I receive many questions from Shih Tzu owners about feeding chicken. Is it safe? Can it be beneficial? And what about the bones!
There are many important questions surrounding this topic, and it’s handy to know the answers.
I’ll cover everything you need to know about Shih Tzus and eating chicken below. Let’s get straight into it.
Is Chicken Safe for Shih Tzus?
In general, chicken is safe for Shih Tzus to eat. It’s a great source of protein, which is essential for their overall health.
However, it should be prepared properly and given in moderation. Remember, every dog is unique. So, just because chicken is safe for most dogs doesn’t mean your Shih Tzu will tolerate it well.
Always consult with your vet before making significant changes to your pet’s diet.
Here’s a link from the American Kennel Club that provides more information on dogs eating chicken.
Raw Chicken: Yay or Nay?
A debate exists in the dog world about whether raw food is good for dogs. While some argue that raw chicken, part of a raw diet, can provide natural nutrients, others caution against it due to the risk of bacterial infection, such as Salmonella or Campylobacter.
Most vets recommend against feeding raw chicken to Shih Tzus. The risk of bacterial contamination is high, and small breeds like Shih Tzus might be particularly susceptible to these infections.
If you’re interested in a raw diet for your pet, consult your vet first. This article from PetMD discusses the pros and cons of raw diets for dogs.
Related: Can Shih Tzus Eat Eggs? What To Know
What About Chicken Bones?
It’s crucial to never feed your Shih Tzu chicken bones. While it might seem natural for dogs to chew on bones, chicken bones pose serious hazards.
They can splinter easily, potentially causing your dog to choke, or injure their mouth, throat, or digestive system.
For more details on the dangers of chicken bones, check out this link from Vets Now.
Using Chicken as Training Treats for Shih Tzus
Chicken can be a fantastic tool when it comes to training your Shih Tzu.
Dogs love the taste, and the high protein content can give them the energy they need for training sessions.
But, as with anything, there are a few things to keep in mind when using chicken as a training treat.
- Size Matters: Keep the pieces small. Training treats are meant to be quick rewards, not meals. You want your Shih Tzu to be able to eat the treat quickly and get back to the task at hand. Plus, smaller pieces mean fewer calories, which can help prevent weight gain.
- Use Sparingly: Even though your Shih Tzu might love chicken, it’s essential to keep it as a special treat. Overuse can lead to your pet becoming less interested in their regular food or becoming overweight.
- Monitor Your Dog: Always watch your Shih Tzu when they’re eating chicken, especially during training sessions. This is important to ensure they don’t choke and to spot any signs of food allergies or intolerances.
- Balance is Key: Remember, treats (including chicken) should not make up more than 10% of your Shih Tzu’s daily caloric intake. Their main diet should still be a balanced dog food that meets all their nutritional needs.
Incorporating chicken as a training treat can create a positive association with learning new commands or good behavior, making training sessions more effective and enjoyable for both you and your pet.
How to Best Cook Chicken for Your Shih Tzu
When preparing chicken for your Shih Tzu, keep it simple. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it:
- Choose skinless, boneless chicken breasts. These cuts have less fat and no dangerous bones.
- Boil the chicken. Boiling is the best method as it doesn’t involve any oil or seasoning, which can upset your dog’s stomach.
- Cut the chicken into small, manageable pieces. This step reduces the risk of choking.
- Let it cool. Always cool food before offering it to your pet to prevent burns.
Avoid using any spices, onion, or garlic, which are harmful to dogs. Also, don’t replace a meal with chicken. It should only be a treat or a supplement to their regular, balanced dog food.
How Much Chicken Can a Shih Tzu Eat?
While chicken is safe for Shih Tzus, it doesn’t mean they can eat unlimited amounts. Chicken should not make up more than 10% of your pet’s daily calorie intake.
Too much can lead to obesity, which is a serious concern for small breeds like Shih Tzus. It can also cause an imbalance in their nutrient intake.
Again, always consult with your vet to determine an appropriate amount based on your Shih Tzu’s age, size, and overall health.
Possible Side Effects of Eating Chicken
Despite being generally safe, some Shih Tzus might have adverse reactions to chicken. Watch out for signs of:
- Allergies: Some dogs are allergic to chicken. Symptoms can include itching, redness, and gastrointestinal upset. If you suspect your Shih Tzu is allergic, contact your vet.
- Digestive issues: Overconsumption can lead to diarrhea or constipation. Always introduce new foods gradually and monitor your pet for any changes.
- Choking hazard: Even small, boneless pieces can be a choking hazard if your Shih Tzu eats too quickly. Supervise them while they’re eating.
This link from PetMD provides more information about allergies in dogs.
When Should You Not Feed Your Shih Tzu Chicken?
While chicken can be a great addition to your Shih Tzu’s diet in moderation, there are times when it’s best to avoid it. Here are a few key situations:
- Allergic Reactions: If your Shih Tzu shows signs of a chicken allergy (like skin irritation, ear infections, or gastrointestinal issues), stop feeding them chicken immediately.
- Digestive Upset: If your pet has had a recent bout of diarrhea or vomiting, chicken – or any change in diet – could potentially exacerbate the issue. In these cases, it’s best to stick to their regular food until they’re feeling better.
- Underlying Health Conditions: Certain conditions, like pancreatitis or kidney disease, require a special diet. If your Shih Tzu has a chronic condition, always consult with your vet before adding chicken or any new food to their diet.
- Overweight or Obese Dogs: If your Shih Tzu is overweight, it’s crucial to monitor their caloric intake. While chicken isn’t high in fat, it still contains calories. You might need to adjust their regular meals if you’re adding chicken to their diet.
- After Surgery or Illness: If your Shih Tzu has recently undergone surgery or been ill, their stomach might be more sensitive than usual. In this case, stick to their regular diet until they’re fully recovered.
Remember, when in doubt, it’s always a good idea to consult your vet.
Many experts emphasize the importance of a balanced diet for Shih Tzus. Dr. Jerry Klein, the AKC’s Chief Veterinary Officer, states that “Fresh chicken can be fed to dogs in small amounts, but make sure it makes up no more than 10 percent of your dog’s daily calorie intake” (source).
On the other hand, Dr. Ian Billinghurst, a pioneer of the raw food diet for dogs, believes that raw chicken, including bones, can be beneficial for dogs.
However, this remains a controversial opinion, and most vets recommend against feeding raw chicken due to the risk of bacterial infection.
In conclusion, chicken can be a safe and healthy treat for your Shih Tzu when prepared and given properly.
Always avoid raw chicken and chicken bones, keep the portion sizes in check, and monitor your pet for any adverse reactions.
As always, consult with your vet before making any significant changes to your Shih Tzu’s diet.
With careful attention and a bit of knowledge, chicken can indeed become a favored treat for your fluffy companion. Happy feeding!