What Can Shih Tzu Not Eat?
There are those that will feed their pets with the same food that they eat themselves, perhaps while sitting at the table tossing the odd tidbit to a begging shih tzu or sharing human treats with their best friend.
This is likely to be a serious mistake, perhaps, in the worst cases, even a fatal mistake. There are some foods that are perfectly alright for us to eat that are toxic for dogs and could leave them suffering from chronic illnesses or may even kill them.
I recently published a post about the best dog food for a shih tzu to eat. Now here is a list of some foods you should never allow past your shih tzu’s lips and some that ought to be restricted to very small quantities if allowed at all.
When feeding you shih tzu shop bought food, check there are none of the foods featured in this following list in the ingredients. It is by no means an exhaustive list, but all of the most common major dangers to your dog’s health are here.
This, then, in alphabetical order, is the list of what can shih tzu not eat.
Now I’m sure you know, if not by personal experience then by observing others, how detrimental the effects of overindulging in alcoholic drinks can be. It may take a human a few drinks before adverse conditions begin to kick in.
Not so with a shih tzu. Its smaller stomach and faster metabolism mean that a very tiny quantity of alcohol can bring on serious illnesses, particularly affecting the brain and liver. I’ve seen people sitting outside of bars let their dogs sip from their glass of beer. This is a definite no, no! Alcohol should NEVER be given to a dog.
Vomiting, diarrhea, depression, loss of coordination, laboured breathing, pleural effusion (fluid in the chest cavity), coma and even death.
That oversized seed in the centre of an avocado houses a fungicide called “persin” that is harmless to humans but is toxic to dogs.
The persin leaches out of the seed into the flesh and skin of the fruit, it is its built-in survival mechanism.
A small amount of avocado isn’t likely to threaten the survival of your shih tzu but the persin could cause gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting.
The high fat content of an avocado means that if your shih tzu is eating large amounts of it, then he could develop pancreatitis, a severe and potentially life threatening condition.
But the biggest threat to your shih tzu’s life from an avocado is if he swallows that big slippery seed. It can block his throat, stomach or intestines with fatal consequences.
Bacon is high in both fat and salt content which a shih tzu’s digestive system would struggle to cope with.
Regular consumption could result in the potentially fatal pancreatitis.
Is baking your own bread one of your hobbies? If so, make sure you don’t drop any of the dough on the kitchen floor where your shih tzu can gobble it up.
The dough would continue to rise in his stomach and intestines, blocking and expanding them. This would not only cause acute pain for your dog, the expanding organs would also dangerously interfere with the other internal organs.
Apart from this, the yeast in his stomach would ferment, leading to alcohol poisoning.
Caffeine: Coffee, Tea And Sodas
Caffeine is found in coffee and its grounds, tea and its bags, sodas, energy drinks and some medications such as stimulants and diet pills.
If your shih tzu were to lap up one or two drops of tea or coffee he will not ingest enough caffeine to be affected and there would be no need to worry further.
However, consumed in moderately larger quantities there is grave cause for concern. Such quantities can result in the death of a small dog such as a shih tzu.
Call your emergency vet immediately if you suspect your dog has taken something containing caffeine and is showing one or more of these symptoms:
Vomiting, abnormal heart rate, hyperactivity, muscle tremors, seizures, hyperthermia, collapse or coma.
These symptoms may take up to two hours after ingestion to show through.
Your vet may force your shih tzu to vomit and administer medication to counteract any symptoms. As the caffeine can be absorbed again from the bladder, you may have to take your shih tzu for many walks to ensure that his bladder stays empty until he is given the all clear.
The pit, stem and leaves of a cherry contain a quantity of cyanide. Now, it wouldn’t be enough to threaten the life of your shih tzu if he were only to eat one or two but it may give him a runny tummy.
If he were to eat many whole cherries you will need to look out for signs of cyanide poisoning. The symptoms are laboured breathing, reddened gums and dilated pupils. If in doubt, contact your vet.
Apart from the possible poisoning, the pits can become lodged in the intestines, causing a blockage. The symptoms for this are loss of appetite, vomiting and constipation.
Cherries are, in theory, full of goodness for your dog, with vitamins A and C, antioxidants and fibre. You can feed them to your shih tzu as long as you remove the pit, stem and leaves. Just try one or two at first to discover if they give him an upset stomach or not.
The most likely food that your shih tzu can’t eat but will eat given half a chance is chocolate. They just go crazy for the smell and the taste, so it is important to keep chocolate out of reach.
The ingredient in chocolate that makes it dangerous to dogs is “theobromine”, a substance akin to caffeine and with much the same effect on the nervous system. Theobromine appears in the ground cocoa beans used to make the chocolate.
As more cocoa is used to make dark chocolate this makes it much more dangerous than milk chocolate or white chocolate. As little as 2 oz (50g) of dark chocolate can make your shih tzu ill, whereas it would take around 10 oz (280g) of the milk variety.
Theobromine is poisonous to dogs simply because their metabolism deals with it very slowly compared to the speed of the human metabolism. High doses of theobromine will cause one or more of vomiting, diarrhea, laboured breathing, hyperactivity, shaking, tremors, seizures, abnormal heart rhythm, coma and even death.
Apart from the theobromine, the high fat content of chocolate could also cause pancreatitis in dogs. In my opinion, though, to contract pancreatitis a shih tzu would have to consume more than a fatal amount of chocolate anyway.
If you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate you must call the emergency vet straight away, as it could be a matter of life or death. He may prescribe that you make your shih tzu vomit. In the surgery he will probably do this aided with a dose of hydrogen peroxide.
Of course, it’s okay to give your shih tzu as a treat chocolate that has been especially formulated for dogs and has had all of the dangerous elements taken out.
Cinnamon, although not toxic to dogs, can cause a few problems that will make your shih tzu uncomfortable.
Cinnamon and cinnamon oils can irritate the skin, the inside of the mouth and the digestive tract. This is especially true if a large dose has been ingested, when other symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, abnormal heart rate, low blood sugar levels and liver disease may occur.
Cinnamon powder can bring on coughing, choking and breathing difficulties.
Cooked bones are not a good item to give your shih tzu to eat. It’s not because they contain anything poisonous. No, what makes cooked bones dangerous for dogs is the fact that fragments can break off causing a choking hazard or the splintered bone may become lodged further down the digestive tract causing an obstruction. The, by nature, sharp, pointed ends of the broken off fragments are likely to cause severe internal lacerations.
Chicken bones and fish bones are the most dangerous. If you are giving your shih tzu fresh cooked chicken or fish for lunch, triple check that you have removed all of the bones before putting it in his bowl.
If you value the health of your shih tzu, do not give him fat trimmings. It is also a good idea to trim any fat off of fresh cooked meats before giving them to your dog. As I have stated previously in this article, too much fat in your shih tzu’s diet will eventually lead to him developing pancreatitis, a potentially fatal disease.
“Thiosulfates” found in garlic can damage the red blood cells of a shih tzu to the point where they, the red blood cells, are killed off prematurely before they have moved oxygen around the body. This condition is known as “hemolytic anemia”.
Don’t panic, though, if your dog eats a scrap of garlic accidentally dropped on the floor as such a small quantity is not likely to cause any harm. It would need your shih tzu to eat at least two garlic bulbs before any damage started to happen. So the message here is never to intentionally feed garlic to your dog.
Symptoms of Hemolytic Anemia
Panting, paleness inside the nose, jaundiced appearance, darker urine, lethargy and weakness.
Eating garlic can also cause your shih tzu to suffer a gastrointestinal upset.
Symptoms of Gastrointestinal Upset
Abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, depression, loss of appetite.
Garlic poisoning will very rarely result in the death of a shih tzu, but it will cause a lot of discomfort and severe cases may even need blood transfusions.
Grapes, Currants and Raisins
Despite much scientific research, no-one has ever discovered the mystery ingredient that makes grapes and all of their dried derivatives dangerous for dogs, but dangerous for dogs they are, nonetheless.
It doesn’t take all that many to make a small dog very ill. It can take as little as three or four grapes to incapacitate your shih tzu and symptoms will show typically after an hour or two.
Abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, increased drinking, more, little or no urination, loss of appetite, lethargy, weakness, being unusually still.
Possibly fatal kidney failure can ensue very quickly. If you think your dog has eaten grapes, currants or raisins, however few, you need to call the emergency vet immediately.
Whilst it may cause no harm to give your shih tzu a bite or two of ham now and again, it is not good to give him a lot of ham on a regular basis.
Ham is high in both salt content and fat content. Both are harmful for your dog in excessive quantities. If you were to feed ham to your shih tzu on a regular basis there will most certainly be undesirable side effects.
Too much salt will cause excessive thirst and excessive urination. There may also be some vomiting and diarrhea. In extreme cases there could be seizures, kidney failure, coma and possibly death.
The high fat content of the ham can cause pancreatitis. Quite frankly, lean meats and fish are a much better choice to meet your dog’s protein requirements.
Like grapes, there is a toxin in macadamia nuts that affects dogs that science has not yet identified. Macadamia nuts, however, are less likely to be fatal to a shih tzu as grapes are.
Vomiting, trembling, fever, lack of coordination, weakness and depression.
It can take as little as two or three nuts for these symptoms to start showing in a shih tzu, usually within 12 hours of ingesting. As long as no more nuts are consumed, symptoms should dissipate after 48 hours..
With more and more states and countries legalizing marijuana nowadays, so the incidents of dogs getting high accidentally, or sometimes not accidentally, are going up.
Dogs can become high by eating the buds or leaves, eating edibles laced with marijuana and breathing in secondhand smoke.
As with humans, excessive amounts of marijuana can be fatal. Even more so if the food ingested also has chocolate, avocado or raisins. If you think your shih tzu is high on marijuana, call your emergency vet immediately.
Panting, pacing, lethargy, loss of balance, staggering, low blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, incontinence, discolored pupils, seizures, coma.
Whether your shih tzu can drink cow’s milk or not depends upon his ability to digest lactose. To break down lactose an enzyme called “lactase” needs to be present and many dogs do not have this. These dogs are lactose intolerant.
If your shih tzu has drunk milk and subsequently had much gas and runny poo, then he is probably lactose intolerant and should no longer be given dairy products containing cow’s milk. Although a lactose intolerant dog may still be able to consume some simple cheeses, cottage cheese and plain yoghurts as these have very low lactose content. If you are still wanting to give your shih tzu some milk, then goat’s milk may be worth a try.
Flatulence, diarrhea, dehydration.
I’m not suggesting that you would feed your shih tzu any rotting food, but he may catch you off your guard one day and find some in the trash or in a compost heap.
Mold may or may not contain unpleasant tremorgenic mycotoxins. If it does it can cause a stomach upset for your shih tzu for a while, though some dogs escape unaffected. Of course, this reaction can be complicated and worsened if the moldy food a shih tzu has eaten is another item from this list. If this is the case, it will be necessary to contact the emergency vet.
Molds can also be the cause of allergic reactions in some dogs.
Mushrooms can be split into two categories, the farmed mushrooms sold in stores and markets, and wild mushrooms.
Mushrooms are not a necessary part of a shih tzu’s diet but if you did want to serve up a few shop bought edible mushrooms to your dog they should not do him any harm. That is with the proviso that they are served up plain and not cooked in fat or oil, or served up in a sauce. In reality though, it is probably best to give something more suitable as a treat for your dog.
Wild mushrooms, on the other hand, are to be totally avoided altogether. Yes, there are many harmless wild mushrooms, but there are also many poisonous ones, some even fatal. Could you be 100% sure that the mushroom your shih tzu is sniffing is safe? Even professional foragers get it wrong sometimes.
So, if you regularly walk your shih tzu in places where mushrooms grow, always keep a lookout and prevent him from eating any. If you have a backyard that you let your shih tzu run around in, make sure you keep it clear of any fungal growths.
Some people make the mistake of thinking that their dog’s sense of smell would be able to discern between a poisonous mushroom and a safe one. This is not the case, in fact two of the deadliest mushrooms give off a fishy odour that is likely to interest a dog.
Symptoms of mushroom poisoning vary from mushroom to mushroom. Be on the lookout for any of these:
Severe gastrointestinal upset, severe abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, increased urination, salivating, watery eyes, staggering, lethargy, weakness, tremors, convulsions, seizures, liver failure, kidney failure, coma, death.
If you suspect or know that your shih tzu has eaten a wild mushroom, call your emergency vet without hesitation. Try to take along a sample of the offending fungus, ideally wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a paper bag.
Depending on the mushroom your vet may induce vomiting and administer medicine to counteract the toxins. In some cases a dog will go into a coma like sleep as part of its recovery.
Nutmeg contains the toxin “myristicin”. It is best to make sure that your shih tzu cannot get to any nutmeg at all, but if he were to ingest a small amount it would probably not do him any harm, though he may experience a slight stomach upset.
It is important to keep your nutmeg storage out of your shih tzu’s reach, however, as raiding your supplies is the only way he would be able to take in enough nutmeg to cause serious illness.
It is unlikely that your shih tzu would be able to consume enough nutmeg to cause concern, but if he did, look out for:
Hallucinations and disorientation, elevated heart rate and blood pressure, dry mouth, abdominal pain, seizures.
Symptoms can last for two days before dissipating.
I have already discussed macadamia nuts as unsuitable food for a shih tzu. This is generally the case for all nuts. It is a good idea not to give your dog any nuts whatsoever.
Nuts typically contain significant amounts of oils and fats that are harmful for dogs. The high fat content can lead to gastrointestinal upset and even pancreatitis.
Nuts swallowed whole can be a choking hazard or may block the digestive tract at some point.
Moldy nuts present further problems for a shih tzu as the mold contains mycotoxins which can lead to vomiting, lethargy and muscle spasms.
Onions should not be given to a shih tzu for exactly the same reasons as to why garlic should also not be given. There is the same risk that ingesting a significant amount will cause red blood cell damage leading to hemolytic anemia.
Be careful with any tidbits you might throw your shih tzu’s way. Food items like burgers, sausages, pâté and even baby food contain onions.
The symptoms of the effects of your shih tzu eating onions are exactly the same as for garlic.
A dog’s digestive system just isn’t set up to deal with spicy foods, so items such as chili peppers and jalapeños are best left off of the menu for your shih tzu. Ingesting these hot peppers would result in an uncomfortable time for your dog with symptoms like gastrointestinal upset, vomiting and diarrhea as a result.
Bell peppers, particularly the red ones, on the other hand, are an excellent choice for an alternative treat. These fruits are packed with vitamins and antioxidants. The riper the pepper, the more nutrients it has.
Any green patches on a potato are toxic to humans and dogs alike. Shih tzu, with their tiny stomachs, are going to be much more affected by a green potato patch than a fully grown man. If your shih tzu eats some green potato skin, expect a period of vomiting and diarrhea.
Potatoes that are cooked in oil, such as French fries, are not good for shih tzu. Such an item regularly in their diet could result in pancreatitis.
Whilst raw eggs have excellent nutritional value for a small dog, there is a chance of infection from bacteria such as Salmonella or E.coli that makes it not worth taking the risk when properly cooked eggs are just as beneficial nutritionally.
There is also evidence to show that eating raw eggs inhibits a shih tzu’s ability to absorb biotin, a B complex vitamin that aids digestion, metabolism and skin and cell growth. Lack of biotin leads to skin and coat disorders.
Our domesticated dogs are descendants of the wild dogs that once hunted in packs and survived on the raw meat of any prey they caught. Now, centuries later, our tamed companion dogs have lost their penchant for raw meat and are much happier munching some cooked protein.
Raw meat may contain bacteria that a shih tzu’s immune system cannot cope with, resulting in digestive tract problems, gastrointestinal upsets, diarrhea and vomiting.
Raw chicken poses a bigger risk, apart from the increased danger from bacteria, there is the possibility of choking and internal injuries from the bones.
In my opinion, a shih tzu’s system is not geared up for dealing with raw meat. I always give my two freshly cooked meat or fish as part of their healthy diet. See “Best Dog Food For A Shih Tzu” for more information.
Like any mammal, a shih tzu needs a small quantity of salt in its diet to survive. This they can absorb from what is naturally in their food without the likes of us adding any extra.
A dog ingesting a large quantity of salt somehow would be prone to sodium ion poisoning and kidney problems. Excessive thirst will lead to excessive drinking and excessive urination. Other symptoms of oversalination include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, depression, tremors, seizures and, in extreme cases, death.
Seeds And Fruit Pits
I mentioned before about the cyanide content of cherry stones. Well the same is true of most soft fruit, their seeds and pits contain small amounts of cyanide. Again, if your shih tzu were to lap up on or two seeds that had fallen on the floor, then they are very likely to pass through his system without any effect.
However, if you were to feed your shih tzu fruits such as apples or pears on a regular basis and you weren’t to remove the seeds, then cyanide poisoning would be a likely outcome. Apples, pears and even peaches are a healthy food choice to give your dog a treat, just as long as you remove the seeds and pits first.
Sweets and Candies
Sweets and candies should never be given to a shih tzu. They are either going to be packed with unhealthy sugar or an artificial sweetener called “xylitol’. Either way, it’s not good for your dog at all. For more details of the effects, see the Xylitol section below.
Vitamin Pills intended for humans
If your shih tzu was to find your vitamin pills and eat some there may be no cause for concern. The only vitamin pills intended for human use that would harm a shih tzu are the ones that contain iron.
Vitamins with iron can cause damage to the wall of a shih tzu’s stomach and intestines, They can also cause liver poisoning and kidney poisoning.
Vitamins with added iron will usually have that fact clearly stated on the label, but please do err on the side of caution and check the ingredients thoroughly should you need to know what your shih tzu has eaten exactly.
Xylitol is an artificial sweetener widely used in the manufacture of sugarless gum, candy, cakes and other baked goods, mouthwash, toothpaste and some medicines.
If your dog eats something containing xylitol it could lead to his insulin levels going through the roof. This, in turn, will absorb too much sugar from his blood causing hypoglycemia.
Repeated exposure to xylitol could even lead to canine diabetes.
Weakness, lethargy, poor coordination, vomiting and, in extreme cases, seizures and liver failure.
What Action To Take
Your shih tzu could take you off guard at any time and eat something he shouldn’t. No matter how diligent you are, there will be moments when you are concentrating on something else.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to have your emergency veterinarian number on speed dial, or at least written down next to your landline. Because if your dog does ingest anything potentially lethal, every second counts.
Don’t allow this to slow you down, but if you can take a sample of what your shih tzu has eaten with you to the surgery, it will help the vet with his diagnosis and also help him prescribe the correct treatment that will bring your dog back to health.
I hope that you have found this article informative and helps you to keep your shih tzu away from harmful foods and substances. If you have any questions about what a shih tzu should or shouldn’t eat, or shih tzu in general, please leave a comment or use our contact us form.
You can find more comprehensive information concerning food a dog can or cannot eat at this blog written by KellyAnn, a friend of Shihtzuandyou:
If I have missed out any food item that you are worried about, I’m sure you will find your answers there.
Until next time.