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Holiday Questions

Shih Tzu Holiday Questions

Overview

We've gathered up questions emailed to us regarding the holidays and have placed them here in one place.

You'll find these are common issues owners deal with and hopefully you'll find some solutions to problems with your own Shih Tzu.
Eating Holiday Food

Question: With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up, there's going to be a lot of special foods in the house.  I'm wondering, what can I safely give to my 5 year old Shih Tzu? Most specifically, can a Shih Tzu eat turkey, ham and my favorite appetizers, deviled eggs? 

Answer: Great question, since humans are tempted by all the great holiday foods and our dogs are as well!

Turkey is very healthy for dogs to eat. It is a lean meat. Just like chicken you will want to make sure it is free of bones and the white meat is healthier than the dark.

Some sources claim that eating even a bite of ham can cause a dog to develop pancreatitis due to high levels of fat & salt; this is wildly exaggerated. There would only be trouble if a dog ate a large amount or moderate amounts every day. 
newborn Shih Tzu puppy
A Shih Tzu will not become horribly ill being given a small cube (1 x 1 inch) on special occasions. However, since it does have a lot of sodium, you may want to play it safe by offering a different meat. 

With deviled eggs, eggs themselves are just fine for Shih Tzu to eat. However paprika, is considered to be toxic to dogs. It can cause damage to the digestive, nervous and/or urinary track.

Here are a couple additional tips:

1) Even if you know a certain food is okay to give to dogs, double check to make sure that it has not been seasoned or flavored with ingredients that are toxic. This includes but is not limited to sugar substitutes, onion, chili peppers, paprika, raisins, nutmeg, avocado and mushrooms.

2) Since a rapid change in diet can cause a Shih Tzu to have an upset stomach, if you give your Shih Tzu holiday food, make this in addition to his regular meals and not as a replacement.  Some treats given here and there or added to kibble are best. 

3) Plan ahead on what will be given, as you don't want to inadvertently teach your Shih Tzu that begging leads to being given extra food. 
Bringing Shih Tzu to Another House

Question: With the holidays coming up, there'll be several visits to other people's homes. I don't want to leave my Shih Tzu home alone, but she always seems to get antsy at another person's house. And it might be even worse with lots of people around. I hate to leave her at home while I'm out spending the entire day with family. Any ideas?

Answer: This is a common dilemma. While leaving a Shih Tzu home alone isn't fun for the dog (especially if they suffer from separation anxiety), it can be equally bad to bring the puppy or dog into a situation that is stressful and overwhelming.

While the choice must be done on a case-by-case basis, depending on the severity of how the dog is when alone VS how she does in loud, large gatherings, if you do take her with you, here are some tips that can help:

1) If possible, bring along a portable canine playpen. While you won't want to sequester your Shih Tzu the whole time, it will be comforting for her to have a quiet area to rest if things seem to be too much.

2) Whether or not you can do that, bring along your Shih Tzu's favorite toys, a favorite blanket and her food and water bowls.  Dogs can be funny about eating and drinking from anything other than their own bowls and to be hungry or thirsty when visiting another house, only adds to the stress.

Familiar toys and a blanket can help a puppy or dog feel relaxed when they are worn out.

3) Take care that the dog is not stepped on. The Shih Tzu is considered to be an 'under the foot' dog. Trauma is the among the leading causes of death for both puppies and adults. With lots of people at a holiday party, this is a real concern. And another reason to bring along a playpen. 

4) Every few hours, take your Shih Tzu out for a walk (weather permitting). Do keep in mind that part of winter care is to have the right doggie clothes so that your Shih Tzu can be exercised in cold weather. This can help a dog release excess energy that may have built up being in a new situation and also tire her out a bit, making her more prone to nap or at least stay calmer once back inside. 
Is Giving Presents Considered Spoiling?

Question: I get a lot of grief from friends over the fact that I buy and wrap up presents for my Shih Tzu. I'm serious when I say that she knows she's getting them. She gets super excited and is happy with what's inside the box. Am I crazy for thinking this? Am I spoiling her?

Answer: You'll be happy to know that this is completely normal. Your friends must not be dog lovers! Dogs definitely are aware when they are about to be given something new. And just like humans, Shih Tzu can get super excited when receiving them.

One of the most wonderful parts of the holidays is the joy of giving. For you to take pleasure in giving your Shih Tzu gifts only shows how much you love her. And since dogs do need new things on a regular basis (clothes, toys, bowls, etc.), wrapping them up and giving them as gifts is not spoiling your dog. It is part of providing proper care.  Ba-hum-bug to those who look down on this and happy holidays to you and your Tzu!
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