason not to consider to put your GSD onto a homemade dog food diet, is it? A fresh or partly fresh and GSD-appropriate diet.

Now don't counter "I feed raw anyway". Because then I counter with what one of our dog experts had to say: "You need to have a degree in nutrition to get a raw food diet balanced". - Do you have a degree in nutrition?

All seems good - why change?

Still, you may be thinking "Why change? I know that the commercial dog food I feed my dog is of the best quality, I have no reason to change the food." - Fine, but didn't we just agree we wanted to take an unbiased look at this topic for a moment?

For most dog owners, all they know about the commercial dog food they buy is what they've seen in TV ads or other ads - from the dog food industry. Meaning, from those who want to sell the products they are advertising. - The pictures of happy dogs, supported by an upbeat soundtrack and a deep tone of voice make for convincing arguments, don't they?

A typical advertisement by the dog food industry

And then there's the other side of the story, often told by 'mavericks' motivated by the tragic loss of their own dog, trying to warn others not to lose their dog to the same causes they lost theirs...

What I witnessed myself

Part of the other side of the story also is: When I was younger (pupil and student) I worked in retail (large super/hypermarkets) to earn some money. I witnessed not the dog food production but the handling of dog food down the chain to the customer. I will never forget what I saw there. And the more I got around, the more I realized that this was common practice, rather than anecdotal evidence:

The pet food area was always the last in line, the area cared for least by management (and staff alike). When stocking the shelves (behind the rather nice-looking frontline) we would routinely meet and say hello to all sorts of crawling and creeping parasites in the pet food area. They were feeding on the typically many broken-up packages of dog food and cat food.

It could be such a big meet-up (party) that you would see chunks of 'Premium Tasty Dog Food Dinner Plate', 'Balanced Superior Dog Diet', 'Puppy Premier Growth Formula' and the like (names I am making up now, I don't remember the brands we stocked!) ... magically moving out of the limelight that hit them when we moved cases to fill up stock (you put the newest stock at the back and bottom). Dog food moving around, yes. Looking closer (fighting back my disgust and revulsion) I could see why the pet food could move about: It was being carried by an army of unidentified mini-critters.

Like in the woods where you can sometimes see leaves and twigs carried by an army of ants. Only more nauseating in this case when you were thinking of your dog...

I would never buy any food package that isn't entirely intact and sealed. And, being a dog lover, I regularly said to customers something like this when I passed them while they were lingering in the dog food area: "What dog do you have? - Nice! - Don't feed her industrial dog food! (S)he deserves proper food that you prepare. If you feed this kind of stuff here, don't be surprised that your dog will die young".

No customer ever complained to management about this. They all felt that I had their best interests at heart. - Sadly, convenience reigned though: They took the commercial dog food to the tills nonetheless.

Not enough yet?

Another observation I made during those years (and not rarely at all): Although the shelf-life of dog food normally is a generous 6 to 12 months anyway, somehow the regional distribution centers of the super/hypermarket chains would manage to send us out-of-date dog food (and, believe it or not, human food too). I wondered how they kept it in the RDC so long that it was now out-of-date before it even reached the customer. But maybe they got it that way from their supplier, who knows.

Still more to come!

Further: On my way to studying scientific rigour, I already knew of the ingredients of commercial dog food. All dog food is 'enriched' or 'fortified' with the "best supplements" human laboratories can come up with. Or so you would think. And the presumably best dog food brands had most of this sh.. in it: Chemical emulsifiers, color and flavor additives, preservatives, other additives, fillers, hormones, antibiotics, and other chemicals. And the list would go on and on.

Sometimes, substances find their way into dog food that even the dog food industry wouldn't expect to be there: See the FDA's Dog Food Recall List. Although a long list, it seems a bit outdated - which is probably rather the result of a lack of funding at the FDA than a sign of overall improved quality.

The below is an example Ingredients List of dog food - it actually is from one of the presumably best dog foods on the market (Solid Gold Hundchen Flocken Puppy Food):

Dog Food Ingredients List - Sample

Or easier to read here:

INGREDIENTS: Lamb, Lamb Meal, Ocean Fish Meal, Brown Rice, Millet, Cracked Pearled Barley, Canola Oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Tomato Pomace, Rice Bran, Flaxseed, Natural Flavor, Salmon Oil (source of DHA), Choline Chloride, Taurine, Dried Chicory Root, Amaranth, Parsley Flakes, Spearmint, Almond Oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Sesame Oil, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Kelp, Thyme, Blueberries, Cranberries, Apples, Lentils, Quinoa, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Proteinate (a chelated source of iron), Zinc Proteinate (a chelated source of zinc), Copper Proteinate (a chelated source of copper), Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Thiamine Mononitrate, Manganese Proteinate (a chelated source of manganese), Manganous Oxide, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Calcium Pantothenate, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (vitamin B6), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin, Vitamin D Supplement, Folic Acid.

Unnatural commercial dog food

The reason why commercial dog food is always enriched or fortified with all sorts of chemical additives is shelf-life (and marketing). The dog food lasts much longer (12 times and more) than when the dog food is all natural. The longer the shelf-life, the less returns from the retail sector, and the higher the profit for the dog food producer. Simple.

So, adding all those additives does have benefits for the dog food producer. But do you really believe that any of these additives are necessary, let alone beneficial, to your dog?

Dogs in the wild get none of these additives:

The Wild Dog Diet

The diet of wild dogs consists of about 75% meat, bone, and innards such as tripe, liver etc, and 25% greens like grasses, twigs, leaves, dandelion, chard, apples, pears, berries, parsley, kale, parsnip, yam, squash, etc.

There is no reason to treat your GSD like a feral dog and give him/her the wild dog diet, because you have a domesticated dog with a digestive tract that is very different to a wolf - so commonly misunderstood! Likewise, there is no reason to treat your GSD like a guinea pig and give him/her stuff (s)he neither needs nor benefits from! However, there is a need to give your dog a healthy diet that is nutritious and balanced. Nutritious not as in 'enriched' or 'fortified' with additives, no, instead a good variety of standard natural food! Because only natural food comprises all the nutrition required and beneficial to the domesticated dog.

Of course, the dog food industry wants you to believe that your dog will benefit from their nutrition-enrichment exercises (see above), but come on: What can be more beneficial to your dog than getting just a good mix of naturally occurring foods??

GSD Life Extender #1

Healthy GSD Diet - Ingredients

  • Real fresh meats like beef, pork, lamb, venison, and even bacon
  • Poultry like turkey or chicken meat - not the head, feet etc that go into pet food!
  • Innards like liver sausage - not the liver itself!
  • Vegetables like cabbage, kale, lettuce, carrots, cucumber, celery, broccoli, spinach, sugar snaps, etc
  • Fruits like pumpkin, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, pear, clementine, nectarine, apple, banana, watermelon, cantaloupe, mango, etc
  • Fermented dairies like cottage cheese, plain yoghurt, cheese, scrambled eggs - not raw or processed milk or other non-fermented dairies!
  • Fish like (boneless!) salmon, hake, tuna, etc
  • Real grains like rice, quinoa, millet, and even pasta - not the husks, flour, and mill sweep that go into pet food!

Ongoing dog food argument

Now that we've made it so far without getting drawn into that omnipresent argument about the right dog diet, let's briefly mention it, in case you have missed these discussions (and fights) in the large dog forums? The argument is about:




What is BEST?

The arguments primarily revolve around pros and cons regarding:

  • nutritional balance
  • obstructions in esophagus and stomach
  • medical ramifications and vet cost
  • dog life span
  • canine natural diet
  • salmonella and other pathogens
  • time investment for feeding
  • canine digestive system and bioavailability of nutrients
  • cross contamination
  • commercial dog food ingredients and byproducts

When we look at the arguments without bias and without education, we must admit there are good reasons for each preference. And you have probably made up your mind a long time ago - whatever you are feeding your dog, right?

Of course in theory you know that fresh food is better - both for your family as well as for your dog. However, it's not about what we know, rather what we do, right? That's the only thing that matters, regardless of the subject area.

Dog food and dog lifespan

It is difficult if not impossible to obtain any meaningful scientifically researched data about the lifespan of dogs that have been fed commercial dog food versus those that have been fed homemade dog food. The gigantic amounts of money being turned over in the pet food industry are probably enough reason to prevent such research, or to make it disappear from the public domain in cases where it was initiated privately.

However, today the internet allows us to research such matters by systematically reviewing individual 'anecdotal' evidence from dog owners who mention these factors about their own dogs in blog posts and dog forums. And if you then take hundreds of such individual reports together, you get a very good representation of the correlation between dogs' lifespan and feeding commercial dog food versus feeding homemade dog food.

Dog food and canine cancer

You can do the same research to find out if there's any statistically relevant correlation between type of diet and cancer in dogs. Because, like with the dog's death, dog owners do write about the cause of their dog's death and the cause of long-lasting medical treatment.

The result? There seems to be a strong correlation between feeding commercial dog food and the dog developing cancer and dying early! For example, we came across countless cases of oral cancer (tumors in the mouth) where the dog was being fed canned dog food. And for example bone cancer (tumors on the body's bones) and intestinal cancer (tumors in the gut) seem to be very common where the dog was being fed dry dog food (kibble). These and many further correlations seem to substantiate claims that the industrial manufacturing process and/or the ingredients of commercial dog food are cancerous (carcinogenic).

As said, you have probably made up your mind a long time ago about what is the best diet for your GSD, or rather what is the most convenient diet of your GSD for you. But, like with so many things in life, it's only when we start making the change that we notice that homemade food actually is more convenient than we thought it would be. And, homemade food saves so much medical cost! It is quite inconvenient to have to take on a second and third job just to cover those needless medical cost, you see?

Practice is everything

As said in the beginning, after we gained some practice we now find feeding homemade dog food just as convenient - and much more pleasure for both us and the dogs. Meanwhile we have listed some of the best sources for 'going homemade' on our site here (as well as for the "better" commercial dog foods if you insist).

There are a lot other resources on the internet, yes, but as said earlier it's not what we know but what we do. Or how comes that you apply what you read in some sources (on any topic!) while you only remember (at best) what you read in others? How comes that you do use the cookbook of one TV gourmet chef while you don't use those of others?

In my life I realized that it normally takes several approaches before we hit the one that brings the change. It's not that the others were 'a waste of money and time', I rather see it the way that only by trying out them I was able to discover what I ultimately go for. And five years down the line, or with the next dog, I might prefer to go for something else, based on my new insight and new experiences, right?

Hopefully this Periodical gave you some new insight and motivates you to experience something new. Seeing things the positive way helps a lot in every regard. As always, if you know of anything better (in any regard, here dog food), feel free to share your experience or opinion in the new comment box below.



  • GSD Life Extender #1: Homemade dog food! Closely followed by GSD Life Extender #2: The right exercise regime (in another Periodical)
  • Giving your dog homemade dog food can actually be much more convenient than you might think - a steamer f makes preparing homemade food a breeze
  • The first week was about getting used to feeding homemade, the second week was getting practice, the third week we noticed all the positive change this had brought about. With the fourth week, it had become routine! As always, practice is everything smile
  • If you had seen with your own eyes (like I have) how the retail sector is handling pet food (dry dog food, canned dog food, and packages of moisturized dog food), you would never buy any food package that isn’t entirely intact and sealed
  • I regularly witnessed all sorts of crawling and creeping parasites in the pet food area - which are feeding on the typically many broken-up packages of dog food and cat food
  • The prime ingredients even of the presumably best dog food brands are chemical emulsifiers, color and flavor additives, preservatives, other additives, fillers, hormones, antibiotics, and other chemicals used to increase the shelf-life of pet food
  • None of these additives is necessary or beneficial to your dog - although of course the pet food industry must describe them as "highly beneficial". Admitting "We add all that to increase the shelf-life of our products" wouldn't help to sell a lot!
  • Dogs in the wild and the healthiest domesticated dogs get none of these additives!
  • Nutrition-'enriched' and 'fortified' dog food does not benefit your dog! It does not even compensate for the lack of natural nutrients in commercial dog food!
  • Just a good mix of naturally occurring foods does benefit your dog (and your wallet), and is all that your dog needs (this is the Healthy GSD Diet listed above)
  • We need something that makes the change to home-feeding painless, quick, and lasting. If you have My New Puppy Diary, you have seen exactly how.
  • If you don't have My New Puppy Diary, at least see the MyGermanShepherd.Org Evergreen Recipe that is so easy to follow that you can start today!
  • Personally, I also liked Feed your friend better f (be aware its focus is on helpful dog food information rather than recipes)
  • Before you jump on the present fashion wagon titled "Feed raw!", note what one of our dog experts tells you - among tons of other essential information:
    Do you have a degree in nutrition?
  • More dog food resources (both healthy homemade and the "better" commercial) we have summarized here for you
  • You have probably made up your mind a long time ago how to feed your GSD, and I don't expect to be able to change that. But I am certain that for all dog lovers there comes the time when they regret not to have switched to feed a homemade dog food diet.

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