Shih Tzu Diet & Meal Plan Advice

By Hungry Bark | May 20, 2021

Known as playful, outgoing, and affectionate, the Shih Tzu is a toy breed known for its dark eyes framed by a mane of hair.

Due to its playful nature and small size, Shih Tzu’s are ideal for smaller homes and are well known as “lapdogs” who like to sit on a person’s lap for hours.

With proper nutrition, regular exercise, and routine visits with its veterinarian, a Shih Tzu can live a long, healthy life of almost 18 years!

While some breeds have differences of personalities, Shih Tzu’s are known to be more interested in looking at you longingly while sitting in your lap than doing almost anything else.

That doesn’t mean they don’t have a personality, likes, and dislikes, but they’re most content when spending time with people and are incredibly excited and affectionate around small children.

To ensure a long quality of life for your Shih Tzu, you should provide only the best food you can at mealtime. You need to understand that not every meal plan is the same, so keep reading if you’re curious about what to provide your Shih Tzu for optimal health.

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The Importance Of Getting Enough Exercise

As a pet parent, the most important function you have is to provide a safe, healthy environment for your Shih Tzu to live and grow old.

Every dog needs a combination of exercise, nutrition, and routine check-ups from its veterinarian.

Due to its small size, some Shih Tzu parents think it doesn’t need regular exercise. That’s far from the truth.

The recommended amount of exercise for a healthy adult Shih Tzu is 30 minutes of vigorous activity every day.

The benefits of exercise for your Shih Tzu are the same as it is for people.

  • Aid With Digestion: Daily exercise will improve your dog’s appetite and assist it with digestion. Dogs that don’t get enough exercise are known to exhibit agitation, stress, and uncomfortableness if they don’t get enough exercise.
  • Increased Cardiovascular And Respiratory Function: Your Shih Tzu’s heart and lung health will improve with regular exercise.
  • Weight Management: A sedentary lifestyle can impact weight, and heavier weight is known to influence cardiovascular health, including an increase in heart disease.
  • Increased Flexibility: Movement is critical to maintaining joint health and flexibility, especially as your Shih Tzu ages.
  • Improved Mental Function: Dogs that don’t get enough exercise are known to exhibit high anxiety levels. Shih Tzu’s that have anxiety issues show little ability to focus or respond to positive behaviors. To alleviate this anxiety, exercise will calm its mind, allowing them less agitation and more receptive to your instructions.
  • Maintain Muscle: Building and strengthening your Shih Tzu muscles are crucial for its overall health and wellbeing. This need is especially true in aging pets.
  • Correct Behavioral Issues: Dogs only communicate by actions, so when it misbehaves, it’s a symptom of anxiety, lack of bonding, or some other mood. Incorporating a daily exercise routine will help calm its mind, make your pet happier, and improve its behaviors to match your expectations.

An added benefit of daily exercise is that it allows your Shih Tzu to socialize and explore its surroundings.

Instinctually, dogs like to sniff and explore their environment to find food sources and discover potential threats.

As dogs rely heavily on the sense of smell, a daily walk or other outdoor activity allows them to engage with other animals in the area, stimulating their mind and aiding in digestion as well.

Depending on where you live, we have a few suggestions for you if you’re curious about the types of activities you can plan for your Shih Tzu.

Walks: The benefits of daily walks allow your Shih Tzu to explore their immediate environments as well as get some exercise in the process. Daily walks are also a great way to work together on expected behaviors and reinforce the bond between pet and pet parent.

Hikes: If you have the opportunity, take your Shih Tzu on a short hike. By getting out of your immediate neighborhood, you can expose your Shih Tzu to new surroundings and let them discover a new world around them.

Dog Park: Playing at a dog park is an excellent way for your Shih Tzu to learn social skills and get a good amount of exercise. Dogs are social by nature, so taking them where they can pack with other dogs, run, and wrestle, is excellent. In a short 30-minute dog park adventure, your dog will be more than tired.

Swimming: For older dogs or Shih Tzu’s that experience joint and hip issues, swimming is a low-impact opportunity for great cardiovascular exercise. Not all dogs enjoy being in the water, so this is an individual option for pet parents.

The Type Of Nutrition Your Shih Tzu Needs

Every dog has a different personality, and understanding your Shih Tzu’s individuality is crucial in determining the best meal plan.

Considering your dog’s age, weight, activity levels, and any food-borne issues such as allergies and intolerances will help you choose the best meal plan.

Not all dog food manufacturers have the same attention to detail, which may impact your Shih Tzu’s optimal health. At different stages of your pet’s life, they have different nutritional needs and preferences as well.

Before discussing the type of optimal nutrition that your Shih Tzu needs, let’s discuss other essential factors in making a meal plan decision.

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Your Shih Tzu’s Age And Weight

Finding a balance of all the nutritional and caloric needs for your Shih Tzu can be overwhelming at first.

We suggest that you take an approach that factors in your dog’s age first and foremost. As dogs age, they have different nutritional requirements, and the food you select should be appropriate for its age.

Another factor in determining the proper food is your dog’s weight and eating habits. A meal plan that will focus on the appropriate types of calories and nutrition and take into account serving size will help maintain a healthy weight for your Shih Tzu.

How Active Is Your Dog

As you evaluate different foods, your next consideration is the overall level of fitness and activity levels of your Shih Tzu.

Some dogs are prone to overeating or being heavier than others, and knowing your dog’s ideal weight, as well as its activity levels, are primary factors in choosing your meal plan.

Active dogs need much more protein than sedentary ones. A good meal plan should prioritize a single protein source such as “turkey” in the labeling as the primary ingredient before any carbohydrates or fats..

Is Your Dog Allergic Or Intolerant To Types Of Foods

One thing to know is that dogs who develop a food-borne allergy are more susceptible to other types of allergies over time.

This is due to the immune system becoming over-stimulated from a previous allergic reaction, and it aggressively attacks other potential allergens within the body.

Understand symptoms of food-borne allergies may include digestive issues or excessive itching. The nasty cycle of excessive itching causes skin irritation caused by bacteria getting under the skin, heightening the itch response.

Food intolerance is when the dog can’t digest a specific food. It can be an allergy or something toxic, like chocolate. To avoid potential food-borne allergies, choose only the highest-quality dog food that is clearly labeled.

Why Your Shih Tzu’s Food Ingredients Are Important

The type of food you offer your Shih Tzu will go a long way to providing them with the right amounts of energy, help maintain an ideal weight, and provide all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals needed for a healthy life.

Proper nutrition should focus on a priority of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, known as macronutrients.

A macronutrient is the primary energy source for your pet. The ideal ingredient list will prioritize a higher percentage of proteins to carbohydrates and fats than any other ingredient.

High-quality food plans will balance skeletal-muscle development, boost the immune system, and assist with better digestion.

Benefits of good nutrition for your Shih Tzu include:

  • Healthy bones and teeth
  • Stronger muscle tone
  • Maintain the skeletal-muscle system
  • Enhanced immune system
  • Improved waste production and overall better digestion
  • Higher levels of energy
  • Better sleep patterns
  • Healthier coats

Product labels should clearly state where the food originates from and eliminate any additives or confusing terms.

For example, a product label that lists “meat meal” or uses a term like “Chicken Entree For Dogs With Salmon Flavor” is unclear and a little distracting.

The purpose for those types of terms is used to comply with specific standards by the FDA, but they aren’t wholly accurate.

The FDA claims that manufacturers must list the food in a way that describes the ingredients’ content, but if you don’t know how to read it, it may seem like you’re making a healthy choice when in reality, it’s anything but.

There are four main terms to look for and understand what each means. Those terms are known as:

The 95% Rule

The 95% rule means that when a product is listed, such as “turkey,” then it must make up 95% of the recipe as detailed.

The 25% Rule

When food labels claim something like “salmon platter, lamb dinner, or chicken entree,” the FDA requires food manufacturers to include these terms when a product such as chicken only comprises 25-94% of the total ingredients.

The “With” Rule

The term “with” such as “dog food with lamb” means that the product is only required to have 3% of lamb in the ingredient list. This tactic is one way that subpar food manufacturers follow to get around the reality that it does not include much protein.

The “Flavor” Rule

Like the “with” rule, any ingredient list that uses “flavor” isn’t required to have much of the protein they claim.

Basically, the “flavor” rule is that if it is a term used to describe a product, it only needs enough protein source to be traceable. The protein doesn’t even need to have been included!

How To Read The Ingredients Label

The best meal plan should be listed in order of priority. Look for ingredients that list a pure protein source and avoid confusing terms, single sources of carbohydrates and fats in that order. Vitamins and minerals are a bonus on the ingredient list.

There are three main ingredients you want to see on a product label. Proteins from a singular source that avoids obscure terms, carbohydrates, and fats.

Proteins serve as the primary energy source for your Shih Tzu and are the primary building blocks for muscle growth and offer quick bursts of energy.

The benefit of carbohydrates is that they act as a delayed energy source.

These energy sources are more sustained than those from proteins and “kick in” once protein energies start to burn off. Another function is that they break down into sugars in the body and serve as the primary energy source for mental function.

Fats are the long-term energy reserves. They operate similarly to carbohydrates and have some benefits outside of just providing energy, like assisting the body to absorb essential vitamins and minerals.

If you’re still confused about the best meal plan for your Shih Tzu, the Hungry Bark Custom Meal Planner is a great place to start!

In as little as 2 minutes, the meal planner will customize your Shih Tzu meal plan to consider characteristics such as breed, age, weight, and activity level to provide a custom meal plan for a long, healthy life.


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