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Can Shih Tzus Eat Cheese?

Can Shih Tzus eat cheese? A Shih Tzu licks its lips staring at a plate of cubed cheese.
Can Shih Tzus eat cheese? A Shih Tzu licks its lips staring at a plate of cubed cheese.

You know that glimmer in your Shih Tzu’s eyes, the one where they watch and hope that glistening piece of cheddar cheese is finally for them. But can Shih Tzus eat cheese? Is cheese even safe for dogs?

Yes, Shih Tzus can eat cheese. The type and amount of cheese—plus your Shih Tzu’s stomach sensitivity—will determine if you should give your Shih Tzu cheese.

Here’s a breakdown to help you decide if cheese is right for your Shih Tzu.

  1. Understanding Your Shih Tzus Dietary Requirements.
  2. Is cheese OK for Shih Tzus?
  3. Why is cheese bad for Shih Tzus?
  4. What are the best treats for Shih Tzus?
Can Shih Tzus eat cheese? A brown and white Shih Tzu sprinting outside.

Understanding Your Shih Tzu’s Dietary Requirements.

A whopping 56% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. While lack of exercise contributes, the most significant issue causing obesity in dogs is overeating. 

Overeating is usually considered too much food and not what it actually is, too many calories.

The suggested serving size of your dogs’ regular meals fulfills their daily caloric needs. Adding additional treats—which we all do—often puts our dogs in a calorie surplus.

Furthermore, when considering if your Shih Tzu can eat cheese, the high calories and fat may be the least of your concerns. Dogs are born lactose intolerant.

Since dogs lack lactase, a digestive enzyme, they don’t properly digest dairy products. Feeding your Shih Tzu cheese can upset their stomach and make them sick.

Is cheese OK for Shih Tzus?

Cheese is rich in calcium, a healthy mineral that will benefit your Shih Tzu. Calcium helps strengthen and promote healthy teeth and bones.

How your Shih Tzu’s digestive system processes the cheese while maintaining a healthy diet will be the ultimate test.

If you decide to give your Shih Tzu cheese, choose a low-fat cheese. Two great low-calorie options are:

  • Cottage cheese, low-fat, 1% milkfat – 20 calories per 1 ounce.
  • Mozzarella cheese – 78 calories per 1 ounce.

These compare favorably to high-calorie cheeses like: 

  • American cheese – 102 calories per 1 ounce.
  • Cheddar cheese – 113 calories per 1 ounce.

Why is cheese bad for Shih Tzus?

Shih Tzus have sensitive stomachs. Along with lactose intolerance, cheese can cause digestive issues that lead to an upset stomach and diarrhea.

There are cheeses with less lactose but aren’t low in calories:

  • Cheddar cheese – 0-2.1% lactose range – 114 calories.
  • Provolone cheese – 0-2.1% lactose range – 100 calories.

One of the highest lactose cheeses is American cheese, with a 0-14.2% lactose range.

When introducing any new food into your dog’s diet, you should always start small and observe how their body processes it.

Since cheese should not be a regular fixture in your dog’s diet, consider it only for hiding medication or the occasional treat.

Aside from potential stomach problems, cheese is not a good choice for a healthy diet. Depending on the size and exercise level of your Shih Tzu, their daily dietary needs are already small.

Adding a high-calorie treat can push your dog’s daily caloric intake into a surplus. A calorie surplus is when the number of calories consumed is higher than the number of calories burned, leading to weight gain.

The high calories are less concerning when fed in moderation or as a treat after a long walk. Cheese should not be a regular fixture in your Shih Tzu’s meal or daily diet.

Can Shih Tzus eat cheese? A white Shih Tzu stares patiently at a dog bone in the foreground.

What are the best treats for Shih Tzus?

Fruits and vegetables are excellent healthy snacks you can provide your Shih Tzu daily.

Dogs love crunchy carrots, the sweetness of apples, a snap of green beans, cooling cucumber slices, or the creaminess of mashed sweet potatoes.

These fruits and vegetables are all low in calories and high in nutrients. 

Foods high in phytochemicals, like broccoli, berries, carrots, cantaloupe, and apples, may decrease the risk of developing certain cancers, heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes.

What vegetables are good for Shih Tzus?

  • Cucumber: Cucumbers are 96% water and low in calories, making them a refreshing and healthy snack for dogs — 4 calories per 1 ounce.
  • Zucchini: Zucchini is a healthy vegetable for dogs and is low in calories. It’s also a good source of vitamins A, B, and C — 5 calories per 1 ounce.
  • Carrots: Carrots are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber for dogs. They’re low in calories and a perfect way to keep your dog’s teeth clean — 12 calories per 1 ounce.

What fruits are good for Shih Tzus?

  • Watermelon: This juicy fruit is 90% water and is low in calories, making it a great summer snack for dogs. Be careful to remove the seeds before feeding watermelon to your dog — 9 calories per 1 ounce.
  • Strawberries: These low-calorie sweet berries are 91% water and a good source of fiber and protein — 9 calories per 1 ounce.
  • Cantaloupe: This sweet melon is also high in water content and low in calories — 10 calories per 1 ounce.

Some fruits, like cranberries, can also help if your Shih Tzu suffers from hypothyroidism. High in iodine, cranberries help produce the T4 hormone, which is suppressed in dogs with hypothyroidism.

Final thoughts.

Sharing a delicious snack alongside your Shih Tzu is a treat both of you can enjoy. If possible to avoid high-calorie cheese in place of healthy fruits and vegetables, you should consider it.

So, when considering can Shih Tzus eat cheese, the real question is, should Shih Tzus eat cheese? In moderation, cheese can be a high-calcium treat your Shih Tzu will enjoy.

Cheese can be a great reward when training or hiding pills and medication, but so is watermelon.

Whether it’s a treat of cheese, fruit, or vegetables, any food you give your Shih Tzu outside of their regular diet should be in moderation. Test with small amounts, then gradually add more.

If your Shih Tzu has — or had — pancreatitis, cheese can be very dangerous. It’s vital to discuss new foods with your veterinarian before giving them to your dog.

Does your Shih Tzu have a favorite treat? Share this article and what treat your Shih Tzu loves most.

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