The Shih Tzu is a popular toy breed, known for their cheerful personality. They prefer high-quality meals – but are you sure you can fulfil the food requirements of the royal pooch?
Some things to note:
- Shih Tzus grow rapidly so they need a good regimen for their development each day.
- During their puppyhood, they feature rapid metabolism, despite their small frame.
- Poor-quality food can cause volatile weight gain, irregular development, and malnutrition.
- Remember, never feed the Shih Tzu food that contains artificial ingredients!
- They require a balanced and quality diet considering the energy they expend during their growth phase.
- A healthy diet for Shih Tzus includes a combination of meats and vegetables and some low GI carbs. These food combinations boost immunity and ensure healthy joints and bones. They also tend to be prone to skin issues, so including high-quality fish and essential fatty acid-based proteins in their daily diet is very helpful.
Feeding the Shih Tzu – the Basics
Your Shih Tzu needs to eat consistently each day aligned with its age, weight, level of movement and activity, along with existing health conditions.
Do not overfeed your Shih Tzu, or chances are, they will gain extra weight irrespective of the quality of food you feed! Also with fluffy dogs, it’s hard to know if they are overweight or underweight. To know if they are growing overweight, examine their abdomen on regular basis (the stomach should tuck in towards their body). A great way to do this at home is to perform a Body Condition Score on them. Click here to see how to do this. Always remember that a nice lean dog that’s in the ideal body condition score has 90% less chances of developing serious medical conditions later on in life.
Most packs of dry food will tell you to feed a Shih Tzu should eat 50g – 85g per day for a sedentary lifestyle and 65g to 115g for a highly active lifestyle, if they are between 1 to 9 years or older.
A small puppy diet will involve anywhere between 5-10 meals per day, especially if they are less than one year old. They need a lot of frequent small meals to support their growth phases. The number of meals and quantity reduces as they grow older. However, not many blogs will tell you that
- Food intake requirements change almost on a weekly basis as they are growing up, and can change seasonally when adults and change further when stressed or after having a very active day out. Or even when sick.
- Just like we don’t eat the exact same measured amount every day, and not every girl who is 5 years old and is Bengali, will therefore eat a certain amount at that certain age. Your darling puppy is also an individual and any blog or article guiding you on how much to feed your puppy is just that! A loose guideline.
You need to use it to get a sense of if you are vastly underfeeding or overfeeding your dog. They both have consequences in the immediate and the long term.
The general calculation of the amount of food to be fed to a growing puppy involves about 10% of their current body weight divided into several small meals through the day, and as they grow, the percentage of food drops to 8% of body weight, then 6% of body weight, 5% and so on till it gets to 2-2.5% of their adult body weight.
So what is their ideal adult body weight? When your dog is in their IDEAL BODY CONDITION – look and feel wise – the weight they are in that time is their IDEAL body weight. For them, as an individual.
This really has nothing to do with the breed weight charts, just like us! For example, it is incorrect to say that every single Bengali girl must be 5ft and 2 inches in height and 48 kilos in weight. And we know this sounds strange and unfair when we start talking about humans like this because we know it’s dependent on genetics, individuals, environment, nutrition and even medical conditions inherited from parents.
It is natural to be concerned about whether your puppy is growing right or not, and if you are providing them with the best care in order to support that growth. But my advice is to not get too caught up in “perfect” numbers.
There are several other health markers that tell you if your puppy is in great shape and in good health.
Click here to read more about the body condition score and how to perform it at home on your dog.
The Daily Feeding Schedule for the Shih Tzu
Now that the typical daily feeding amount is hopefully clear, as a canine nutritionist, I have frequently seen this little toy breed suffer from acid reflux.
And more often than not, the cause is infrequent feeding or very long gaps between meals through the night. Once this pattern of not wanting to eat in the mornings sets in, it is hard to break, as acidity kills the appetite and the desire to eat.
I always recommend that you feed the adult Shih Tzu 3 times every day, and reduce the nighttime gap between the last meal and the first meal. Use bone broths or buttermilks or a small bowl of curd or a meal first thing in the morning. Puppies may require 4-10 meals on a daily basis depending on age. Infrequent feeding at this age itself sets the acidity in motion through adulthood.
The frequency of food intake for this breed is higher because the Shih Tzu is prone to hypoglycaemia. Due to quick metabolism, they do not have much of an energy reserve, which is why they need to eat often throughout the day to preserve their energy levels. This may look like your dog is constantly hungry or is greedy – so be careful about not overdoing treats with your Shih Tzu. Just spread out the meals or treats you intend to feed through the day, into small meals.
- Morning: The morning food must be given at the same time, every day!
- Mid-day: A small lunch with some bone broth.
- Evening: Fed them in the evening just before bedtime so the night is peaceful with stable energy levels.
- Snacking: Plan your treats and measure them out. Add periodic snacks for the Shih Tzu to keep energy levels high! Contact a canine nutrition expert for sharing a tailored plan for your Shih Tzu @ www.doggiliciouus.com
Countering Diet-Related Issues in Shih Tzus
The Shih Tzu does have sensitive stomachs but is also particular about wanting a variety in their diet. They are prone to food allergies, and while their symptoms could include vomiting or skin rashes, some signs could be subtle – a dull coat, itchy skin, constipation – all indicators that the diet does not suit them.
Just like us, our dogs prefer having wholesome fresh foods, full of fragrance and variety and textures and tastes.
If your Shih Tzu is turning their nose up at the food you offer them, then ask yourself…
Are you trying to feed them the same old boring food every day? Are you ignoring their requests for wanting variety and change?
Does your dog not feel good after eating its current diet? Perhaps they feel bloated or get a tummy ache?
Perhaps they need some nutrition that this food isn’t providing? Labelling our dogs as “FUSSY” is easy.
But since our dogs are constantly trying to communicate with us, it might be worth asking – What is my dog saying to me by refusing to eat the food?
Dogs – ALL DOGS, were never meant to be eating dry brown pellets under the disguise of food! Fresh food that looks and smells like food is always the best option for any being.
A species-appropriate is a must for any species to THRIVE! And this must not be confused with SURVIVE!
Most times pet parents will shy away from making fresh food because pet food companies have convinced us that we CAN NOT get the micronutrients right. DO NOT get convinced with this. Getting a quick diet to consult with a certified canine nutritionist is very simple these days.
You will get diet charts specific to your dog. With all cooking instructions and supplementation help. To know more about simple easy diet charts click here
Here’s what and how to check for their health issues:
- Assess their energy levels regularly and try a new diet if the old diet is not keeping them interested or shiny and happy.
- The texture and hardness of their poo can tell you about their health status and the causes too.
- If your Shih Tzu is chubby, ( Determine by doing a body condition score) adjust their diet accordingly. Ascertain the reasons behind their overweight condition – is it the quantity, the quality, or the presence of artificial ingredients or very high carbohydrate content?
- Too many treats throughout the day could put them off from actual nutritious meals. Cut down on desirable treats if that is the case. Keep your treats as healthy as possible by sticking to single-ingredient treats made from actual meat and organs.
Schedule an appointment with us if you have any issues in getting the diet right for your Shih Tzu today! You can opt for a private consult that will cover every aspect of your darling’s wellbeing. Or you can opt for a quick and simple email consult in which you will get a diet chart specifically designed for your dog.
Happy parenting! Stay healthy! Doggiliciouus – saving good dogs from bad dog food!