Picking the best dog food for your shih tzu

1 Mar

The first time I walked into a local pet store to find a dog food brand, I saw three aisles of different dog foods from dry food to canned. I didn’t know where to start and what to choose since all the popular dog food brands had mixed reviews and the other brands didn’t have a lot of information about them. What I wanted was dog food that was inexpensive, appetizing, and, most importantly, healthy for my shih tzu.

So I went home and did some research before buying anything and I found that picking out dog food is not as easy as it looks.

When choosing your shih tzu’s dog food, you need to choose a brand that provides him/her with all the necessary nutrients and calories. Each day, Osi runs up and down the stairs at least 10 times and sprints after squirrels in the backyard. Without a good quality brand of food, Osi would probably get tired after chasing the first squirrel.  All active adult shih tzus (weighing around 30 lb) need about 922 calories a day and 25g of crude protein. Shih tzus need about 14g of fat and several vitamins and minerals such as Calcium, Magnesium and Niacin.

Many people only look at the nutritional label before buying the bag of dog food, however, the ingredients are just as important. The first ingredient should always be meat or a type of meat meal. The brand should also identify what kind of meat is in the food. I usually pick beef since my shih tzu loves beef more than any other kind of meat.

Also, avoid meat by-products (liver, kidney, bone) since some dogs have trouble digesting them. After giving my shih tzu Osi liver once, he had really bad gas and stomach pains, forcing me to take him to the vet. I never gave him liver after that.

Grains should be near the middle or end of the ingredient list. Grains are usually used in dog food to save production costs and act more as extra carbs for your shih tzu. According to Dr. David Kronfeld, adult dogs do not need carbohydrates to survive since their liver is able to create their own types of carbohydrates.

Also, make sure to avoid any chemical preservatives such as BHA (Butylated hydroxyanisole, and BHT (Butylated hydroxytoluene). The better choice is natural preservatives such as topherols and citric or ascorbic acid.

After taking the time to research the different ingredients and nutrients to look for in dog food, I ended up going back to the pet store, but this time with Osi. Picking the best four brands and pouring each into a bowl, I let Osi decide which one he wanted. Osi ended up shoving his face in all of them and eating half of each, but I picked the first bowl of food he went for.

Some other helpful tips:

  • Remember to look at the manufactured dates on the bag to guarantee freshness
  • Avoid dog food with many chemicals or ingredients you don’t know about in them
  • Some ingredients your shih tzu may be sensitive to are corn, dairy products, and eggs
  • Pick a brand that has awards or certificates from recognized pet associations

Source 1: Rancho Coastal Humane Society, How Does Diet Affect Behaviour in Dogs?,  http://www.rchumanesociety.org/_files/How_Diet_Affects_Behavior.pdf

Source 2: Lew Olson, Anatomy of a Carnivore, http://www.lhasa-apso.org/articles/general/carnivoreanatomy.html

Source 3: National Research Council of the National Academies, Your Dog’s Nutritional Needs, http://dels-old.nas.edu/dels/rpt_briefs/dog_nutrition_final.pdf

Source 4: Pet food Association of Canada, Learn More about Pet Food, http://www.pfac.com/learn/importance/index.html

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