Shih Tzus are adorable little dogs filled with personality. You can often see them dolled up with bows and impeccably groomed hair. Other times, they're just scraggly little energy bombs ready to play! Whatever the case may be for your pup, choosing the right food is paramount!
These dogs are considered a small toy breed. When fully grown, they only weight between 9 and 16 pounds! Because they are so small, what they're consuming is more important than ever.
Ultimately, the quality of the food you provide is going to affect the health and well-being for years to come.
The goal is to help your pup live for as long as possible, right? Well, to do that, you'll need to pay close attention to everything little Fido is putting into their body.
Shih Tzus are a notoriously difficult dog breed to feed. They can have picky palates and are known to stick their nose up to foods they don't like. Not only that, but the breed is susceptible to allergies and digestive problems. Needless to say, any old puppy chow is not going to do.
Here are some of the best dog food options for Shih Tzu puppies, adults, and seniors.
7 of the Best Dog Foods for Shih Tzus in Order of Lifestage
Puppy Foods for Shih Tzus
1. Royal Canin Shih Tzu Puppy Dry Dog Food
What better option than a food that's specifically designed for Shih Tzu puppies? Made by Royal Canin, this kibble contains all of the essential nutrients your pup needs to grow up healthy.
This includes EPA, DHA, and Vitamin A food good coat health. It's also full of antioxidants and contains probiotics for good gut health.
It's relatively high in protein, containing approximately 26 percent. Plus, it's a bit denser in terms of calories. The ingredients work to keep your puppy's energy levels up while also supporting their overall development.
2. Rachael Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy Natural Real Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food
This Nutrish dog food formula is wonderful for Shih Tzus. In total, it contains about 28 percent protein. It's a bit higher in fat, but the 16 percent analysis is acceptable for growing pups.
You'll find a ton of beneficial ingredients in this recipe. It contains protein-packed chicken, flaxseeds, and fish oil for good coat health.
Most importantly, this recipe contains calcium and phosphorus for proper bone development. The ratio of the minerals is about 1.2 to 1, which is just perfect.
Adult Dog Foods for Shih Tzus
3. Royal Canin Shih Tzu Adult Dry Dog Food
Here's another great option from Royal Canin. However, this one is geared towards adult canines. Specifically made for the Shih Tzu breed, this recipe contains all the essentials.
The protein content is 22 percent. It also has a good amount of fiber and plenty of probiotics to keep your dog's system in check.
One thing we like about this recipe is that it uses a nice blend of nutrients to support your dog's coat. This includes omega fatty acids and biotin.
4. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Turkey Meal & Chicken Meal Recipe Dry Dog Food
You can't go wrong with Wellness Core. While not specifically made for smaller breeds, the kibble is very manageable and good for your dog's teeth.
What sets this recipe apart is its use of natural and wholesome ingredients. Deboned turkey is the primary source of protein.
Speaking of which, this formula is very good for active dogs. The protein analysis is at 34 percent! On top of that, you have omega fatty acids for skin health, beta-carotene, for ocular health, and glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health.
5. Rachael Ray Nutrish Zero Grain Natural Turkey & Potato Recipe
This Zero Grain formula from Rachael Ray Nutrish is good for dogs with allergies. It's relatively simple in terms of ingredients, which is ideal.
The ingredients list is significantly smaller than other options on the market, making it easier for you to manage what your dog consumes.
Turkey is the main source of protein, which makes up 26 percent of the recipe. There are also several digestible fruits and vegetables to give your dog the boost of vitamins and nutrients they need.
Senior Dog Foods for Shih Tzus
6. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Senior Farm-Raised Chicken Dry Dog Food
From Nutro is this high-quality senior formula. Made for small dogs over the age of eight years old, the kibble is designed to support health from the inside out.
The ingredients are simple but effective. You'll find a nice blend of antioxidants, which are meant to improve your dog's immune system. There's also a good dose of fiber for digestive health and omega fatty acids to support your pup's aging coat.
The entire recipe is free of fillers and unnecessary additives, making it a good choice for older dogs.
7. Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Senior Deboned Turkey & Peas Recipe Dry Dog Food
This senior formula from Wellness is made for smaller breeds like the Shih Tzu. It has everything that an older dog would need. This includes wholesome sources of protein, plenty of vitamins, and more.
The main draw of this food is that everything is controlled. It's less dense in calories, making it easy for you to manage your dog's weight.
The recipe also has less sodium, which is good for overall heart health. Of course, glucosamine and chondroitin are thrown in too to alleviate joint pain.
Dog Food Must-Haves for Shih Tzus
Like any other dog, Shih Tzus need the basics! We're talking about quality protein, fat, and essential nutrients. That said, finding appropriate food is no easy task.
This is a unique breed that's prone to a lot of health and dietary issues. As an owner, you must be vigilant about the quality of the food you choose.
Luckily, we're here to help. Here are some of the most important things to look for in your Shih Tzu's food. These must-haves cover essential macronutrients for all life stages.
First things first, the dog food you choose should have protein listed as the very first ingredient. Protein is an essential macronutrient that all canines need to truly thrive. It maintains your dog's muscles and supports their overall health.
For Shih Tzus, it's recommended that you get a food product with a crude analysis of 22 to 25 percent.
They don't need food that's with impeccably high protein content. Though, getting slightly more protein into their diet won't hurt.
As for the exact protein ingredients, look out for identifiable sources. Things like wholesome chicken, turkey, beef, or fish are always preferred. Steer clear of any animal by-products or mystery meats.
Remember, this is a breed that's prone to allergies! We'll get into that a bit more later, but for now, keep things simple and go for ingredients that you can easily understand. This is especially important when it comes to the source of protein.
Appropriate Fat Levels
Contrary to popular belief, fat is good for dogs! It provides some energy while making the food much more palatable. For a picky breed like the Shih Tzu, it's an important thing to have!
However, you want to make sure your dog is not consuming excessive amounts of fat. Weight-gain is a very real threat to Shih Tzus. Excessive weight gain can shorten their lifespan and lead to a ton of unwanted health issues.
Generally, between 8 and 10 percent fat content is ideal. That's just enough to keep them happy and healthy without forcing them to pack on the pounds.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are always appreciated! Your Little Shih Tzu pup can benefit from a dog food that's filled with natural nutrient sources. This includes a nice collection of fruits and vegetables.
Some dog foods out there utilize synthetic sources of vitamins and minerals. It's best to stick with natural alternatives. Again, it all comes down to allergies and stomach sensitivities.
High-quality dog food products will already have enough plant-based ingredients to cover your dog's needs. Ideally, your pup's food should provide Vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K.
Omega Fatty Acids
One of the most identifiable traits of the Shih Tzu is their long coats of fur! That luscious coat is directly affected by the food they eat. These dogs are prone to a range of skin and hair issues. They could experience rough and flaky skin, frequent tangles, and stubborn mats.
To keep their skin and coat in good shape, look for a dog food that has some Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.
Dogs can get these fatty acids from ingredients like salmon oil and flaxseed oil. Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables are a huge plus, too!
Other Important Considerations for Shih Tzu Dog Food
It's not just the ingredients list that you need to pay attention to! Chances are that the food you choose is going to be the only thing your pup consumes for several years to come. There are several other factors to pay attention to that can have an effect on your dog's health and happiness.
Manageable Kibble Size
As a small toy breed, Shih Tzus are going to need a small and manageable kibble size. Dog foods made for large dog breeds can be too large and rough for the small jaws of a Shih Tzu. Many universal dog foods made for all breeds could pose a problem as well.
That's why it's a good idea to stick to formulas made for small breeds. The kibble sizes are easy to manage. Not only that, but many are shaped to promote good dental health. This is a big plus, as Shih Tzus are known to suffer from dental issues throughout their life.
As a good rule of thumb, Shih Tzus will need between 35 and 50 calories per pound of body weight. That might seem like a lot at first. But, when you consider their small size, it's really not that much food at all!
Active dogs will usually need more calories every day to support their energy levels and activity. On the opposite side of the spectrum, pups that spend most of their day sleeping will need fewer calories to avoid weight gain.
We recommend consulting with your vet to get a better idea of how much food your dog will need. Truth is, calorie count varies from canine to canine.
Finding the right balance will require some experimentation. But once you find the sweet spot, your dog will be in good shape moving forward.
Puppies have a couple of extra needs that you need to be wary of. Even with small breeds like the Shih Tzu, puppies will need a specialized formula. Feeding an adult dog food product to a puppy could result in poor development and a myriad of health problems in the future.
The biggest difference for puppies is their need for calcium and phosphorus. These nutrients are essential to bone growth and development. Typically, it's not found in adult foods, so make sure that you're checking the ingredients list for your pup.
Generally, a calcium to phosphorus ratio of 1.1 to 1 is ideal. Some vets may recommend a ratio of up to 2 to 1. Speak with your vet to see what's best for your canine companion.
As dogs get older, their needs are going to change a bit, too. Most will need fewer calories to maintain their health throughout the day. This is very important to think about!
As their metabolism slows, older dogs are at risk for gaining weight. It's not something you can ignore and hope goes away!
In addition to fewer calories, senior dogs may also need joint support. They can experience issues like arthritis and joint pain.
To provide some relief, you can get a senior-specific formula or any recipe that contains glucosamine and chondroitin.
Finding a Shih Tzu Dog Food That Meets Your Pups Unique Needs
As we mentioned earlier, Shih Tzus can be more difficult to shop for when it comes to dog food. They're not like other breeds that will gobble up anything you put in front of them. Pair that with food sensitivities and you have a lot of issues to overcome.
Here are some tips on how you can address your dog's unique issues.
If your furry friend is a picky eater, go for something that utilizes unique ingredients. Rather than the traditional chicken or beef, why not try a product with lamb or bison?
You can also invest in food that has a slightly higher protein content. Sometimes, that's all it takes to get your pup excited about eating.
If that doesn't work, you can consider using a gravy product. Alternatively, you can add some wet food into the mix. Incorporating those extras can add a boost of flavor without taking away the health benefits of the kibble.
Also Read: Dog Foods for Picky Eaters
To help dogs with sensitive stomachs, look for foods with high digestibility. This means simple ingredients without unnecessary extras. Avoid any food that has pointless filler, artificial flavors, artificial color, or any other chemical additive.
Probiotics and a good amount of fiber are good, too. These ingredients help to keep your dog's gastrointestinal system balanced. They can prevent diarrhea and other common issues.
If your dog suffers from food allergies, you'll first need to identify what ingredient your dog is not responding well to. This involves some experimentation.
Your vet can also perform an allergy test to give you a better idea. Once you've identified the problem, just look for foods with alternative ingredients.
Another good option is to stick with limited-ingredient dog foods. Specifically made for allergy-sufferers, these formulas are simple and often utilize lesser-used ingredients.
Is Wet or Dry Food Best for Shih Tzus?
This is a common point of contention for Shih Tzu owners! Some swear by wet food while others try to steer clear of it. Truth is, you can provide both!
Generally, it's better to stick to dry kibble as your dog's main source of food. Kibble offers a ton of benefits. Not only is it easier to store, but it packs more of a punch in the nutrient department. Plus, the mechanical chewing action is better for your dog's teeth.
You can add some wet food to the dry kibble, but we don't recommend making it your dog's primary source of food.
Keeping your Shih Tzu healthy should always be your top priority. That starts with high-quality dog food. While these pups can be picky eaters, a good formula will provide everything they need to stay healthy. Give one of these kibble products a shot. One might be the food that your dog is craving!