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How Much Should You Feed Your Shih-Tzu? Vet Suggested Food Guidelines (2023)

How much should you feed your shih-tzu?

Now that you have your little bundle of joy home, you’re probably surfing the Internet looking for the best food to feed your Shih Tzu puppy. Makes sense! In addition to feeding the proper nutrition, it’s also important to know how much to feed.

Small dogs burn a lot of energy. Shih Tzu puppies are particularly excitable–and when you bring home small breeds, your first instinct is to load the pantry with dried kibble.

While free feeding works for young puppies, you’ll eventually graduate to scheduled meals that provide a healthy diet.

Learn how much Shih Tzu dog food your need, and provide enough for their tiny stomachs to digest.

How Much Should You Feed a Shih Tzu Puppy?

Generally, you’ll feed your Shih Tzu puppy one ounce of food per pound of body weight.

For example, if your dog weighs ten pounds, they’ll need 1 1/4 cups of dog food. You’ll lower their food intake to a half ounce per pound when your dog reaches adulthood.

Puppies need calories and burn off a lot of energy, so they need more food than an adult Shih Tzu.

Weigh your dog regularly to ensure that they get enough–undereating can be just as dangerous as overfeeding.

Before your Shih Tzu is three months of age, you can refill their bowl throughout the day so they engage in free feeding. This ensures that your dog gains a healthy amount of weight and gets the nutrients that they need.

Otherwise, Shih Tzu puppies can experience hypoglycemia, which results in a sudden blood sugar drop and loss of consciousness.

Afterward, feed your dog three times a day until they’re one year old. If your dog gets treats, snacks and training rewards, two meals a day might be enough.

Remove excess food after each meal so your dog doesn’t graze and become overweight. Additionally, make sure your dog has constant access to fresh water throughout their entire lifespan.

shih tzu puppy

What Should You Look for in Dog Food Ingredients?

A balanced diet can eliminate health problems, provide nutrients and increase your puppy’s energy levels. Before you buy a bag of commercial dog food at the grocery store, find the best dog food that’s not loaded with preservatives, chemicals and artificial sweetener.

Dry Food

Dry kibble is cheap, doesn’t require refrigeration and lasts a long time in the pantry.

However, you might trade your puppy’s health for convenience. Dry dog food doesn’t have to contain human-grade ingredients, meaning that manufacturers add chemicals, preservatives and contaminants that are illegal for human food.

Bone and chicken meal might sound suitable for dogs, but manufacturers can make “meal” from anything–even dead animals and food waste.

Likewise, many dried food brands contain rendered fat, which promotes bacterial growth. Artificial food dyes have been linked to cancer growth.

Many dry kibbles contain grain, which isn’t inherently bad, but low-quality grain acts as filler with no nutritional filler.

When you buy Shih Tzu food, look for brands with natural preservatives, real meat and fruits and vegetables.

Check dog food labels to ensure that filler isn’t the first ingredient.

Most dry foods have preservatives, but avoid kibble with an excessive amount. Some kibble is fortified with vitamins and minerals, but remember that natural food is healthier than filler and by-products with added nutrition.

Wet Food

While wet dog food is pricier than kibble, it usually contains more natural ingredients, which help meet your dog’s nutritional needs.

Real meat provides protein-rich food for a growing puppy. However, don’t assume that wet food is automatically the best puppy food for your Shih Tzu.

Some wet foods contain fillers and artificial ingredients, leading to malnutrition and health problems. Avoid wet food made with animal by-products. While the food might resemble real meat, the ingredients could include dead animals, chicken beaks and ground bones. Similarly, avoid wet dog food that contains animal fat.

The fat could have come from anywhere, including dead animal carcasses. Many brands contain cellulose, which is a filler that offers no nutritional value.

When you search for dog food, look for brands with real meat, like beef, chicken, fish or pork, instead of meat by-products.

The best puppy food offers vegetables, whole grains and no fillers that “bulk up” the food without adding nutrients. Similarly, buy food with minimal additives, food dyes and preservatives that could lead to health conditions later on. Read reviews online to see if popular dog food brands live up to their claims.

Dry and Wet Food

You can give your dog a combination of dry and wet food to get the benefits of both.

If you’re switching your puppy from dry food to wet food or vice versa, combining the two eases the transition. Try popular brands like Royal Canin and Hill’s Science Diet to find a good choice for your dog.

Most brands have options for larger dogs as well as a small breed formula.

Natural Food

If you want to eschew processed food altogether, give your dog a natural diet with cooked meat and fresh fruits and vegetables.

This could include fresh food like beef, poultry, green beans, white rice, brown rice, sweet potatoes and peanut butter.

Before you get started, talk to your vet about healthy foods and the right amount of food for your dog.

Like vegetarian diets for humans, natural diets for dogs require research before you make sudden changes. A natural diet has fewer calories, healthy fats and nutrients like fatty acids.

However, not all natural foods are good for your dog.

Never feed your Shih Tzu chocolate–this could cause vomiting, diarrhea and even death if left untreated.

While some owners feed their dogs raw eggs, the eggs could contain bacteria that make your dog ill. Certain vegetables like mushrooms, onions and avocados are toxic to dogs.

Never give your Shih Tzu coffee or tea–ingesting caffeine can be fatal.

Raw Dog Food

Some dog owners take it a step further with a raw diet. This diet aims to replicate the food that wild dogs eat: raw meat, organs, muscles, fat and bones. Fruits and vegetables might appear in their food bowls, but rice, grain and fillers are off-limits.

Please note that some of the links below are called affiliate links. We like to offer interesting and healthy products to our readers. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission.

Raw Wild Dog Food

Raw Wild for dogs is designed for any breed, including toy dogs like the Shih Tzu. As your puppy grows into adulthood, you might be interested in starting him/her on a raw diet.

This food is all protein, organic, natural with balanced nutrition. There are no growth hormones, antibiotics, preservatives, fillers, corn, grains, or animal byproducts to worry about either.

It’s natural for people to have questions about raw wild dog food, so we’ve included this link of FAQ’s:

Raw Wild Dog Food Frequently Asked Questions.

This diet allegedly provides the protein and amino acids that dogs need to survive in the wild.

While raw diets are increasingly popular, they put you at risk for foodborne illnesses like salmonella. When you prepare raw food, sanitize the area afterward and never use the same utensils to cut other ingredients.

Want to try Raw Wild?

The company is family-owned and American made. Raw wild is nothing but raw elk and venison meat with a mixture of essential vitamins and minerals.

Learn the FOOD FACTS. Health Benefits of a Raw Dog Food Diet from RAW WILD. #GoWild


Don’t leave raw meat sitting in your dog’s food bowl–the ingredients could rot, attract pests and grow bacteria.


Of course, any toy breed with or without allergies can eat these food choices.

27 Best Shih Tzu Dog Foods to Manage Allergies in 2022

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shih tzu puppy

How Do You Feed Picky Eaters?

Your Shih Tzu refuses to eat the dry food in their bowl and begs for table scraps.

Since you don’t want your dog to go hungry, you give them what they want. Over time, your puppy suffers from weight gain and lethargy as they develop unhealthy eating habits.

Dealing with picky eaters means giving them a good diet, not indulging their cravings. Before you start, take your puppy to the vet to ensure that they have healthy digestion.

If your dog refuses to eat, they might have a condition like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) that requires a special diet.

However, if your puppy is healthy, you’ll have to train them to accept small amounts of food. Mix a small amount of dog food into your Shih Tzu’s table scraps.

Each day, gradually increase the dog food until your puppy fully makes the transition. If your dog won’t accept processed food, you can try homemade dog food. Just make sure that you give your dog fresh, healthy food like meat and vegetables instead of fattening treats.

Overall, your dog adjusts to the new type of food and retains a healthy weight. Measure out cups of food so you know exactly what you’re feeding your dog at every meal.

How Do You Know if Your Shih Tzu is Overweight?

With small breed dogs, it’s easy to overfeed your puppy.

Even an extra few ounces of food make your puppy gain weight–and at first, your dog just looks adorably chubby. However, too much food and unhealthy diets lead to obesity, which causes health issues and shortens your dog’s lifespan.

The average Shih Tzu is covered in fur, which makes it difficult to assess their size. To check your dog’s weight, feel for their ribs underneath their coat.

If you can’t find their ribs, your Shih Tzu might be obese. Similarly, if your dog is lethargic and struggles with basic activities like walking and scratching themselves, they might have gained too much weight.

Obese dogs have trouble exercising. They pant heavily, get exhausted quickly and don’t want to leave the house. Unfortunately, when exercise becomes a chore, the dog’s owner stops encouraging it–which accelerates the Shih Tzu’s weight gain.

Eventually, the dog leads a sedentary lifestyle that reduces their quality of life. To prevent obesity, raise active dogs that exercise regularly and spend time outdoors.

Stick to a strict dietary regimen so you know exactly what your dog’s eating. When you raise your puppy with good habits, they’ll enjoy exercising and eat healthy meals without begging for table scraps.

What if Your Puppy Refuses the Food Intake?

You know the best way to feed your puppy, but they don’t always agree. Instead of giving in, look for the root of the problem so your Shih Tzu gets the nutrients that they need.

Refuses to Eat

If your dog refuses to eat for a few days in a row, check their food to make sure that it’s not spoiled. Dump out their food, clean the bowl with warm water and give your dog fresh food.

In particular, moist dog food should be eaten within a few days. You could also try new food to see if your dog simply stopped liking their current brand.

When your dog still won’t eat, they might have a sensitive stomach or underlying issue. Take your dog to the vet to see if they’re suffering from a condition like IBS, diabetes or liver disease.

If your dog receives a diagnosis, you might have to start a treatment and special dietary regimen. Some Shih Tzu dogs stop eating due to stress, fear or anxiety.

If you recently moved or introduced a new family member into the house, your dog might need a little bit of an adjustment period. After that, they may start eating again.

Hungry After Meals

As a general guideline, don’t automatically feed your dog more if they’re still hungry after meals. However, assess their portions compared to their body weight to ensure that they’re getting enough.

Additionally, estimate the number of calories that your dog burns each day.

If your Shih Tzu gets a lot of exercise, consider giving them one extra snack per day. Talk to your vet if your dog still gets hungry to see if there’s an underlying issue.

When Should You Switch to Adult Food?

Like other toy breeds, Shih Tzus become adult dogs at about one year.

At this point, you’ll transition your puppy to adult dog food. Mix the new food with their old food to gradually adjust their diet.

Otherwise, the sudden change could upset their stomach. Many dogs are also reluctant to eat a bowl of new food with no transition. Shih Tzus become senior dogs when they’re ten years old, although some older dogs are considered “seniors” before that if they have health issues.

A senior Shih Tzu might have special dietary needs due to allergies, illnesses or digestive issues. Talk to your vet about finding the best food for your senior dog.

Wrapping Up

Most Shih Tzu dogs can’t regulate their eating habits.

While free feeding helps young puppies get the calories that they need, switch to a schedule when they’re three months old.

Scheduled feedings ensure that your dog gets enough nutrients without gaining too much weight or overindulging in snacks. Since they’re covered in hair, it’s hard to tell if your Shih Tzu is overweight.

Check your puppy’s weight regularly, and get plenty of exercise so they stay fit. If you’ve done everything right and your dog is still hungry, talk to a vet before giving them more food.

Remember that your dog is basically your child–and they rely on you for everything they need.


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