Shih Tzus are royalty — literally. These small pups were originally bred for companionship by Chinese royalty and developed a friendly, calm-tempered personality as a result. They're the ultimate lap dog with a lustrous coat and literally designed to spend their days indoors at a royal palace (or hanging out with you on your couch). Despite their sovereign roots, most Shih Tzus will benefit from a regular old healthy diet chock-filled with fruits and veggies. The ideal Shih Tzu food list can be found at any grocery store (and not just the specialty shops like Whole Foods, where we can only assume modern-day royalty would shop).
Shih Tzus can be a bit heavy for a small dog, but obesity exacerbates their tendency to develop hip dysplasia. They're also prone to glaucoma, bladder infections, and — when they're puppies — hypoglycemia. The fruits and vegetables that are good for a Shih Tzu help prevent these conditions and preserve the quality of their long coat. Ideally, adult dogs need a balanced diet with restricted calories if they start gaining weight. Your Shih Tzu puppy should have a diet rich in protein, fat, and complex carbs to prevent hypoglycemia.
Whether you're looking for a healthy treat or plan to switch your dog to a raw diet, you can add these fruits and vegetables to your Shih Tzu food list.
Cranberries provide essential antioxidants
Older dogs and female dogs are particularly prone to urinary tract infections (UTIs), but Shih Tzus are also predisposed to urinary tract stones, a similar ailment. For this reason, cranberries (which are also used to ease urinary conditions in humans) are an excellent healthy option for your Shih Tzu. Since research on the effectiveness of cranberries to treat UTIs shows mixed results, they should be used as a supplement rather than a replacement for medical treatment.
Overall, this fruit is rich in vitamin C and vitamin E, which are antioxidants that support overall good health. It's also important not to over-do it. With cranberries, moderation is key, so you should only give them as a treat in small quantities. Not only can large amounts of cranberries cause an upset stomach, but they can cause your pup to develop calcium oxalate stones in their bladder, effectively meaning you're making their urinary issues worse.
When feeding your pup cranberries, avoid dried varieties and cranberry juice which can be mixed with other fruits, like grapes, that are toxic to dogs.
Baby carrots promote eye health
As mentioned above, Shih Tzus have a predisposition to eye problems, but research has shown that antioxidants like beta carotene can promote healthy eyes in dogs like they do in humans. This is where baby carrots come in, which have numerous health benefits that go far beyond what the (literal) eye can see.
When used as a healthy snack, baby carrots also promote dental health. The texture actually cleans your pup's teeth and gums, removing plaque buildup. It's low-calorie (perfect for Shih Tzus on a diet) and high in fiber. It also comes with the added bonus of watching your pup delightfully crunch away.
Sweet potatoes satisfy sweet tooths
Shih Tzus tend to have a sweet tooth. Chalk it up the luxuries of being raised by royalty. When given in moderation, sweet potatoes can fulfill that craving. These vegetables are good for Shih Tzu puppies in particular because they're considered a complex carbohydrate that helps prevent hypoglycemia, which is common in smaller dogs.
Sweet potatoes are a common ingredient in natural dog foods, where they're often used as a filler in favor of preservatives and bone discards. Additionally, sweet potatoes are low in fat and rich in essential vitamins like vitamin C and vitamin A, which helps your pup's eyes and lustrous coat.
It should be noted that while sweet potatoes have historically been recommended for a dog's diet, the FDA is currently investigating whether or not high quantities of potatoes, legumes, chickpeas, and lentils can lead to a common condition called canine dilated cardiomyopathy. Moderation is recommended.
Other healthy fruits and vegetables
The healthy treats Shih Tzus may enjoy aren't just limited to carrots, cranberries, and sweet potatoes. Like most dogs, Shih Tzus may absolutely adore sweet, antioxidant-rich fruits like:
Just make sure to completely remove the pits of any pitted fruit. For example, mango pits contain small amounts of cyanide. Tossing the peels and seeds can also help your pup avoid intestinal distress. Some other vegetables for your Shih Tzu food list may include:
- Summer squash
- Brussels sprouts
- Green beans
Always observe portion control when feeding your Shih Tzu fruits and vegetables because when smaller dogs become overweight, it puts a great deal of stress on their back.
Shih Tzu food list don'ts
Before adding fruits and veggies to your Shih Tzu food list, it's important to consult your vet and keep a list of poisonous fruits and vegetables handy. Many foods that humans love are toxic to dogs, including fruits and veggies like avocados, grapes, onions, and certain types of mushrooms. Other foods have toxic parts (like the green part of tomatoes) or are too tough to eat raw and may cause choking (like asparagus).
- Pet Education: Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Dog
- Prestige Animal Hospital: The Spunky Shih Tzu
- American Kennel Club: Hip Dysplasia In Dogs
- VCA: Glaucoma in Dogs
- VCA: Shih Tzu
- American Kennel Club: Shih Tzu
- American Kennel Club: Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) in Dogs
- Healthline: Get the Facts: The Health Benefits of Cranberry Juice
- American Kennel Club: Can Dogs Eat Cranberries?
- Healthline: 9 Most Important Vitamins for Eye Health
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Antioxidant supplementation increases retinal responses and decreases refractive error changes in dogs
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Questions & Answers: FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine’s Investigation into a Possible Connection Between Diet and Canine Heart Disease (updated June 27, 2019)
- American Kennel Club: Can Dogs Eat Sweet Potatoes?
- American Kennel Club: Fruits and Vegetables Dogs Can and Can't Eat