What Is The Best Dog Food for a Shih Tzu?
The Shih Tzu is a small, sturdy Toy dog and one of the most popular breeds in the U.S., according to the American Kennel Club. Their playful, friendly personality makes them a favorite and they are the perfect size for many people who live in apartments or want a small companion. Shih Tzu are often healthy, long-lived dogs but they can have allergies or other issues that benefit from special diets.
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Breed standards for the Shih Tzu call for the breed to weigh between 9 and 16 pounds and to stand between 8 and 11 inches tall at the withers. Dogs should be compact and solid, even though they are small, and carry good weight and substance for their size. Even though the Shih Tzu is a small dog, when you put your hands on one of these dogs, he should feel solid. This is a real dog and not a stuffed animal or a toy. In general, Shih Tzu tend to be a healthy breed and they have a long lifespan. According to a health survey conducted by the Kennel Club in Britain in 2004, the median life expectancy of the Shih Tzu is 13 years and 2 months. This is much longer than the life expectancy for the average dog.
By weight, the National Research Council of the National Academies, recommends an average daily caloric intake of about 404 calories for a Shih Tzu weighing 10 pounds. A Shih Tzu that weighs 16 pounds would require an average daily caloric intake of about 646 calories. Dogs that have been spayed/neutered, or that are older, may need fewer calories. Some dogs may need more calories depending on their level of activity and their individual metabolism. Growing puppies, for example, consume more calories than adult dogs and so do young adult dogs. A young adult Shih Tzu weighing about 10 pounds, for example, and getting lots of exercise would need about 436 calories per day. However, if your Shih Tzu tends to lie around the house all day, he would probably need fewer calories.
Protein is very important for your Shih Tzu’s diet, just as it is for every dog. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recommends a minimum of 22 percent protein for growth (puppies) and 18 percent protein for maintenance in adult dogs. These percentages are recommended for dogs in general. Most good quality dog foods will exceed these percentages. Fat is an important source of energy for dogs and should comprise at least 8 percent of the diet for Shih Tzu puppies and 5 percent of the diet for adults. Most dog foods today have more fat than these percentages. Fat also adds flavor to dog food and makes it very appealing to your dog. Fats are also one of the sources of fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6 which are good for your dog’s skin, coat, heart, and brain.
Although people usually associate hip dysplasia with larger breeds, this condition can occur in small breeds like Shih Tzu, too. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) ranks Shih Tzu as the 35th breed (among nearly 200 kinds of dogs and cats tested) likely to have hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia means that the ball and socket of the hip joint do not fit together smoothly, whether because of genetics, injury/trauma, or for some other reason. The problem can lead to problems with mobility or arthritis later in life – but this does not always occur. Keeping your dog lean and not letting him become overweight or obese can help. Some people claim that joint supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin help stave off arthritis and mobility problems. You can look for dog foods that are made for joint support and watch your dog’s weight.
Some Shih Tzu can also have issues with hypothyroidism. This isn’t really an issue that can be controlled by diet but it can sometimes manifest in allergies and ear infections. Some people who have dogs with hypothyroidism, especially if their dogs are prone to allergies or ear infections, like to feed a diet that is grain free. This is something to consider when you are choosing a dog food.
As with many small breed dogs, Shih Tzu puppies can be prone to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). For this reason, it’s a good idea to keep Nutri-Cal supplement, Karo syrup, or honey on hand in case your puppies shows signs of lethargy. This is most likely to happen when a puppy is very young. Small breed dogs usually grow out of this problem as they get older and gain some weight. It’s advisable to free feed Toy breed puppies for the first few months and then switch them to 3-4 meals per day until they are about a year old. After they are adults you can change them to 2-3 meals per day.
You may also want to consider feeding your Shih Tzu a dog food that is specially made for small or Toy breed dogs. Small breeds use more energy per pound of body weight than larger dogs yet they have small stomachs so they can’t eat too much at a single meal. Dog foods that are made especially for these small breeds pack more nutrients and calories into each bite so small dogs benefit more from each meal. Some people also like to feed foods made for small dogs because the kibble comes in smaller bite sizes. However, realistically, the size of the kibble isn’t usually a problem for most dogs unless it is huge. Most dogs, big and small, can eat most kinds of kibble if it is a normal size.
Ingredients To Look For
Most dogs need protein and fat in their diet, and this is also true of Shih Tzu. Of course, not all protein and fat is the same. It’s important that these nutrients come from good quality ingredients. You can go through a dumpster and find protein and fat but you probably don’t want to feed it to your dog.
Ideally, a good dog food will feature a couple of meat proteins in the first five to seven ingredients. You don’t want the first ingredient to be grain or some other carbohydrate. Both whole meats and meat meals are good sources of protein. Whole meats refer to ingredients such as whole chicken, fish, lamb, and beef. However, whole meats also contain lots of moisture. If the moisture from these meats were removed, they would be found lower on the ingredient list. This is because dog food companies are required by law to list ingredients by weight before cooking. Some people don’t like meat meals as much as whole meats but they are a concentrated form of the meat in which the moisture has already been removed. They contain several times as much protein as a whole meat. Meat meals are usually very good as one of the first ingredients in a premium quality dog food. They are used by many good dog food companies. Less desirable are the terms “digest” or “by-products.” If you see these terms on the label of a dog food, you should ask some questions.
Dogs also need fat from good sources. Some vitamins are only fat-soluble and your dog needs them in his diet. But fat, like protein, varies in quality depending on the source. You should look for named fat sources such as chicken fat. Other named fats also provide needed nutrients such as fish oil which can provide omega-3 fatty acid to help keep the skin and coat healthy.
All of the foods listed here are good dog foods. We have listed a variety in case your dog has certain issues or you have preferences about what you like to feed. The foods also vary in price.
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The foods listed here are kibbles but you can certainly feed your Shih Tzu a canned food if you prefer. There is little truth to the belief that canned foods cause more dental problems for dogs. If you brush your dog’s teeth regularly and have your vet take care of them, you shouldn’t have any particular problems from feeding canned dog food.
Try some of the foods mentioned here and see how your Shih Tzu likes them. Dogs are individuals so your dog might like one more than another. You should be able to find a good food that makes your dog happy and satisfies any special needs he has. Good luck!