11 Food Tips to Raising a Healthy Shihpoo Puppy


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When you bring home a 3-lb or 4-lb Shihpoo puppy at 2 months old, you know you have got to care for your new little guy or gal. Your puppy’s breeder or the rescue sanctuary may have sent home a small bag of puppy food that your Shihpoo has been eating since being weaned, but even so, you want to ensure you are providing the best nutrition for your tiny ball of fur.

What should you be feeding your brand new Shihpoo puppy?

Avoiding adult dog food, start your Shihpoo puppy off on a nutritional diet of dry or moistened food with balanced nutrients designed specifically for small breed puppies. Beware of recommendations that focus on meat-only diets or that suggest you avoid all grains in your puppy’s food.

Here are the 11 food-related tips for raising a healthy Shihpoo puppy:

  1. Find a food that includes lots of proteins from meat. We like foods whose first ingredient is an unprocessed meat, like IAMS Proactive.
  2. Feed your puppy food containing fatty acids from meat, seeds and vegetable oils
  3. Be sure to provide plenty of water in you puppy’s bowl
  4. Offer food with sufficient calcium and phosphorus from meats, bone meal or egg shells
  5. Ensure your puppy has enough carbohydrates from plants and whole grains
  6. Be aware of which vitamins and minerals need to be in your puppy’s food
  7. Do not shy away from feeding your dog all fats
  8. Get your Shihpoo puppy fiber for his or her digestive health
  9. Feed your puppy food with small kibbles (bites)
  10. Minimize the table scraps and snacks you offer your puppy
  11. Avoid foods listed below that are toxic, poisonous or dangerous for your puppy

We followed these tips when considering the dog foods we recommend. See other commonly-available dog foods that made the cut on our recommendations page here. There are ideas for puppies, adults and seniors, both dry and wet.

What should you look for in a healthy Shihpoo puppy food

Shihpoo puppies, as small dogs, typically reach their adult size in half the time as large dog breeds. Instead of taking two years, Shihpoos will reach their full-size by twelve months.

During their growing puppy months, Shihpoos will need to eat a diet designed for their specific needs. Puppies burn far more calories than adults, since their bodies need extra nutrition to grow their bones and build their muscles.

1. Proteins for Your Shihpoo Puppy’s Growing Muscles and Bones

Because Shihpoo puppies grow so quickly, they need much more protein than adult Shihpoos do. Many puppy nutritionists and veterinarians even recommend providing your Shihpoo puppy with food containing as much as twice the amount of protein of adult small dog food.

Courtesy of Pixabay

When it comes to nutrient analysis, protein amounts of “dry matter content” typically range from 25% to 32% in puppy food. If the protein is listed as “crude protein,” look to ensure that the first ingredient is an actual meat, such as salmon, chicken, or lamb. Crude protein may or may not contain protein from raw meats but instead from meal or waste “rendered” into a source of so-called protein.

If the source of the protein is unclear or seemingly mysterious, chances are it does not come from raw meat sources. Like human foods, nutritional labels on dog foods that contain ingredients you do not recognize or cannot pronounce can be a strong indication of food containing unhealthy fillers and unnecessary additives.

2. Fatty Acids for Your Shihpoo Puppy’s Healthy Skin, Organs and Joint Tissues

From Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids, your Shihpoo puppy food should contain these nutrients carried by fats because they are critical for healthy muscle and organ function as well as promoting healthy skin, coat and strong joint tissues.

Without proper fatty acids in the diet, your Shihpoo may develop health challenges ranging from skin and coat disorders to actual diseases that include heart, digestive and even vision problems.

Courtesy of Pixabay

Good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids include meats (particularly fish oils) and flax seed. Flax seed, in fact, is the best source for Omega-3 fatty acids, so if you can find a food with flax seed, you can bet it has a good amount of these nutrients.

Dogs also need Omega-6 fatty acids, also known as linoleic acid and arachidonic acid, sourced from vegetable oils (e.g. soybean and canola oils), chicken and other animal fats, and more exotic sounding vegetable sources such as primrose and black currant.

3. Water for Your Shihpoo Puppy General Health

You might worry so much about getting your Shihpoo his or her ideal levels of nutrition and providing him or her with healthy snacks that you forget to make plenty of fresh water available for your puppy. Hydration is just as critical to a dog’s health as it is to a human’s.

How much water your Shihpoo puppy should drinking a day depends on a number of factors, including the puppy’s size, activity level, medication, diet, and the weather.

The general rule of thumb is that dogs need one ounce of water per day per pound of body weight. For a 10-lb Shihpoo, that equates to one and a quarter cups of water a day.

Coutesy of PuppyWire.com

A recently weaned puppy’s hydration needs will be quite different. Instead of the general rule of thumb, such puppies should drink up to three to five cups of water per day.

An older Shihpoo puppy will have the same hydration requirements as an adult Shihpoo. Of course, much depends upon the puppy’s activity levels, the weather, medications the puppy is taking, and the puppy’s diet.

Factors that will increase your puppy’s need for hydration include high levels of exercising and activity, warm and humid weather, certain medication, a dry food diet, and foods that are high in sodium. Human foods and soft drinks, in particular, are high in sodium and should be extremely limited or avoided, with a since can of Coke containing about half a Shihpoo’s total daily sodium limit. Gatorade also contains too much salt for healthy canine hydration.

Your Shihpoo will be just fine with fresh tap water. Obviously, if there is a warning of unhealthy water for humans, it will be unhealthy for your pets. Some Shihpoo parents opt for providing only bottled spring water for their cute canines. That is fine, so long as it is not distilled water.

Distilled water has gone through a process that removes, not impurities, but minerals that our bodies and our Shihpoo’s health systems require for growth and strength. Do not give your puppy a supply of distilled water for their regular hydration.

If you are concerned about your puppy’s hydration, watch for dehydration signs such as lethargy, dry gums and tongue, and a thick or rope-like saliva. Of course, if you have such concerns, you should speak with your puppy’s veterinarian.

4. Calcium and Phosphorus for Your Shihpoo Puppy’s Bone Health

Both calcium and phosphorus are critical to the proper growth and development of your puppy’s bones. Your puppy will need more calcium and phosphorus now than when he or she reaches adulthood.

However, too much calcium in a puppy’s diet has been linked to increased incidence of hip dysplasia, while too little calcium can contribute to increased risk of bone fractures and stunted growth.

Common sources of calcium and phosphorus in puppy food include whole meats, such as beef, chicken and turkey, as well as ground bovine bonemeal, chicken backs and wings.

Bone Meal Process Courtesy of cndedany.com

Egg shell powder also appears to be an excellent source of calcium, though not of phosphorus.

Nutrient-balanced puppy food typically has more calcium than phosphorus, though not more than 50% more.

5. Carbohydrates for Your Shihpoo Puppy

You may think your Shihpoo has plenty of energy as it is, but providing sufficient carbohydrates will be critical to your Shihpoo’s health. Besides the energy your puppy needs to fuel its play time and tug of wars, he or she also needs energy for all of his or her growth processes, from developing strong bones and organs to powering its cellular-level activity.

Carbohydrates extend the shelf-life of most dry dog foods, and can even provide the benefit of essentially rubbing your puppy’s teeth to minimize tartar. General sources of carbohydrates in puppy food can include whole oats, whole brown rice, pearled barley, sweet potatoes (not the same as regular Russet, Yukon Gold or red potatoes), and whole wheat or whole corn. Not surprisingly, you should look for the word “whole” next to any grain in your puppy’s food.

6. Vitamins and Minerals for Your Shihpoo Puppy’s Immune System Health

Vitamins and minerals are more than just marketing words on sides of breakfast cereal boxes. These critical nutrients promote immune system health as well as strong bones and improved dental health.

Vitamins also help to reduce inflammation in the tissues, which can be especially important for dogs with joint issues. Minerals, themselves, are also required for the body’s tissue building activities.

While some vitamins and minerals can come from whole grains, the best sources include vegetables and certain meats. For Vitamin A, look for foods with fish oil, eggs, carrots, spinach, or sweet potatoes.

For Vitamin B, green vegetables, beans, and whole brown rice serve as great sources. Vitamin C, not surprisingly, is found in potatoes, green beans, and zucchini. Although great Vitamin C sources for humans, grapes, raisins, and avocados won’t be found in any commercial dog food because of their toxicity to dogs.

Vitamin D can come from fish oils, eggs, beef and even cottage cheese, while sources of Vitamin E include leafy greens, seeds like chia, and whole grains. Finally, Vitamin K, which is beneficial to a dog’s blood and bones, can be sourced from leafy greens, cabbage and fish.

Besides the calcium and phosphorus minerals cited above, sodium, potassium, chloride, copper, magnesium, iron, iodine, sulfur and zinc are among the many important minerals your Shihpoo puppy requires for maximum health.

In addition to foods mentioned elsewhere, those to look for on your puppy food label that can be Good sources of these minerals include nuts, molasses, poultry, legumes, liver, lamb and kelp.

As with all puppy diets, the right balance of these vitamins and minerals is not just help but critical to your puppy’s health. Giving your Shihpoo to much or too little of each can affect your puppy’s heart health, lead to overproduction of stomach acid, and abnormal growth.

7. Fats for Your Shihpoo Puppy’s Coat and General Health

While the Omega fatty acids are mentioned above, fats in general are an important part of a Shihpoo puppy’s diet. Our society has for too long believed that all fats in our foods are unhealthy. Some of us have even accustomed ourselves to drinking “blue milk” instead of 1%, 2% or whole milk. How sad that this may have been unnecessary torture.

While the Omega fatty acids are mentioned above, fats in general are an important part of a Shihpoo puppy’s diet. Our society has for too long believed that all fats in our foods are unhealthy. Some of us have even accustomed ourselves to drinking “blue milk” instead of 1%, 2% or whole milk. How sad that this may have been unnecessary torture.

Besides contributing to a shiny coat and promoting a healthy reproductive system, fats also help your puppy’s body to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E & K.

Not all fats are created equally. Look for foods that provide fat from fish and some vegetable oils, but avoid fats such as tallow and lard.

8. Sources of Fiber for Your Shihpoo Puppy

It is interesting, though not surprising, to note that fiber is not a necessary nutrient for your puppy. After all, he or she is a relatively recent descendant from the carnivorous wolf. Your sweet and playful Shihpoo puppy is not an herbivore. Still, even wolves consume some grains and vegetables when eating animals that feed on grains and grasses.

The carbohydrates listed previously come from plant and grain sources, which in turn become a source of fiber.

Your Shihpoo puppy can benefit from some grains that provide fiber. Fiber can help your dog feel full longer, minimizing the chances of overeating, with all of its complications and negative outcomes.

Additionally, fiber can help maintain colon health, aid in your puppy’s digestion, and, for dogs with diabetes, regular blood sugar levels. Good sources of fiber to look for in your puppy’s food include oat bran, whole brown rice hulls, and even peanut hulls.

Whole Oats-Courtesy of Pixabay

9. Small Kibbles for Your Shihpoo Puppy

Besides the difference in ingredients between adult food and puppy food, the size of the food bites, known as kibbles, really matters. Adult food kiddles, of course, are generally larger than puppy food kibbles. Additionally, small dog puppy food and small dog adult food have smaller kibbles than their corresponding large dog foods.

Your Shihpoo puppy has a tiny mouth, even compared to large breed puppies of the same age. Feeding large kibbles to your Shihpoo might discourage him or her, leading to undernourishment.

Although your Shihpoo will likely mature to full size by about twelve months, this does not mean you should transition him to adult food, even if it is for small dog breeds. Your puppy will likely continue to need the additional ingredients and nutrients in puppy food until he or she reaches two years of age.

Puppies can be like human children and be finicky about what they eat. Our first Shihpoo had no problem with either his puppy food or transitioning to his adult food. Our second Shihpoo has been a different story.

Our slow-eater bowl with small kibbles

Up until he was five months, he inhaled rather than ate his food, so we had to get a special bowl that forced him to slow down. It really did work.

Then, he started sneaking his older brother’s adult food and stopped touching his puppy food. As a consequence, we now mix his puppy food with some adult food just to keep him interested and eating properly.

10. Table Scraps and Snacks for Your Shihpoo Puppy

Courtesy of Petside

Those eyes! They are SO impossible to resist. Your puppy sees you eating, smells the food and wants to be part of it. Apologies for mixing aviary and canine expressions, but the puppy knows there is a pecking order when if comes to mealtime, even if he or she does not like or agree with it. Alpha dog goes first, but Alpha does not always stay Alpha.

Placing its paws on your legs, trying to peer over the table at the food (if your puppy is a larger Shihpoo), and begging you for scraps is his or her way of trying to climb the ranks. Providing any food from the table means, to your puppy, you accept him or her into the pack, so he will continue to expect and endeavor to secure those scraps.

Courtesy of omlet.us

It is your choice whether want your puppy at the table or not. If you are tired or get tired of the whining and the scratching and the begging, there is one simple answer: put your puppy in his crate (or outside or in another room) until dinner is over. Do not serve him or her dinner first, as that is an indication you recognize your puppy as Alpha dog (just like letting your Shihpoo go through a door before you is recognition of his or her Alpha status).

Besides the politics of table scraps, health-wise, your Shihpoo should get no more than 10% of his or her nutrition from table scraps. Not only are they not balanced for canine health, but most human food has far too much salt for your puppy.

Although dogs have been eating next to and with humans for millennia and have survived just fine, remember that it is not the puppy’s nutritional needs that have changed for our foods, salt and sugar levels, and additives. Many of our foods contain garlic and onions, which are unhealthy for dogs. A small chunk of leftover meatloaf is not going to kill your puppy, but limit the amount of scraps and keep them as simple as possible (all or mostly meat or vegetables).

11. Some Foods You Should NEVER Feed Your Shihpoo Puppy

To be honest, we use Alexa (and you can use Siri) whenever we have a question about human foods and whether they are safe for our Shihpoos. Many times the answer will be something along the lines of, “this food is not toxic to dogs, but it may contain ingredients that are unhealthy for your puppy.” This is often the answer even when the question is, “are carrots safe for dogs?” What other “ingredients” do carrots contain but carrots?

Can Shihpoos Eat This? 50 Foods that Are Surprisingly Safe, Definitely Dangers, Typically Toxic, or Potentially Poisonous for Your Shih Tzu-Poodle Mix

Unfortunately, such is the reality of our modern food chain. Some foods we think are simple and straight forward may contain additives unknown to us. If you use Alexa or Siri, use common sense as well.

If a food is TOXIC for dogs, it means the food will likely make your puppy sick, sometimes very sick. If the food is POISONOUS for dogs, it may actually lead to death depending upon the amount of the food consumed and the size of your dog. If the food is DANGEROUS, it may pose a choking hazard or cause tears in the stomach or gastro-intestinal track.

Here are several foods you should NEVER allow your Shihpoo puppy to eat:

  • Alcohol (POISONOUS). We have all heard or seen dog owners giving their puppies beer or other alcoholic drinks. Growing up, I remember hearing about my friend’s dog who frequented Dan’s Bar in my home town and would stumble home drunk. It was probably a made-up story, but alcohol should be avoided in any form and any amount. Shihpoos, being as small as they are, will not react well to alcohol. Possible reactions can include diarrhea, vomiting, hypothermia, and even comas and death. Never encourage others who give their dogs alcohol. Don’t repost photos of people giving alcohol to their dogs. It is not cute. It is not funny. It is not responsible. And it is not something a Shihpoo puppy mom or dad should ever do.
  • Apricots, Cherries, Peaches and Plums (POISONOUS): Seeds and pits of these fruits will release poisonous cyanide into your puppy’s body. Puppies who swallow the pits might also experience blocked intestines or even respiratory failure.
  • Avocado (POISONOUS). The reason you need to avoid avocados? Persin. It is a fungicidal toxin that, in large amounts, can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and even death. Persin comes from the pit, the fruit, the leaves and even the plant parts of avocados, so no part of an avocado is safe to eat or include in puppy food. Obviously, this means guacamole is unacceptable as well.
  • Garlic, Onions, Chives and Leeks (TOXIC): As part of the Allium family, these common table food ingredients are more than just toxic (making a dog sick) to your Shihpoo. They can be poisonous. Of the four, garlic is the most dangerous, but all should be avoided.
  • Grapes and Raisins (DANGEROUS and TOXIC): Whole grapes pose an immediate choking hazard to your Shihpoo, just as they do to young children. Additionally, the toxicity of grapes and raisins can lead to kidney failure in some dogs. It does not matter if you peal the grapes, some dogs can still have a severe reaction to this fruit.
  • Potatoes and Tomatoes (TOXIC): Never let your puppy eat potatoes or tomatoes, ripe or cooked. Consequences to puppies who consume these foods can include vomiting and diarrhea as well as cardio, kidney and even nervous system problems.

Ask Your Veterinarian

Feeding your Shihpoo puppy a nutritional diet should be among your top priorities as a Shihpoo mom or dad. While you need not feel you have to find the most expensive marketed in the store or online, you should probably give the issue more thought than just finding the cheapest food available.

As with most health-related questions surrounding your cute little ball of furry fun, talk to your vet. Ask him or her for thoughts on the food you have chosen and whether it will provide sufficient nutrients to your growing puppy.

Related Questions

How often should you feed your Shihpoo puppy? New Shihpoo puppies need to eat more often than adults to avoid hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels). Feed 2-4 month old puppies four to six times a day. Feed 4-6 month old puppies three times a day. Thereafter, you can offer two meals a day. Set a regular schedule.

At what age are Shihpoo puppies weaned from their mother’s milk? Puppies can be weaned from their mother’s milk at three to four weeks, at which time soft puppy foods with warm water in a soup-like mixture can be introduced. The process can take three to four weeks.

Todd Christensen

Founder and lead blogger at ShihpooCentral.com, Todd loves his family's two Shih-poo puppies, Titus Rex and Stark Antonio (aka Sir Titus Whitus and Baron von Wigglebutt). He and his wife have four wonderful human children as well, and he doubles by day as a financial educator facilitating budgeting, credit building and debt elimination workshops.

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