If you own an adorable toy breed like the Shih Tzu, knowing how much to feed your pup is crucial in maintaining its beauty, energy, and overall health.
Some dog owners might think that small dogs simply need small portions of food. However, it can be a little more complicated than that.
How much food a Shih Tzu needs will depend on several factors, like age and weight.
Keep reading to learn all about Shih Tzu feeding: from how much food to give your pet to the best types of dog food. This comprehensive feeding guide will be your ultimate go-to for Shih Tzu feeding tips!
Shih Tzu Feeding Chart by Age: How Much to Feed Your Shih Tzu?
Age plays a big role in determining how much to feed a Shih Tzu. A Shih Tzu puppy should eat between ⅛ to 1 ½ cups every day, while an adult Shih Tzu should eat ½ to 1 cup of dog food daily. On the other hand, a senior Shih Tzu only requires a half cup of dog food at most every day.
As your Shih Tzu goes through the different stages of its life, its dietary and nutritional needs will inevitably change and vary. Your duty as a pet owner is to make sure to cater to your Shih Tzu’s food needs.
The amount of food a Shih Tzu needs will begin to change depending on its age and weight as it grows. Each pound of body weight is equivalent to a specific number of cups it needs per day.
To help you in this journey, we’ve prepared a thorough Shih Tzu feeding guide detailing how much you need to feed your Shih Tzu throughout puppyhood, adulthood, and senior years.
Shih Tzu Puppy Feeding Chart (2 to 12 months)
Dog food is not really necessary for infant Shih Tzus because they should still be nursing from their mother or drinking puppy formula.
Once they reach two months of age, you can begin weaning them to transition into puppy food.
For a growing Shih Tzu puppy, the rule of thumb is to feed ⅛ cup of dog food per pound of a dog’s body weight. For instance, if a puppy weighs 4 pounds, it needs around half a cup of dog food per day.
Just like other small dogs, Shih Tzus have a fast metabolism, especially puppies. This feeding calculation ensures that they will receive ample amounts of food, nutrients, protein, and fat to support their growing bodies.
Here is a detailed breakdown of daily food estimates for your Shih Tzu dog throughout its puppyhood:
|Age||Daily Food Quantity|
|2 – 3 months||0.125 – 0.5||120 – 174||20 – 25%||5 – 10%|
|4 – 6 months||0.75 – 1.25||236 – 346||20 – 25%||5 – 10%|
|7 – 9 months||1.5 – 1.56||397 – 413||20 – 25%||5 – 10%|
|10 – 12 months||1.56||413||20 – 25%||5 – 10%|
If you happen to have a Shih Tzu puppy less than two months old, some experts recommend free-feeding. This means that your pup should have access to a certain amount of fresh food anytime within a day.
This method is only recommended for infant Shih Tzus to reduce the risk of malnutrition and to encourage good feeding habits early.
Adult Shih Tzu Feeding Chart (1 to 9 years)
At one year, a Shih Tzu pup is officially considered an adult dog. At this stage of life, you only need to give a full-grown Shih Tzu ⅛ cups of dog food per pound of its body weight.
Adult food does not contain much protein and fat content in its servings because dogs require fewer calories as they grow older. This is also the reason why adult Shih Tzus have smaller portions than puppies.
Check out how much food, calories, protein, and fat percentages your adult Shih Tzu needs in this table:
|Age||Daily Food Quantity|
|1 – 9 years||0.5 – 1||323 – 497||15 – 20%||5%|
Ideally, a Shih Tzu will reach its full size and weight once it reaches one year of age. You can refer to our guide on Shih Tzu growth for more information on your fur baby’s development throughout the months and years.
Senior Shih Tzu Feeding Chart (10 years and above)
Although the life expectancy of Shih Tzus is between 11 and 16 years, they are already considered senior dogs at the age of 10.
As the Shih Tzu’s body transitions to this stage, it will require fewer calories than its adult self.
Shih Tzu owners should also be mindful that senior dogs have different needs, especially if they begin to develop medical issues.
Refer to the table below to find out how to properly feed older Shih Tzus:
|Age||Daily Food Quantity|
|10 years above||0.35 – 0.41||270 – 480||25%||10 – 14%|
At this stage, owners should also look into supplementing their dogs’ meals with fiber, probiotics, vitamins, and quality omega-fatty acids to keep their digestive system, immune system, skin, and coat health in top shape.
It is still important to remember that not all dogs are the same. When figuring out how much your pooch should eat, you should also account for other factors such as activity levels and health issues.
Shih Tzu Feeding Frequency: How Often Should You Feed Your Shih Tzu?
How often you feed your Shih Tzu depends on its age. As small breed dogs, a Shih Tzu puppy should be fed around 4 to 6 times daily, while adult and senior dogs should be fed 3 and 2 times a day respectively.
Unlike large breeds, a Shih Tzu cannot be fed only once a day. This is because Shih Tzus are more prone to hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. Thus, reducing feeding portions or frequency may have harmful consequences.
To give you a better understanding of the feeding frequency needed by Shih Tzu dogs, refer to the table below:
|0 – 12 months||Four to six meals per day|
|1 – 9 years||Three meals per day|
|10 years and above||Two meals per day|
Shih Tzu puppies less than six months old require more frequent feeding times. At this age, their ability to regulate their blood glucose concentration is not fully developed, so it is crucial to keep their sugar levels stable.
Once it reaches adulthood, it can begin to eat less frequently throughout the day. While maintaining the appropriate amount of food based on its age and weight, you can start a new feeding routine for your pet.
Senior Shih Tzu dogs are typically less active and sleep an average of 16 to 18 hours a day. Two meals will be enough to maintain their healthy weight and sustain mild activity.
You should also always make sure that your pups have fresh water available to them at all times. Senior dogs require more water than younger dogs, so top off their water bowl as often as they need.
Optimal Feeding Times for Shih Tzus
An adult Shih Tzu’s mealtimes should be in the morning, noon, and evening. On the other hand, a puppy should be fed twice in the morning, at least once in the afternoon, and once in the evening. Lastly, a senior dog should be fed once in the morning and evening.
Establishing a good feeding schedule is a big part of maintaining your dog’s diet. To get the best feeding times, you should be able to space out your Shih Tzu’s meals as evenly as possible throughout the day.
Refer to the guide below to give you an idea of how to properly schedule your Shih Tzu’s meals:
|Age||Optimal Feeding Times|
|3 – 12 months||7:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM, and 7:00 PM|
|1 – 9 years||7:00 AM, 12:00 PM, and 7:00 PM|
|10 years and above||7:00 AM and 7:00 PM|
Since puppies require at least four meals per day, you can allot a four-hour difference between every meal.
Once it reaches adulthood, you may space it out further to around five to six hours in between each meal.
Two meals will be sufficient for a Shih Tzu in its old age, so you can feed them once in the morning and once in the evening.
No matter its age, make sure that you do not feed your Shih Tzu too late in the evening. The ideal time for its last meal of the day should be around 3 to 4 hours before it usually goes to sleep.
This gives them time to go to the toilet, burn off excess energy, and digest their food properly.
With regards to snacking, dog owners should be wary of how many treats they give their pooches. Many dogs enjoy healthy snacks now and then, and Shih Tzus are no different.
The key to healthy snacking is, of course, regulation. Veterinarians recommend that dog treats should take up no more than 10% of your Shih Tzu’s required caloric intake.
Best Dog Foods for Shih Tzus
For most pets, a top-notch diet means that their food should be filling, nutritious, and delicious. The same applies to Shih Tzu food. Ideally, the best dog food for Shih Tzu is quality, easily-digestible dry food.
Shih Tzus are brachycephalic dogs, which means they have shorter skull bones which may affect their breathing, snorting, and eating.
Check out the list below to help you explore your options on the best dog food for your Shih Tzu:
- Dry Food: Many experts recommend dry dog food for Shih Tzus for a number of reasons. Dry kibble usually comes in fun, bite-sized shapes that are good for a dog’s teeth as it scrapes most tartar away. Dry dog food is usually jam-packed with nutrients and protein, which are great for your dog’s health. Most of all, it is inexpensive and can be bought in bulk, which is great for your pockets.
- Wet Food: A lot of dogs may prefer wet food for its rich flavors and textures. Wet food is a great source of protein that can also keep your pets hydrated. However, a diet of pure wet food may result in dental issues and runny stool. It is also the more expensive option compared to dry food.
- Combination of Wet and Dry Food: Blending dry kibble and wet food is one of the most popular methods for feeding, as it combines the nutritional benefits of both types of pet foods. If you choose this option, measure out the appropriate amount of dry food based on your Shih Tzu’s weight and age, and add two tablespoons of wet food.
- Home-cooked Diet: Some dog owners opt to make homemade meals for their fur babies to ensure quality and nutrition. Rendering chicken fat and making a broth can be a good alternative to buying expensive canned food. Liver, fish oil, and sweet potatoes are other examples of food you can add to your Shih Tzu’s diet.
Each of these options has its own list of benefits and detriments. Aside from consulting with a local veterinarian, the best way to ensure quality pet food is to read the nutrition labels found on pet food packaging.
Check if the food follows the standards set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), which requires food to have ample protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals content for balanced nutrition.
Furthermore, make sure to provide your Shih Tzu with adequate amounts of bone health nutrients. For this, feed it a chicken meal or a raw bone every now and then.
If you want to see examples of healthy, homemade adult dog food for Shih Tzus, you can watch the video below:
Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Shih Tzu
Certain types of food can be very toxic to Shih Tzus and other dogs. Pet owners should acquaint themselves with this information to make sure that their furry friends have safe and healthy diets.
Among these toxic foods, chocolate is perhaps the most notorious for a good reason. A small dog like a Shih Tzu may suffer from seizures or even die if it ingests even a small amount of chocolate. So keep this food away from it.
You should also avoid giving food with large quantities of salt, as this can cause kidney issues. Grapes and raisins can also have the same effect on your pup, so it is best to avoid these foods at all costs.
Dog owners must also steer away from fruit pits and seeds, including common fruits like apples, apricots, and pears.
These may lead to various health issues that can negatively affect your pet’s breathing and heart conditions.
Remember, checking the nutritional labels on pet food packages is the first step in maintaining your dog’s health and nutrition.
Avoid food that lists meat by-products, generic meats, artificial coloring, or chemical preservatives in its ingredients.
Furthermore, some Shih Tzus have also been found to have a food intolerance or negative reactions to certain ingredients, such as grain. Fortunately, there are plenty of grain-free alternatives available.
How to Transition Your Shih Tzu to a New Food
Changing the type of food your Shih Tzu dog eats can’t be done on a whim. To successfully introduce a new diet, you have to gradually incorporate it into its meals over a week.
A small dog’s digestive system won’t always react well to a new food, especially if you don’t do the transition properly. An abrupt change in diet can cause vomiting, diarrhea, or a decrease in appetite.
Check out the table below to give you an idea of how to properly transition your Shih Tzu to a new diet:
|Day||Old Food||New Food|
|Day 1 – 2||25%||75%|
|Day 3 – 4||50%||50%|
|Day 5 – 6||75%||25%|
Once you have completed this process, your Shih Tzu should have adjusted to the new diet completely and fed without any issues.
To check if your Shih Tzu is settling well with the new diet, try checking their stool using a fecal scoring chart.
Lower numbers in this chart mean that your dog may be dehydrated, while higher numbers indicate gastrointestinal upset.
Feeding an Overweight Shih Tzu
Shih Tzus being on the chubby side is not the end of the world. However, if you are concerned that your pup might be nearing obesity, it’s time to evaluate its diet, especially when it comes to portion control and feeding frequency.
You can check if your Shih Tzu’s body weight is above average by examining its abdomen, which is usually tucked in. A lower-hanging belly means that it’s time to consider that your Shih Tzu needs a new diet plan.
First, identify the cause of their weight gain. You might be feeding them more dog foods than recommended or serving poor-quality dog food. Another possible factor is a lack of exercise or physical activity.
Schedule an appointment with your local vet to help you at this stage. This way, you can also find out if the weight gain is caused by underlying health conditions you may not be aware of.
Next, look for more nutritious alternatives and healthy foods to start your Shih Tzu’s new diet.
Vegetables, healthy whole grains, and certain types of legumes are great for their health as long as you avoid those that are toxic to dogs.
Also, steer away from feeding your pup ‘human food’ straight from your plate or the dinner table. These might contain additional fats and calories that are contributing to your Shih Tzu’s unhealthy weight.
More importantly, make sure that your Shih Tzu is getting the appropriate amount of exercise! A healthy dog should have at least twenty minutes of physical activity per day.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Is My Shih Tzu Not Eating?
There are several possible reasons to explain why your Shih Tzu is not eating enough. You might be serving dog food with filler ingredients that are taking a toll on your Shih Tzu’s appetite. To avoid this, switch to healthy dog food.
For toy breed puppies like Shih Tzus, it is also possible that your pet’s food bowl is too high or too big, which prevents them from finishing their meal. Get a smaller, more fittingly-sized bowl.
Do Shih Tzus Eat a Lot?
It is common for a Shih Tzu to be a picky eater, especially if it has a sensitive stomach. Despite this, it is absolutely possible for Shih Tzus to eat a lot.
These breeds will munch all of their food without stopping, which can cause obesity, bloating, and other health issues.
This is why the free-feeding method is only recommended for Shih Tzu puppies under two months old.
Therefore, your Shih Tzu’s food consumption should always follow the recommended serving sizes based on your dog’s weight and maintain a consistent feeding routine.
Can Shih Tzu Eat Bones?
As mentioned before, bones are a great source of calcium and phosphorus for dogs. Shih Tzus can eat raw, edible, or recreational bones. They can also get their nutrients from the occasional lamb meal or chicken meal.
However, you should avoid serving bones that are cooked or store-bought by all means. These are dangerous to your Shih Tzu and might cause various gastrointestinal damages.
For more information on this subject, check out our guide on the best types of bones to feed Shih Tzus.
Can Shih Tzus Be Vegetarians?
Contrary to popular belief, dogs can survive and thrive on a vegetarian diet. Even Shih Tzus, who are usually picky eaters with sensitive stomachs, can adapt to a purely plant-based diet.
As long as their meals are still up to nutritional standards, there is no problem with preparing vegetarian Shih Tzu food. There are plenty of plant products suited for a Shih Tzu.
Knowing how much to feed your Shih Tzu is the first step in establishing good and healthy food habits with your furry friend.
However, this knowledge is only half the battle. You should also acquire high-quality, nutritious meals and know the best times to give your Shih Tzu’s favorite food throughout the day.
All of this might seem like too much work for such a small creature, but it will be worth it at the end of the day when you see your beloved Shih Tzu being happy, healthy, and full of life.
Do you have any great food tips and tricks on how to feed a Shih Tzu? Share them with us by commenting down below!
My name is John Carter and I absolutely love pets, especially cats and dogs. I’ve got a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and have several years’ experience working in animal shelters and rescues. My passion for animals started at a very young age as I grow up on a farm with several horses, cows, cats, chickens, and dogs on our property.