5 Best Dog Foods for Shih Tzus in 2020

Choosing the best dog foods for Shih Tzus can be tricky. After all, there are so many different options and everyone seems to have a different opinion on the matter. Some vets will recommend one formula while research will show that the same formula isn’t healthy. So, how do you know who to trust and how do you know what’s best for your dog? Here are some tips and recommendations for dog foods that are healthy for Shih Tzus to eat.

What Do Shih Tzus Need in Their Food?

Of course, all dogs need healthy ingredients that benefit them in many ways, but different dog breeds can have slightly different requirements. Here are some specific suggestions to look out for when choosing the best dog foods for Shih Tzus. A lot of it comes down to what you think is best for your specific dog.

Wholesome, Easily Digestible Ingredients

Small dogs often have weaker digestive systems than large dogs. Therefore, they need quality ingredients that will be easy on their tummies. When you look at a food’s ingredient list, you should feel comfortable serving your dog all the ingredients listed, and there should be nothing questionable or controversial. There should also be added supplements to benefit other areas of your Shih Tzu’s health, such as their joints, coat, and heart.

A Quality Meat Source

Your dog’s ancestors relied on meat in their diets. In fact, a dog’s ancestral diet consisted of at least 56% percent meat, but most kibble brands today only have 18% to 32% simply because it’s cheaper. No one wants to spend a ton of money on dog food, but all dog breeds need plenty of meat to thrive.

If possible, you should find a food that lists meat at the first few ingredients because that will ensure that meat is one of the main ingredients in the food. However, the ingredients are listed by weight before being cooked, and fresh meat loses a lot of weight once the moisture is cooked out of it. So, if meat is only listed as the first ingredient, then there’s a chance that there’s actually less meat in it than it seems.

Small Kibble Pieces

Small dogs have smaller mouths and smaller stomachs. So, they should have kibble pieces that are easy for them to eat. A lot of dog food formulas have recipes made specifically for smaller breeds, which means the pieces are smaller and easier to chew. Shih Tzus are often more enthusiastic about eating if chewing isn’t a problem.

No Fillers or By-Products

Sadly, a lot of today’s kibble brands are packed with carbohydrates, which are often cheap fillers. Companies use these unnecessary ingredients because they’re more affordable, more accessible, and they last longer. But what’s the point if they provide no benefits for your dog? All the ingredients in your dog’s food should serve a purpose for them, otherwise you could be putting your dog at a risk of allergic reactions. Even if a dog food says that it’s made specifically for Shih Tzus, it might not really be the best Shih Tzu food.

You might notice that vets will often recommend dog food brands with lots of fillers. They’ll try to pass them off as healthier diets, but if you look at the ingredients, you’ll notice lots of unneeded carbs. Some don’t even list meat as the first ingredient. Most vets likely do this because they have partnerships with the brands, so their recommendations can often be confusing for people. So, instead of blindly following someone’s recommendations for dog food, make sure you analyze the ingredients yourself too. Also, be sure to look out for recalls as well.

No Allergens

Shih Tzus can sometimes have lots of allergies too. Oftentimes, common ingredients like grains, potatoes, and even chicken can cause allergies. So, if you’re worried about your dog having reactions to their food, then you might want to search for a limited ingredient formula instead.

While some dogs are allergic to grains, many people seem to think that grain-free foods are bad for dogs. However, more recent studies have proved that there is no link between grain-free dog food and heart disease, so there is no longer a cause for concern. Whether or not you feed your dog a grain-free diet is up to you, but grain-free dog foods are usually better for dogs with lots of allergies.

Best Dog Foods for Shih Tzus

When it comes to choosing a dog food, it can be difficult to decide where to start. So, we’ve selected five dog food formulas that are great for Shih Tzus, and we’ve analyzed them based on their features, pros, and cons.

#1 – Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Adult Chicken

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Adult Farm Raised Chicken

This dog food is formulated specifically for small breeds like Shih Tzus. The protein used in this recipe is farm-raised chicken, and it’s accompanied by sweet potato and brown rice. It’s made using natural fiber to benefit the digestive system of a small dog. Chicken and chicken meal are the first two ingredients in this dog food. Chicken meal is a meat concentrate that contains about 300% more protein than fresh chicken. This food also contains a total of about 24% protein and 15% fat, which is a little more than average for dry dog food. It also has lamb meal listed later on, so it might not be a good option for Shih Tzus that have sensitivities to certain meats.

Like most small breed formulas, this food is make with small kibble pieces that are easy for Shih Tzus to chew. It can also be purchased in a 5-pound or 15-pound bag. The food contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which help give your dog healthy skin and a healthy coat. It’s labeled as a wholesome diet that doesn’t include any fillers or artificial ingredients. This means no corn, wheat, by-products, artificial flavors, artificial colors, or preservatives.

Pros:

  • It’s made for small breeds.
  • It comes in multiple sizes.
  • It promotes healthy skin and coats.
  • It has very few filler ingredients.
  • It lists animal protein as the first two ingredients.

Cons:

  • It has some controversial ingredients.
  • It might not be good for dogs with lots of allergies.
  • Picky eaters might not like it.

#2 – The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Chicken Dehydrated Dog Food

The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Chicken Recipe Dehydrated Dog Food

The Honest Kitchen is made with dehydrated whole ingredients, making it a higher quality than kibble brands. This allows it to have less carbs and more quality ingredients. This particular recipe is made with 100% real free-range chicken, along with healthy fruits and vegetables, including sweet potatoes, de-cored apples, pumpkin, and bananas. It contains no corn, wheat, or soy, making it one of the best dog foods for Shih Tzus with lots of common allergies. This is a human-grade recipe made in a human-grade facility to ensure that everything about the food is quality for your dog.

In total, this food contains 24% protein and 15% fat, which is a bit higher than most kibble brands. The first ingredient listed is dehydrated chicken, meaning it didn’t have to lose any moisture, so there should be plenty of chicken in the food. It also doesn’t have any by-products, preservatives, GMO ingredients, or antibiotics. To feed it to your dog, all you have to do is mix the food with warm water, stir it, and let it sit for 3 minutes. It can be purchased in four different sizes: a 2-pound box, 4-pound box, 10-pound box, or a case of 12 1.75-ounce cups.

Pros:

  • It’s dehydrated food.
  • It’s made with 100% human-grade ingredients.
  • It comes in four sizes.
  • It’s great for dogs with allergies.
  • It contains healthy fruits and vegetables.
  • It has no controversial ingredients.

Cons:

  • It’s a little expensive.
  • It takes longer to prepare.
  • Picky dogs might not like it.

#3 – Nulo FreeStyle Grain-Free Small Breed Salmon & Red Lentils

Nulo is a dry dog food formula that’s known for being high in protein. It’s a bit more expensive than other dry dog food options, but that’s because more meat and higher quality is often a higher price to produce. The primary protein in this formula is salmon, and it’s geared specifically toward smaller breeds like Shih Tzus to help promote easier digestion. 84% of the protein in this formula comes from real meat. The food can be purchased in either a 4.5-pound bag and an 11-pound bag.

This food has a total of 37% protein and 17% fat, which is much higher than most kibble brands. Additionally, it lists animal protein as the first four ingredients: deboned salmon, turkey meal, menhaden fish meal, and lamb meal. This means that it’s lower in carbohydrates in comparison to other kibble brands. It also contains other beneficial ingredients, such as L-Carnitine to help your dog maintain a healthy weight. This formula is also grain-free in order to benefit Shih Tzus with grain allergies.

Pros:

  • It’s high in protein.
  • It contains animal protein as the first four ingredients.
  • It comes in two different sizes.
  • It helps promote a healthy weight.
  • It’s made specifically for small breeds.
  • It’s grain-free for dogs with allergies.
  • It has no controversial ingredients.

Cons:

  • It’s a little expensive.
  • It might not be good for dogs with certain protein allergies.

#4 – Merrick Grain-Free Chicken & Sweet Potato Dry Dog Food

Merrick is a similar brand to Nulo because it contains a lot of healthy ingredients and lots of protein. This is a grain-free formula that uses chicken as the primary protein. In fact, it contains a total of 38% protein and 17% fat, which is much higher than the average dog food. It also lists animal protein as the first three ingredients: deboned chicken, chicken meal, and turkey meal. It contains salmon meal too, so this formula might not be ideal for Shih Tzus that are allergic to certain proteins.

This food is not a small breed specific formula, so it comes in three sizes: 4-pound, 10-pound, and 22-pound bags. On the label, it says that this food is made of 70% quality protein and fats while the other 30% contains produce, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other natural ingredients. It has plenty of omega fatty acids to promote a healthy skin and coat for your dog. Additionally, it has glucosamine and chondroitin to support your dog’s hips and joints.

Pros:

  • It’s high in protein.
  • It contains animal protein as the first three ingredients.
  • It has no grains for Shih Tzus with grain allergies.
  • It comes in three sizes.
  • It promotes healthy skin and coats.
  • It promotes healthy hips and joints.

Cons:

  • It’s a little expensive.
  • It has some controversial ingredients.
  • This brand has been recalled a few times.

#5 – Blue Buffalo Freedom Life Protection Adult Chicken & Brown Rice

Blue Buffalo is one of the most popular dog food brands out there, and they have many different recipes. This formula uses chicken as the primary protein, and it’s formulated for dogs of all ages and sizes. It can be purchased in six different sizes, ranging from 3 pounds to 30 pounds. It’s also a bit more affordable than some of the similar options. This formula has 24% protein and 14% fat, which is a bit higher than most brands. It lists animal protein as the first two ingredients with deboned chicken and chicken meal.

In addition to chicken, this dog food also contains lots of beneficial fruits and vegetables and other ingredients that can help improve your dog’s health. It has calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins to promote bone health. It also has glucosamine to support your Shih Tzu’s joints. Finally, it has vitamins, chelated minerals, and antioxidants to promote immune system health. However, it’s important to be aware that Blue Buffalo is one of the dog foods with the most recalls.

Pros:

  • It’s affordable.
  • It comes in six different sizes.
  • It promotes healthy joints.
  • It promotes bone health.
  • It promotes immune system health.
  • It lists animal protein as the first two ingredients.

Cons:

  • This brand has had lots of recalls.
  • It has lots of controversial ingredients.
  • It might not be good for dogs with lots of allergies.
  • It could make some dogs sick.

Things to Consider Before Choosing a Food

Before settling on your choice for best dog foods for Shih Tzus, always look closely at the ingredients to make sure they’re healthy and a good fit for your dog’s needs. You know your dog better than anyone else, so you should be able to decide what flavors they’ll like best and if they have any allergies. Instead of just following someone else’s food suggestions, make sure you do your own research before you settle on a healthy diet for your dog.

If you are about to switch your dog from a cheaper food to a higher quality food, make sure you do a slow transition. Dogs that aren’t on a quality diet can quickly get sick from a sudden change in food. So, make sure you slowly start mixing the new food into their meals a little bit at a time until eventually, they’re only eating the new food. This can help your Shih Tzu feel happier and healthier with their healthy new food.

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