Shih Tzus have their own individual nutritional needs and you must buy the correct food to meet these. We recommend dry food for Shih Tzus as this will help to prevent plaque build up on their teeth.
There are many aspects to consider when choosing a new food and you should do your research properly before you make any drastic changes. As always, if you are unsure or have any tailored questions, we advise consulting with your vet.
We have rounded up the top 5 dry dog foods on the market for Shih Tzus. We have put our top pick below for quick access, and have reviewed the others as well.
There is a buyer’s guide included so you know what to keep an eye out for, and an FAQ section at the end to resolve any remaining issues.
In a hurry?
Our top pick is the Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Small Breed Dog Food in the turkey and oatmeal flavor. It is more expensive than most dry foods, but makes up for it with the nutritional makeup.
It contains no meat byproducts, GMO ingredients, fillers, or artificial preservatives.
There are added antioxidants and Omegas to support your pet’s immune system and keep their skin and coat in a healthy condition. The food also contains taurine to support heart health.
OUR TOP PICK
The Wellness Complete food in the turkey and oatmeal flavor is $16.49 on Amazon.com for a 4lb bag. It is definitely one of our pricier picks, but the nutritional profile is far superior to many dry foods on the market.
The food is designed for small dogs and so has small pieces of kibble so your dog can eat with ease. The food is 468 calories per cup. It has a protein content of 28%, a fat content of 16% and contains no corn, wheat, or soy.
The food contains 3% Omega-6 and 2% Omega-3. It does not contain iodine, but this can be easily supplemented. It contains probiotics and antioxidants from blueberries, flaxseed, and peas.
Per kilogram of food, it contains 250mg Glucosamine and 200mg Chondroitin.
The first 5 ingredients aew: deboned turkey, chicken meal, salmon meal, oatmeal, and ground brown rice. The 3 whole protein sources at the beginning are a good indication of a high quality food.
- 28% protein
- No corn, wheat, or soy
- 3 meat ingredients at the start of ingredients list
- Good Glucosamine and Chondroitin content
The Purina SAVOR food in the chicken and rice flavor is $14.48 on Amazon.com for a 6lb bag. This is a relatively average price and has an excellent nutritional profile.
The food is designed for small dogs and has extra small pieces of kibble. The food is 393 calories per cup. It has a protein content of 29%, a fat content of 17%, and contains whole grains.
The food contains 1.5% Omega-6. It contains iodine and probiotics.
Per kilogram of food, it contains 440mg Glucosamine but Chondroitin is not listed. The first 5 ingredients are chicken, ground rice, poultry by-product meal, soybean meal, and beef tallow.
Three of these are meat derived ingredients, suggesting the quality is high. This is reflected in the protein content.
- Relatively cheap
- 29% protein
- Contains iodine
- No Chondroitin content listed
The Canidae Premium food flavored with chicken, turkey, lamb, and fish is $14.99 on Amazon.com for a 5lb bag.
The food is designed for small dogs and so has small pieces of kibble.
The food is 468 calories per cup. It has a protein content of 24%, a fat content of 14.5%, and contains no corn, wheat, or soy.
The food contains 3.7% Omega-6 and 0.5% Omega-3. It contains added iodine, probiotics, and antioxidants.
Per kilogram of food, it contains 700mg Glucosamine and 250mg Chondroitin. This is by far the highest content of these micronutrients of all our picks.
The first 5 ingredients are chicken meal, turkey meal, lamb meal, brown rice, and white rice.
The 3 whole protein sources at the beginning are a good indication of a high quality food with lots of easily digestible proteins.
- High levels of Glucosamine and Chondroitin
- Meat derivatives are the first 3 ingredients
- 24% protein
The Blue Buffalo food in the chicken and rice flavor is $29.98 on Amazon.com for a 15lb bag. If you like to buy dog food in bulk, this is a good choice at a reasonable price.
The food has small pieces of kibble and is designed specifically for small dogs. The food is 397 calories per cup. It has a protein content of 26%, a fat content of 15% and it contains whole grains.
The food contains 3% Omega-6 and 0.5% Omega-3. It contains iodine and antioxidants.
Per kilogram of food, it contains 400mg Glucosamine. The first 5 ingredients are deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, oatmeal, and barley.
- Can purchase in bulk
- 26% protein
- Contains whole grains
- No Chondroitin listed
The Hill’s Science food lamb and rice flavor costs $15.99 for a 4.5 pound bag.
The food is designed for small dogs and is made with extra small pieces of kibble so your dog can feast without issues.
The food is 391 calories per cup. It has a protein content of 23.7%, a fat content of 16.7%, and contains whole grains.
The food contains 3.77% Omega-6 and 0.7% Omega-3. It contains iodine and antioxidants to support your dog’s immune system.
There are no listed components of GLucosamine and Chondroitin. The first 5 ingredients listed are lamb meal, brown rice, brewers rice, whole grain sorghum, and whole grain wheat.
This does not indicate great quality, as there are many filler ingredients. Your dog may also react poorly to the quantity of grains contained in the formula.
- 3.77% Omega-6
- Contains grains
- 23.7% protein
- No Glucosamine or Chondroitin listed
Best Dog Food For Shih Tzu Buying Guide
Wet or dry food
The best idea is to give your dog a mixture of the two. We advise mixing a little wet food in with mostly dry kibble, or you could even pour gravy over the dried kibble to make a more satisfying meal.
Dry food provides an abrasive act while the kibble is being eaten. This scrapes off some of the dental plaque and can help to improve their oral hygiene.
Wet food has a much higher water content, meaning that the caloric density is reduced. This can get quite expensive as your pet requires a higher volume of food for the same nutritional density.
Calorie requirements of your Shih Tzu
This varies depending on the age and size of your Shih Tzu. This breed tends to weigh between 9 and 16 pounds, averaging at about 13 pounds. Male and female Shih Tzus are similar in size and there is not much difference between them.
There are many calculators online that you can use to work out the calorie requirements of your pet. We like the Dog Food Advisor calculator.
Using an ideal weight of 13 pounds, we have worked out how many calories different dogs need. Senior, inactive, and neutered Shih Tzus will only need around 340 calories a day due to their reduced activity levels.
An average Shih Tzu will require 420. Active or working dogs need much more energy and require a minimum of 650 calories per day.
As Shih Tzus are small dogs, they cannot handle large volumes of food. This means that their food needs to be calorie dense to ensure they meet their caloric needs when eating small amounts.
They have a very fast metabolism and burn off a lot of calories per pound of weight.
Shih Tzus are small, flat-faced dogs. This can mean that they struggle to eat sometimes, particularly when they have large morsels to chew on.
Your dog is much more likely to choke on large pieces of food and this can also cause damage to the interior of their mouth.
We suggest purchasing a small-sized kibble for your Shih Tzu.
As with human food, the ingredients of dog food are listed in order from the highest content to the lowest. You should look for real meat to be listed as one of the first ingredients as an easy indication of quality.
If you see a generic ‘meat’, a filler, or grain this suggests the food is not that good. Meat meal is a good inclusion. This is ground meat with the water removed, meaning that there is a higher protein content.
Animal by-product is a generic term that often indicates it is made of scraps left over from the slaughterhouse. Anything that humans do not or cannot eat is likely to end up in this generic category.
As a breed, Shih Tzus are very susceptible to a condition known as hypothyroidism. This is the thyroid underproducing a hormone necessary to boost your metabolism.
This means that your dog is likely to gain weight, lose hair, and become very lethargic.
You need to keep your dog’s diet as healthy as possible to ensure they maintain the correct level of nutrition. If your Shih Tzu has been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, you should look for a food with lots of fruit and vegetables to get in those healthy minerals.
Their diet should not contain a lot of fat, as this can cause further weight gain. You should also find a food with a high iodine content.
This helps to regulate thyroid function. You can look for foods containing kelp as a natural way to supplement iodine, or you can buy specific tablets for this purpose.
The American Veterinary Dental Society has indicated that around 80% of dogs have dental diseases by the age of 3.
A similar study by the American Shih Tzu Club found that 85% of Shih Tzu’s aged 2+ have tooth decay.
These issues are caused by a build up of plaque and tartar on your dog’s teeth if they are not regularly cleaned. If left untreated, this can result in halitosis and tooth loss.
The reason dental stick snacks are so popular for dogs is that the hard texture scrapes the plaque off of their teeth while they eat it.
Kibble and other dry food will act in a similar way. We also recommend cleaning your dog’s teeth daily, as you do yours.
Whereas in humans allergies present obviously, in dogs they show as red and itchy skin.
This means that it can be harder to notice and pinpoint what exactly is causing the problem. Shih Tzus are fairly allergic dogs and can be susceptible to seasonal allergies (like pollen), fleas, or food allergies.
A good way to help your dog move past this is to ensure their food is high in Omega-3 fatty acids or to issue them with fish oil supplements.
These work to reduce inflammation in the body and will make them more comfortable.
If you notice digestive issues with your Shih Tzu, such as diarrhea, this is indicative of a food allergy. Common food allergies for Shih Tzus are corn, soy, wheat, beef, and dairy.
There are a few dog foods known as ‘limited ingredients’ and are often a blend of a singular protein and carb source. This will make it easier to work out what your dog is reacting adversely to.
Bone and joint issues
Shih Tzus are very susceptible to bone issues such as hip dysplasia and intervertebral disk disease. This means that they can find it difficult to move around and jump up onto sofas and beds.
You must take care not to let your Shih Tzu become overweight as this can cause unnecessary stress on their joints and make it even harder for them to move about.
You should try to include glucosamine and chondroitin in their food to support cartilage and joint health.
A sedentary Shih Tzu will require a diet that consists of around 25-30% protein, for active dogs this increases to 30-35%.
They need a decent protein content to ensure their muscles remain strong enough to support their weight.
You should look for whole protein sources in your dog’s food. These could be fish, beef, eggs, and chicken. Try to avoid meat by-products as far as possible.
Whole protein sources are much easier for your dog to digest and will keep them in better health.
As Shih Tzus are a long-haired breed, they need a moderate to high-fat diet to keep their coat looking shiny and silky. You should aim to have a fat content of around 15-20% in your dog’s diet.
You must incorporate some Omega fatty acids into their food too.
The carbohydrate requirements of a dog are much lower than that of a human. You should aim to keep the carbohydrate content of their food at around 25%.
Grains are often used in dog feed to be a carbohydrate source. These can frequently cause allergies and may need switching out if you notice any issues.
Good grain-free substitutes include chickpeas and sweet potatoes.
Vitamins and minerals
Your dog food should be full of antioxidants to prevent free radicals from damaging your Shih Tzu’s health. They can live for up to 16 years and antioxidants help to reduce the cell damage sustained.
This means that their risk of diseases such as arthritis and cancer can be slightly reduced.
Good antioxidant sources are blueberries, peas, and leafy greens. All fruits and vegetables contain healthy minerals and if you are concerned, consider incorporating more whole foods into your dog’s diet.
Frequently Asked Questions
What human food is bad for my Shih Tzu?
Most foods will be safe in moderation, but there are some that should not be fed to your Shih Tzu at all. These include grapes, chocolate, and coffee.
Onions, nuts, mushrooms, and garlic are also bad for their health. Fruit seeds and cow’s milk should also be avoided.
How do I change my Shih Tzu’s diet?
If you want to switch up the food you are giving your Shih Tzu, you should do this slowly and carefully. We suggest mixing the new food into the old food gradually over a period of around a week.
Every day, add a little more of the new food and a little less of the old until you have switched over completely.
How often should I feed my Shih Tzu?
This will vary depending on the type of food and the individual requirements of your dog. Generally speaking, puppies are fed 3 meals a day but as they grow up, this tends to change to 2 larger meals.
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