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Best Treats

The Best Treats and Snacks for Shih Tzu


What you choose to give your Shih Tzu puppy or dog for treats is just as important as main meals. The quality of these will have a direct impact on both short and long-term health, and should be held to just as high of standards as anything placed into the bowl. 

Typically, snacks account for 10 to 30% of a dog's diet. And for good reason; treats play an important role as aides for training and establishing acceptable behavior. Not to mention that treats are nutritionally important as meal supplementation. 

When to Give Treats

It's important to find the right balance.

You will want to take care to not over do it; it's not uncommon for owners to get carried away... and the before you know it, that 10 to 30% can creep up to 40%, then 50%, and beyond. 

On the other hand, do not underestimate how essential dog treats are. 

As reward for good behavior:

How do canines learn right from wrong?
Whether this be housebreaking, obeying a command, or exhibiting any particular behavior?

When the outcome of any action brings about benefits that are not seen otherwise. 

And the way to make the outcome desirable is via praise and a special treat. Praise is important since a puppy or dog greatly leans on his humans for cues. And treats deliver an immediate signal that an action (or lack of action, barking for example), is being rewarded. 
For training purposes (heeling, house training, etc.), out of all the treats you have for your Shih Tzu, you will want one to be reserved just for this reason. 

If you find a line of snacks that are great, you can save one certain flavor to reinforce good behavior. 
Meal supplementation:

Toy breeds tend to have fast metabolisms and low fat reserves, and this is one reason why hypoglycemia is seen much more often with toys than with their larger counterparts. So, meals tend to burn off quickly. 

To stay properly fueled throughout the day, most Shih Tzu do well with 2 to 3 meals per day, plus 4 to 6 snacks.

Though you will be giving snacks to tide your puppy or dog over until the next meal (or at night once dinner has been eaten), it is still suggested to offer it as a reward. You can do this by asking your Shih Tzu to 'Sit' or follow another command. 
Bobby, at 5 years old, photo courtesy of Gary Howell

What to Avoid with Treats

Just like with dog food, dog treats vary wildly in regard to quality. And you'll want to keep a keen eye on the very same ingredients that one must be wary of with kibble. 

Steer clear of:

Artificial additives.

Chemical flavoring and coloring can cause terrible allergic reactions including skin issues (rash, itching, and/or hot spots), coat issues (brittle, dry hair and/or thinning hair), and/or gastrointestinal distress (general upset stomach that can interfere with a healthy appetite, vomiting, and/or runny stools). 

Chemical preservatives. 

Synthetic dog food preservatives can be very detrimental. These can cause all of the above reactions, and can be toxic to pets, including ethoxyquin which is under investigation for causing liver and blood issues. 

By-products and generic meats. 

By-products are parts of animals that are deemed unfit for human consumption (beaks, undeveloped eggs, lips, etc.) and generic meats are even worse (can legally include animals that were dead or diseased en route to facilities, road kill, and even dogs and cats that were euthanized). 
Nikkinoo, photo courtesy of Kimberley Kendall 
Hard to digest ingredients.

Far too many dog treats are either made of raw hides or have hide-like consistency, which presents a range of serious issues including internal blockage and choking hazards. 

In addition, Shih Tzu tend to have sensitive stomach, so any ingredient that is hard to digest will surely lead to upset stomach and other issues. 

Incorrect sizing. 

Many dog snacks are designed for the majority of dogs, which means breeds much larger than the Shih Tzu.

Since one goal of giving a treat is to reward good behavior, you'll want to use something small that offers a quick taste of something extraordinarily yummy, not something that a dog needs to sit himself down to eat. 

And in regard to offering a bite to tide a dog over, the treat should be sized relatively small so that it does not disrupt a dog's zest for eating his meals. 
And in regard to offering a bite to tide a dog over, the treat should be sized relatively small so that it does not disrupt a dog's zest for eating his meals. 
Made outside of North America.

Meat sourced from overseas has been linked to 500+ fatalities and 1000+ illness in cats and dogs. Be careful, because some brands source overseas, but package the treats in the US, and have sneaky labeling. 

Qualities of the Best Treats for Shih Tzu

Since inferior dog treats can contain not only questionable ingredients, but also those known to cause allergies and issues, you'll want to hold treats to high standards.

Treats should be:

All natural. 

There will be zero artificial additives including coloring, flavoring, and chemical preservatives. 
Superior snacks won't need to add flavor because they'll be bursting with real meats and fruits. And they will be preserved via vitamin blends. When vitamins are used, you will often see these listed as tocopherol or ascorbate on the ingredient list.
Wholesome ingredients.

They'll be no corn, soy, cheap fillers, high grain content, or by-products. 

Treats should be made with real meats or fish, and healthy fruits that offer little bursts of nutrition. 
Made in the USA.

Treats will be both sourced and packaged in the US (or Canada).
Properly sized.
Ricco, at 3 months old, photo courtesy of Morena
They will be made with toy and small dogs in mind, which makes them easy to dispense and well-received when given as reward. 
Flavor options that are truly enjoyed.

This breed can be a bit finicky and since the idea of giving treats is to offer something extra special, you'll want something that your Shih Tzu finds to be especially tasty. 

Recommended Treats and Snacks for Shih Tzu Puppies and Dogs

Keeping in mind all of the things that we don't want (additives, by-products, generic meats, large chews, hard-to-digest ingredients, and those sources overseas) and what we do want (all-natural, no fillers, no chemical preservatives, small-sized, wholesome, healthy treats), the following meets every single expectation (see images below):

Wellness Puppy Bites - These are all-natural treats that are grain-free. There is both chicken & carrots and lamb & salmon. Despite the 'puppy' part of the name, these are also great for adult Shih Tzu. 

Zuke's Minis - These are really wonderful. Zukes are all-natural as well, with only the good stuff. And these come in so many great flavors: peanut butter, chicken, duck, pork, salmon, and wild rabbit. 

Old Mother Hubbard Minis- These are another excellent choice. These come in tasty options like chicken & apple, classic peanut butter, and gormet honey, apple & bacon. 

Fruitables Crunchies - Last but not least are fruitables, which is a fantastic line of all-natural treats sized perfectly for toy breeds. The flavors options are amazing, with pumpkin as the base. There is pumpkin paired with apple, banana, blueberry, or cranberry. 
Below are these recommended treats. If you do not see the images, try a refresh. On mobile, you may need to turn your screen horizontal to see all 4. 
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The Best Food Choices for Shih Tzu Puppies and Dogs - What your Shih Tzu eats has a huge impact on both short and long term health. Read important feeding guidelines and a list of the top foods. 
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