What Can German Shepherds Not Eat: Never Feed These 12 Foods to Your GSD
Shannon Cutts
Author: Shannon Cutts
Shannon Cutts, an animal intuitive and communicator, deepens interspecies connections through her writing and advocacy work.
Published date: April 16, 2020
Updated date: August 9, 2023
This article was reviewed and fact checked If you have found any errors, please contact us!

What Can German Shepherds Not Eat: Never Feed These 12 Foods to Your GSD

Did you know that dogs have evolved to mirror human emotions?

This is never more apparent than when your German Shepherd stares at you with those big round pleading eyes.

You are eating something that looks delicious. Your German Shepherd wants to eat it too.

But there are some people foods that you should never feed to your German Shepherd dog, no matter how cute your dog is or how much they pester you to try some.

In this article, get your comprehensive list of the foods German Shepherds cannot eat so you know what foods to keep safely out of your dog’s reach.

1. Chocolate

According to WhatCanDogsEat, you might not think your German Shepherd would even want to try chocolate.

But if you are eating some and enjoying it, you can bet your dog will notice and will likely want to try some.

While it is usually pretty easy to identify chocolate bars and cocoa powder and be sure to keep those items out of reach of your dog, where things get more challenging is when cocoa or chocolate is simply an additive in food or recipe.

As PetMD explains, the toxic ingredients in chocolate are called methylxanthines. The main methylxanthines are theobromine and caffeine.

PetMD has published a handy list of how much theobromine is in different types of popular chocolate products.

You may also want to bookmark Forrest Hill Veterinary Clinic’s free online calculator you can use to figure out how much your GSD may have consumed.

But when in doubt and any time you see any health symptoms that suggest chocolate poisoning, always rush your German Shepherd to the nearest veterinary urgent care center.

The health symptoms to watch for include vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heart rate, fever, low blood pressure, seizures, rigid muscles, cardiac arrest, and coma.


2. Grapes (or raisins)

Both fresh grapes and dried grapes (raisins) are toxic to German Shepherds. Unfortunately, canine researchers aren’t yet sure exactly why this is the case.

But as the American Kennel Club (AKC) explains, the health symptoms remain clear regardless:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • weakness
  • appetite loss
  • abdominal pain
  • stillness and lethargy
  • dehydration
  • increased thirst
  • kidney failure

3. Avocado

According to the Pet Poison Helpline, avocado is mildly toxic for all dogs, including German Shepherds.

The toxic compound in avocado is called persin. Persin is not as much of a risk to a big dog as a German Shepherd.

What is incredibly risky is the fat content in avocado and the enormous inner seed.

If your GSD happens to swallow that giant seed, it can easily obstruct the bowel that could be life-threatening.

The high-fat content in avocados puts your dog at risk for pancreatitis, another life-threatening health condition that causes the pancreas to become inflamed and shut down the digestive process.

You may have noticed that some dog foods even feature avocado, but these should be used only with your veterinarian’s approval.

And raw avocado should never be fed to your German Shepherd for all of the reasons listed here.

4. Garlic, onion, chives, leeks


VCA Animal Hospitals is very clear that these four popular herbs – garlic, onions, chives, and leeks – are all toxic to dogs, including German Shepherds.

This can be especially important to know because dogs are not just adversely affected by the fresh herbs.

Dried, powdered, liquid, cooked, and even frozen versions of the same will have the same toxic effects.

This also makes it vital to keep any herb or vegetable gardens completely out of your dog’s reach. In the same way, anything you cook that has these herbs as ingredients should never be fed to your dog.

The side effects to watch for include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, wobbly balance, drooling, bloating or abdominal pain, reddish urine, increased heart rate, and breathing rate, panting, pale gums, and collapse.

5. Fruit seeds or pits

When it comes to the topic of fruit seeds and pits, German Shepherd owners often find a wealth of confusing information online.

Canine Journal clears up the confusion by explaining which fruit seeds and pits are toxic to dogs.

Apple seeds, peach pits, and plum pits are toxic because they contain a compound called amygdalin that converts to cyanide.

Avocado pits are toxic due to a compound called persin and they are also a choking hazard. Persimmon pits are dangerous because of their size.

6. Mushrooms

Not all mushrooms are toxic to dogs, but those that are can be fatal quickly, as Preventative Vet explains.

Wild mushrooms that grow in the yard are the most common causes of fatal toxicity in dogs.

Your German Shepherd may be attracted to the fishy smell or odd appearance of mushrooms in the yard and eat them before you even realize what is happening.

It is always a good idea to walk through your yard and remove all the mushrooms you see, even if you are not sure if they are toxic or not.

Also, be cautious when letting your GSD play in open fields where wild mushrooms may be growing.


7. Xylitol

Xylitol is a common sugar substitute found in many foods, candies, and gums made for people. It is extremely toxic to German Shepherds and all dogs!

As VCA Animal Hospital explains, if your GSD eats even a small amount of xylitol, it can cause side effects ranging from liver failure and low blood sugar to seizures and death.

Be aware that xylitol also occurs naturally in some produce, including raspberries, plums, corn, oats, and other foods. But the synthetic form is much more toxic because it is so concentrated.

8. Caffeine, alcohol

Caffeine and alcohol are not even the best choices for people, but they are downright dangerous for dogs.

The Pet Poison Helpline states that even the small amount of caffeine in a teabag or used coffee grounds can quickly cause dangerous health complications for dogs.

The Pet Poison Helpline states that alcohol is even more toxic in even very small quantities.

And alcohol can be found in some surprising places, including raw yeast dough, baked goods with added liqueur and medicine cabinet rubbing alcohol.

9. Macadamia nuts

VetWest Animal Hospitals states that researchers still don’t fully understand why macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs.

But numerous dogs in distress showcase that these nuts should be avoided at all costs. Common symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, weakness, lethargy, and collapse.

10. Cooked bones

Cooked bones may sound safer than raw bones because any lingering bacteria or toxins will be neutralized through the cooking process.

But cooked bones are much more dangerous because they splinter so easily. The heat weakens the structure of the bones and if your dog chomps down on a cooked bone, it can break into shards.

As the American Kennel Club (AKC) highlights, shards can not only puncture your dog’s gums and cracked teeth, but they can also cause choking and deadly perforations if your dog swallows the shards.


11. Corn left on the cob

Vets-Now highlights the dangers of letting your German Shepherd chow down on corn left on the cob.

While the corn cob might seem like a harmless enough treat or toy. But there is a big problem most GSD owners don’t know about.

Corn cobs do not break down and digest once they reach your dog’s stomach. This means they can easily cause a gastric blockage that can turn fatal.

Corn itself is a healthy enough treat for most dogs when fed in moderation. But always remove the corn from the cobb.

12. Cat food

As Vets Now explains, cat food is definitely on the list of foods German Shepherds can’t eat.

Of course, if you also have a cat in your family and your German Shepherd happens across a bowl of cat food, they might just eat it.

But cat food has the wrong mix of nutrients for dogs and large dogs in particular. Cat food typically is much higher in protein, fat, and carbohydrates than food formulated for dogs.

This might not sound so bad at first – after all, at least cat food isn’t xylitol! But German Shepherd dogs, in particular, tend to suffer from sensitive stomachs.

If your GSD eats fatty food that is heavy on protein and carbs, you can expect gastrointestinal distress.

This, in turn, can lead to pancreatitis, a dangerous health condition that causes the pancreas, an essential digestive system organ, to become inflamed.

Pancreatitis can become serious and even life-threatening very quickly. It causes a great deal of pain and can cause the pancreatic tissue to start to die off.

You may want to print out a copy of this list to keep handy for your use and to give to loved ones who may watch your dog from time to time.

This is the best way to make sure your German Shepherd eats only healthy, dog-safe food.


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