Even though Shih Tzu translates to “little lion” in Mandarin, one look at this pup will hardly remind you of a lion.
But anyone who knows this breed is well aware that they play and love the people around them with the passion of a lion, which is why they’re one of the most popular dog breeds in America.
Whether you just brought your first Shih Tzu puppy home or could write your own guide to the breed, this post is a must-read since it breaks down the best dog food for Shih Tzus at all life stages. Keep reading to find your next high-quality dog food!
Important Considerations for Your Shih Tzu’s Nutritional Well-Being
Shih Tzus are a small breed dog that generally love nothing more than to cuddle up in their favorite person’s lap. Even though they’ll constantly be by your side, you should still be aware of the following wellness concerns that many of them experience so you can spot and treat them effectively.
Brachycephalic Breed: Short Snout and Its Impact
One factor that affects nearly every Shih Tzu’s overall health is their short nose, which can cause brachycephalic airway syndrome.
Brachycephalic airway syndrome is actually a blanket term for several airway abnormalities in small breeds like Shih Tzus. A hypoplastic airway and stenotic nares can make it hard for Shih Tzus to breathe and eat comfortably since they restrict how much air reaches their trachea.
As a result, Shih Tzus may have trouble:
- Eating comfortably
- Digesting their meals
For that reason, it’s important that you don’t overfeed your Shih Tzu. If you do, they could not only choke but also struggle to digest their food, especially if they have sensitivities to certain ingredients.
A poor diet or trouble digesting could lead to issues with a Shih Tzu’s immune system which, in turn, could cause other problems.
Risk of Obesity
Obesity in Shih Tzus is a serious issue because it can have a cascading effect that makes other things worse. For example, feeding too many calories could lead to obesity, which would worsen hip dysplasia.
Plus, the Shih Tzu’s short snout makes it difficult for them to breathe. This discourages physical activities like running and playing, making obesity an even greater risk.
Hip dysplasia is a common degenerative disease that affects many dog breeds, most commonly large dogs. However, toy breeds like Shih Tzus can also suffer from hip dysplasia. Their diet can have a huge impact on how much discomfort this causes.
For example, it’s a good idea to feed them a diet made up of foods that reduce inflammation and support joint health, such as:
- Fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6
Conversely, you should speak with your veterinarian to avoid any specific food sensitivities your Shih Tzu has that cause inflammation. For many dogs that includes grains, meaning a grain free diet.
Allergies can be genetic, but can also be linked to a weakened immune system that may be the result of a poor diet or digestive issues. That link can surface in allergies and eye infections in Shih Tzus. For example, your pup may be more susceptible to conjunctivitis if their immune system isn’t being supported by a complete and balanced food.
Yeast infections and itchy skin are common in dogs of all breeds, but Shih Tzus are particularly vulnerable. Their thick coats can encourage these conditions since they’ll stay wet for hours if not dried. As a result, it’s incredibly important that you include skin-healthy ingredients in your dog food to support skin wellness.
The best foods for dogs with itchy skin are rich in fish oils and fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6. Salmon and whitefish are a great place to start, and sweet potatoes can also contribute to coat health.
On top of a healthy diet, regular grooming with shampoo and drying will prevent your Shih Tzu’s skin and coat from being overwhelmed by yeast.
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland underproduces hormones, specifically thyroxine. This chemical moderates metabolism, so dogs lacking in it will show it through weight gain and low energy levels.
If you see either of those symptoms, you should have your Shih Tzu checked out by a trusted veterinarian. A high-quality diet is always important to your dog’s wellness, but those with hypothyroidism need food with high-quality proteins and no additives or fillers to maintain a healthy weight and activity level.
How To Choose the Right Food for Shih Tzus
Ready to find a food that can help support your Shih Tzu’s overall well-being? The following guidelines will help you find the top picks no matter what their tastes and nutritional needs are.
Meets AAFCO Nutritional Requirements
Between ingredient lists, brand information, and certifications, it can feel like an uphill battle to be sure that a dog food is safe for your Shih Tzu to eat.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is an independent organization that guides feed regulators with ingredient definitions, labels, and laboratory standards.
Their endorsement guarantees the food is balanced and meets high standards to protect your dog’s health. They’re one of the most reliable and respected seals of approval an animal food can have, so always look for it on a bag of dog food.
Contains High-Quality Protein and Fat
High-quality proteins provide essential nutrition to your dog, so it’s important that you check for it as the first ingredient in your dog’s food.
Internal organs fall into the high-quality category, since they contain important minerals like zinc, but you’ll want to avoid by-products and by-product meals since you can’t be sure exactly what part of the animal they come from.
Pure proteins will also contain healthy fats like omega-3!
Is Human Grade
What is human grade pet food?
Human grade dog food is edible by a person as a finished product. Even though you’re not going to eat your Shih Tzu’s food, it matters that it’s human grade since many by-products, chemicals, preservatives, and fillers aren’t fit for human consumption.
Doesn’t Have Artificial Food Coloring
Artificial food coloring adds no nutritional value to pet food, but it’s often added anyway to make the kibble look more appealing — to humans. However, your dog can’t really tell the difference, as their appetites are driven mostly by smell. Avoiding artificial coloring helps reduce the number of chemicals your dog ingests.
No Highly Processed Ingredients
Highly processed foods often contain high-fiber ingredients like nut shells. However, these are only fillers and don’t offer nutritional value.
No Unidentifiable Meats
Limited ingredients typically mean things you’ll be able to recognize. That’s especially important when it comes to meat since dog food brands could add 4D meats from sick or dead animals under an unrecognizable title.
Best Food for Shih Tzus: The Honest Kitchen's Picks
No one knows just how important it is that the food your Shih Tzu eats meets the guidelines above better than The Honest Kitchen. Rather than tell you about it, our top picks for dry dog food and wet food below will show you exactly how excellent our foods are!
Dehydrated Limited Ingredient Fish
Whole Grain Chicken Clusters for Small Breeds
Small breed dogs like Shih Tzus can benefit from foods that are specifically designed to meet their needs while maintaining a sustainable weight. The Whole Grain Chicken Clusters for Small Breeds does just that with cage free chicken, salmon oil, and even probiotics for an extra boost of gut health.
Functional Pour Overs: Hip & Joint - Chicken Stew
Dog food toppers are a great way to add extra flavor and nutrition to an already tasty dog food. This topper specifically supports hip and joint health with a supplement of EPA and DHA that will help keep your Shih Tzu’s joints healthy and happy!
Shih Tzu True Stories With The Honest Kitchen
They say the proof is in the pudding, but The Honest Kitchen doesn’t make pudding, so the proof that THK dog food will keep your dog healthy is in the dogs that eat it!
He’s far from the only one. Luna and Layla are two Shih Tzu’s who suffered from digestive issues and skin problems. After switching to The Honest Kitchen, they reached a happy weight and saw a boost in their energy levels.
Dogs also love the taste of The Honest Kitchen’s food as much as its benefits. If you don’t believe it, ask Kavu, who immediately loved his new food that also helped with his allergies.
*Please note that individual results in the reviews section are based on customer experiences and may not represent typical outcomes.
Elevate Your Shih Tzu's Diet With The Honest Kitchen’s Human Grade Food
Whether your Shih Tzu loves to play, spend all day in your lap, or both, they deserve food that supports their breed’s specific needs.
The Honest Kitchen makes high-quality, human grade dog food that is just as nutritious as it is tasty — so that your pup will feel like the little lion their breed was named for after they eat it.
*Health Disclaimer: This post is educational in nature and doesn’t constitute health advice. Please consult your pet's veterinarian or other healthcare professional for specific guidance on this topic.