The shih tzu is a beloved pet around the world. The American Kennel Club classifies the dog as a "toy" breed because shih tzus tend to be small (the standard is no taller than 10.5 inches and no more than 16 pounds in weight). As with any other living creature, a good diet is essential to a shih tzu's health.
Recommended Dog Foods for a Shih Tzu
Fresh, Homemade Food (Cooked)
YourPurebredPuppy.com and the American Shih Tzu Club suggest feeding your dog homemade food such as fresh meats, vegetables and grains. The shih tzu, in its native environment, fed on natural foods to survive prior to becoming domesticated. If possible, prepare natural foods such as chicken, turkey, beef or fish. Additionally, you can feed your shih tzu vegetables, fresh rice and soy, and fresh yogurt and cheeses. The obvious benefit of this diet is that your dog is eating food you would feed your own child and as long as you provide a good balance of each major food group, your dog will be healthy. The downside is that this diet requires you to prepare the meal yourself and you end up spending time (and money) to ensure your dog has a complete diet.
Raw Food Diet
Some dog owners and dog experts are proponents of a raw food diet. The Official Shih Tzu Guide website points out that raw dog food proponents argue that, historically, dogs did not have access to cooked (or processed) foods in the wild and that a raw food diet is more akin to the dog's natural diet and thereby better. The problem is that raw meats have a risk of bacterial or viral infection. While shih tzu, like other dogs, have digestive systems that can handle certain bacteria or viral infections better than humans, the raw dog food diet still carries this risk. Use only Department of Agriculture-approved food such as liver, beef and chicken. Discuss this option with your dog's veterinarian before putting your dog on raw food.
Commercial, USDA-Approved Dog Foods
If natural diets (cooked or raw) are not an option, consider purchasing a commercial dog food that has passed USDA inspection. When considered a commercial dog food for your shih tzu, YourPurebredPuppy.com suggests that the first two ingredients in the food be meat (as apposed cereal or vegetable matter). Also be wary of dog foods that contain artificial preservatives and byproducts. These ingredients may make the food harder to digest and may cause health problems with your shih tzu.