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27 Best Shih Tzu Dog Food to Manage Allergies (in 2023)

Shih-Tzu dogs are just one of many breeds prone to allergies.

Unfortunately, allergies can really diminish quality of life over time.

Excessive itching in one spot can cause the skin to crack and break open leaving the dog vulnerable to secondary bacterial infections.

Dogs with food allergies can feel it in their skin and through the gastrointestinal system. What you’re left with is a miserable dog and worried pet owners. 

Every dog breed has unique nutritional needs that a one-size-fits-all diet cannot address. This post is designed to help you narrow down the best Shih Tzu dog foods to manage allergies.

Some of the food choices are designed specifically for small or toy breeds of all types and some may specifically be recommended for the Shih Tzu.

If you have trouble finding food specifically made for Shih Tzus, the next best option is to target brands designed for toy breed dogs.

Why Dogs Develop Allergies

It’s easy to find lists of dog breeds most likely to develop allergies, but the reality is allergies can affect any dog. The most common types of allergies in dogs are:

  • Flea allergy
  • Canine atopic dermatitis,
  • Specific foods (soy, wheat, dairy, beef, and sometimes poultry)
  • Environmental irritants (pollen, dust, mold, grass)

Allergies occur in dogs for the same reason they occur in people. It’s a dysfunctional immune response where the body misreads the substance as an intruder. 

When the allergen enters the dog’s body (through the nose, digestive system, or through touch) it triggers an antibody response. The antibodies attach themselves to mast cells which then release excessive histamine. 

Unfortunately, histamines cause the symptoms of allergies we’re all familiar with. This includes sneezing, itchy eyes, itchy skin, difficulty breathing, and gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting and/or diarrhea.

Shih tzu and small breed dog allergies

Signs & Symptoms of Shih Tzu Allergies

Allergies in dogs tend to present through the skin (dermatitis) or through the gastrointestinal tract (vomiting and diarrhea).

Signs of Allergies in Dogs Include:

  • Itching around the ears and paws
  • Extreme itch at the base of the tail
  • Red, inflamed skin
  • Scabs on the skin
  • Red, itchy eyes
  • Facial swelling
  • Excessive licking 
  • Chewing on parts of the body
  • Frequent sneezing or wheezing
  • Hair Loss
  • Swelling or lumps
  • Hot spots (areas where the itching is extreme)
  • Hives
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • In severe cases anaphylaxis can occur

Detecting and Diagnosing Allergies in Dog

Identifying allergies in dogs is easier than determining the cause(s) of those allergies. 

Identifying the cause of an allergy can seem like a moving target because most dogs with allergies are allergic to more than one thing. Allergens are complex and change as the dog’s environment changes.

Testing a Shih Tzu for Allergies

It’s important to bring your little Shih Tzu to a licensed veterinarian for an appropriate diagnosis before assuming he/she has a food allergy. 

There are a number of ways a veterinarian can check for allergies including:

RAST (radioallergosorbent) Testing

This type of blood test is used primarily in humans, but can be used in pets to determine allergies. This particular test looks for antigen-induced antibodies in the dog’s blood. 

Blood is tested for a reaction to pollen, dust, molds, etc. They can also test for reactions against specific foods and contact allergies. Unfortunately, there are many false positives with this kind of testing. For that reason, it’s not entirely reliable.

ELISA Blood Testing

The ELISA test is an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay that is very similar to the RAST test. For this, a small amount of antigen is injected into the skin. The area is then observed for signs of reaction. 

These tests were designed for use on humans and have been found not to be entirely accurate in pets.

Intradermal Allergy Test

This usually involves shaving a patch of fur and administering an injection of small amounts of potential allergens. 

The veterinarian will likely do a physical examination while checking for secondary skin infections. He/she will want to rule out other possibilities for the symptoms including:

Otitis Externa

Otitis externa is an infection of the outer ear canal. The ear canal is the perfect place to trap moisture, and that is where bacteria thrive.

Yeast Infections in Dogs 

Yeast is a naturally occurring substance on the skin, but sometimes (for reasons unknown) the skin produces too much yeast. At this point, the skin can become itchy and smelly. 

This condition is also known as yeast dermatitis or Malassezia dermatitis and is very common in dogs. Clinical signs of A yeast infection in dogs include:

  • Itchy and red skin
  • Musty odor on the skin
  • Crusty, flaky skin
  • Thickening of the skin
  • Dark pigmentation
  • Chronic ear infections


Fleas and mites are two different things, but they both cause excessive itching. The more your dog itches, the worse the skin becomes. If you have a Shih Tzu with fleas, you’re probably going to notice long before you bring him/her to the veterinarian.

Mites, however, can’t be seen by the naked eye. Mites are microscopic spider-like parasites that can wreak havoc on the skin. Shih Tzu puppies who haven’t built a strong immune system are more likely to succumb to mites.

The treatment for mites is usually a combination of cleaning and medication. Your veterinarian may recommend a medicated rinse and an antiparasitic ointment.

Fleas are a little more difficult to get rid of and involve ongoing treatment (for example, a topical monthly application) that eventually stops the entire flea cycle. Flea larvae cannot be killed. However, once they hatch and move from the pupae to adult stage, medicine will kill them off.

For this reason, it’s important to continue monthly flea protection through the year.


Ringworms in the Shih Tzu aren’t likely unless your dog has been in contact with other humans or animals with the same condition.

Oral or topical medication is usually the solution.

How to Do An Elimination Diet 

The trick to a successful elimination diet is duration. You can expect at least a 90% success rate if you extend the diet for at least 8 weeks. 

Before getting started, there are a few things to consider when using commercial diets to narrow down specific food allergies. 

Hypoallergenic Dog Foods

When shopping for dog food, look for products specifically designed for dogs with allergies. Some brands of dog food (although perfectly acceptable for most dogs) should have only one novel type of protein and one novel carbohydrate. 

Always check the ingredients for any additional ingredients. Anything “extra” won’t be appropriate for an elimination diet.

Remove Other Sources of Dog Food

Elimination diets have to be strictly followed in order to produce the results you want. Well-meaning people may want to offer your dog a treat but don’t let them. This also means no table-scraps or food toppers.

Research the Dog Food Company

It only takes a few minutes to do a quick online search to find out whether a company certifies their dog food is 100% hypoallergenic. Keep in mind that many commercial plants process a variety of foods that are not all designed for dogs with allergies. 

You may only get trace amounts of cross-contamination but, depending on your dog’s sensitivities, it could impact the overall results of the elimination diet.

Some dogs are allergic to proteins found in dog food. The most common food sources known to cause skin reactions in dogs:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Soy
  • Eggs
  • Dairy

Best Dog Food For Shih Tzu Allergies

The following list was chosen from a variety of manufacturers. Every effort was made to choose dog foods specific to toy breeds or small breeds like the Shih Tzu, Yorkie, etc.

Trying new food can require some trial and error. It’s always a good idea to gradually add new food to the dog’s diet. However, if your dog has severe allergies, your veterinarian may suggest an alternative.

Have a look at these top-rated food choices, read the ingredients, and decide which one you think will most suit your dog’s needs.

1. Raw Wild Dog Food



Many veterinarians recommend raw dog foods because of the superior nutrition offered. Please be sure to discuss this option with your veterinarian.

2. Darwin’s Intelligent Design Dog Food For Special Diets

Intelligent Design Veterinary Formulas are specialized meals designed for dogs with certain health issues. Uses only the highest quality meats and organic vegetables.

No Grains

No Fillers

No chemical preservatives

3. Carna4 Easy Chew Small Breed Fish Grain Free Dry Dog Food

Small breed dog food

This food is made specifically for small breed dogs like the Shih Tzu. Fish is quick baked, air dried, created as whole food nuggets. Grain Free and Synthetic Free Nutrition!

Main Ingredients:

  • Herring
  • Perch
  • Eggs
  • Ground organic barley seed
  • Salmon
  • Sweet Potato

4. Fromm Pate Grain Free Lamb and Sweet Potato Canned Dog Food

Dog food for small breeds with allergies

Fromm Pate Grain Free Lamb and Sweet Potato Canned Dog Food is finely minced lamb cooked in lamb broth with sweet potatoes, lentils, and carrots.

Main Ingredients

  • Grain Free
  • Lamb
  • Sweet Potato
  • Lentils
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Peas

5. RAWZ Chicken Dog Food

chicken dog food

RAWZ brand premium dog food is free of rendered meals, ineffective micro ingredients, and rendered fats.

RAWZ combines ingredients to mimic the nutrition and digestibility of optimal raw diets for dogs.

Main Ingredients

  • Dehydrated chicken
  • dehydrated deboned chicken
  • chicken
  • turkey
  • chicken liver
  • turkey liver
  • turkey hearts
  • pea starch
  • tapioca starch
  • dried peas
  • dried egg produce
  • Please see product for more ingredients

6. ORIJEN High-Protein, Grain-Free Premium Quality Meat, Dry Dog Food

Orijen Small Breed Dry Dog Food. Orijen Small Breed formula is designed for small dogs and is grain-free.

Expect protein-rich kibble including:

Main Ingredients

  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Wild caught Fish
  • Cage free eggs
  • Quail

7. Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Easy to Digest Dry Dog Food

best food for shih tzu with allergies

Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Small Breed Dry Dog Food with Real Chicken as the #1 ingredient. Formulated for small dogs with smaller kibble for tiny mouths. Includes nutrient dense sweet potatoes and pumpkin. No added corn, wheat, soy, artificial colors or flavors.

Main Ingredients

  • Chicken
  • Chicken Meal
  • Garbanzo Beans
  • Peas
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Added vitamins & minerals for optimal health

8. Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Adult, Small & Mini Breeds, Sensitive Stomach & Skin Chicken Recipe

Shih Tzu Dog Food


This dry dog food uses prebiotic fiber to feed your small dog’s microbiome for optimal digestive health. Formulated with vitamin E, Omega 6 fatty acids, and other nutrients.

Small kibble for smaller mouths.

Main Ingredients


Brewers Rice

  • Chicken Meal
  • Yellow peas
  • Cracked Pearled Barley
  • Whole Grain sorghum
  • Egg product
  • Chicken Fat
  • Soybean Oil
  • Brown Rice
  • Dried Beet Pulp
  • added vitamins and minerals

9. Nutro Ultra Dry Dog Food with a Trio of Proteins from Chicken

Nutro Ultra Dry Dog Food is perfect for small breed like the Shih Tzu. Most food allergies in dogs stem from beef , soy, and dairy products. If you have a Shih Tzu with allergies, try this combo of chicken, lamb and salmon.

Not suitable for dogs with difficulty digesting grains.

Main Ingredients

  • Chicken
  • Chicken Meal
  • Whole Brown Rice
  • Brewers Rice
  • Rice Bran
  • Lamb Meal
  • Salmon Meal
  • Natural Flavor

10. NutriSource Small and Medium Breed Puppy Chicken & Rice Formula

Small breed like the Shih Tzu puppy have sensitive stomachs

NutriSource Small and Medium Breed Puppy Chicken and Rice Recipe is formulated to provide proper nutrition for small breed puppies that will not grow to be more than 50 pounds.

Easy to Digest!

Small Morsels!

Main Ingredients:

  • Chicken Meal
  • Chicken
  • Brown Rice
  • Menhaden Fish Meal
  • Oatmeal

11. FROMM Gold Small Breed Adult

Dog food for Shih Tzu Small Breeds with allergies

Fromm Small Breed Adult Gold is developed especially for the metabolism of small breed dogs. This product contains no corn or wheat. Formulated with prebiotics and probiotics for a healthy gut. Salmon oil added for healthy skin and coat.

Main Ingredients:

  • Chicken
  • Chicken Meal & Chicken Broth
  • Brown Rice
  • Oat Groats (rawest form of oat that preserves all of its nutrition)
  • Menhaden Fish Meal

12. Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Dry Dog Food, Grain Free

Limited ingredient diets are in high demand among dog owners. The fewer ingredients in a product, the easier it is to narrow down specific food allergies.

This product is specially formulated for small breeds like the Shih Tzu with allergies.

Main Ingredients

  • Beef
  • Pea Protein
  • Beef Meal
  • Chick Peas
  • added vitamins and minerals for complete health

13. Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food Small Paws for Small Breeds

small dog breed food

Made with highly digestible ingredients that are easy on your dog’s stomach. High quality protein helps with maintaining the lean muscle of a small breed.

Main Ingredients

  • Omega 6 Fatty Acids
  • Vitamin E
  • Chicken, Lamb or Salmon Protein
  • Rice

14. Instinct Small Breed Dog Food, Original Recipe Grain Free Wet Dog Food Canned

grain free dog food for small dogs

High protein and no fillers. Suitable for all stages: puppy, adult, senior.

Main Ingredients

  • Beef
  • Beef Broth
  • Beef Liver
  • Ground Dried Peas
  • Cod
  • Pea Fiber

15. Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Natural Adult Small Breed Dry Dog Food, Chicken

small breed food for shih tzu with allergies

Formulated for healthy muscle development, energy balance, strong bones and teeth.

Main Ingredients

  • Chicken
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Antioxidants
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals

16. IAMS Proactive Health Puppy Dry Dog Food

Iams Proactive Health Smart Puppy Dry Dog Food with Chicken.

While not specifically for Shih Tzu dogs with allergies, this is a good food choice for your dog. Veterinarians recommends IAMS.

Main Ingredients

  • Chicken
  • Ground Whole Grain Corn
  • Chicken by-product meal
  • Dried Beet Pulp
  • Added vitamins

17. Zignature Limited Ingredient Lamb Formula Dry Dog Food

Zignature Limited Ingredient Lamb Formula is a good choice of kibble for all dogs. Although not designed for toy breeds, the size and texture of the kibble may be suitable for some smaller breeds.

Main Ingredients

  • Lamb
  • Lamb meal
  • Peas
  • Chickpeas
  • Pea Flour
  • Sunflower oil
  • Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal

18. Diamond Naturals Lamb & Rice Small Breed Adult Dry Dog Food

Best food for Shih Tzu with allergies

Made for small breed adult dogs for lean nutrition and to help support strong muscles.

Recipe is made with added vitamins and powerful antioxidants from real fruits and vegetables. Omega 3 fatty acids and Omega 6 fatty acids support healthy skin and coat.

Main Ingredients

  • Lamb
  • Lamb meal
  • Ground White Rice
  • Cracked Pearled Barley
  • Peas
  • Chicken Fat
  • Egg Product
  • Dried Yeast

19. Purina ONE SmartBlend Natural Sensitive Systems, Limited Ingredient Formulas

Best food for Shih Tzu with allergies

5 Star rating for this one-of-a-kind formula. This food is perfect for dogs with sensitive stomachs. Sometimes what you think is a food allergy is really just a food sensitivity.

It’s still important to pay attention to that for ultimate gut health. Choosing this food will provide your adult dog with ingredients designed to be gentle on the tummy.

Main Ingredients

  • Salmon (first ingredient)
  • Rice Flour
  • Pearled Barley
  • Oat Meal
  • Corn Gluten Meal
  • Chicken By-Product (source of glucosamine)

20. ACANA Limited Ingredient Diet Singles with High Protein, Complete Nutrition, Digestive Health

Best food for Shih Tzu Allergies

Arcana singles are available in a variety of tastes including Duck & Pear, Lamb & Apple, Pork & Squash, and many more.

This food provides 65% grass-fed lamb ingredients. Although not made specifically for small breeds, Arcana is gentle enough for all dogs.

Remember, sometimes it takes some trial and error to find the perfect allergy-free formula for Shih Tzus with food allergies.

Main Ingredients

  • Raw grass-fed lamb (18%),
  • lamb meat meal (18%),
  • whole green peas
  • whole red lentils
  • raw lamb liver (4%)
  • lamb fat (4%)
  • fresh apples (4%)
  • whole garbanzo beans,
  • whole green lentils
  • whole yellow peas
  • raw lamb tripe (2%),
  • raw lamb kidney (2%)

21. Gentle Snackers Dog Treats – Can Be Given to Dogs with Food Allergies

Purina Veterinary Diets Gentle Snackers are truly unique treats, based on the successful HA formula.

Can be safely given to dogs with food allergies and/or sensitive gastrointestinal tracts.

More Information

  • a single, low allergen carbohydrate source is included to minimize the risk of food related reactions.
  • Perfect reward for dogs with sensitivies.

22. Wellness Simple limited ingredient diet grain-free small breed salmon and potato formula

Best dog food for Shih Tzu allergies
  • Natural, grain free, limited ingredient recipe crafted with a single source of animal protein, expertly balanced with easily digestible carbohydrates and no fillers
  • Natural prebiotics support a healthy digestive system, antioxidants support a strong immune system and Omega fatty Acids support a healthy coat and skin
  • Supported by omega fatty acids, antioxidants, glucosamine, probiotics and taurine for a healthy heart
  • Made in the USA using only the finest globally sourced ingredients and prepared in own facility
  • Manufactured in a facility that also processes grains

Main Ingredients

  • Salmon
  • Salmon Meal
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Canola Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols)
  • Dried Ground Potatoes
  • Tomato Pomace
  • Ground Flaxseed
  • Natural Fish Flavor
  • Chicory Root Extract
  • Vitamin E Supplement

23. Honest Kitchen Proper Toppers Grain Free Fish

Best Shih Tzu food for dog allergies

Honest Kitchen Proper Toppers Fish is made with 100% human grade, irresistible light and crispy superfood clusters. This new recipe is made with 85% wild caught fish, including salmon and white fish.

Main Ingredients

  • Dehydrated Salmon
  • Dehydrated white fish
  • Dehydrated egg
  • Dehydrated Pumpkin
  • Dried Apple
  • Dehydrated Chard
  • Dried Blueberries,
  • Vitamin D supplement

24. Fromm Four Star Nutritionals Salmon Tunalini Dog Food

Fromm Four Star Grain Free Salmon Tunalini for dogs is a grain free recipe made with fresh wild salmon and tuna with a medley of mediterranean garden vegetables.

Made in the USA.

Designed for dogs, such as seniors or less active adults, that require a low-calorie, low-carb diet. No by-products, preservatives, corn, wheat, soy or GMO ingredients. Made with dehydrated whole foods for maximum freshness and nutrition

Made with certified human grade ingredients

Made in the USA

25. Royal Canin Shih Tzu Puppy Breed Specific Dry Dog Food, 2.5 Pounds Bag

best dog food for shih tzu puppies

Royal Canin Shih Tzu puppy dry dog food is designed to meet the nutritional needs of purebred Shih Tzus 8 weeks to 10 months old.

Exclusive kibble is shaped especially for a Shih Tzu’s short muzzle and underbite.

Main Ingredients

  • Chicken by-product meal
  • Brewers rice
  • Corn
  • Chicken Fat
  • What-Gluten
  • Beet Pulp
  • Fish Oil
  • Added vitamins and minerals

26. FROMM Digestive Support Whitefish Formula for Dogs

Fromm Family Remedies Digestive Support Supplement Whitefish Recipe features finely minced whitefish and Fromm’s unique fiber blend of pumpkin, miscanthus grass and chicory root extract.

Main Ingredients

  • Whitefish
  • Fish Broth
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Sunflower OIl
  • Miscanthus Grass
  • Chicory Root Extract
  • Minerals

27. AvoDerm Small Breed

Dog food for Shih Tzu allergies

Specially made for small breed dogs with optimal nutrition and protein. Promotes healthy skin and coat. Made with Omega-rich avocados.

Main Ingredients

  • Chicken Meal
  • Ground Brown Rice
  • Ground White Rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Chicken Fat
  • Dried Plain Beet Pulp
  • Rice bran
  • Avocado
  • Dried Tomato Pomace
  • Natural flavor

Making the Best Food Choice For Your Shih Tzu

At the end of the day, it’s about finding the right food for your dog. Just like people, dog’s have complicated needs. Pet owners who own Shih Tzu dogs with allergies report using various options with good results.

It may take a little trial-and-error to find the perfect food for your little dog. Make sure to ask a veterinarian for suggestions. They know your dog and may be able to get your allergic dog on the right track in no time.

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