SEPTEMBER 17, 2019 | WRITTEN BY STACY
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Your Shih Tzu is part of your family, so when you see your little furbaby constantly scratching and in obvious discomfort you may be wondering what's going on.
It could be an allergic reaction to his food.
One of the biggest culprits when it comes to Shih Tzu allergies is the dog food that your pup eats.
Fortunately there are commercial dog foods specifically made for dogs that suffer from allergies. And changing his diet may be just what he needs to get back to his normal happy self, minus the constant itching and scratching.
Below are 11 of our favorite brands of dog foods for Shih Tzu with allergies:
If your Shih Tzu has developed an allergic reaction to her food, your first instinct is probably to change her diet.
This makes total sense!
However, changing her diet is not something that can just be done over the course of one or two meals; it must be done gradually, or you may find yourself with a very unhappy dog with a very upset stomach.
Read on to learn more about the dog foods that may help to alleviate your Shih Tzu's allergies and the best way to introduce those foods to your pup!
But first let's find out why dogs develop allergies in the first place.
A Shih Tzu with allergies can often find great relief with a change in diet.
Sometimes allergies can be triggered by certain ingredients in dog food, such as grains or other byproducts.
It is essential to remember that just like humans, each dog is unique and therefore will have different needs.
What is good for one dog may not be the best choice for another. Therefore, always know your options.
Sometimes eating the same food for an extended period of time can actually cause an allergic reaction.
This may seem strange, but there’s a simple explanation for it: dogs develop allergies to specific proteins and other ingredients over time because when a dog eats the exact same thing every day, his body becomes less equipped to break down certain proteins.
When this happens, the dog’s body starts to identify the ingredient as harmful, and therefore, creates antibodies to fight against the offending food.
It is this process that causes the symptoms we identify as allergies.
When it comes to finding a dog food that works for your pup, and your pup’s allergies, there are usually a couple of different categories of foods that work the best: limited ingredient foods and “hypoallergenic” foods.
Limited ingredient diets do just as their name implies, they limit the number of ingredients used in the food.
This makes it a lot easier to pinpoint what specific ingredient your dog might be allergic to.
You can get food like this over-the-counter at pet stores, individual dealers or online.
Hypoallergenic dog foods are usually prescribed by a vet, but some can also be purchased directly online from certain companies or through subscription plans.
Most of these types of food are made by using proteins that have been chemically split, which makes the original allergen almost completely undetectable to your pet’s immune system.
If your dog’s immune system can’t “see” the potential threat, then it has no need to create the antibodies to fight it, which as mentioned earlier, is the process that can trigger an allergic reaction.
Luckily, there is more awareness today of how nutrition plays a role in animal health.
Thanks to research and studies of how different foods and products affect animals, there is a wide variety of options available to suit the unique needs that exist in pets today.
Many times, if your Shih Tzu is suffering from allergies, or a food intolerance, a simple change in diet can make all of the difference.
Now let's look at why we think our top dog foods choices are best for your Shih Tzu.
Finding the dog food that works the best for your pet may take a few tries, but here are some great options to get you started and why it's on our list of best dog food brand for allergies:
Before you make the switch to one of all of these dog foods, you may want to know if your dog even has allergies.
If you are unsure if your Shih Tzu has allergies, there are several signs to look out for; many of which resemble seasonal allergies.
If your Shih Tzu is allergic to a certain food, he may or may not have some mild diarrhea or even vomiting, but this is not always the case.
In fact, if your dog seems to always vomit or have diarrhea after eating a certain food, then this may signal food intolerance as opposed to a food allergy.
Food allergies can sometimes manifest themselves as different skin disorders, but the only way to truly diagnose a food allergy is with proper testing by a veterinarian.
If you believe your pup has a food allergy, the best course of action is to consult with your vet. Your vet can help distinguish between if your pet is experiencing a food allergy or food intolerance.
A food allergy is caused by an actual immune response, where food intolerance stems from a digestive problem.
If your vet does suspect a food allergy, the likely starting point will be a change in diet and trying to zone in on the offending food; steering clear of foods that contain the most common allergy culprits:
If you decide that a change in diet is needed, it is critical to make the switch properly to avoid any potential issues (see the next section.)
Of course, if your Shih Tzu is actually the victim of food intolerance, a diet change will also be the most likely course of action.
Either way, before you can choose the best dog food for your dog, your first step needs to be finding the problem.
Once you and your vet have zeroed in on the cause of your dog’s issues you will be better prepared to design a treatment plan that will work best for your dog.
Before making changes to your dogs food, you should know that sudden changes in your dogs diet can cause them to have an upset stomach.
To avoid the temporary discomfort in your dogs tummy, read our advice first.
Even though eating the same food for an extended period can also be a cause of food allergies, this doesn’t mean you can just switch your dog’s food at any time.
If you abruptly switch foods, in other words, your Shih Tzu eats her normal food in the morning and then all of a sudden has a full bowl of different food that night, then there will most likely be some unpleasant consequences.
This is usually true for any dog breed really.
The biggest issue with a sudden change in diet is upset stomach and diarrhea. Your dog can get severe tummy troubles if a new food is introduced suddenly.
The best way to introduce a new food to your dog is to do it gradually over several days.
You will want to serve a combination of her old food and the new food, reducing the amount of old food as you increase the amount of new food in each serving.
For example, removing about a tablespoon of her old food and replacing with a tablespoon of the new food in the first combo serving.
In the next combo serving you might do two tablespoons, and so on.
Do this over a few days until you have reached the point where you are only putting the new food into the bowl.
This will help your pup (and her stomach) adjust to the new food.
Once your canine pal is eating only the new food for a few weeks, you will be able to see if it has made a difference in her allergies.
If there is no difference, consult with your vet for other possible issues, or it could just mean you need to try different food.
If you do decide to switch again, follow the same process.
Keep in mind that using a limited diet dog food can be helpful in discovering which foods might be triggering your Shih Tzu’s allergies.
For more helpful information about how to take care of your Shih Tzu check out the rest of our blog!
We're always adding great tips and resources so that you can do the very best for your best friend!
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