Shih Tzus are one of the cutest dog breeds. You brought home one. It is time to feed your buddy, but you wonder: What can Shih Tzu eat? How much to feed a Shih Tzu?
Dogs not eating is the worst nightmare for pet owners. Particularly, small dogs such as Shih Tzus have small stomachs and high metabolic rates, so feeding them can sometimes be challenging. Since there is not much room for food in Shih Tzu’s stomach, it is important to get the right nutrition in every bite.
Feeding your Shih Tzu too much junk or filling him up with too much food can result in either malnourishment or overeating, leading to unhealthy weight gain. That, we must avoid. But what is the right amount—and type—of food for your Shih Tzu?
That is what we explore in this brief ‘What Can Shih Tzu Eat’ guide. In this guide, we try to cover every small detail of feeding a Shih Tzu.
Before You Start Feeding Your Shih Tzu
Before you do anything else, you must determine which category your Shih Tzu falls into. Is your Shih Tzu a roly-poly puppy? A sophisticated grown-up? A serious senior? Is it a little bit chubby? Does it have any adverse health conditions such as arthritis or allergies?
These are some of the questions that you need to answer before setting up the diet plan for your Shih Tzu. Depending on the answers to the above question, the type and quantity of food will be determined for a Shih Tzu. It might sound a bit complex, but worry not; considering all these factors, pet food manufacturers have made high-quality foods to compensate for all needs of our Shih Tzus.
What And How Much to Feed a Shih Tzu Based On its Age?
If the mother dog is around, you won’t have to worry about feeding the Shih Tzu pups for about four weeks. However, you will have to make sure that the mother dog is doing her duties and feeding the young pups with her milk. The colostrum milk not only gives extra nutrition but also strengthens pups’ immunity against diseases.
However, if the mother dog is not around or is unable to feed the pups for some reason, you will have to bottle-feed pups with puppy milk replacer formula.
As a rule of thumb, you should feed 30 to 35 calories per pound of your dog’s body weight. So, if your Shih Tzu pup is around 9 pounds, you should feed him around 270 to 315 calories.
Below we have shared a Shih Tzu growth and feeding chart to give you an idea about how much you should be feeding your Shih Tzu pup. But keep in mind that the density of calories in dog food varies from brand to brand. So, you should make sure that your Shih Tzu is consuming around 30 to 35 calories for each pound of his body weight.
|Shih Tzu Growth And Feeding Chart
|Total amount of food per day
|Total calories per day
|Frequency of meals
|Type of food
|Up to 1
|15ml to 30 ml
|15 to 30
|Every 2 to 4 hour
|Puppy milk replacer
|2 to 4 weeks
|1 to 1.25
|30ml to 40ml
|30 to 37.5
|Every 4 hours
|Puppy milk replacer
|4 to 8 weeks
|1.25 to 2.5
|9.5 to 19g
|37.5 to 75
|3 to 4 times
|2 to 3 months
|2.5 to 4
|19 to 30g
|75 to 120
|3 to 4 months
|4 to 6
|30 to 45g
|120 to 180
|4 to 5 months
|6 to 8
|45 to 60g
|180 to 240
|5 to 6 months
|8 to 10
|60 to 76g
|240 to 300
|6 to 7 months
|9 to 12
|76 to 91g
|270 to 360
|7 to 8 months
|9 to 13
|90 to 100g
|270 to 390
|8 to 10 months
|9 to 14
|100 to 106g
|270 to 420
|9 to 16
|100 to 120g
|270 to 480
|Once or twice
|9 to 16
|100 to 120g
|270 to 480
|Once or twice
To check if you are feeding the right amount to your Shih Tzu, you should feel your dog’s rib every other week. If you are able to feel the ribs without applying any pressure, your pup is getting the right nutrition. If you are unable to feel the ribs, cut down the caloric intake of your pup by 10%. And if the ribs are jutting out of their fur, increase your pup’s caloric intake.
How Often to feed a Shih Tzu?
While you can free-feed Shih Tzu pups during the first three months, from three months to one year of age, you should feed them thrice a day. Later, you can switch to once or twice a day, depending on your and your pup’s routine.
4 Week Old Puppy
If your Shih Tzu pup is growing properly, you should start the weaning process as soon as he gets four weeks old. If the pup was being fed by the mother dog, you should start offering him wet puppy food. And if you are bottle-feeding the pup, you can start blending puppy kibbles into puppy milk replacer formula.
Initially, you should add very little of the kibbles and make a mushy soup-type meal for your pup. Gradually you can increase the amount of kibbles and decrease the amount of milk formula. The puppy should be completely weaned by week 8.
- Puppy (Up to 10 Months)
The best food for Shih Tzu puppies is puppy food specially designed for puppies. It would cater to all the nutritional needs of your pups and ensure healthy growth. Puppy foods are made considering their tiny stomach and high metabolism that needs to consume nutrient-rich food more regularly to stay energized.
- Adult (1 to 10 Years Old)
For Shih Tzus aged from 1 to 10 years, there are adult dog formulas that cater to the needs of active adult dogs of normal weight. Since your dog isn’t growing anymore, adult dog food has fewer calories than puppy food but provides everything it needs to stay fit and healthy.
- Senior (10 to 16 Years Old)
While it is widely believed that senior dogs should be fed a diet low in protein to prevent potential kidney damage, now we know that the opposite is true. Senior dogs often lose too much muscles that they are unable to even walk properly. Therefore, senior Shih Tzus must be fed a high-protein diet to support healthy muscles.
Some formulas contain fewer calories for older dogs because seniors slow down and use fewer calories, and these foods can prevent them from becoming overweight as they age. Additionally, many contain ingredients for healthy digestion, healthy joints, and healthy skin and coat.
The majority of vets believe that you should not switch your dog to a senior formula unless it is showing signs of aging. When dogs are in the aging process, most of their body functioning slows down. Owners should keep track of their senior Shih Tzus’ habits and consult a veterinarian when they observe changes in behavior.
Besides age, there are a few other things that affect what Shih Tzu can eat
i. Shih Tzu Breed-Specific Foods
Other than homemade treats and generalized dog foods that you are feeding your Shih Tzu, there are some Shih Tzu breed-specific foods in the market as well. These Shih Tzu breed foods are developed specifically for small dogs with small stomachs that require high nutrient diets
ii. Shih Tzu Weight Control Foods
Are you worried about your Shih Tzu getting a little tubby chubby? Weight control formulas are the answer!
Although many people can control their pets’ weight with a little exercise, smaller portions, and fewer treats, considering the age factor of Shih Tzus, you might want to turn to weight-control foods.
iii. Shih Tzu Prescription Diets
If your dog is facing some health issues, you should strictly follow the prescribed diet by your dog’s vet.
It is forbidden to use YouTube remedies from unofficial channels. You should know that most of the content there is not suitable for all dogs. Stick to your vet’s advice.
A Shih Tzu’s vet may prescribe a special diet if it has allergies, diabetes, digestive disorders, kidney disease, or is showing signs of cognitive decline as it ages.
Shih Tzu is fragile and has a sensitive stomach, so there is an increased risk of health fatalities that could be caused by inauthentic home remedies.
What is in the Food Market for Shih Tzus?
While considering which foods to give to your dog, there are three options available to you.
a. Packaged Dog Foods
In most cases, people purchase their pet’s food from the store because it is easier, more convenient, and standard. It may be more expensive to buy your dog’s food than to make it yourself, but you are paying more for the convenience as well as for the high quality.
In most cases, people opt for premium brands as well. They are expensive, but they’re worth it — the ingredients are digestible, less processed, and produced with more humane practices.
Premium food from the store comes in three main forms
- Frozen raw
Out of these options, which one you choose will depend on whether your Shih Tzu will like it or not. Try all three and see which one your dog loves the most.
- Homemade Dog Foods
Dogs’ digestive systems work very differently from humans. This is the reason that many of the foods that are completely safe and healthy for humans to eat are unhealthy and even toxic to dogs. So, before you feed any human food to your pup, make sure that it is safe for dogs to consume.
- Mixed Dog Foods
If you want the best of all possible worlds, try mixing up the benefits of kibble, the nutritional benefits of natural foods, the palatability of canned meat and real fresh meat, and the freshness of certain raw foods. Just ensure that the feeding amount does not exceed 30 to 35 calories per pound of body weight.
Irrespective of the kind of food you choose, make sure that your vet has given you the green signal for doing so.
What Are the Healthy Foods for Your Shih Tzus?
For your convenience, we have prepared a list of the healthiest treats that you can feed to your Shih Tzu:
- Baby carrots
- Blueberries, strawberries, or any other berries that are not toxic for dogs
- Small broccoli florets
- Tiny bits of meats
- A spoonful of yogurt (if your Shih Tzu is lactose intolerant, then avoid yogurt)
These are the treats that are not only healthy, but these are the foods that Shih Tzus savor as well.
Some of the healthy foods for your Shih Tzu are:
- Organs (liver, heart)
- White chicken meat
- Sweet potato
- Green beans
- Sweet peas
- Cottage cheese
- Plain white or brown rice
While feeding dog-safe human foods to your Shih Tzu, keep in mind that they are not an integral part of their diet. You should not offer such foods more than once or twice a week and that too in small amounts as a treat.
What Are Some Unhealthy Foods for Shih Tzus?
This is the part where you should be the most careful. Not everything that is good for you will be good for your Shih Tzu as well. Below we have listed some of the human foods that you should avoid sharing with your Shih Tzu.
- Processed meat and pepperoni: These can upset your dog’s stomach.
- Highly processed meats like hot dogs, bologna, bacon, and sausages: Contain too much salt and fat, which damages the health of dogs.
- Junk foods like hot Cheetos, tortillas, etc.
- High-fat cheese: Most dogs don’t digest cheese very well
- Anything containing sugar and/or white flour
Which Foods Are Highly Toxic for Shih Tzus
In addition to these not-so-healthy foods, there is another list of highly toxic foods for Shih Tzu:
They contain thiosulphate, a toxin that can cause hemolytic anemia in Shih Tzus. The symptoms of this disease include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, bloody urine, and even death.
- Grapes and Raisins
Shih Tzus can suffer kidney failure if they eat them raw or in any packaged food.
- Macadamia Nuts
Besides pain, the toxin found in macadamia nuts causes weakness, tremors, and temporary paralysis.
- Chocolate and Cocoa powder
The caffeine and theobromine in chocolate can be very toxic to Shih Tzus.
- Alcohol, Caffeine, Tea, and Tobacco: These foods can have a toxic effect on toy dog breeds like Shih Tzu.