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    Nov 22, 6 Signs Your Shih Tzu is Overweight and How to Help

    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?

    A Shih Tzu is walking down a pathThis Shih Tzu is overweight, but it may be hard to tell because of his thick coat of hair.

    Photo by Nikolay Tchaouchev on Unsplash

    6 Signs Your Shih Tzu is Overweight

    1. Poorly Defined Shape
    2. Difficulty Scratching that annoying itch
    3. Reduced Energy and sedentary lifestyle
    4. Inability to Tolerate Exercise
    5. Poor Eating Habits
    6. 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. 

    Detecting Hypothyroidism

    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
    movement difficult.

    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
    these indulgences.

    Table scraps are
    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

    Your Clues

    • 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.

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    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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