Should I Change Shih Tzu's Food? [Itch Problem]

Dog Food Advisor Forums Canine Nutrition Should I Change Shih Tzu's Food? [Itch Problem]

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  • #22234 Report Abuse

    To start things off, I am a first time puppy/dog owner so I’m a rookie but I’m getting the handle of my 2 month old Shih Tzu.

    My puppy was eating Purina Puppy Chow [GARBAGE] before he became mine and I knew that the food was just not healthy seeing as how a large bag was just $8 at Walmart. So I Googled around and found out that Blue Buffalo’s Puppy Food as seen below….

    Blue Buffalo

    was an excellent alternative. Grain-Free, No Preservatives, generally much better then most dry puppy food selections out there.

    As a first time puppy owner, I did make the mistake of switching the food in just one day and suffered the dreaded diarrhea problem but some white rice with chicken relieved it and I did the whole 50/50, 75/25, 100/0 new to old dog food trick.

    My MAIN problem and I do not know whether it’s the food I’m giving him, is that he itches ALOT. He always scratches near his ears and his neck constantly. Now, I didn’t keep him on the Purina Puppy Chow long enough for me to find out if the issue was also relevant with that dog food as well or JUST Blue Buffalo. I took him to the vet and his ears were fine. There appears to be no flea problem so my only conclusion was that it could POSSIBLY be the food.

    So I wanted to know if there are any recommendations you guys can give me based on the age and breed of the puppy and his troublesome itch. I heard Blue Buffalo has a Basics Formula but the review it got on this site [which I trust] makes me hesitant to buy that alternative. I’ve heard of Orijen but that seems to be too much of a high protein formula for such a young pup and for Shih Tzu’s.

    #22237 Report Abuse

    You could try another brand as there plenty to chose from. For small breeds, try Amicus, Nature’s Logic, Nature’s Variety Instinct, Nutrisource grain free, Brothers Complete, Nature’s Select grain free, Wellness Core Small Breed. Look up the different formulas and see which amount of protein you want to feed. For around 30% (average) try Amicus, Brothers Beef and Egg, Nutrisource grain free Lamb. The others listed have formulas that are higher in protein.

    #22251 Report Abuse

    So I was looking at your suggestions and Wellness Core seemed the best out of all based on availability from where I live, and it’s balanced protein to carbohydrate ratio.

    Wellness Core Puppy Formula

    The puppy formula out of all of them would be more appropriate for my 2 month old.

    I also saw this one
    Nature's Variety Prairie Puppy

    Basically, the same as what I’m feeding my puppy currently but for that same reason, it could still trigger the itch he has.

    So if anyone can just guide me between these two brands or suggest other brands, it would be really appreciated.

    #22254 Report Abuse
    Hound Dog Mom

    Hi ShihTzuOwner –

    Nature’s Variety and Wellness are both great companies with quality foods. However, if you can get it I would recommend Nature Variety’s Instinct line over their Prairie line. I think NV Instinct and Wellness CORE would both be good foods to rotate between for your pup. There’s no reason you need to pick just one brand and stick to it, in fact it’s better for your pup if you switch brands occasionally. If certain foods trigger itching in your dog is may also take some trial and error to figure out which ingredients cause the issues. Instinct has some great Limited Ingredient Diets that may be something to consider. You can also check out Dr. Mike’s 4 and 5 star foods over on the review site to find some other comparable options for your pup.

    • This reply was modified 10 years, 4 months ago by Hound Dog Mom.
    #22286 Report Abuse

    Both sound great. I’ll research them further and come to a decision.

    #82107 Report Abuse
    Shichon M

    I know this is an old post, but I was wondering if you ever figured out what was causing your ShihTzu to itch. Was it the food or something else? I just got a ShihTzu/Bichon puppy and he has the same itching. I have also checked the ears and fleas/ticks but nothing. Don’t know what to do for him.

    #82601 Report Abuse
    Susan C

    Hi Shichon:

    I am new to this forum but not new to dogs or shihtzus and their itching problems. I’m not new to dog allergies or food problems. I have a shihtzu/lhasa apso mix who has suffered since I’ve had her (7 years–got her as a rescue). She has terrible flea allergies, so much so that she digs and chews until I can see either bruising or blood where she has been chewing. I’ve fed her commercial foods, prescription foods and finally settled on home cooking using organic ingredients, non-GMO meats, and free-range eggs.

    I have found during all this research (and I mean RESEARCH—FOR YEARS) that a lot of itching has to do with what season we are in and where the dog goes outside. I live in a condo and we have hired a landscaping company to cut the grass. They use Round-up or similar pesticides and when I take my dog out to pee, she walks on the grass. The Round-up is made to kill weeds–and some of these weeds are beneficial to keeping away certain insect populations. The problem is that without the weeds, fleas and other insects overgrow and while we have a nice pretty yard, it’s full of fleas and other itch-making insects. Not to mention the exposure to the pesticide that my dog gets with just walking through the grass.

    I use a homemade concoction to spray her every day and increase the usage when she starts itching. It’s made of apple cider vinegar and chamomile tea (brew it and let it cool). I keep it in the fridge and spray her paws before and after she goes outside. I also spray her backside as well because that’s the area that gets closest to the grass.

    I mentioned the season earlier in my post because right now where I am, it is 70 degrees and in the middle of winter. This unseasonable warmth throws everything out of whack–I have flowers blooming, fruit trees with leaves, etc, all sorts of unnatural things happen when the environment is screwy–including my dog’s ability to fight off allergies and certain illnesses. When nature gets out of balance, it affects everyone, even humans. Even right now, the murder rate is doubled here in Birmingham, Alabama since the first of 2016…everything is crazy. Up until December 26, we had 70+ temps. It is supposed to be in the 40’s during the day in the winter in Alabama.

    I feel our little shihtzus are very sensitive to all this, not to mention they are cold weather dogs and we put them in our US climate where it gets hot every summer. Our dogs are from the Himalayas. Not exactly tropical climate there. My suggestion to you is to spend a little time brushing your dog, use the spray I mentioned above, keep the puppy cool, and only bath him once a month, or once every 3 weeks. But brush his coat twice daily. I am a groomer as well, and we bath our dogs entirely too much. It is nice to have a sweet smelling pup but weekly bathing leads to changes in the dog’s natural ability to fight skin rashes and itchiness greatly decreased. Their skin is too dry, it starts itching, they scratch, we bathe, they scratch, they bite, we bathe—get the picture?

    Just for what it’s worth–I feel your pain. I can share more info if you want. Just let me know. This is a problem that won’t go away once and for all. It’s ongoing so buckle down and get ready to spend some time with your puppy. Look at it like this, more time for you to enjoy him. Little shihtzus are the most precious.


    #83199 Report Abuse
    Laura D

    We have a shih tzu who is sensitive to chicken and we’ve learned pork. We had a terrible time a few years ago with her itching. Vet thought environmental, but the winter didn’t bring any relief. Read up and at the time sensicare precise was said to be a good choice for allergy prone dogs. Put her on it and noticed that we weren’t at the vet all the time for itching!! I then tried to give her a little of what I thought a better quality food and the minute I added it in, she was itching. So the culprit in my opinion was chicken.

    About the same time we were adding a shih tzu/bichon to the family and the breeder warned us that sometimes her dogs have chicken allergies. She was feeding venison a the time. So we found that both could eat lamb and venison with no issues. I don’t thing 2nd pup has ever had chicken to know if he has any issues with it.

    Recently the shih tzu had pancreatitis so we’re experimenting with vet prescribed foods and she’s back to itching – pork this time. Hoping the newest that we are weaning her onto will do the trick – it’s fish based.

    My recommendation is limited ingredient foods. If one doesn’t work compare ingredients and you may be able to figure out the sensitivities.

    #83202 Report Abuse

    You may find this site informative.
    “Atopic dermatitis is a hypersensitivity or over-reaction to a variety of commonplace and otherwise harmless substances in the environment such as plant pollens, house dust mites or mold spores. Most pets with atopic dermatitis either inhale or absorb their allergens through their skin. Allergy tests are used to identify what a pet is allergic to in their environment”.

    excerpt below from:
    Food Allergies are probably over-diagnosed in dogs (they account for, perhaps 5-10%). Hypoallergenic diets are occasionally, but not frequently, helpful in canine atopy cases but you should always give them a try. Food intolerances are more common – but considerably more likely to result in digestive disturbances and diarrhea than in itching problems.

    Also, via the search engine here: /forums/search/allergies/

    BTW: Allergen Specific Immunotherapy does not address food allergies (rare) or food sensitivities.

    A common environmental allergen is the household dust mite, also known as Cockroach, American and Tyropagus putrecentiae. And, no, you don’t have to have cockroaches in your home. These microscopic particles are everywhere, airborne and on the skin of all living things…including you! Constantly being shed all year round.

    Frequent bathing (Malaseb) might help but it won’t completely solve the problem. Also, allergies tend to get worse as the dog gets older.

    Folks will recommend an elimination diet, but how will you know if the dog is responding to environmental allergies, which is causing what? I didn’t find elimination diets helpful.
    However, my dog does best on Nutrisca Salmon and Chickpea.

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