Every living thing needs protein
Every living thing needs protein,fats,carbohydrates,vitamins,minerals,and water to live, but the quantities of each nutrient vary with the amount of physical or mental stress placed on it. Thus,young puppies need relatively more nutrients than adults do; moderately active adults need more nutrients than sedentary ones; and malnourished or sick Shih-Tzu need more nutrients to regain health.
Dog foods in addition to protein, fats and carbohydrates also must contain vitamin and mineral supplements in balanced concentrations. Too much of one mineral may interfere with absorption of another; too little of a mineral may interfere with vitamin use or other mineral use. Major dog food companies make every effort to provide balanced proportions of vitamins and minerals for maximum benefit to the dog.
Shih-Tzu will do well on any one of several dry dog foods, depending on his level of activity, his metabolism, and his individual body chemistry. Because of the requirements of a healthy coat many owners find that Shih-Tzu do best on a diet that is high in protein and fat content. If your Shih-Tzu is doing well on the food you are feeding do not switch. If you have skin problems that cannot be traced to an obvious cause such as fleas, consider a food with a higher fat content or one of the hypoallergenic foods.
No matter the ingredients in a dog food, most important is to supply nutrients in a form the dog can use to translate into growth, energy, and body repair. Nutrients are chemicals ingested by living organisms that are necessary for survival. The six basic nutrients needed by living things are protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water. Fats, carbohydrates, and water are made of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen molecules in different configurations; proteins include these elements and nitrogen. Minerals are themselves elements; vitamins are complex chemicals of different composition necessary for various life processes.
Proteins are chemicals made up of other chemicals known as amino acids. Dogs can manufacture some amino acids in their bodies and must be supplied others in their food. Proteins from animal sources -- meat and meat byproducts -- are more complete and easier to extract and digest than proteins from plant sources. Proteins form the enzymes that metabolize food into energy as well as the hormones that guide various body functions. They themselves can also be metabolized to provide energy. High protein feeds are recommended for puppies and working dogs, but too much protein can cause renal (kidney) disease and has been implicated in some temperament problems.
Fats are probably the most misunderstood of the nutrients, for they are popularly considered the cause of obesity. It's true that a food high in fat will cause obesity in a dog that has a low expenditure of energy, for fats are higher in calorie than either protein or carbohydrates. However, fats are essential for good health, particularly of the skin. Today's homes are well-heated and have dry air that can exacerbate dry skin conditions; the addition of Omega fatty acids to dog diets either in the formula or as a supplement, can help keep skin pliable and healthy. Fats increase the palatability of food, provide a media for fat-soluble vitamins, and affect food storage. They also are essential for healthy coat and skin, reproductive efficiency, and kidney function.
Carbohydrates should make up about 50 percent of a balanced food for dogs. The source of carbohydrates is an important consideration; corn is the most popular choice, with soybeans a close second. Other sources include rice and wheat. As long as the carbohydrate source is clean and of good nutritional quality, that is, it does not consist of floor sweepings or come from a poor quality harvest, it probably does not matter. Some dogs may be allergic to one or more of these sources, and some dogs may experience bloating or flatulence on soybean formulas, but most dogs do well on most sources of carbohydrate.
Vitamins and minerals are necessary for proper absorption of fats and carbohydrates and for the chemical reactions in the body. Not only do organisms need these nutrients, but also they need them in proper amounts and ratios for optimum health. For example, unless calcium and phosphorus are in balance, neither will be properly absorbed or utilized, which can lead to bone or muscle problems. Some dogs may need vitamin or mineral supplements at some time during their lives. Some breeders give extra Vitamin C to dogs recovering from injury and boost bitches with Vitamins C and E during pregnancy. However, dogs manufacture their own Vitamin C, so this may be redundant. Dogs with dry skin may benefit from daily doses of Vitamin E, and dogs under stress or bothered by fleas or biting flies may improve if given Vitamin B complex. The operative word is "may"; brewer's yeast, that oft-touted, but essentially effective treatment for flea problems is high in B-complex vitamins.
Vitamins are divided into fat-soluble and water-soluble types. Water-soluble vitamins are excreted from the body if they are not used; fat-soluble vitamins are stored in fatty tissue.
Water-soluble vitamins are the B complex, including thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, niacin, pyridoxine, biotin, folic acid, choline, and B12, and C, ascorbic acid. B-vitamins help convert food to energy; C can be manufactured by the dog and supplementation is not necessary. However, some breeders insist that Vitamin C is helpful for dogs that are under stress.
Fat-soluble vitamins are A, D, E, and K. They are involved in several body functions, including eyesight, bone formation and strength (with calcium), cell stability, and blood coagulation. Vitamin K can be synthesized by bacteria in the dog's intestine and does not need to be added to the diet under ordinary circumstances. Deficiencies of Vitamin E can cause muscle tissue breakdown, reproductive failure, and impairment of immune response. Vitamin A deficiency can cause several eye problems, including dryness, corneal ulceration, and inflammation of the conjunctiva. Vitamin D deficiency causes rickets.
Fat-soluble vitamins can build up in tissues and become toxic. Excess Vitamin A can lead to bone disease; too much Vitamin D can cause calcification of soft tissue, lungs, and kidneys. Evidence of toxicity in Vitamin E overdose is sketchy; there may be some adverse effects on blood coagulation or thyroid function, but more study is needed to ascertain the extent of such effect.
Minerals are essential for bone formation, muscle metabolism, fluid balance, and nervous system function. Minerals are divided into major and trace concentrations. Calcium and phosphorus are necessary in particular ratio for bone formation and strength. An imbalance in the ratio will cause bone problems. Potassium is found within tissue cells and is important in cellular activity; a deficiency causes muscle weakness and heart and kidney lesions. Sodium is found in fluids outside the tissue cells and performs a function similar to potassium. It is usually found in the diet as sodium chloride -- salt -- and is rarely deficient. Excess sodium has been linked to hypertension in dogs. Magnesium is found in soft tissue and bone; it interacts with calcium to provide proper heart, muscle, and nervous tissue function and aids in metabolism of potassium and sodium. Deficiency leads to muscle weakness and sometimes convulsions.
Trace elements are iron, copper, manganese, zinc, iodine, selenium, and cobalt. Although dietary requirements are minimal, they are essential to general good health. Iron is critical for healthy red blood cells and an essential component of some enzymes. Iron from animal sources appears to be more readily absorbed than that from vegetable sources. There is some evidence that feeds high in soy products could interfere with iron absorption, leading to a recommendation that soy-based foods be supplemented with a higher than normally required iron supplement. Zinc is heavily involved in skin and coat health, enzyme function, and protein synthesis. Deficiencies lead to poor growth, anorexia, testicular atrophy, and skin lesions. Copper is necessary in production of melanin, the pigment that colors coat and skin, and is linked with iron metabolism. Deficiencies can cause a bone disorder and anemia even if iron intake is normal.
Preservatives are necessary in foods that contain animal fats to prevent rancidity. The fats are used in dry kibble for palatability, a source of fatty acids, and a carrier for fat-soluble vitamins can cause dog food to become toxic if they break down. Dog food manufacturers use several chemicals called antioxidants to prevent that breakdown, including BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, and Vitamins C and E.
Vitamins are used in all natural and organic foods. They are more expensive than other chemicals and not as efficient at the job. Foods preserved with vitamins have a shorter shelf life than food preserved with BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin.
Which Dog Food To Choose
If a dog food is balanced and provides the proper amount of essential nutrients which of the dozens of brands and hundreds of formulas should be chosen to feed to your Shih-Tzu ?
The food must contain nutrients in usable form. Proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals are no good if they can not be absorbed. Here is where the difference between cheap foods and more expensive formulas is greatest. The higher-priced diets are more likely to have balanced and usable nutrients.
It must be palatable to the dog. If your Shih-Tzu does not like it, it does not matter how well balanced it is.
Your Shih-Tzu must remain healthy while eating the food. If his skin is dry, he is losing or gaining weight, has stomach gas or flatulence, consider changing his diet.
Although allergies in dogs seem to be on the increase, few dogs are actually allergic to their food. Lamb and rice feeds were formulated a few years ago as diets for dogs allergic to poultry, beef, or corn, but there is little evidence that the itchy skin and malabsorption problems experienced by many dogs could actually be traced to food allergies.
Major dog food manufacturers make every effort to provide a balanced diet of proper nutrients in usable form, but in the end the choice of a dog food is personal, preferably done as a result of careful consideration.
Shih-Tzu because of the requirements of growing beautiful coats seem to do best on a diet of foods that are high in protein and fat content.
Types of Dog Food
Dry food or kibbles are made from dough of grain flours, meat meals, dairy products, and vitamins and minerals baked in large pans and broken after cooking. Many kibbled foods are prepared in a mixing pressure cooker and the resulting dough is extruded through a die and expanded with steam and air into small, porous nuggets. These nuggets are coated with a liquid fat, carbohydrate, or milk product for added calories and palatability. These feeds must be at least 40 percent carbohydrates in order for the process to work and must be packaged in bags with a grease barrier of impermeable material such as plastic-coated paper.
Semi-most foods are cooked combinations of soybean meal, sugar, fresh meat or meat by-products, animal fat, preservatives, and humectants (wetting agents that allow the product to stay moist but not spoil). The dough is extruded into a variety of shapes to resemble ground meat or chunks of meat to appeal to the buyer; the dog does not care. The coloring in semi-moist foods can turn the dog's stool reddish.
Canned foods come in four types: ration, all animal tissue, chunk-style, and stew. The ration foods are ground and cooked into a liquid, then canned. The animal-tissue foods are not liquefied before canning and may include chunks of identifiable by-products such as arteries. Chunk-style foods are ground and shaped into chunks to disguise the by-products, then covered with gravy before the can is sealed. Stews are designed to please the owner. In each of these types, the filled cans are sterilized.
Frozen dog food is available in limited distribution. This is a meat-based food with no preservatives, made with fresh meat. It generally contains a sweetener such as cane molasses that adds to the caloric content. It must be kept frozen until ready to use and the unused portion must be kept refrigerated.
Many nutritionists and veterinarians feel that a dog being fed a balanced diet that meets its requirement for nutrients does not need any supplements of vitamins or minerals. Some go so far as to say that supplements can unbalance the diet by disrupting the necessary relationship between vitamins and minerals. Some breeders disagree and regularly supplement their dogs with one of a variety of products promoted for healthy coats and skin, bone growth, reproductive capacity, etc.
Some owners who have dogs with dry skin may add a teaspoon or tablespoon of corn oil to their pet's dinner, but many nutritionists think that this adds only calories and that a food higher in essential fatty acids will take care of the skin. Some owners purchase essential fatty acids in a bottle and add that to the food.
Some owners think growing puppies need extra calcium and add it in the form of bone meal. But this can do more harm than good, for calcium must be in balance with phosphorus and magnesium in the diet, and an overabundance of calcium can cause a myriad of problems.
Most shih-tzu will do well when fed good quality dry dog food; occasionally add some canned or frozen food, some meat broth (no salt added), or a bit of liver for a treat; and avoid supplements unless recommended by a veterinarian.
Those owners who would like to cook their own food at home should contact a nutritionist for a recipe to make sure the ration is balanced.
Feeding Your Shih-Tzu
Puppies should be feed three times a day until they are three months old. They should be then feed two times a day for the rest of their lives. If you are feeding a dry kibble you may wish to soak the kibble in water to soften this for younger puppies. By the time they are three to four months old they should be eating the kibble dry or with a little canned food mixed in. Look for a kibble that comes in small bites. Feeding a dry kibble will help with teeth and gum problems.
Feeding the Older Shih-Tzu
As you shih-tzu becomes a senior citizen his nutritional requirements may change. As he gets older he will naturally be less active than he was as puppy and young adult and therefore may need less energy from his diet. A special diet is sometimes needed for him as he grows elderly. Adjustment in the content of protein he gets might be needed as organs can become less efficient in dealing with food. Many of the major brands of dog food have formulas available for the elderly dog.
Obesity in dogs is a serious medical problem. Fat dogs are more at risk in surgery, more prone to injury, and have more stress on their heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, and joints. Fat complicates diseases, injuries, and surgery and stresses the body. Health factors associated with obesity include skeletal stress, cardiopulmonary disease, interference with normal reproductive functions and puppy delivery, complications to diabetes, difficulty in regulating body temperature, and potential inflammation of the pancreas. Surgery takes longer if the veterinarian has to work his way through layers of fat, and obesity complicates drug therapy, anesthesia, and recovery from injury.
Approximately 25-30 percent of dogs either suffers from obesity or is at risk of becoming obese. Dogs become obese because they take in more calories than they use. They will eat themselves into oblivion if given half a chance, so you must be on your toes.
To avoid overweight, tailor the shih-tzu diet to his activity level, walk the dog daily, and cut back on treats, especially high fat treats. Do not depend on the dog to exercise himself in the back yard; like most people, dogs will not exercise sufficiently without some incentive to do so. A regular schedule of walks and a lower calorie diet will help avoid obesity in spayed and neutered dogs.
To return a dog to a healthy weight, work with a veterinarian to rule out hormonal problems, determine the dog's optimum weight, and devise a feeding schedule that will achieve that weight with a minimum of stress on the dog. Some dog food companies have a special formula for overweight dogs that contain fewer calories. If the dog is very hungry, a diet high in moisture may do the trick because it provides more volume.
There are many commercially prepared dog biscuits that make excellent rewards and snacks. There are also preserved packaged meat products, either beef or lamb based, in rolls that can be cut into small bites for treats. You can find these products at most stores that carry dog food. Care should be taken not to overfed these treats so that your shih-tzu will not eat its it's regular diet.
Those interested in healthy foods will find that shih-tzu like vegetables such as raw carrots and broccoli cut up into little bits. shih-tzu seem to like the crunchy taste of these treats, which are also excellent stimulation for the gums.
Sliced beef liver and a bunch of garlic (the kind that comes cut up in a bottle) boiled until the beef liver is cooked through (30 minutes) makes an excellent homemade treat. The resultant liver is quite messy which can be solved by placing on a baking sheet in the oven at 250 degrees and bake, turning once until each side is dried out -- but not dried to the point of the entire piece being hard. Cut this up into little bits and keep in refrigerator. Shih-Tzu love this -- but you do need to use care to not give them too much as it can cause diarrhea.
And alternative to beef liver is beef hearts. Basically cook this the same way as the liver above. As your butcher for beef hearts or ask them to special order for you. They are usually quite inexpensive. You may need to buy a whole heart but the butcher will usually cut up for you and you can freeze until needed. When cooked this tastes much like roast beef and again the shih-tzu love this treat. Beef heart treats do not cause diarrhea that that comes with the liver treats.