The Shih Tzu breed has a history as a household pet prized by Chinese royals for over a thousand years. Although the breed standard allows for a range of different sizes, an adult Shih Tzu ideally weighs between 9 and 16 pounds and has a solid, compact body. Proponents of the raw food diet believe that it helps to control weight, build lean muscle mass, improves the condition of the Shih Tzu's skin and coat, produces higher energy levels and smaller stools and results in cleaner teeth, which helps counter dental problems.
The Shih Tzu’s nutritional needs include a healthy, balanced diet customized to avoid obesity and to provide the necessary vitamins and minerals for its lustrous, longhaired, double coat. Canine hip dysplasia is a concern among Shih Tzu enthusiasts, and the breed is predisposed to dental problems, so a suitable raw food diet should contain adequate quantities of calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and omega 3 and 6 oils. These ingredients will help the dog to develop strong bones and teeth, and the oils will maintain the condition of their coat.
The Shih Tzu needs a diet that contains 50 percent high-quality protein. This should come from muscle meat, organ meats including heart, liver and kidneys, raw eggs, and some dairy products, such as cottage cheese and yogurt, if your dog can tolerate lactose. Use human quality beef, lamb, chicken or oily fish such as salmon, minced or finely chopped, and avoid feeding more than 5 percent organ meats, as these are rich in saturated fats. When working with raw meat, wash your hands often to avoid bacteria such as salmonella, and use an antibacterial soap or bleach to clean your chopping boards and utensils regularly. Check with a veterinarian if you have concerns about using raw meat, which may contain harmful bacteria, in your pet's diet.
Most canine diets contain some carbohydrates, but in a raw food diet it’s difficult to include carbs that are uncooked. The Shih Tzu’s size and naturally high energy levels means it is not essential to provide carbs, but if the dog is young and active and you feel they need fuel, then adding cooked brown rice, mashed sweet potato or crumbled brown bread is an option. If you prefer to stick to raw foods only, then include small quantities of grated apples, carrots, or mashed bananas, which all contain a percentage of carbohydrate.
A variety of fruit and vegetables are palatable raw and can give your Shih Tzu the nutrients they need. These should comprise approximately 30 percent of the diet if you feed the dog cooked carbohydrates, but if the diet includes only protein, fruits and vegetables then the latter should add up to 50 percent, to avoid a diet that is too high in protein. Include chopped green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, pumpkin, apples, bananas and pears in various quantities, mixed in with the meat or bone meal. Avoid corn, which is difficult for some dogs to digest, and never give your dog avocados, raisins, grapes or macadamia nuts as these can be harmful.
As a breed predisposed to hip problems, your Shih Tzu needs a diet that contains sufficient calcium. Supplement the calcium in their raw food diet by drying out egg shells in the oven, then crushing them in a coffee grinder and mix small quantities into their food. Magnesium, zinc, iron and phosphorous are important ingredients in a raw food diet, and an older Shih Tzu will benefit from added glucosamine and chondroitin for their joints. Vitamins C and E act as antioxidants and reduce inflammation, and can help memory problems in an elderly Shih Tzu. Ask your veterinarian for advice on the right combination of vitamins and mineral supplements for your dog’s age and state of health, as well as the quantities to feed for their activity and energy level.