Skip to Content
The Puppy Mag is an Amazon associate and earns a commission for qualifying purchases. Affiliate Disclosure

Shih Tzus & Sensitive Stomachs: All You Need to Know

Today, we will delve into whether Shih Tzus have sensitive stomachs, address the typical causes, identify common allergens, and explore some of the best solutions to keep their bellies happy and healthy.

This topic is talked about frequently among our Shih Tzu community here at The Puppy Mag, so if your a Shih Tzu parent then this is likely going to be very helpful.

do shih tzus have sensitive stomachs

Do Shih Tzus Have Sensitive Stomachs?

The answer is, yes, Shih Tzus can have sensitive stomachs.

This breed is known to be more prone to digestive issues compared to others.

But why is that?

For the most part, It boils down to their genetic makeup and breed-specific characteristics.

Firstly, Shih Tzus have relatively short snouts, a characteristic of brachycephalic breeds. This trait can lead to difficulties in digestion because they might swallow more air when eating, potentially causing bloating and discomfort.

Secondly, due to their small size, they have smaller digestive systems. This makes them more prone to upset stomachs as they might not handle certain foods as well as larger dogs.

➡️ Important: Complete List of Fruit (Safe & Unsafe) For Shih Tzus

What Are the Signs of a Sensitive Stomach?

Shih Tzus can’t tell us when their stomachs are upset, but they do exhibit signs that we should be on the lookout for:

  • Vomiting: This is one of the most obvious signs of a sensitive stomach.
  • Diarrhea: Loose or irregular stools can indicate digestion issues.
  • Lack of appetite: A decrease in food interest could signal an upset stomach.
  • Lethargy : If your Shih Tzu seems unenergetic or sleeps more than usual, it might be feeling unwell.

If your pup exhibits any of these signs, it’s crucial to consult with a vet to identify the root cause. You can use resources like AVMA to understand more about possible internal issues.

Of course, these are fairly generic symptoms, so if you do see your Shih Tzu suddenly experiencing these, it’s always best to consult with your vet, as there’s a small chance it’s being caused by something else.

Causes of Sensitive Stomachs in Shih Tzus

Understanding the causes of sensitive stomachs in our Shih Tzus can be the key to managing this issue effectively.

Here are some of the most common causes:

1. Genetics: Certain breeds, including Shih Tzus, are genetically predisposed to have more sensitive stomachs. This is largely due to their smaller size and physical characteristics that can influence their digestive process.

2. Food Allergies or Intolerances: As we discussed earlier, specific foods can trigger allergic reactions or intolerances in Shih Tzus. This could be due to specific proteins, grains, or artificial additives present in their diet.

3. Ingesting Foreign Objects: Shih Tzus are curious pups and might ingest non-food items, which can cause stomach upset or even more serious complications.

4. Parasites: Internal parasites like worms can also upset your Shih Tzu’s stomach. Regular deworming, as recommended by your vet, can help prevent this issue.

5. Bacterial or Viral Infections: Infections can cause inflammation and damage to the stomach and intestines, leading to digestive issues.

6. Certain Medications: Some medications can cause stomach upset as a side effect. If you suspect this is the case, consult with your vet to explore alternative treatments.

7. Stress or Anxiety: Emotional stress or anxiety can also impact your Shih Tzu’s digestive health. Changes in the environment, separation anxiety, or even a new family member can trigger stress in your pup.

Knowing which cause applies to your Shih Tzu will usually mean taking a step back to consider their daily routine, diet, lifestyle, and how long they’ve been suffering from this issue.

It can be fairly difficult narrowing it down to the correct cause and in most cases it’s advised to speak to your vet about this if the reason isn’t obvious.

Knowing the cause is the first step to properly solving the issue.

➡️ Related: Is Cesars Dog Food Good for Shih Tzus

shih tzu upset stomach

Common Allergens for Shih Tzus

In many cases, resolving sensitive stomachs in Shih Tzus means avoiding the specific triggers and foods that cause it. And common allergens are well, “a common” problem!

Unfortunately, most kibbles and treats contain common allergens as you’ll see below. For example, chicken, beef, lamb, and pork are always used, yet, cause a lot of upset stomachs.

Some common allergens include:

  • Certain proteins like lamb, pork, beef, chicken, or dairy products
  • Grains such as wheat or corn
  • Artificial additives, colors, and preservatives

According to PetMD, these are some of the most common food allergens for dogs. It’s always a good idea to monitor your Shih Tzu’s reaction after meals to identify any potential allergens.

Sometimes, a Shih Tzu with a sensitive stomach could greatly benefit from a switch of dog food.

Switch from one that gets it’s protein source from common allergens to one that uses either turkey, duck, fish or salmon as it’s main source. This can oftentimes result in better digestion.

Best Solutions for Shih Tzus with Sensitive Stomachs

Here are some of the best strategies to manage your Shih Tzu’s sensitive stomach:

1. Diet Change: The first step is to evaluate your dog’s diet. Switch to high-quality, easily digestible dog food that’s free from common allergens. Some experts recommend grain-free or limited ingredient diets for dogs with sensitive stomachs. You can consult with your vet or check out resources like RSPCA for more guidance on a suitable diet.

2. Regular Feeding Schedule: Establishing a consistent feeding schedule can also help. Smaller, more frequent meals can be easier on their stomachs than one or two large ones.

3. Hydration: Ensure your pup is well-hydrated. Water aids digestion and can help prevent constipation.

4. Probiotics: Probiotics can support healthy gut bacteria and aid digestion. Always consult with your vet before introducing any supplements to your pet’s diet.

5. Regular Exercise: Regular, light exercise can aid digestion and prevent constipation. A short walk after meals can be beneficial.

Preventing Digestive Issues in Shih Tzus

Prevention is always better than cure. Here are some ways to help prevent digestive issues from occurring:

1. Regular Vet Check-ups: Regular vet visits can ensure early detection and management of any potential issues. Your vet can provide personalized advice based on your pup’s health condition.

2. Mindful Feeding: Pay attention to your Shih Tzu’s eating habits. If they eat too quickly, consider a slow-feeder bowl to prevent them from gulping down their food and swallowing excess air.

3. Monitoring Food Intake: Keep an eye on what your Shih Tzu is consuming. This includes being mindful of treats and making sure they’re not eating anything they shouldn’t during walks or playtime.

4. Stress Management: Stress can contribute to digestive issues. Providing a calm, comfortable environment and regular playtime can help manage your pup’s stress levels.

What Do Pet Experts Say?

Pet experts agree that while Shih Tzus are prone to sensitive stomachs, the issue is manageable with the right care. Dr. Jerry Klein, a well-respected vet, says, “With proper diet and regular vet check-ups, most Shih Tzus can lead a healthy, comfortable life despite their sensitive stomachs.”

The VCA Hospitals also provide extensive information about stomach and intestinal inflammation in dogs, including Shih Tzus, and recommend consistent vet visits and dietary management as effective strategies for prevention and treatment.

In Conclusion

Yes, our lovely Shih Tzus can indeed have sensitive stomachs, but with love, care, and some precautions, we can keep them comfortable and happy.

Always remember, a change in diet should be done gradually and under your vet’s supervision.

With regular vet check-ups, a suitable diet, and a stress-free environment, your Shih Tzu can thrive even with a sensitive stomach.

So, let’s give our Shih Tzus the best care they deserve, and in return, they will shower us with unconditional love and loyalty. After all, they’re not just pets; they’re our family.

Last but not least, it’s important to remember that while this article provides general advice, every Shih Tzu is unique.

Always consult with your vet for personalized advice based on your pet’s specific needs and conditions. Happy pet parenting!

More Shih Tzu Advice


Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.