Best Dog Food For Shih Tzus : Top Puppy, Adult & Senior Recommendations for 2019

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Shih Tzu’s are great apartment dogs because of their size, and they’ll remain lap dogs their whole lives. They will need regular exercise to keep up with their medium energy levels and to help alleviate any boredom. Otherwise, they may become destructive (and you could lose your favorite shoes).

Feeding your Shi Tzu the right dog food is crucial to its health and wellbeing. Let’s learn all about this adorable breed to help you decide on the best diet.

Why Quality Food Matters for Your Shih Tzu

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Shih Tzu’s often suffer from sensitive stomachs and picky eating. Many have food allergies that translate to itchy irritated skin. Others are just stubborn and picky.

Your Shih Tzu needs densely nutritional food to keep up with its energy demands without adding extra calories that can trigger stomach irritation and weight gain. If you’re feeding your Shih Tzu cheap food, it can make weight and allergy problems a lot worse because of cheap filler ingredients that don’t address the building blocks of health.

Look for foods that contain a proper balance of protein and complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and plenty of antioxidants so that your pup gets all the proper nutrition in healthy portion size.

Top Foods: Quick Look

3 Common Health Issues

Shih Tzus are generally healthy, energetic dogs, but even hardy breeds are sometimes at risk for health issues. Stay on top of your Shih Tzu’s quality of life by keeping an eye out for these three common things.


For small breeds, one of the most significant quality of life factors is remaining at a healthy weight. It may only be a pound extra, but the stress on the skeleton and spine may cause your Shih Tzu a lot of pain, reducing overall activity and making weight problems even worse.

Feeding foods with dense nutrition helps your Shih Tzu keep up with daily energy needs without adding in empty calories that can make weight a problem. Along with quality exercise, good food can make all the difference over the life of your pet.


Shih Tzus have picky digestion, and food allergies can make everything miserable. Many cheap foods have fillers that can trigger allergic responses that manifest in the skin and coat. Foods with good sources of protein and carbohydrates without common food allergens (corn or soy) can make digestion easier.

Omega fatty acids can also help keep skin and coat healthy. If your pet’s allergies are mostly environmental, these fats may help ease the impact of skin allergies and help relieve itching and inflamed skin.

Dental Issues

Small breeds often have crowded mouths that harbor bacteria and cause a lot of problems. Kibble is an excellent way to help scrape off plaque and prevent bacteria from shoring up in the mouth where it can be swallowed. Foods that support teeth with proper calcium and minerals are also excellent options.

What to Look For in a Quality Dog Food for Shih Tzus

Your Shih Tzu may be a small package, but it has a lot of energy. They make great apartment dogs, but they need daily walks so they don’t become overweight, bored, or destructive. They need plenty of calories for energy, but those calories need to come from quality sources of protein and complex carbs. Otherwise, you’re not taking care of your Shih Tzu’s energy or dietary needs.

Protein should come from whole meats, not by-products. Whole deboned chicken or turkey are good lean options, but others could be lamb or even fish. It’s best for carbs to come from sources like brown rice, which breaks down slowly and releases energy without a huge spike.

Fruits and veggies provide excellent sources of vitamins and antioxidants to support the immune system while omega fatty acids help support the skin and coat. If your Shih Tzu is elderly, joint support in the form of glucosamine or chondroitin can also help.

Ingredients to Avoid in Your Shih Tzu’s Dog Food

Corn and soy are cheap fillers frequently used to bring down the cost of food in both production and market value. These ingredients offer no beneficial health support and are frequent causes of severe food allergies. Avoid foods with either of these ingredients.

Foods that use poultry by-product meals are also frequently cheaper, but they can cause serious allergies as well. If the food contains no whole sources of protein, your dog is unlikely to receive much benefit.

Recent studies have hinted at a link between a condition known as canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and foods heavy in potatoes and peas. Although the relationship is not fully established or understood, you may want to consider this if your dog has any existing heart issues. Otherwise, avoid foods with either of these foods listed in the first three ingredients.

If your Shih Tzu has serious digestive issues, you may want to switch to a limited ingredient food altogether. These foods contain no more than seven major ingredient groups and help ease the problem of digestion by eliminating all known stressors and simplifying ingredients.

Frequent offenders using cheap fillers in their foods include some well-known brands that fit into budget categories for big box stores. Beneful, Kibbles N Bits, and Ol Roy are three known for using things like corn or soy in the first few ingredients, plus lower quality kibbles with by-product meals. You may save yourself a few dollars in the short term, but you’re likely to pay later when your Shih Tzu has health issues arising from poor quality foods.

Shih Tzu Feeding Chart

Nutrition should be guided by your veterinarian, but full-grown Shih Tzu’s tend to eat between 390 and 550 calories depending on age, proper weight, and activity level. Puppies and seniors will need more customized feeding plans depending on a number of factors.

Here are the general guidelines:

  • Puppies: Puppies change so much during their maturation that it’s vital to follow the recommendations of your veterinarian to avoid weight gain and poor bone development.
  • Adults: Adults should receive between 3/4 of a cup and 1 1/4 of a cup depending on their ideal weights.
  • Seniors: Seniors likely will receive the same type of nutrition as they did in their younger years, but adjustments will be made for things like excess weight gain, injuries, and issues with chronic conditions. Consult your veterinarian.

Best Dog Food for Shih Tzus

Best Overall: Solid Gold Mighty Mini Chicken, Chickpeas & Pumpkin Grain-Free Toy & Small Breed Dry Dog Food

Solid Gold Mighty Mini Chicken, Chickpeas & Pumpkin Grain-Free Toy & Small Breed Dry Dog FoodSolid Gold’s formula uses small-bite kibble to help your Shih Tzu chew more easily. The formula is designed for tricky digestion with a grain-free formula that uses no cheap fillers or artificial preservatives. It provides all the nutrients without putting your Shih Tzu at risk for weight gain.

It uses protein from whole chicken and has over 20 superfoods for vitamins and antioxidants to support immune systems. Omega fatty acids help keep the skin and coat healthy while complex carbohydrates support energy levels all day without empty calories.

First Five Ingredients:

  1. Chicken
  2. Chicken Meal
  3. Chickpeas
  4. Peas
  5. Pea Protein

About The Company

Solid Gold was started in the 1970s by a woman looking for better nutrition for her dog and quickly became one of the first holistic dog brands available. It uses quality nutrition and healthy ingredients to give your dog a good start in life.

What Customers Like:

  • 20 superfoods for immune system support
  • whole chicken proteins
  • grain free for better digestion
  • omega fatty acids for coat and skin
  • good bag sizes

Common Complaints:

  • doesn’t satisfy picky dogs
  • only small bag sizes

Best Value: Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Chicken & Sweet Potato Formula Small Breed Bites Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Chicken & Sweet Potato Formula Small Breed Bites Grain-Free Dry Dog FoodIf your dog has big digestion issues, Natural Balance’s limited ingredient food may be able to help. It uses whole chicken protein and a blend of fruits and vegetables for better immune support, plus vitamins and antioxidants.

It’s grain free and contains no cheap fillers such as corn or soy. It has plenty of omega fatty acids for healthier skin and coat, and the texture of the kibble helps with dental issues so prevalent in small breeds. It has no artificial ingredients and no cheap fillers that can exacerbate allergies and skin problems.

First Five Ingredients:

  • Chicken
  • Chicken Meal
  • Dried Sweet Potato
  • Dried Peas
  • Dried Garbanzo Beans

About The Company

Natural Balance began in the 80s with the intention of providing food backed by scientific research and providing dense nutrition. They use only fine ingredients that can help build your Shih Tzu’s health and wellbeing without empty calories.

What Customers Like:

  • Limited ingredients
  • whole chicken for protein
  • good complex carbohydrates
  • kibble designed to help with dental health
  • proper immune support

Common Complaints:

  • some ingredients come from outside the USA
  • taste may not satisfy all Shih Tzus

Best Super Premium: NomNomNow Tasty Turkey Fare

NomNomNow Tasty Turkey FareNomNomNow provides cooked foods prepared and shipped directly from the company’s kitchen to yours. If you don’t like commercial foods but aren’t ready for a raw diet, this can be an excellent alternative to both.

Tasty Turkey Fare uses real turkey plus several other veggies to provide a good combination of carbs, protein, and vitamins. It’s limited-ingredient (truly) with just seven total, plus NomNomNow’s combination of antioxidants for immune system support. The meals come on pre-portioned sizes and go right in the fridge or freezer for later use.

First Five Ingredients:

  1. Ground Turkey
  2. Brown Rice
  3. Carrots
  4. Spinach
  5. Egg

About The Company

NomNomNow uses fresh, cooked ingredients in recipes designed by a veterinarian. The meals provide whole nutrition from human grade foods so that your pet can enjoy minimal weight gain and optimum health. Meals are simple to order and arrive by delivery.

What Customers Like:

  • human grade foods
  • whole protein
  • limited ingredients
  • easy portion sizes
  • suitable for sensitive digestion

Common Complaints:

  • requires cold storage
  • delivery is limited in certain parts of the country

Best Dog Food for Shih Tzu Puppies

Nutrition for puppies can be tricky. Their bodies go through changes so quickly during puppy years that it requires direction from your vet to know exactly how to feed them. Their digestion and feeding requirements may change over time, but here are two of our favorite puppy foods to help you get started.

Best Dry: Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

TasteOur first puppy food is a kibble style food with no grains or cheap fillers that can cause your puppy digestive discomfort. It uses Bison, venison, and beef for a high quality, complete protein sources\ plus sweet potato for long-lasting energy.

Calcium gives your puppy strong bones and teeth while omega fatty acids including food support the skin and coat. A puppy specific probiotic blend helps with digestion so your puppy can break down foods properly and receive the most nutrition possible. There are no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives, only balanced nutrition.

First Five Ingredients:

  1. Buffalo
  2. Lamb Meal
  3. Sweet Potatoes
  4. Egg Product
  5. Pea Protein

About The Company

Taste Of The Wild’s company is family owned and uses state of the art kitchens to find the best nutrition for dogs in all stages of life. Recipes are grain free for better digestion, and plenty of real fruits, vegetables, and legumes give your puppy all the proper building blocks for lifelong health.

What Customers Like:

  • good for digestion
  • kibble encourages strong, healthy teeth
  • multiple, whole protein sources
  • sweet potatoes for long-lasting energy
  • no artificial flavors

Common Complaints:

  • kibble may be too small to interest your dog
  • the probiotic blend may take getting used to

Best Wet: Nulo Freestyle Chicken, Salmon & Lentils Recipe Grain-Free Puppy Canned Dog Food

If your puppy prefers wet food, Nulo’s salmon and lentils can offer excellent nutrition in a form that’s easier for your puppy to eat. Salmon is an excellent lean protein source with plenty of omega fatty acids for skin and coat health as well as brain development. Lentils offer plenty of long-term energy sources with good fiber.

Calcium provides support for bones and teeth while plenty of veggies and fruits give your puppy antioxidants and vitamins for immune support. It has no soy, corn, grains, or wheat that can irritate your puppy’s digestion. It’s suitable as a primary source or as a supplement to kibble to encourage your puppy to eat.

First Five Ingredients:

  1. Chicken
  2. Chicken Broth
  3. Salmon Broth
  4. Chicken Liver
  5. Salmon

About Nulo:

Nulo wants to give your puppy excellent, high-quality foods that encourage a lifelong goal of health and wellbeing. It never uses cheap fillers, artificial ingredients, or known food allergens so that your puppy receives all the right building blocks to grow healthy and strong.

What Customers Like:

  • multiple, whole protein sources
  • proper immune support
  • lentils for energy
  • calcium for strong bones and teeth
  • excellent taste

Common Complaints

  • Messy
  • portion sizes can be difficult

Best Senior Dog Food for Shih Tzus

Seniors often need support for aging joints and brains. Things like glucosamine and chondroitin can help rebuild cushioning between the joints and prevent further deterioration. Fatty acids can help keep senior minds sharp and fresh while keeping skin supple even at an advanced age. Your vet likely has recommendations for feeding your older dog in the right way, but here are a few foods that can help you get started.

Best Overall: Nulo Freestyle Trout & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Senior Dry Dog Food

Nulo Freestyle Trout & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Senior Dry Dog FoodNulo’s grain free senior food is an excellent formula to reduce inflammation. It features glucosamine and chondroitin for your senior dog’s aging joints plus L-Carnitine for smoother digestion. Pure probiotic strains can also help with metabolism.

Your senior Shih Tzu still needs support for bones. Calcium can keep brittle bones away while fruits and vegetables offer vitamins that can help the immune system operate well. Even if your dog isn’t as active as it used to be, the formula has no empty calories that put your dog at risk of gaining unhealthy amounts of weight.

First Five Ingredients:

  1. Deboned Trout
  2. Turkey Meal
  3. Salmon Meal
  4. Yellow Peas
  5. Sweet Potato

About The Company

Just as Nulo offers complete nutrition for the beginning stages of life, it can also provide your senior proper nutrition to make the best of those twilight years. There’s no compromise with ingredients, so your senior can maintain quality of living and not sacrifice even a single second with you.

What Customers Like:

  • glucosamine and chondroitin for healthier joints
  • omega fatty acids
  • help with weight control
  • proper probiotic strains
  • calcium to stave off bone brittleness

Common Complaints

  • picky eaters may not like the taste
  • may cause some gas even with the probiotic

Best Value: Nutro Wholesome Essentials Senior Farm Raised Chicken, Brown Rice & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food

Nutro uses whole, deboned chicken to provide seniors with complete proteins for maintaining muscle mass. The formula has all needed omega fatty acids including DHA for proper brain development and support for the skin and coat. Glucosamine and chondroitin help keep joints lubricated and protected.

It has no corn or soy fillers and no artificial flavors. It provides the right combination of nutrients and support for bones and skin. The right balance of fiber helps maintain the ideal digestive environment even for sensitive tummies and picky eaters, helping your Shi Tzu get more out of meal times.

First Five Ingredients:

  1. Chicken
  2. Brewers Rice
  3. Whole Brown Rice
  4. Chicken Meal (source of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate)
  5. Split Peas

About The Company

Nutro has been making quality food since the 1920s and now uses only premium ingredients for foods created in their state of the art kitchens. Your senior pup will receive all the nutrition that it needs during its golden years so that it never has to sacrifice even a minute of time to poor health.

What Customers Like:

  • DHA helps keep brain function clear
  • easy to digest
  • glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support
  • no fillers that can cause weight gain
  • proper protein and carbohydrate balance

Common Complaints

  • not specifically for small breeds (large kibble size)
  • only large size bags

Final Thoughts

Your Shih Tzu promises to bring a lot of energy and love to the table if you’ll bring only the best food. Shih Tzu’s can live a long time, and they need proper nutrition from the very beginning to take advantage of those many years.

Making sure that you consider your Shih Tzu’s tricky digestion and all the pickiness that goes along with it should help you find the right food. Whole proteins with balanced carbohydrates and plenty of fruits and veggies can build up your Shih Tzu’s complete health and wellbeing from puppyhood all the way to the old age.

A healthy Shih Tzu has a beautiful coat and an even more beautiful personality. Allow it all to shine by taking care not to cut corners with nutrition, and you’ll be blessed with a tiny bundle of fire until the very end.

Tell us about the funniest thing your strong-willed Shih Tzu does in the comments below.

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