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How Much Should a Shih Tzu Eat? What You Need to Know!

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Hungry Shih Tzu puppy holding an empty bowl

The Shih Tzu is a small dog breed, weighing between 9 and 16 pounds and standing at 8 to 11 inches. Bred to spend most of their days in palaces, Shih Tzus are still popular for apartments and small homes.

Because Shih Tzus are prone to obesity, which can exacerbate existing health problems, such as hip dysplasia and slipped kneecaps, it’s important to feed them appropriately. Find out everything you need to know about how to feed your Shih Tzu1.Divider 5

How Much Should a Shih Tzu Eat Each Day?

Shih Tzus, like all dog breeds, need different food for each life stage. Puppies and pregnant or lactating females should have a high-quality puppy food, but adults do well on an adult maintenance formula.

The general guideline for feeding dogs goes by body weight. For a small breed like a Shih Tzu, adults should have ¾ of a cup for 10 pounds and 1 cup for 15 pounds. This should be fed in two or three separate meals without exceeding the daily total.

Puppies may require two or three times this amount until they reach adulthood. Puppies will need to eat three or more times a day to keep up with their energy needs.

Always check the feeding recommendations on your dog food’s label and speak with your vet about your dog’s nutrition.

Shih tzu dog getting food from owner at kitchen.
Image Credit: chaoss, Shutterstock

Adjusting Your Dog’s Food

The guidelines are a good start to ensure you’re feeding your dog enough food, but you may need to adjust based on several factors:

  • Lifestyle: Inactive dogs may need less food than the label recommends, while active dogs may need more.
  • Number of meals: As mentioned, your dog’s daily total intake should be divided among two meals. Make sure you’re not feeding the whole amount both times, which can lead to weight gain.
  • Metabolic rate: Like humans, dogs have different metabolic rates. Even if you’re following the guidelines, if your dog is either under- or overweight, you may need to adjust their food.
  • Exercise: Dogs that get a lot of exercise will likely need more food to support their energy needs.
  • Age: Your dog may need less food as it ages and becomes less active.
  • Body condition: Your dog’s body condition score (BCS) is an indicator of its body condition, which is often more reliable than weight. Shih Tzus that are a healthy weight have an hourglass shape with a defined waist and an abdominal tuck, with ribs that you can feel but not see. Your vet can help you determine your dog’s BCS.
  • Food types: Not all food is the same. If you switch food types or brands, you have to reevaluate the amount of food you feed, as different formulas have different calories.
owner giving a treat to shih tzu dog
Image Credit: Hulabear, Shutterstock

The best way to track your dog’s weight change is with a diary. You can weigh your dog every two or three weeks, recording the results. Small fluctuations are normal, but you should see a general trend toward gaining, losing, or maintaining.

Remember, a few pounds for a human may not be a big deal, but that can be a lot for a dog—especially a small dog. A 10-pound dog gaining a pound would be like a human gaining about 15 or 20 pounds.

If your dog is gaining or losing weight and that’s not the goal, adjust your dog’s intake and speak with your veterinarian to ensure there aren’t any underlying conditions.

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Armed with your dog food label and knowledge of your dog’s lifestyle and eating habits, you have general guidelines to ensure you’re feeding your Shih Tzu appropriately. If you have doubts, your vet is your best resource to assess your dog’s health or diet needs.

See Also:

Featured Image Credit: Rasulov, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

Authored by

Nicole is a lover of animals of all sizes but is especially fascinated with the feline variety. She’s the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese, and works every day so he can relax in the sunshine or by the fire. She’s always had a cat in her home and has spent countless days with others, observing behaviors and softening up even the grouchiest of the lot. Nicole wants to share her kitty expertise with you so you and your cat ...Read more

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