Your Shih Tzu is Overweight By Karole King |Updated 11-22-2021
According to the
Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, approximately 56 percent of adult dogs are clinically overweight. It’s easy to spot the signs of obesity
in some breeds, but in others, like the small,
long-haired Shih Tzu,
it can be a challenge.
This is why Shih Tzu
owners need to put on their detective caps to tell whether their dogs need to
shed a few pounds or not. But thankfully, some signs can help Shih Tzu owners
make an informed decision and kickstart a routine that will lead to a healthier
pup. What are these signs that help us know when a Shih Tzu is overweight?
Photo by Nikolay Tchaouchev on Unsplash
6 Signs Your Shih Tzu is Overweight
- Poorly Defined Shape
- Difficulty Scratching that annoying itch
- Reduced Energy and sedentary lifestyle
- Inability to Tolerate Exercise
- Poor Eating Habits
- Excess Panting
#1 Poorly Defined Body Shape
Although it may appear
that all Shih Tzu have the same anatomy, most people can’t
tell the difference between an average and overweight Shih Tzu. Because Shih
Tzu’ bodies are hidden under layers of hair, a visual inspection is not often
adequate to ascertain their shape.
This is why owners need to examine their Shih
Tzus physically. Ribs should be felt underneath a Shih Tzu’s coat. If an owner
can’t feel any ribs, this is an indication that the Shih Tzu may be overweight.
However, the ribs should not protrude. If they do, this could be a sign that
the Shih Tzu is underweight.
Since hypothyroidism cannot be diagnosed with
a visual examination, this is a sign that must be determined by a healthcare
professional. Shih Tzu are frequent victims of hypothyroidism, a condition
where the thyroid does not produce enough of the hormone that regulates
This can cause weight
gain and other symptoms. Owners of affected Shih Tzu need to be extra attentive
to their dogs’ weight. Thyroid medication should normalize hormone production,
so if a Shih Tzu remains overweight even with proper treatment, this can
indicate that other factors are at play.
#2 Difficulty Scratching That Annoying Itch
A Shih Tzu, like all
dogs, has to rely on its limberness to take care of basic physical needs, of
which scratching is included. If an owner notices that their Shih Tzu has
difficulty scratching or performing other acts that are universal to all
canines, the Shih Tzu might be overweight.
Because Shih Tzu are
small and compact, to begin with, gaining a few extra pounds can make life much
harder for them than say a Great Dane or greyhound. These breeds have length on
their side. Shih Tzus need all the help they can get.
#3 Reduced Energy and Sedentary Lifestyle
The saying goes that
pets tend to look like their owners — and this applies both to aesthetics and
size. It’s no coincidence that the rate of obesity in dogs has risen alongside
the rate of obesity in humans.
The percentage of
overweight adults in both species is a similar number. This should come as no surprise to Shih Tzu owners. If a
Shih Tzu’s owner is overweight thanks to an inactive lifestyle, the Shih Tzu’s size and lifestyle will
likely be the same. After all, the only chance that a Shih Tzu has of being
active has an owner that is also active.
4. Inability to Tolerate Exercise
When we slow down,
they have no other choice but to slow down too. As dogs gain weight, the
burden of those extra pounds put more pressure on vital organs. This, in
turn, makes it more difficult to tolerate the usual activities and daily exercise
Shih Tzu dogs already
have the additional handicap of being a brachycephalic breed. Elongated palates and stenotic nares can any type of
5. Poor Eating Habits
Shih Tzu, like other
breeds, are opportunists. If allowed a treat, few dogs will turn it down
because they worry it will ruin their lovely waste line. We can only
blame ourselves for this situation. Too many high caloric treats can add up
Dog foods rich in fats
and carbohydrates may win the taste test, but add calories that may not be
helpful to the dog’s nutritional needs.
6. Increased Panting
The last sign of an
overweight Shih Tzu is the propensity to pant during mild exercise. If a Shih
Tzu gets exhausted too early or too frequently while going for walks, this
could mean that it’s out of shape.
An out of shape Shih
Tzu is a walking health problem, so its owner should decide upon a diet or exercise regimen to increase its stamina and reduce excess
If Your Shih Tzu is Overweight, It’s Time to Schedule a Vet Visit
If an owner has
concluded that their Shih Tzu is overweight, the first step is to consult a
veterinarian for verification. The vet will be able to determine if the problem
exists in the first place, its seriousness if it does exist, and the best
course of treatment. The vet will likely weigh the Shih Tzu.
According to the
American Kennel Club, 9 to 16 pounds is the healthy
weight range for this breed, although there are many exceptions. For instance, an 18-pound
Shih Tzu can be in the healthy weight range if it has a larger frame and higher
muscle density. Since a scale is not the sole judge of canine health, the vet
will do a physical examination of the Shih Tzu and ask its owner questions
about its lifestyle.
If Your Shih Tzu is Overweight, There is a Fix
Most dog nutritionists
and vets recommend that dogs eat two meals a day. If the food is high in
calories or carbohydrate-rich, even the recommended quantities may be too much.
Thus, the vet might
advocate for smaller portions or a complete change of diet. Depending on the
Shih Tzu’s owner, table scraps and treats might make up a sizable percentage
of the pet’s diet. In this case, the vet may advise against giving the dog
Table scraps are
a particularly slippery slope that ends in obesity. If lack of
exercise, not diet, is the issue, the veterinarian will suggest increasing the
Shih Tzu’s activity. Going for a walk every day is generally recommended for
Shih Tzus and virtually every other breed. Shih Tzu owners should aim to walk
their pet for at least 30 minutes per day, although this may need to be broken down
into two 15-minute walks if the Shih Tzu finds exercise tough.
Either increase the
length or duration of the daily walks if your Shih Tzu is eating a balanced
diet but still not losing weight. It’s important to note that this increase
should be slight and gradual. An overweight Shih Tzu is already under physical
strain, so too much activity can be just as bad for its health.
Being small and fuzzy,
a Shih Tzu doesn’t give many clues that it is overweight so it’s up to the
- Feel the Ribcage
- Pay attention to breathing
- Observe how the dog scratches
- Assess underlying medical conditions
Most importantly, owners need to determine if their dog is mirroring their body size and lifestyle choices. Consult a vet if any of these signs point to an overweight pooch. Keeping a Shih Tzu healthy is as easy as being an attentive owner.
Author Bio: “6 Signs Your Shih Tzu is Overweight”
Karol is an animal lover who has dedicated her life to helping dogs to find a safe and happy home. She now works as a freelance writer, which is her passion, and has the freedom to spend more time at home with her wonderful family.
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