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Best Dog Foods For Shih Tzus: Puppies, Adults & Seniors

Emma Braby

Last Updated: March 23, 2020 | 15 min read

Best Dog Food for Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is a popular family pet who, in 2020, finds himself in the top family dog breeds in America. And while nutrition is one of the most important, and easiest, ways to keep your Shih Tzu healthy, most dog owners do not know about their pooch’s nutritional needs. Finding the best food for your Shih Tzu isn’t difficult when equipped with the right data, which we provide as we get in-depth below.

Here we will talk you through the Shih Tzu’s nutritional needs in every stage of his life, as well as those times where he becomes a little too porky for his tiny frame. The in-depth and comprehensive guide will recommend the best kibbles around, walk through why we like each brand.

Our recommendations are made from natural premium ingredients that are the very best for your Shih Tzu, as well as being made by the well-known brands. Each brand is also compliant with the Association of American Feed Control Officials, who have set quality compliance for all dog foods. So, whether your Shih Tzu needs a change in diet, or you are about to welcome one of these little guys into your home and need to get the nutritional low down, stick with us as we have got you, and your Shih Tzu, covered!

At a Glance: Our Favorite Foods for Shih Tzus

Puppies: Royal Canin Shih Tzu Puppy Formula
Adults: Royal Canin Shih Tzu Adult Formula
Seniors: Purina Pro Bright Minds Senior Formula
Weight Management: Science Diet Weight Management

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Shih Tzu Puppy Nutrient Needs

Although Shih Tzus are small, they are even smaller as puppies, so they still need a lot of energy to help them reach their ideal weight of 9 to 16 pounds. For this reason, it is crucial to choose a puppy formula that is designed specifically for toy breeds, as they will have the optimum amount of protein, energy, calcium, and other vitamins and minerals. Additionally, this also ensures that the kibble pieces will fit into his mouth, as standard kibble pieces are often too big.

It is important to stick to the food that the breeder has used up to the age of three months, because a change in diet can lead to an upset stomach, which in turn leads to him not wanting to eat. The Shih Tzu is known to suffer with hypoglycemia, and as such not eating at all could be very dangerous. Shih Tzu puppies should also be free fed, again, because their blood sugar levels are known to drop quickly. 

Ideally, a protein content of at least 22% is desirable, which helps his muscles to develop correctly and maintain their mass. The Shih Tzu is also known to suffer with sensitive digestive system, so be sure to monitor his general eating patterns and signs of a sensitive stomach, and consult your Veterinarian if you suspect there is something wrong.

Adult Shih Tzu Nutrient Needs

Once your Shih Tzu has reached the grand old age of 12 months, you should look to switch him to adult formula. Again, you should feed your Shih Tzu adult formula designed for small breeds as this will contain the nutrients he needs, and be sure to avoid all life stage formulas.

You do not have to stick to the same brand of kibble, however, if you do switch kibbles then be sure to gradually transition him so to not upset his stomach. You should not free feed the adult Shih Tzu as his body will be better able to regulate his blood sugar levels by now, and this will increase the chances of obesity, so feed his daily allowance across 3 to 4 meals a day. Just as a puppy, the protein content should be at least 22% and be sure to follow the package instructions according to your Shih Tzu’s weight.

Senior Shih Tzu Nutrient Needs

The senior Shih Tzu’s nutritional needs, just like senior humans, change over time, and as such they should be fed less colorific kibble that has specific aging nutrients such as glucosamine, chondroitin and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids that all aid his aging joints and body. Feeding him anything other than senior food will mean that he does not receive the goodness that he needs, and as such he will age much quicker.

Whilst the protein content can remain the same, the fat content and calorie count per cup needs to be much less, otherwise he will pile on the pounds which will further weaken his joints. Superfoods, vitamins and nutrients are also important to strengthen his aging immune system and keep him fighting fit.

A Shih Tzu will be considered to be a senior at around the age of 8, but this can vary between pooches, so be sure to speak to your Veterinarian if you have any questions about when to switch his kibble. Just like the adult Shih Tzu, the senior pooch should be fed 3 to 4 meals a day.


Best Food for Shih Tzu Puppies

Shih Tzu Puppy Food
Shih Tzu’s require a higher calorie count per serving of food as puppies to help them grow.

Whilst there are lots of puppy foods to choose from, there is a limited choice when it comes to puppy formula specifically designed for smaller breeds, but below are a selection of natural kibbles that are all high quality and highly rated by other small breed owners just like yourself.

Because puppies have different nutritional needs than adults or seniors,  you’ll need to ensure that you are looking at foods that are not only smaller in size, but foods that are more nutrient-dense.  These foods will have different nutritional values that help meet the needs of your growing Shih Tzu puppy.

 
Royal Canin
Blue Buffalo
Wellness Puppy
Diamond Naturals
Canidae Puppy
Protein
26%
30%
24%
28%
32%
Fats
16%
18%
19%
22%
13.5%
Fiber
3.6%
5%
4.25%
3.5%
4%
Moisture
10%
10%
10%
10%
10%
Kcal/Cup
354
434
489
419
525

Royal Canin Shih Tzu Puppy

Royal Canin Shih Tzu Puppy Breed Specific Dry...
  • Royal Canin Shih Tzu Puppy dry dog food is designed to meet the...
  • Exclusive kibble shape designed specifically for a Shih Tzu’s...
  • Helps protect a puppy’s developing immune system and natural...
  • Supports skin health and maintains a Shih Tzu’s growing, long...

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This formula has been designed with the Shih Tzu puppy in mind, so you cannot get much more tailored than this recipe! It is designed for puppies aged 8 weeks until 10 months and has a unique kibble shape that has been designed for the Shih Tzu’s short muzzle and underbite, so he can pick up the pieces with ease.

There is a balanced blend of vitamins and minerals to help his immune system strengthen as well as nutrients to aid a healthy coat and silky locks. This recipe contains prebiotics for healthy gut and stools, which helps to achieve better gut health.

We love that this recipe has the least amount of calories per cup, which makes it the best option for those calmer Shih Tzus, or the ones who are partial to lazing in his master’s lap.


Blue Buffalo Small Breed Puppy

Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Natural Puppy...
  • STARTS WITH REAL CHICKEN: A recipe with real chicken as the first...
  • GRAIN FREE PUPPY FOOD: BLUE Freedom grain free puppy food for...
  • WITH LIFESOURCE BITS: This formula contains BLUE’s exclusive...
  • NATURAL DOG FOOD: BLUE dry dog food is formulated for the health...

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Deboned Chicken and Chicken meal are the first two ingredients in this recipe, which is perfect for the Shih Tzu’s protein needs and growing power, as well as being super tasty. Fish oil and Chicken fat promote a healthy coat, as well as additional Flaxseed.

It contains Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) and Arachidonic Acid (ARA) which is an important ingredient that is found in mothers’ milk, and it is a crucial ingredient for eye and brain development. This recipe also has tasty LifeSource Bits which are made of a precise blend of all the vitamins and minerals that he needs during his puppy stage.

We love that this recipe is grain free for those Shih Tzus with sensitive stomachs or grain intolerances, and it also has the highest fiber content too which is great for his gut health.


Wellness Small Breed Puppy

Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Small...
  • ENJOY A LIFETIME OF WELLBEING: High quality proteins and...
  • SUPPORTS HEALTHY GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT: Guaranteed levels of DHA...
  • WHOLE BODY HEALTH: Supported by omega fatty acids, antioxidants,...
  • FIND THE RIGHT FOOD: Wellness offers a full range of foods to...

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The fish ingredients provide high levels of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids which are great for his bone growth and coat health. It has vitamin A and E which are also important for his immune system development.

This recipe has the second highest fiber content, with chicory root extract, pea fiber and carrots that aid healthy stools, as well as prebiotics and probiotics, which aid a healthy gut flora for his sensitive stomach.

We love that this recipe concentrates on his overall wellness, so you can be sure that there is nothing missing from this ingredient list.


Diamond Naturals Small Breed

Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy Real...
  • HIGH quality PROTEIN made with real CAGE FREE chicken, tailored...
  • High protein ingredients with added vitamins & minerals; fruits...
  • A smaller kibble, nutrient rich & HIGHLY DIGESTIBLE with...
  • FAMILY OWNED & run, MADE in the USA choosing ingredients from...

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Every pound of this kibble has 80 million active probiotic cultures, so you can be sure that his gut health is in safe hands with this recipe, and they also help to develop his young immune system and keep him feeling active to improve overall wellness.

It is also full of superfoods such as quinoa, pumpkin, kale and coconut which provide him with all the vitamins and minerals that he needs to grow into a healthy adult Shih Tzu. Salmon oil and Fish meal also provide him with his DHA and Omega 3 and 6 fatty acid requirements.

We love that this recipe has the highest protein content with Chicken and Chicken meal, which is great for those energetic Shih Tzus, or those picky eaters that love meaty goodness.


Canidae Puppy Formula

Canidae Pure Petite Raw Coated Puppy Salmon...
  • Limited ingredient diet using 8 easily recognizable key...
  • Small kibble size ideal for finicky small breed dogs
  • Grain Free; never any wheat, corn, or soy
  • Omega 6 & 3 fatty acids to boost beautiful skin & coat

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This recipe is made with fish protein only, so it is the best option for those fussier Shih Tzus who do not like, or are allergic to, the most common protein source, poultry. Fresh Salmon, Salmon meal and freeze-dried raw Salmon not only provide him with all of his brain development and bone health requirements, but it is also super tasty for him.

Probiotics are also added to every kibble piece to ensure that his sensitive stomach is cared for, as well as lentils and peas to supply him with his fiber needs.

We love that this simple recipe is made with only 8 ingredients, so you can be sure that it is full of everything that he needs and nothing that he doesn’t, which is great for sensitive dogs.


Best Food for Adult Shih Tzus

Shih Tzu Adult Eating Food
Shih Tzu adults have different nutritional requirements from puppies and seniors.

Adult Shih Tzus will start to have different developmental and nutritional needs when they reach about 1 year of age.  This is around the time they should transition to adult food, which should be done slowly over time.  They shouldn’t be switched quickly as to avoid upsetting their stomach and possibly turning them off of the new food that’s a better fit for their nutritional requirements.

While there are a lot more choices for small breed adults, there are also many poor quality kibbles that claim to be the best, so here we have sifted through multiple brands and types to find our favorite high quality kibbles perfect for your adult Shih Tzu.

 
Royal Canin
Blue Buffalo
Instinct Adult
Wellness Adult
Nutro Adult
Protein
22%
26%
33.5%
28%
26%
Fats
18%
15%
21.5%
16%
15%
Fiber
4.7%
5%
5%
4%
4%
Moisture
10%
10%
9%
10%
10%
Kcal/Cup
355
380
469
408
348

Royal Canin Adult Shih Tzu

Royal Canin Shih Tzu Adult Breed Specific Dry...
  • Royal Canin Shih Tzu Adult dry dog food is designed to meet the...
  • Exclusive kibble shape designed specifically for a Shih Tzu’s...
  • Supports skin health with an exclusive complex of nutrients...
  • Maintains a Shih Tzu’s soft, long coat with a combination of...

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This recipe is perfectly blended with the Shih Tzu’s nutritional needs in mind, and the uniquely shaped kibble pieces help to ensure that mealtime is easy for him. Royal Canin have studied the Shih Tzu to determine exactly what he needs, such as his sensitive gut and coat requirements, and ensured that it is included in this recipe.

It also supports his long luscious locks and healthy supple skin with Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids such as Chicken fat and Fish oil, and biotin. This recipe also helps to maintain his gut health and firm stools with highly digestible ingredients and precise fiber content such as oat groats and beet pulp.  Royal Canin is one of our favorite food brands for the Yorkshire Terriers as well, which is another small breed pup.

We love that recipe is designed with the adult Shih Tzu in mind, so you can rest assured that this tailored recipe caters for all his adult needs.


Blue Buffalo Small Breed Adult

Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Recipe for...
  • STARTS WITH REAL CHICKEN: A recipe that starts with real chicken...
  • GRAIN FREE SMALL BREED DOG FOOD: BLUE Freedom grain free dog food...
  • WITH LIFESOURCE BITS: This formula contains BLUE’s exclusive...
  • NATURAL DOG FOOD: BLUE dry food is formulated for the health and...

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Deboned Chicken and Chicken meal are the first two ingredients, which is important for his protein requirements and energy. Flaxseed and animals fats nourish his coat from the inside out, and the listed cranberries are not only yummy and nutritious, but they also aid a healthy urinary tract. Blue Buffalo is one of our favorite food brands for larger breeds like the Mastiff as well.

The adult version of this recipe also includes the LifeSource Bits, which ensures that his adult nutritional needs are met with a different blend of vitamins and minerals to ensure that he maintains a healthy oxidative balance.

We love that recipe is grain free which is perfect for those small breeds with sensitive stomachs, especially if this is what he was fed as a puppy.


Instinct Raw Small Breed Formula

Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed Grain Free...
  • SMALL BREED GRAIN FREE DOG FOOD WITH FREEZE DRIED RAW USA RAISED...
  • SMALL BREED DOG FOOD PLUS FREEZE DRIED RAW PIECES: Made with...
  • THE FIRST RAW BOOSTED SMALL BREED KIBBLE: Raw Boost mixes...
  • POWER OF RAW INGREDIENTS: Our dog food is made with the pure,...

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This premium recipe is made with freeze-dried raw pieces, which not only retain more nutritional value, but they are also delicious. This recipe also lists Herring meal, Turkey meal, and Lamb meal as well as Beef heart, liver, spleen and kidney, so whilst that might not sound appetizing to you, your Shih Tzu will love it!

This recipe is also grain free, which makes it another great option for those Shih Tzus with sensitive stomachs, and it is full of antioxidants with peas, apples and cranberries.

We love that this recipe has the highest protein content with the first ingredient being real Beef, which is great for those super active and boisterous Shih Tzus, as well as having freeze dried raw toppers as an extra.


Wellness Small Breed Adult

Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Small...
  • Enjoy a lifetime of wellbeing: High quality proteins and...
  • Optimal energy and healthy immune systems: Antioxidant rich...
  • Whole body health: Supported by omega fatty acids, antioxidants,...
  • Find the right food: Wellness offers a full range of foods to...

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Following on from the puppy recipe, this recipe compliments his adult life stage. Full of Turkey and Salmon, this recipe provides him with energy and protein for his overall health. These protein sources also ensure that the uniquely shaped kibble pieces are full of taste too, which will keep him interested.

Vitamin A and C contribute towards healthy teeth and gums which is important for all small breeds, as well as pre and probiotics to keep his digestive tract in top condition.

We love that this recipe focuses on his five most important areas: skin and coat, digestive health, energy, eyes and teeth, and immunity, so it has a little bit of everything!


Nutro Ultra Adult Small Breed

NUTRO ULTRA Adult Small Breed High Protein...
  • Contains One (1) 15 Lb. Bag Of Nutro Ultra Small Breed Adult Dry...
  • Features Trio Of Protein From Chicken, Lamb, And Salmon—Chicken...
  • Our Premium Dog Food Kibble Is Made With High-Quality Ingredients...
  • Nutro Ultra Dry Dog Food Is Made With High-Quality Protein And...

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Chicken, Lamb, Salmon and Egg products provide the Shih Tzu with his protein needs and much needed energy, as well as all the Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids he needs for a shiny looking coat.

With 15 superfoods included in every bite you can be sure that he is getting all the nutrients he needs to stay a healthy adult and prepare him for his later life stages. Dried beet pulp, spinach and kale provide him with all the fiber he needs for a healthy gut.

We love that this kibble is packed with superfoods which is important for strong immune systems and general overall health.


Best Food for Senior Shih Tzus

Senior Food For Shih Tzus
Senior Shih Tzus need to be moderated when it comes to food intake so they don’t get overweight.

There is no doubt that the right nutrition will keep any pooch healthier, and therefore alive longer, sometimes significantly, so be sure to give your Shih Tzu the best senior food around.  As they age, these pups need to dial back their caloric intake to ensure they don’t put on unnecessary weight, so finding the right food is crucial.

There are a few great brands that make excellent formulas for small breed senior pups.  Below are our favorite high-quality kibbles that cover your senior’s nutritional needs, and as always, they are highly rated and tried and tested.

 
Science Diet
Blue Buffalo
Purina Pro
Wellness Core
Nutro Ultra
Protein
21.7%
23%
29%
25%
27%
Fats
15%
13%
16%
12%
13%
Fiber
2.3%
6%
3%
5%
4%
Moisture
10%
10%
12%
10%
10%
Kcal/Cup
371
371
487
435
311

Science Diet Small Paws Senior

Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Adult 11+...
  • Supports an older little dog's joints and mobility using omega-3s...
  • Provides your small-breed dog with balanced minerals that support...
  • Maintain your senior dog's healthy skin and shiny coat with...
  • Our special antioxidant blend supports your mature dog's immune...

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Lifelong health starts with science, and this recipe is made and recommended by scientists and dog nutritionists, so you know that it has got to be seriously good. Designed with older smaller breeds in mind, it supports his aging bones and joints with fish oil to keep him feeling young.

It also provides him with omega 6 fatty acids and vitamin E to support his skin and coat, which needs extra nourishment in his older age. The ingredients list a precise blend of nutrients and minerals for his cardiac health too.

We love that this recipe is designed for seniors aged 11+, so this kibble is great for the senior seniors.


Blue Buffalo Senior

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small...
  • REAL MEAT FIRST: Blue Buffalo foods always feature real meat as...
  • FOR SMALL BREED SENIOR DOGS: BLUE Life Protection Formula Small...
  • WITH LIFESOURCE BITS: This formula contains BLUE’s exclusive...
  • A NATURAL DOG FOOD: Formulated for the health and well-being of...

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Blue Buffalo offer senior life protection with deboned Chicken and L-carnitine which helps to keep his muscles lean and strong with high-quality protein sources. Glucosamine and chondroitin also feature in this recipe which is fantastic for his joints and mobility.

This recipe also provides him with wholesome grains, vegetables and fruit, as well as their LifeSource Bits that contain a precise blend of senior nutrients to keep him as healthy as possible. He will feel stronger and healthier with this kibble for sure.

We love that this recipe has the highest level of fiber, which makes it a great option for those Shih Tzus with a sensitive gut who need a high fiber diet.


Purina Pro Plan Senior

Purina Pro Plan Small Breed Senior Dry Dog...
  • One (1) 5 lb. Bag - Purina Pro Plan Cognitive Health Small Breed...
  • Chicken is the first ingredient
  • Bite-sized kibble makes chewing easier for small dogs
  • EPA, an omega-3 fatty acid, and glucosamine help to support his...

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Not only does this recipe promote strong bones, joints, teeth and gums, it also heightens his slowing brain function with botanical oils such as arginine, DHA and B vitamins. It is said to promote alertness and mental sharpness within 30 days, so if he is looking a bit slower than normal why not try him on this recipe.

Real chicken and Fish meal provide him with the energy he needs to play and get up and about with healthier joints, and biotin and Fish oils keep his long coat looking vibrant.

We love that this has the highest protein content and calorie count, so if your Shih Tzu is just as active as he was as an adult, then this recipe will be sure to keep his energy levels up.


Wellness Complete Senior

Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Small...
  • ENJOY A LIFETIME OF WELLBEING: High quality proteins and...
  • OPTIMAL ENERGY AND HEALTHY IMMUNE SYSTEMS: Antioxidant rich...
  • WHOLE BODY HEALTH: Supported by omega fatty acids, antioxidants,...
  • FIND THE RIGHT FOOD: Wellness offers a full range of foods to...

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This recipe is made with smaller kibble pieces with added glucosamine and chondroitin for his aging joints and hips. It is also made with select healthy fats and carbohydrates which means that he is better able to maintain his weight, which is why this recipe has the lowest fat content.

Natural fiber such as peas, spinach and probiotics ensure that his gut remains healthy and as flatulence free as possible. Not only this, but it also keeps him feeling fuller for longer, so you’ll find him begging for food less.

We love that this recipe completes the set of Wellness Complete recommended through all of your Shih Tzu’s life stages, and as always, it concentrates on his overall senior health.


Nutro Ultra Senior

DISCONTINUED BY MANUFACTURER:NUTRO ULTRA...
  • DISCONTINUED BY MANUFACTURER, Recommended Replacement Item:NUTRO...

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This premium recipe is made with Chicken, Salmon and Lamb which ensures that he receives the best quality protein, whilst also being lean to ensure that he doesn’t consume too much unnecessary fat. Animals oils, fat and flaxseed keep his coat long and silky.

This healthy recipe is full of naturally selected fibers that help to maintain his gut health and gut flora, and helps to maintain a healthy oxidative state that ensures that he feels his best no matter how old he gets.

We love that this recipe has the lowest calorie count for those sedentary seniors, and it also fills his bowl full of superfoods which is very important for the senior pooch and his weakening immune system.


Food for Overweight Shih Tzus

Foods for Overweight Shih Tzus
As Shih Tzus become overweight, you’ll need to dial back caloric intake.

There comes a point in most people’s lives when they become a bit overweight, and our beloved pooches are no different.  While this typically happens in older dogs, it can happen in adult Shih Tzus as well if you free feed and don’t watch their food intake to balance it with exercise.  Shih Tzus love to eat, and this can result in them putting on extra pounds.

If this is currently the point your Shih Tzu is at, fear not, for the following weight management kibbles are perfectly suited to the smaller Shih Tzu, just be sure to increase his activity levels and monitor his treats in order to achieve his weight loss or management.


Science Diet Perfect Weight

Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Adult,...
  • Small breed dog food clinically proven for weight management
  • Over 70 % of dogs lost weight within 10 weeks
  • Give your little dog long lasting weight support
  • This adult pet food helps your tiny dog maintain lean muscle

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This specialty diet is based on science, and again, it is designed and recommended by Veterinarians and dog nutritionists alike. Over 70% of overweight dogs lost weight within 10 weeks when fed this reduced calorie diet. The kibble pieces are designed for small and mini pooches, so your Shih Tzu will no doubt lose weight with this kibble and the right activity levels.

We love Hill’s Science Diet for many breeds, and many different categories.  But they really excel here making a weight management food that’s specifically designed for small breeds like the Shih Tzu.  It’s highly rated, and is everything your overweight Shih Tzu will need.


Halo Grain Free Healthy Weight

Halo Grain Free Natural Dry Dog Food, Small...
  • COMPARE: WHOLE wild salmon and whitefish, never rendered "meal"...
  • Super digestibility, providing more bioavailable nutrients to...
  • Grain free small breed dog food made with WHOLE wild salmon and...
  • Healthy weight recipe has reduced calories and fat, plus...

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This grain free recipe is the best option for those porkier Shih Tzus who need to lose or manage their weight, but who are also grain intolerant or have sensitive stomachs. Reduced calories and L-carnitine help to boost his metabolism, and whole Salmon and Whitefish provide him with the protein that he needs. This recipe is super digestible with plenty of fibrous ingredients, and Halo claim that the proof will be in your Shih Tzu’s healthy poop.

We love the Halo Grain free healthy weight formula, because it’s specifically targeted at smaller breeds.  It’s also great that it caters to pups that may have sensitive stomachs, which is an added benefit.


Final Thoughts

When it comes to your beloved Shih Tzu, you should only feed him the very best kibble around, and hopefully, after reading this guide you are now equipped with everything you need to know about his nutritional needs.

Every life stage is just as important as the other, but each stage has its own set of unique needs. During his puppy stage, he needs the perfect blend of protein and energy for his growing power, as well as all the nutrients he needs to develop a strong immune system and strong bones. His adult stage requires lean protein to maintain muscle mass and keep him feeling energized, and his senior stage will require less energy to ensure that he does not become too fat, and extra glucosamine and superfoods for his weakening joints and immune system.

By sticking to our recommended high-quality dry dog foods you can be sure that each one of his unique nutritional needs are met, and you will have one of the healthiest and happiest Shih Tzus on the block.

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