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How Much Should You Feed a Shih Tzu?

The Shih Tzu is a very charming dog that loves attention, but if you are an inexperienced pet owner, you may not know how to feed them properly. Even if you have plenty of experience with larger dogs, it can be a challenge to adjust to the reduced portion sizes the Shih Tzu requires.

We will go over how much food your pet should eat and give you some information about what to look for as you shop. We’ll also cover why your dog might not be eating and what you should do if your dog is eating too much.

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How Much to Feed a Shih Tzu Puppy — Feeding Chart

Age of Puppy Quantity of Food Per Day Number of Meals Per Day
2 months .75 cup 4
3 months 1 cup 4
4 months 1.25 cup 4-5
5-6 months 1.35 cup 4-6
7-8 months 1.5 cup 4-6
9-10 months 1.75 cup 4-6
10-12 months 1.85 cup 3-5

Source: https://en.belpatt.fr/puppy-weight-chart/Shih-Tzu, https://www.petplate.com/blog/shih-tzu-nutrition-guide/

What to Feed My Shih Tzu Puppy

shih tzu pup
Featured Image Credit: Jim Winstead, Wikimedia Commons

Dry Food

There are two types available to feed your pet wet and dry. Dry food is an extruded food sliced into bite-sized shapes (kibble) and baked in the oven, much like a biscuit. They spray these kibbles with liquid vitamins and other nutrients and can dry before packaging.

Despite how it may sound, dry food is very beneficial for your dog and provides them with a well-balanced meal containing all the nutrients your pet needs to stay healthy well into their advanced years. The dry kibble also helps clean your pet’s teeth by scraping away tartar before it can turn into more advanced forms of dental disease.

Dry food is inexpensive, and you can buy it in large packages, and it doesn’t spoil, so you can leave it in the bowl for several hours. The downside is that it’s not as flavorful and doesn’t have any gravy or meaty bits that dogs enjoy, so they may not like it as much as they do wet food. Some dry foods may dry out too much and become dusty or moldy.

Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Doesn’t spoil
  • Cleans teeth
  • Easy to store
  • Available in large packages
Cons
  • Not as flavorful
  • Gets dusty and moldy
  • Some dogs don’t like it
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Wet Food

Wet food is cooked right in the can to preserve flavor and nutrition. Wet food often contains chunks of real meat as well as vegetables, and many also have gravy that dogs love.

Wet food is very rich and often includes a much higher protein count than dry food, so it’s great for puppies, and it can help hydrate your pet and alleviate symptoms of constipation. Since dogs often prefer wet food and eat it quickly, you can hide medication in it if necessary, to get them to eat it.

The downside to wet food is that it is much more expensive than dry food, and it spoils very quickly once you open it. If the dogs don’t eat it immediately, you will need to refrigerate it. It also does nothing to help keep your dog’s teeth clean.

Pros
  • High in protein
  • High in moisture
  • Most dogs like it better.
Cons
  • More expensive
  • Doesn’t clean teeth
  • Spoils Quickly

Ingredients

When choosing your next puppy food, choose a brand with a high-quality protein like chicken, turkey, or beef listed as its first ingredient. Avoid foods with chemical preservatives or artificial coloring.  Instead, choose foods with real vegetables and fruits fortified with omega fats and antioxidants.

Avoiding Underfeeding & Overfeeding

small breed weight chart

Here are some tips to know if your dog is that correct weight.

  • When looking down on your dog from behind, the waist should curve in gradually from the rib cage with no sharp angles. If the dog more of an oval shape and you don’t see the ribs well, your dog is likely overweight. If you see a sharp angle and a clearly defined hip bone, your dog is most likely underweight.
  • From the side, your dog’s belly should slope gradually upwards from the ribcage. A dog that is too skinny will sharply slope upwards, while an overweight dog may not slope at all.
  • You won’t always see the ribs, but you should feel them easily when pressing. If each rib is visible and well defined, the dog is likely too thin. If you cannot feel the ribs, the dog is overweight.
  • Running your hands down your pet’s back, you should feel the back and pelvic bones, and they should have a layer of fat padding them. If you can feel every vertebra and the pelvic bone has no padding, the dog is underweight. If you cannot easily find these bones, your dog is overweight.
  • Fat deposits on the hips or between the legs that swing as they walk are signals your dog is overweight.

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When to Switch from Puppy to Adult Food

You switch from puppy food to adult food when your dog finishes growing. The Shih Tzu stops growing at 12 months, and you will change to adult food at that time. Puppy food is very rich and contains a high amount of fat, which leads to weight gain in your dog.

Why Won’t My Shih Tzu Puppy Eat?

The Shih Tzu can be strong-willed and refuse to eat a brand of food it doesn’t like. Many dogs can also grow tired of a particular brand, which can cause your pet to refuse to eat. It’s also possible the food you are serving is spoiled or has gotten moldy from being in storage at the warehouse. Even high-quality brands can suffer from a bad batch now and then.

However, if it’s been over two days since your dog has eaten and you dried a few brands, treats, and other foods you know they love, you’ll need to take them to the vet to rule out the possibility of an obstruction in the digestive system or another illness.

shih tzu
Image Credit: Lato Pictures, Shutterstock

How Much to Feed an Adult Shih Tzu?

We highly recommend following the directions on the package very closely. Most brands give the serving size by weight, so you will need to know your dog’s current weight. We recommend avoiding most specialty foods, like grain-free or senior brands, until you discuss it with your vet to ensure your dog is getting the best possible nutrition.

Shih Tzu Feeding Guide for Seniors

Senior Shih Tzu dogs tend to slow down their eating habits, and you can often cut back to two or three meals per day. They may also have developed a dental disease and require soft food exclusively. As your pet moves into its senior years, it’s a smart idea to get them looked over by a vet to see if they have any other dietary requirements that need addressing. The vet may prescribe special food or recommend a brand with glucosamine to help with dogs aging joints.

Why Is My Shih Tzu Always Hungry?

There are several reasons your pet may be hounding you for food.

  • Maybe you have been feeding them too little. Check the label on the food you provide and weigh your pet again to ensure proper portioning.
  • If you give your dog too many treats, they may beg for more even when they are not hungry out of habit. Whenever the dog gets bored, they may come to you for a treat and beg for food. To curb this behavior, only feed them three or four times a day with a set number of treats, and don’t give in to the pressure to give more. Eventually, the dog will get used to the new feeding pattern and leave you alone.
  • During the summer months. It is common for dogs to eat more because they are doing more due to the nice weather. Dogs that increase their activity for any reason will become hungrier than usual and may beg you for more food.
  • Low-grade foods containing many fillers, like rice and corn, can leave your Shih Tzu feeling hungry shortly after mealtime. If you can find no other reason why your pet is so hungry, check the ingredients. If you notice many corn-based ingredients, try a different brand with more protein and no corn.
  • One last possibility is that your dog just likes to chew things or has teeth coming in, and it is not hungry at all. If you think this is the case for your pet, you can try a specialized dog chew toy to provide relief to your pet.
shichon puppy
Image credit: Kirsten Thompson, Shutterstock

What Foods Are Bad for Shih Tzus?

  • Grapes are bad for your Shih Tzu and can cause a toxic reaction that can damage the kidneys.
  • Macadamia Nuts are found in many baked goods and are harmful if your dog eats them, causing vomiting, diarrhea, and more. In some instances, your pet will need to go to the hospital.
  • Chocolate can cause a medical emergency for your pet and can be life-threatening, especially in certain forms, like cocoa powder. It only takes a small amount per pound of bodyweight to affect, and Shih Tzu’s are especially prone since they are so little.
  • Caffeine is a stimulate that will increase your dog’s heart rate and could increase blood pressure.
  • Onions and garlic are also dangerous to your pet and can cause fainting, reddish urine, and pale gums. Your pet may even begin to vomit after ingesting onions or garlic, and it’s important to take them to the vet immediately.

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Conclusion

Your dog should eat what it says on the package for a dog of the same age and weight. Feed them high-quality food with chicken, beef, turkey, or lamb listed as the first ingredient and avoid foods with corn, artificial colors, and chemical preservatives for a healthy dog with plenty of energy throughout the day. Break the portions into several meals to aid in digestion, prevent overeating, and dangerous medical conditions like bloat.

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Please don’t use italics in this table. Adhere to our UOM style guide for tables. Don’t use metric measurements.

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Featured Image Credit: Toloubaev Stanislav, Shutterstock