Finding the best food for your little Shih Tzu can be challenging, but if your dog has allergies, it can be even more frustrating. When a dog has a food allergy1, it means that its immune system is triggered and overreacts to a certain ingredient in the food, causing an allergic reaction. Antibodies are produced in an attempt to fight off this perceived threat and your dog can suffer from inflamed or itchy skin, hot spots, itchy paws, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Some food allergies can be controlled by switching to a diet with a low risk of triggering allergic reactions. Always speak to your vet about which food would be ideal for your dog. To give you an idea of which foods to consider, we created a list of the best food for Shih Tzus with allergies. Here, you can read the reviews of each food and see what might work best for your dog.
A Glance at Our Winners in 2023
|Best Overall||Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin Stew||
|Best Value||Purina Pro Plan Small Breed Sensitive Skin & Stomach Dry Food||
|Premium Choice||JustFoodForDogs Joint & Skin Support Frozen Food||
|Best for Puppies||Blue Buffalo Basics Skin & Stomach Care Dry Puppy Food||
|Vet's Choice||Royal Canin Veterinary Dry Dog Food||
The 10 Best Dog Foods for Shih Tzus With Allergies
1. Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin Dog Food — Best Overall
|Main ingredients:||Chicken broth, turkey, carrots, pork liver, rice|
|Calories:||253 per can|
The Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin Dog Food is specially formulated for dogs with sensitive skin and contains vitamin E and omega fatty acids to keep it moisturized and healthy. It includes easily digestible ingredients like rice, turkey, and broth that are gentle on sensitive stomachs. The food is slow-cooked for maximum flavor, making it the best overall dog food for Shih Tzus with allergies.
The food is densely packed in the cans so you may have to add a bit of water if you want a thinner consistency. The cans have pull rings that can be difficult to use. Some dogs don’t care for the mushy texture, and some dog owners don’t care for the smell of the food. But if you have a Shih Tzu that likes soft food, this is a great option. It’s also good for older dogs that have dental issues because it’s easy to eat and doesn’t include many large chunks.
2. Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach Dog Food — Best Value
|Main ingredients:||Salmon, rice, barley, canola meal, fish meal|
|Calories:||478 per cup|
The Purina Pro Plan Small Breed Sensitive Skin & Stomach Dry Dog Food is made for active small dogs that need skin and tummy support. It’s made with salmon as the first ingredient, which is perfect for dogs with poultry allergies. The recipe includes wholesome ingredients that present a low allergic trigger, making this the best dog food for Shih Tzus with allergies for the money.
Prebiotic fiber and oatmeal are gentle on digestion, while sunflower oil and omega fatty acids work to nourish skin from the inside out. The recipe includes 23 essential vitamins and minerals to support overall health.
The fish taste of this food from salmon and fish meal can be off-putting to dogs that are used to something milder. It can take a while for picky dogs to get used to the flavor.
3. JustFoodForDogs Joint & Skin Support Fresh Frozen Dog Food — Premium Choice
|Main ingredients:||Pork, quinoa, kale, carrots, apples|
|Calories:||32 per ounce|
JustFoodForDogs Joint & Skin Support Fresh Frozen Dog Food ships to your door every Monday through Wednesday. It can be stored in your freezer for up to 1 year. Once thawed, it should be fed to your dog within 4 days.
This food is made with healthy ingredients that you can see in the recipe. It’s formulated with collagen and is a joint care supplement for healthy skin and joints. This whole food diet is made with pork as the primary protein ingredient and a mix of quinoa, fruits, and vegetables for vitamins and minerals. Nothing artificial is added. Since you know the ingredients that you’ll be feeding your Shih Tzu, the risk of allergic reactions is reduced. This food is made for adult dogs only and does not have the nutrition that puppies require.
This food can be mixed with kibble or canned food to make it last longer and give your dog a boost of healthy ingredients. Since it arrives frozen, it will take up room in your freezer and may be time-consuming to thaw and have ready when your dog needs to eat. It’s not recommended to microwave this food because some of the nutrients could be destroyed in the process.
4. Blue Buffalo Basics Skin & Stomach Care Puppy Food — Best for Puppies
|Main ingredients:||Deboned turkey, turkey meal, oatmeal, peas, brown rice|
|Calories:||394 per cup|
The limited-ingredient recipe of Blue Buffalo Basics Skin & Stomach Care Puppy Food limits allergy risks by using a single protein source. Deboned turkey is the first ingredient, promoting easy digestion and adding to the protein content. Pumpkin and potatoes are added for digestive health and healthy carbs.
Since this food is for puppies, it’s formulated with essential amino acids, like DHA, for healthy eye and brain development. It also includes LifeSource Bits, Blue Buffalo’s unique blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
If your Shih Tzu has allergies to poultry, this food is not for them. It will work if your dog has chicken-specific allergies because the recipe includes no chicken.
5. Royal Canin Veterinary Dry Dog Food — Vet’s Choice
|Main ingredients:||Brewers rice, hydrolyzed soy protein, chicken fat, natural flavors, dried plain beet pulp|
|Calories:||332 per cup|
The Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Hydrolyzed Protein Dry Dog Food requires a prescription to be able to buy it, so speak to your vet first if you think that this food is a good option for your dog.
This food is made for dogs and puppies of all breed sizes who are experiencing food sensitivities. The formula can help reduce skin and digestive reactions. The proteins in the food are broken down to a small enough size that the immune system is less likely to identify and react to them. The recipe also includes nutrients for healthy skin and coat.
A blend of fibers helps support digestive health and reduce GI upset. While the food has been known to help clear up dogs’ allergy reactions, some dogs are not enthusiastic about eating it. Hydrolyzed soy protein and chicken fat don’t have the same flavors as real meat protein, so some picky dogs may not care for it.
6. Bil-Jac Sensitive Solutions Skin & Stomach Support Dry Dog Food
|Main ingredients:||Chicken, chicken by-products (organs only), corn meal, chicken by-product meal, dried beet pulp|
|Calories:||403 per cup|
Bil-Jac Sensitive Solutions Skin & Stomach Support Dry Dog Food is made for dogs with sensitivities, so it’s a good option for a Shih Tzu with allergies. It contains linoleic acid and omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat.
Real white adds to the food’s protein content, and the recipe has a fiber blend with prebiotics and oatmeal for easy digestion. Vitamins C and E are included for immune and overall health. The kibble is crunchy and easy to chew for dogs of all sizes. It’s made in small batches to seal in nutrition and flavor.
The front of the package states that it’s made with real whitefish, so some dog owners have purchased this food thinking that it did not include chicken. While whitefish is indeed an ingredient, chicken is the first ingredient, so this is not a food for dogs that are allergic to poultry.
7. Acana Singles + Wholesome Grains Dry Dog Food
|Main ingredients:||Deboned duck, duck meal, oat groats, whole sorghum, duck liver|
|Calories:||371 per cup|
The Acana Singles + Wholesome Grains Limited Ingredient Dog Food uses duck as the single animal protein source, reducing allergic reactions and giving your Shih Tzu a unique protein option.
Whole grains, squash, and pumpkin in the recipe add fiber and nutrients to keep digestive systems healthy. The vitamins in the formula work to support the nervous and circulatory systems. There are no artificial flavors or preservatives added. Many of the main ingredients are sourced from trusted farmers, ranchers, and fishers to maintain quality and safety.
Considering Shih Tzus are small and don’t eat as much as larger breeds, the high price tag of this food might be acceptable. However, for large or multiple dogs, it is an expensive food if you have to buy large bags of it often.
8. Go! Solutions Skin + Coat Care Dry Dog Food
|Main ingredients:||Salmon meal, oatmeal, potatoes, whole oats, deboned salmon|
|Calories:||427 per cup|
Made with a salmon meal and salmon as the only animal protein source, the Go! Solutions Skin + Coat Care Dry Dog Food is filled with omega fatty acids for skin health. Ground flaxseed adds to the overall omega fatty acid content. One protein source also reduces the risk of allergic reactions.
Since the protein is a single source that’s not poultry, it’s a good option for Shih Tzus with chicken sensitivities. Probiotics and prebiotic fiber are added for healthy digestion, along with dried chicory root for healthy digestive bacteria.
This recipe was formulated by a team of pet nutritionists for optimal taste while still meeting the needs of dogs with skin and coat issues. Some dogs have experienced loose stools after eating this food. In these cases, the salmon may be too rich for them, especially if you’re switching from a less oily protein source.
9. AvoDerm Advanced Sensitive Support Dry Dog Food
|Main ingredients:||Salmon, salmon meal, oatmeal, ground white rice, pumpkin|
|Calories:||437 per cup|
For Shih Tzus with food allergies and intolerances, the AvoDerm Advanced Support Dry Dog Food contains limited ingredients to limit and reduce reactions.
Salmon is the first ingredient and only animal protein source. This, along with pumpkin, oatmeal, and omega-filled avocado, promotes healthy digestion and immune systems. The food is gentle on sensitive stomachs and made without any chicken. It’s ideal for dogs with chicken allergies.
Even though this food is formulated to help reduce allergies, it didn’t relieve some dogs’ itching. They either had grain allergies or needed a different protein source.
10. Wholesomes Sensitive Skin & Stomach Dry Dog Food
|Main ingredients:||Salmon meal, brown rice, oatmeal, ground rice, pearled barley|
|Calories:||355 per cup|
Wholesome Sensitive Skin & Stomach Dry Dog Food is suitable for adult dogs and puppies. It’s made with ingredients that you can recognize, including ancient grains and oatmeal to help with digestion. Omega fatty acids are included for skin and coat health. For dogs with sensitive digestive systems, this food is an option. Taurine is included for heart health. Shih Tzus that can’t eat poultry may be able to eat this food.
Some dog owners report that this food has a foul odor, which could be due to the salmon and fish meal in the ingredients. Some dogs simply did not like the taste.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Pick the Best Dog Food for Shih Tzus With Allergies
Shih Tzus can have allergies to many things, just like humans. Shampoos, pollen, and food ingredients, to name a few, can all trigger reactions. Food allergies occur when your dog’s immune system recognizes a consumed ingredient as an intruder and works to protect your dog against it.
Life with food allergies can be uncomfortable for your Shih Tzu. It’s important to find the right food for them to minimize these symptoms.
As always, speak to your vet before making the switch to any food for your dog. Your vet is your best resource for what’s appropriate for your dog to eat.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing dog food for Shih Tzus with allergies.
Limited-Ingredient Dog Food
The fewer ingredients in the recipe, the less chance there is of something in the food causing an allergic reaction. Limited-ingredient dog foods have short lists of ingredients that are usually full of things that you can easily recognize. If you know what your dog is allergic to (this can be determined by your vet through careful testing and food trials), then you can easily avoid the ingredient.
Hypoallergenic Dog Food
Hypoallergenic dog foods were created specifically for dogs with allergies that can’t eat regular food. These diets usually require a prescription and provide your dog with the nutrition that they need while being incredibly careful to leave out any potential allergens. Sometimes, though, this food is not as tasty as regular food. Prescription food may not entice your Shih Tzu to eat the way that their previous food might have.
Be sure to purchase dog food that is made for your specific dog’s age. Sometimes food will be made for all ages, and as long as it states this explicitly on the label, then that’s fine to feed your dog. However, puppies, adult dogs, and senior dogs need different nutrients. The food for each life stage will be balanced and made for a dog’s age.
Protein is the most important ingredient in your dog’s food. The protein content of the food should be higher than the fat content. Unfortunately, the most common ingredient that dogs are allergic to is protein.
Dogs can develop allergies at any time, so it’s possible that your dog was able to eat chicken for years and now is suddenly allergic to it. If your dog is allergic to the protein in their food, the easiest thing to do is change the protein source. A new protein that your dog hasn’t had before is usually recommended.
If the food contains more than one protein source, the risk of allergic reactions increases.
We hope that these reviews have helped you find dog food for your Shih Tzu with allergies. Be sure to check with your vet before making a final decision.
To recap, our best overall choice is Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin Canned Dog Food. It’s easily digestible and made for sensitive skin. A value option is Purina Pro Plan Small Breed Sensitive Skin & Stomach Dry Dog Food, made with salmon as the protein source. JustFoodForDogs Joint & Skin Support Fresh Frozen Dog Food is expensive food, but it’s conveniently shipped to your door and made with wholesome ingredients.
Puppies can enjoy Blue Buffalo Basics Skin & Stomach Care Puppy Food because it’s made for puppy development. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Hydrolyzed Protein Dry Dog Food requires a prescription but is made for dogs with allergies.
Featured Image Credit: thanakarn Singto, Shutterstock