If your Shih Tzu suffers from allergies and you have decided to change the food they eat to help relieve their symptoms then this article is for you.
In this article, you’ll learn what causes allergies in dogs, the signs and symptoms of food allergies, the types of dog food available to help and also be provided with reviews and recommendations of the best food to help your Shih Tzu.
Our best choice of dog food for a Shih Tzu with allergies is the Hill’s Science Diet Hypoallergenic Dog Food. It’s specially designed for small breeds, has easily digestible ingredients, a quality protein source and contains no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. You can read our an extended review here.
You can click on the link below to jump straight to the reviews but we would recommend first reading the other sections in this article so you can make a more informed opinion about what food you should be feeding your Shih Tzu if they are suffering from allergies.
Limited ingredient and hypoallergenic dog food reviewed in this article:
- What Causes Food Allergies In Dogs
- Signs And Symptoms Of Food Allergies In Your Shih Tzu
- Types Of Dog Food For Allergies
- Best Dog Food For Shih Tzu With Allergies – Reviews
There are a lot of things that can cause allergies. In humans, it could be the fabric of their clothes or the food that they ingest. Sometimes, people have allergic reactions to skincare or certain brands of shampoo, and the same can be said for dogs as well.
An allergy or ‘hypersensitivity’ means an immunologic reaction that happens to certain food allergies, producing symptoms that can often be mistaken for that of food intolerance. Without going to a vet, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
The Shih Tzu breed often suffers from allergies, which can be extremely uncomfortable for them and can often cost a lot of money to relieve their discomfort. These allergic reactions can make your dog want to keep itching and is the second most common reason that people take their dogs to the vets.
One way you can help decrease and stop the allergic reactions from happening to your Shih Tzu is by controlling the type of food they eat. But first, you have to understand why allergic reactions happen and what the signs are that you need to look out for.
What Causes Food Allergies In Dogs
Dr Adam Patterson is a clinical professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences Small Animal Clinic, where he is also Chief of Dermatology. When talking about allergic reactions in dogs, he says, “Food allergies in dogs present themselves quite differently than food allergies in humans. For instance, a person who is allergic to shellfish may experience throat swelling and possibly a critical or fatal reaction, but in dogs, the allergy is expressed through the skin and seen most often as an itch.”
Sometimes, veterinarians think that the allergic reactions of a Shih Tzu are caused by poor breeding practices, but others think that they may be caused by coming into direct contact with something such as a household cleaner. However, the main reason why your dog might have an allergic reaction is due to their diet, mainly processed pet food.
The reason they are allergic to the food is due to the proteins in the food. These proteins can come from plant or animal-based ingredients which make up their diet and when these proteins are broken down into smaller molecules, they are seen as a potential threat by the immune system, even if they aren’t. The most common types of food allergies in dogs come from beef, chicken, dairy, corn, and wheat, with the last one being quite common in commercial food sold in pet shops.
Something that is surprising about food allergies, is that the reaction doesn’t always take place straight away. Your Shih Tzu could have been eating the ingredients that caused the reaction for quite some time before any physical symptoms showed. But, how do you know if your dog is allergic to something?
You can also use a home allergy test kit for dogs and you can read more about these in our article – Food Allergy Test Kit For Dogs.
Signs And Symptoms Of Food Allergies In Your Shih Tzu
- Scratching and itching
- Flaky skin.
- Ear infection.
- Excessive gas, vomiting and diarrhea.
- Asthma-like symptoms (sneezing, coughing).
Earlier, we mentioned that sometimes food allergies can be mistaken for food intolerances, with some of the symptoms being the same. A food intolerance will have symptoms that are more intestinal, such as having diarrhea, vomiting and soft stools. However, food allergy symptoms are different.
When a dog is allergic to something they have eaten, they will often scratch their skin until it is red, sore, and comes off in flakes. This can sometimes result in them becoming hairless if it goes on for too long and another symptom is that they can have ear infections.
If their skin becomes infected from scratching, a course of antibiotics can help, but once the round has finished, the symptoms return if their diet hasn’t been changed. The itchiness will often occur around their face, legs, paws and anal area, which can be quite uncomfortable. Some dogs may also experience excessive gas, vomiting or diarrhea with a food allergy, but it isn’t as common.
With the Shih Tzu, the food allergy can sometimes cause them to have asthma-like symptoms, as well as causing them to cough and sneeze more than usual, along with the skin symptoms. It isn’t always easy to find out which ingredient is causing them to have an allergic reaction.
A way that people sometimes determine this is to feed their dog a homemade diet that is often prescribed by their vet for a period of time. Once there are no symptoms, they will slowly reintroduce food to their diet and wait for a reaction to happen. This is an easy way to pinpoint what ingredients you need to avoid in the food you feed them.
Types Of Dog Food For Allergies
There used to be a time when people would give their dogs anything to eat. They would go along to the pet store and pick up any brand, but times have changed. People are more aware of how certain ingredients will affect their dogs, as well as choosing something that is right for their breed.
For Shih Tzu owners, they have to take their dogs food sensitivities into account when buying food. Even food that uses high-quality ingredients with holistic nutrition can cause reactions to take place. This is where Limited Ingredient and Hypoallergic dog food comes into play.
Limited Ingredient Dog Food
Something that has been introduced to the shelves of pet stores over the years is limited ingredient dog foods. However, not every dog food that is part of this category is the same, with all of them having different ingredients. Below, we explain what a limited ingredient diet is, how it is different to other dog foods out there and the benefits it can have for your dog.
What Is Limited Ingredient Dog Food?
Compared to the average dog food formula your dog was eating before, limited ingredient dog food often contains fewer ingredients. This makes it perfect for dogs that are sensitive to a certain ingredient, but it still offers them the nutrients they need in the right proportions. Simply put, this type of dog food allows you to narrow down what sort of intolerance your dog has, allowing you to avoid those ingredients.
Cathleen Enright is the CEO of the Pet Food Institute in Washington D.C. and she says that limited dog food ingredients will only have one protein source instead of many. As an example, the food might only contain chicken, which means it won’t have beans, lamb or steak in it. There are also types of food that will have one carbohydrate or fat source.
How Is Limited Ingredient Dog Food Different?
Using limited ingredient dog food allows you to put your dog on a rotational diet to help narrow down which ingredient is causing your dogs allergic reaction. They expose dogs to a variety of ingredients in a healthy way by isolating the source of nutrition to help you identify which ones are affecting your dog. This can sometimes take time to do as you won’t see a reaction straight away if they are allergic to something.
The great thing about this kind of dog food is that it can include uncommon sources of protein that you wouldn’t have thought of before, such as duck, lamb, and even sweet potatoes. Switching the type of limited ingredient dog food that you give them offers a rich variety of ingredients that will make them less likely to develop allergic reactions.
With traditional dog food, you will often notice that the ingredients list on the back is quite long and filled with ingredients that just aren’t necessary. Some of these ingredients can seem strange and often resemble chemicals, which makes people concerned about what is actually in the dog food. With limited ingredient dog food, you never have to worry about that. They will always provide your dog with safe ingredients and nutrients.
The Benefits Of Limited Ingredient Dog Food
How boring would it be if you had to eat the same type of food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Humans love the variety in their diet and dogs are the same. The rotating diet of the limited ingredient dog food allows them to enjoy different ingredients in a healthy way and avoid any future insensitivities. Of course, they will have their favorites, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try new ingredients.
It is so easy to figure out which type of limited ingredient dog food is right for your Shih Tzu. If your dog is allergic to corn or soy, for example, then choose a formula that doesn’t include those ingredients. If you aren’t sure what they are allergic to, then a vet will be able to help.
Hypoallergenic Dog Food
We’ve already looked in depth at what limited ingredient dog food is and now it’s time to look at hypoallergenic dog food. Just like how humans need hypoallergenic methods for living their life to the fullest, dogs do as well. Sometimes it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what your dog is allergic to, but that is where hypoallergic dog food comes in handy.
What Is Hypoallergenic Dog Food?
There are a lot of myths surrounding hypoallergenic dog food and whether certain brands are actually hypoallergenic when they claim to be. This type of dog food has been specifically designed for dogs that are unable to eat normal dog food that can be bought in a pet store. It helps to stop the adverse effects that food allergies can have on their health, which are caused by intact proteins or glycoproteins. What hypoallergenic dog food does, is to offer protein sources that use proteins not recognized by the dog’s antibodies as being antigens. This allows them to eat the food without any allergic symptoms.
The ingredients used in hypoallergenic dog food are wholesome and nutritious, as well as not being in conventional canine cuisine. There are no chemicals, artificial flavors, colors or preservatives found in hypoallergenic dog food. Instead, they are high in natural sources of protein that would be found in the wild, as well as ingredients that can help alleviate symptoms of allergic reactions, such as Vitamins A and E, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and novel carbohydrates.
How Is Hypoallergenic Dog Food Different?
The reason people often buy hypoallergenic dog food is to alleviate any symptoms their dog has to regular dog food. Another reason is that they don’t know what is causing the allergic reactions in their dog, and so the best course of action is to choose a dog food that doesn’t have any of the regular ingredients in it. A lot of people often say they start to notice differences in their dogs as soon as they start the new diet.
Benefits Of Hypoallergenic Dog Food
Hypoallergenic dog food helps to eliminate all the ingredients that could potentially cause an allergic reaction in your Shih Tzu, which can be found in regular dog food. The biggest benefit of hypoallergenic food is that your dog is unlikely to be allergic to it when eaten. On the whole, it can reduce certain health problems such as obesity, arthritis, blocked anal glands, and even periodontal disease.
Other aspects that are helped when eating this kind of dog food is heart disease, digestive problems, and kidney ailments. All this helps your dog to lead a happy and healthy life. They will no longer need to go to the vet for antibiotics or medicine to help their condition, which means you can save money as well.
It is important to remember that if you suspect your Shih Tzu is having an allergic reaction to their dog food, you need to talk to your vet. They will be able to guide you into the best course of action and help your dog to become healthy again.
You can also use a home allergy test kit for dogs and you can read more about these in our article – Food Allergy Test Kit For Dogs.
Best Dog Food For A Shih Tzu With Allergies – Reviews
Hill’s Science Diet Hypoallergenic Dog Food
Hill’s Science Diet Hypoallergenic Dog Food gets our best choice award. It is specifically designed for small breeds that suffer from a sensitive stomach or skin allergies. It has been scientifically formulated to be sensitive on your dog’s stomach and is made with easy to digest ingredients that provide a healthy nutritional balance for all your dog’s needs. Importantly, it contains no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
It contains a blend of omega-6 fatty acids, vitamin E and other nutrients that help promotes healthy skin and a shiny coat. It also contains a clinically proven mix of antioxidants including vitamins C and E that promote a healthy immune system.
Hill’s Science Diet Dog Food has an excellent 4.5 out of 5-star rating on Amazon from over a thousand customers and you can read the review for yourself here.
- Specially designed for small breeds.
- Easy to digest ingredients.
- Balanced nutrition.
- Nourishes skin and coat.
- Includes probiotic fiber.
- No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
- Contains omega-6 fatty acids, vitamin E and other nutrients.
- Antioxidants with vitamins C and E.
Wellness Simple Natural Limited Ingredient Dog Food
Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Dog Food is an excellent choice if your Shih Tzu is suffering from allergies. It has a balanced and nutritional limited ingredient formula with a single protein source and easily digestible carbohydrates. It contains no wheat, corn, soy, gluten or artificial preservatives and also has no artificial colors or flavors. It’s also dairy-free and contains no eggs. So as you can see it’s a good choice if you are trying to eliminate certain foods or food types from your dog’s diet.
Wellness dog food also has reduced calories while maintaining nutritional requirements so is also an excellent food for weight management. This is partly due to increased levels or healthy and easily digestible fiber. This limited ingredient is available in both wet and dry food.
- Meat by-products.
- Artificial preservatives, colors or flavors.
Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Dog Food has a 4.1 out of 5-star rating on Amazon and you can read the reviews for yourself here.
- Limited ingredients.
- Natural ingredients.
- Weight management formula.
- Free of gluten and wheat.
- No artificial fillers.
- No artificial additives.
- Made in the USA.
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dog Food
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dog Food is another good choice if your Shih Tzu is suffering from allergies. It’s formulated with a single premium protein source (salmon) and a single carbohydrate source (sweet potato) allowing to drastically eliminate many types of food you might find in other dog food. Salmon provides essential amino acids that help promote muscle tone and keep your dog’s coat healthy and shiny. While sweet potatoes are rich in potassium and are an easily digestible carbohydrate source.
It is completely grain free and contains no artificial colors, flavors, and preservative. Even though this food has limited ingredients it still has an excellent nutritional balance so also provides other benefits like supporting healthy skin and a healthy coat. This food is available in both wet and dry and is suitable for puppies and adult.
A great feature of this food and one of the reasons we included it in our reviews is due to the design of the kibble. The size, shape, and texture of the kibble have been specially designed for small dogs helping to clean your dog’s teeth and gums. It’s therefore perfectly suited if you own a Shih, Tzu.
Another feature about this dog food that is worth pointing out is the fact that every batch undergoes 9 safety tests to ensure the quality of the food is maintained.
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dog Food has a 4.3 out of 5-star rating on Amazon and you can read the reviews for yourself here.
- Limited protein and carbohydrate sources.
- Grain free.
- No artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.
- Kibble designed especially for small dogs.
- Safety tests on every batch.
- Available in both wet and dry food.
Halo Holistic Natural Hypoallergenic Dog Food
Halo Holistic Hypoallergenic Dog Food is a good choice if you prefer whole meat products over meat meal or dehydrated meat products. The ingredients include whole salmon or chicken as the main sources of protein and doesn’t contain any “meat meals” or dehydrated protein.
With highly digestible carbohydrates like oats, pearled barley, and contains no grains, it is another good choice if your Shih Tzu suffers from allergies. Due to this superior digestibility, it means your dog’s stomach will have to work less hard to process the food and more nutrients absorbed into their system. It’s also available in both puppy and adult versions.
This dog food is completely grain-free with healthy ingredients such as salmon, chickpeas, lentils, and non-GMO fruit and vegetables. It has been specially designed with fewer calories than normal dog food so is great for maintaining a healthy weight in your dog. Also, this food has no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives and no ingredients come from animals raised on antibiotics.
Halo Holistic Dog Food has a 4.2 out of 5-star rating on Amazon and you can read the reviews for yourself here.
Benefits of Halo Holistic Dog Food:
- All natural ingredients.
- Whole meat protein source.
- Highly digestible carbohydrates.
- Grain free.
- Reduced calories.
- No artificial flavors, colors, or presevatives.