Best Dog Food for Shih Tzus: Expert Recommendations

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Shih Tzus are beloved for their playful personalities and adorable looks, but as with any dog, proper nutrition is key to keeping them healthy and happy. Choosing the best dog food for your Shih Tzu can be overwhelming with so many options on the market. In this article, we’ll explore what to look for in a quality dog food and recommend some of the best options to keep your furry friend thriving.

Tips for Choosing Dog Food for Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu can be a little particular, which leads the breed to be prone to being underweight. Let’s take a look at some advice from our expert for getting your picky dog to chow down. 

Feeding a Picky Eater

It’s not uncommon for Shih Tzu to turn their nose up one day and beg for food the next. What’s important is not getting frustrated, and trying again as many times as necessary.

Best Dog Food for Shih Tzus

Shih Tzu can be very picky eaters. One reason could be because not all of them want to eat twice a day; if yours is refusing breakfast, try just feeding at dinner.

Another reason you might be struggling to get your dog to eat is because some dogs don’t like to eat out of a bowl. A little trick is to take the food out of the bowl and put on a paper plate or directly on the floor. Sometimes that’s enough to get them to eat.

In some cases, Shih Tzu are picky because they just don’t like the food, while in other cases, it could quite literally be an issue of the wrong serving bowl. It may take some trial and error to find the right food and serving dish combination, so keep trying!

Helping Shih Tzu Gain Weight

Because Shih Tzu are so picky, they are notorious for being underweight. Like being severely overweight, being underweight can have ramifications for your Shih Tzu’s health, and you should be endeavoring to help them gain appropriate weight. Typically, your veterinarian will recommend that you start by increasing their calorie intake. 

Jamie Peyton, a veterinarian in Los Angeles told us, “To gain weight, owners can increase the amount of food they are giving by 25% to see if there is an improvement.” 

Jamie Peyton on Top 3 Dog Foods for Maltese According to An Expert
Jamie Peyton, Veterinarian

She said the other option is to “feed a more calorie-dense food that contains a higher level of fat.”  

She recommends increasing slowly to prevent GI upset. “Higher levels of fat in a food are also typically more enticing to eat and may help a dog struggling to maintain weight.”

Best Dog Food for Shih Tzu Dogs

Now that you’ve learned a little bit about your Shih Tzu’s nutritional needs, possible health concerns, and how to get a picky Shih Tzu to eat, let’s talk dog food! Here are three high-quality dog foods our Shih Tzu expert recommends.

1. Best Fresh-Frozen: The Farmer’s Dog Beef Recipe

Best Dog Food for Shih Tzus
Source: @TheFarmersDog

If your Shih Tzu loves human food and turns their nose up at dog food, try feeding them food from The Farmer’s Dog! Made from whole ingredients that you can quite literally see in their recipes, The Farmer’s Dog cooks the meals than instantly freezes them to lock in freshness. 

See also  Corny Controversy: Can Dogs Eat Corn, or Is it Just a Filler For Cheap Dog Food? 

Even the pickiest dogs love their recipes (seriously, we’ve tested it!) and humans love that The Farmer’s Dog takes all the guesswork out of meal portions. Before you place your order, The Farmer’s Dog will ask you to fill out a brief survey on your dog, then share suggested recipes and a custom meal plan. 

Buy From The Farmer’s Dog

Top 3 Dog Foods for Maltese According to An Expert
First 5 IngredientsUSDA Beef, Sweet Potato, Lentils, Carrot, USDA Beef Liver
Food TypeFresh-frozen, grain-inclusive
Guaranteed Analysis (crude)11% Protein — 8% Fat — 1.5% Fiber — 72% Moisture
Feeding InstructionsFeeding instructions are customized based on your dog’s personal information
Cost Per Meal$1.39 per meal — price estimate given by Farmer’s Dog*

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2. Best Air-Dried: Sundays For Dogs Beef Recipe

Best Dog Food for Shih Tzus

If you struggle to get your Shih Tzu to eat their food, but they love treats, they’ll probably love Sundays For Dogs. Air-dried in small pieces that look, taste, and feel like jerky, Sundays For Dogs can also be used as training treats if you’re working on teaching your Shih Tzu new tricks, or they just deserve an extra snack at the end of a long hard day of naps. 

Other than the delicious recipe, we think Sundays For Dogs deserves consideration for best food for Shih Tzu thanks to the turmeric to reduce inflammation, blueberries for antioxidant and immune support, and tart cherries to protect the joints. 

Get 35% off your first order + free shipping w/ code ROCKY35!
Top 3 Dog Foods for Maltese According to An Expert
First 5 IngredientsBeef, Beef Heart, Beef Liver, Beef Bone, Quinoa
Food TypeAir-dried, grain-inclusive without wheat, peas, corn, or legumes
Guaranteed Analysis30% Protein – 20% Fat – 3% Fiber – 15% Moisture
Feeding InstructionsFeed ½ cup (2.2 oz.) per day or ¼ cup (1.1 oz.) per meal*
Cost Per Meal $1.92 per meal* – $69 for 72 oz. (best option for savings)

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3. Best Raw: We Feed Raw

Best Dog Food for Shih Tzus

Because raw dog food doesn’t include cooked or processed ingredients, the vital nutrients may be more bioavailable to your pooch. This fact can make raw dog food a good option for Shih Tzu who need to gain weight, especially since raw blends are extra-high in protein and healthy fats. We Feed Raw has a wide range of raw recipes, including this venison formula which features venison and a blend of beef organs, bone, and cartilage. 

For dogs with joint problems like patellar luxation, raw diets are high in B vitamins, chondroitin, coenzyme Q10, glucosamine, magnesium, taurine, vitamin E, and zinc. 

Save 25% off your first subscription trial box.

Buy From We Feed Raw

Top 3 Dog Foods for Maltese According to An Expert
First 5 IngredientsVenison, Beef Heart, Beef Liver, Beef Kidney, Beef Neck with Bone
Food TypeRaw, grain-free
Guaranteed Analysis (crude)13% Protein — 10.7% Fat — 1% Fiber — 69.4% Moisture
Feeding InstructionsFeed 5.6 oz. per day, or 2.8 oz. per meal*
Cost Per Meal$1.74 per meal* — $49.99 for 5 lbs

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Tips for Choosing Dog Food for Shih Tzu 

Best Dog Food for Shih Tzus

Shih Tzu have the same basic nutritional needs as other dogs, but can be a little particular about flavor and form factor. Dogs do well on a high-protein diet that includes whole animal protein, healthy fats, and a small portion of dog-safe fruits, vegetables, seeds, and grains. Shih Tzu do especially well on a diet that is free from filler ingredients and doesn’t include ingredients like chicken meal or other meat byproducts. 

Feeding high-quality dog food isn’t just about cosmetics—Shih Tzu that eat a healthy diet may also be less likely to develop chronic illnesses, will maintain a healthier weight, and may live longer, healthier lives overall. 

See also  Corny Controversy: Can Dogs Eat Corn, or Is it Just a Filler For Cheap Dog Food? 

Shih Tzu Health

A maltese

Shih Tzu dogs are a generally healthy breed, and many live to be 15+ with proper care and nutrition. Deceptively hearty, there are a few conditions Shih Tzu may be prone to in older age. 

  • Luxating patellas
  • Heart abnormalities
  • Congenital liver issues

While a high-quality diet can’t entirely prevent or cure any of these conditions, feeding your Shih Tzu a diet high in key nutrients may contribute to reduced health issues and longer life. 

Key Nutrients for Shih Tzu

Beyond the basics—protein, fat, fiber, and moisture—Shih Tzu can benefit from a diet high in the following nutrients.

NutrientUsesSources
B-Complex VitaminsJoint support, liver support– Beef
– Chicken
– Eggs
– Mackerel
– Oats
– Organ meats
– Salmon
ChondroitinJoint support– Beef cartilage
– Blueberries
– Chicken cartilage
– Green
-lipped mussels
– Salmon
– Turmeric
Coenzyme Q10Joint support, heart support– Organ meats
– Mackerel
– Salmon
– Sardines
GlucosamineJoint support– Beef cartilage
– Bone broth
– Chicken cartilage
– Green
-lipped mussels
MagnesiumHeart support– Ground bone
– Lamb
– Mackerel
– Pumpkin seeds
– Salmon
– Spinach
Omega-3 Fatty AcidsJoint support, heart support, liver support– Cod
– Mackerel
– Salmon
– Sardines
PotassiumHeart support– Blueberries
– Carrots
– Green beans
– Sweet potato
TaurineHeart support– Beef
– Fish
– Goat milk
– Organ meats
– Turkey
Vitamin CJoint support, liver support– Blueberries
– Carrots
– Kale
– Pumpkin
– Sweet potato
Vitamin EJoint support, heart support, liver support– Eggs
– Liver
– Salmon
– Spinach
– Sunflower oil
ZincLiver support– Beef
– Chicken
– Hemp seeds
– Lamb
– Pumpkin seeds
– Salmon
– Sardines- Spinach

Feeding Shih Tzu Dogs FAQ

Wonder what other Shih Tzu owners are asking about feeding their dogs? Here are our answers to some of the most common questions about the best dog food for Shih Tzu. 

What is the best dog food for Shih Tzu tear stains? 

If your Shih Tzu has excessive tear stains, it’s a good idea to put them on a diet that is free from corn, soy, and other processed filler ingredients. 

Many Shih Tzu owners worry about their dog’s tear stains and wonder what the best dog food for Shih Tzu tear stains. Some of the fillers [like] corn and soy in overly processed food [aren’t] healthy for dogs and could lead to a weaker immune system [and worsened tear stains.] There are food brands that claim to help Epiphora (tear stains) like this one but it doesn’t work. And even if it did, it’s a large-sized kibble and most Shih Tzu won’t touch it.

See also  Corny Controversy: Can Dogs Eat Corn, or Is it Just a Filler For Cheap Dog Food? 

Provide your pet with a well-balanced diet like ones mentioned above or you can make homemade food for your Shih Tzu, use filtered water instead of tap, and choose stainless steel as the material for your pet’s feeding bowls.

If the tears persist Angel Eyes is a supplement you add to food that works on many but not all Shih Tzu.

As a very very very last resort, you can ask your vet for a course of amoxicillin which will clear it up. Obviously, this cannot be a long-term thing.

What is the best canned dog food for Shih Tzu?

If your Shih Tzu prefers canned/wet dog food, try Merrick’s Lil’ Plates Grain-Free Small Breed Wet Food. Lil’ Plates come in a variety of flavors including Teeny Texas Steak Tips Dinner, Tiny Thanksgiving Day Dinner, and Itsy Bitsy Beef Stew.

What are the best recipes for homemade food for Shih Tzu dogs?

When making homemade dog food, it is crucial to do your research to ensure your recipe is properly balanced. Consulting with your vet can help you determine exactly what your pooch needs, and give you key insight into canine nutrition. 

To give you a jumping-off point, take a look at these recipes for raw homemade food.

What is the best wet food for a Shih Tzu puppy?

Merrick makes a Lil’ Plates recipe just for puppies! Their Pint-Sized Puppy Plate is grain-free, made from real chicken, and is high in essential nutrients your Shih Tzu puppy needs to grow big (er..small) and strong!

What is the best Shih Tzu dog food for allergies?

Shih Tzu with allergies can benefit from a novel protein diet like the venison recipe from We Feed Raw

Do you recommend the Royal Canin Shih Tzu dog food?

We do not recommend Royal Canin’s Shih Tzu blend. The second ingredient in Royal Canin’s Shih Tzu recipe is corn, followed by chicken by product meal, chicken fat, and wheat gluten. These ingredients are not whole and are known to worsen tear stains. 

Shih Tzu are also notorious for not liking kibble, so it’s unlikely your they will eat this brand. 

What type of food is best for Shih Tzu?

Shih Tzu do well on a high-quality, balanced diet that includes protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Look for dog foods that are specifically formulated for small breeds, as well as those that address Shih Tzu’s health concerns such as dental health, sensitive skin, and tear stains.

Is wet or dry food better for Shih Tzu?

Both wet and dry food can be appropriate for Shih Tzu, but it depends on their individual needs and preferences. Dry kibble can help maintain dental health, while wet food can provide extra hydration and taste. Some Shih Tzu may benefit from a mix of both wet and dry food.

What ingredients should I look for in Shih Tzu’s food?

Look for dog food that contains high-quality protein sources like chicken, fish, or lamb, as well as whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Avoid artificial preservatives, flavors, and fillers. Also, consider adding supplements like omega-3 fatty acids or probiotics to support their overall health.

Can Shih Tzu be allergic to certain ingredients in dog food?

Yes, like any dog breed, Shih Tzu can develop food allergies or sensitivities. Common allergens include wheat, soy, and corn. If you notice signs of allergies like itching, ear infections, or digestive issues, try switching to a limited-ingredient or hypoallergenic dog food.

What is the best dog food brand for Shih Tzu?

Some top-rated dog food brands for Shih Tzu include Royal Canin, Hill’s Science Diet, Blue Buffalo, and Wellness. Look for brands that use high-quality ingredients and have specific formulas for small breed dogs.

How often should I feed my Shih Tzu?

Shih Tzu should be fed twice a day, in smaller portions to avoid overeating and obesity. A general guideline is to feed them about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of food per meal, depending on their age, size, and activity level.

Can Shih Tzu eat human food?

Some human foods can be safe for Shih Tzu to eat in moderation, such as cooked meat, vegetables, and fruits. However, avoid feeding them foods that are toxic to dogs, like chocolate, onions, grapes, and avocados.

Should I choose grain-free dog food for my Shih Tzu?

Not necessarily. While some Shih Tzu may benefit from a grain-free diet, recent studies have shown that grain-free dog food may be linked to heart disease in some breeds. Talk to your veterinarian before switching to a grain-free diet.

How can I transition my Shih Tzu to a new dog food?

Gradually transition your Shih Tzu to a new dog food by mixing a small amount of the new food with their old food, and increasing the amount over several days. This can help avoid digestive issues and food aversions.

How do I know if my Shih Tzu is getting the right nutrition from their dog food?

Look for signs of good health, such as a shiny coat, healthy weight, and good energy levels. Regular veterinary check-ups can also help ensure your Shih Tzu is getting the right nutrition and identify any health issues early on.


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