I am writing this article to share with you the things I got to know about, how to choose the best dog food for your small breed dog, in my many years of the pleasant experience of being with several fur buddies of different breeds.
There is no rule, there is no certainty, there is no guessing, the process of choosing the right food for your fur baby is simply a process of trial and error. But, that doesn’t mean that you start from wherever you like and hit your dog with every food possible until you hit the right one. There is something which can help you to start with something which might just be the right food, and if not then it will help you to change the food in the right direction so that you can find the right food faster. Besides, how would you even know that you have found the right food for your pup? Worry not, there are signs for that too which we are going to discuss in this article.
So without any further ado, let’s see what are those 10 things which will help you a ton in the process of deciding the best dog food for small your dog:
What the Dog has been eating so far?
In most of the cases, people buy pups, sometimes as a gift for their loved ones, sometimes for themselves. If that is your case, the very first thing you want to do is to ask the person from whom you have bought the pup about the food they have been giving to the pup. You should not separate a pup from their mother, before at least 3 months. In that time span, puppies usually grow on milk but they also start to eat some solid food. This is the information, we are after. You need to find out what food the previous owner has been giving to the pup so far.
You want to start with that food before changing it to something else. Changing home for a dog can be really stressful and you should know that dogs are not stress eaters. The more stress, the lesser they eat. So, you want to make them feel like home and try to keep things as similar as possible to their last one, starting from their food.
Always Mix the Food when Their Food is Under Transition
As time passes, you are going to want to change their food to something which you think is better or to something which you can afford. Sometimes, when dogs grow to adulthood, you need to change their food from starter pack to adult one of the same brand.
No matter what is the reason, but if you are trying to change the food of your dog, always mix the new food with the old one for the first few weeks. Never change their food from one to another suddenly. This is very important because it is possible that your dog might reject the new food altogether if the transition hasn’t been made smoothly, even if it was the right food for him.
Home-cooked Meal is Not Always Good
This is a common misconception that home-cooked meal is always the best for the dog or at least better than the bought one. After all, who wouldn’t like boiled chicken, carrot, or even turkey! Unfortunately, it is not true.
In many cases, a home-cooked meal can even be harmful to your dog. For example, if you own a Shih Tzu and you try to give him fried chicken or boiled salty chicken, it can even harm their digestion system and you might need to take him to the vet for the treatment.
Always beware of the breed of your dog, consult with your vet, and use the home-cooked meals as a treat or a secondary meal instead of using it as a primary one. Some dogs are even allergic to most of the human food which leads to our next point.
Beware of Your Dog’s Allergies
I know it is hard and even heartbreaking sometimes when you are eating something and your fur baby stays right next to you, giving you the baby eyes look, luring you to give in, share, and you need to be strong enough to resist. But that is necessary for their own good. Many dogs of small breeds are allergic to certain human foods.
Allergies can be of two types, one is specific to the breed of the dog and the other is specific to a particular dog. Nowadays, we rarely find a pure breed dog, almost every dog is somehow a mixed breed. That is why if there is an allergy specific to a breed, it doesn’t mean your dog must have it, here is how you can identify and deal with food allergies.
Most small breed dogs can have an allergy to any type of protein or carbohydrate in their food. Beef, pork, chicken, turkey, eggs, soy, corn, and wheat seem to be the most trouble making foods. Symptoms of food allergies are as follows, the dog may scratch and have ear problems or skin infections, swollen paws, irritated eyes, and asthma-like symptoms, especially in the Shih Tzus. They might feel itchy around the face, legs, anal area, and paws. They might experience gas, diarrhea, and vomiting. But other symptoms will also be present such as itchy skin.
As I mentioned before, it can be one of the many things to which your dog might be allergic to. If you see one of the symptoms listed above in your dog, identify the type of food causing the allergy. In order to do that, you need to first treat the allergy by going to the vet. In the time of recovery, you need to strictly give your dog what vet prescribes, along with the medicines for the prescribed period. There should be no treats, no vitamins, no chewable medications, no table scraps allowed. Once your dog is cured and has no more allergies, start gradually with the food you have been giving him but one type at a time, if you were giving him multiple foods and closely observe if any of the symptoms come back.
If they do, that is your victim, you need to never give your dog any food which contains anything closer to what that food contains. For example, if your dog is allergic to chicken, then your dog should never eat chicken, any sort of chicken meal, or chicken by-product, any food with chicken flavor, basically, anything which can even remotely be related to chicken, food or treat and your dog will be allergy-free always.
What Dog likes, isn’t always what a Dog Should Eat
It can be really hard to find the right food for your dog. This can also lead to a stage where your dog might reject everything you have tried so far and you are just desperate to find something, anything which your dog will accept and be willing to eat.
However, be careful about what you give him. It is possible that you might try some food which is not as healthy as you might anticipate and your dog likes it but it might be harmful or at the very least not healthy for him. It can be a homemade meal, a treat, or some bought food. Of course, you will not give him something to which he is allergic to, because symptoms of allergy are mostly visual. So then how can you know if you are giving your dog something right? This is exactly what our next point is about.
How do you know that you are feeding your Dog something Right!
Here are a few signs which will indicate that you have struck gold, and you should stick with the food you have found for your precious little one, Your dog’s:
- weight will start to increase but in a positive and healthy way.
- hair/coat will get silky and soft.
- overall social behavior will improve and he will become a “pet me lap dog”, instead of “grumpy growling one”.
- playtime will increase. He will become at least twice as playful and sharp.
Usually, it doesn’t take more than a week or two to show the signs that you are on the right track with the food. So keep an eye open for these signs!
If it’s Expensive, it Must be Good – MYTH
This is another common misconception that like any other thing out there, also the food which is expensive, are better than the ones with economic prices. Never fall for that one! Let your dog be the judge of that. If you spend hundreds of dollars on food, that doesn’t mean that your dog is obligated to eat it or like it. This is why it is always advisable to get the samples or buy a lesser quantity when you are trying new food, never go with a big quantity of the food unless you are sure that your dog likes it.
The same Breed is More Likely to Like the Same Food
Do you know anyone who owns the same breed dog as yours? If the answer is yes, then I strongly advise you to find out what food do they give him. As I mentioned earlier, finding food for your dog is more like a trial and error process but to start with something which you know that the same breed dog likes, is your best bet.
However, be careful of the age of your dog. If you and your friend own a Shih Tzu but your friend is an adult whereas you just had the pleasure to own a Shih Tzu pup, you want to start with the same food but the starter pack of it instead of the adult one.
Soften the Dry Food using Hot Water
- My dog never finishes the dry food that I give him in the bowl.
- My dog sometimes eats his food and other times doesn’t even touch it.
- I want to give variety to my fur baby but I am out of options as he is allergic to almost everything.
If you find yourself saying one of the above lines, you are not alone! One very common and efficient working solution, for all of the listed problems, is to use hot water over the dry food and mix it to make it like gravy. Even if the food is the same for you but for the dog, the different structure can be the same excitement as totally different food and he will enjoy it licking everything inside the bowl!
This technique is also very useful and the most healthy when your dog is going through some stomach issues or if it’s hard for your dog to eat dry food for whatever reason.
A Food Which is Not Uniform Can Serve Food and Treat Both
This might be a little bit confusing and it is not true for all dogs. Some dogs just like uniform dry food, for example, ours is a fan of Royal Canin Shihtzu Adule, but in some cases, I have observed that the foods which are not uniform, can be more exciting for dogs because they can find parts and parts in it which they like more than the rest and they consider it as a treat for them, for finishing the rest parts which they don’t necessarily LOVE.
For example, Purina Pro Plan Small Breed Dry Dog Food is a food that has a chunk of chicken in it that can keep your dog’s interest better than a uniform food. So if you have tried several uniform dry or wet food and nothing seems to work. You can give a try to one of these mixed foods.
Change the Food As Your Dog Grows
As your dog grows, it is very important that you change his food to something appropriate and made for his age. It can be hard because changing food is never easy. However, if you have chosen a brand, chances are that you can find similar food for the bigger dogs in the same brand. Royal Canin has two food chains for Shih Tzu, Royal Canin Shihtzu Junior, and Royal Canin Shihtzu Adult. If you have been using Royal Canin Shihtzu Junior for the first one or two years with your Shih Tzu dog, chances are that you can easily upgrade to Royal Canin Shihtzu Adult, as your dog enters in his third year.
An adult dog needs more and sometimes different nutrition than a puppy so it is absolutely mandatory that you change your dog’s food properly if you want them to develop properly.
Well, looks like that sums it up! If you have read it so far, it means you already are one step closer to finding the best dog food, there is, for your cute fur buddy! If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below in the comment section and check our websites regularly for our new posts about our fur buddies!