Overweight and obesity in shih tzu are sensitive topics. Some studies indicate that this is not an issue that veterinarians feel very comfortable addressing. This is because it often reflects lifestyles and the way the owner raises his shih tzu.
This communication difficulty was observed in another study (in English), in which the authors suggest that 36% of overweight or obese pet owners who took their dogs frequently to the veterinarian were never approached about the topic.
How do we determine that a shih tzu is overweight?
The weight itself doesn’t say much. Therefore, we used body condition scores (BCS). The most users have a scale that goes from 1 – 9, with 1 being very underweight and 9 being obese. A score is assigned through observation and palpation of different parts of the body, such as the ribs, abdominal curve, and visibility of the pelvic bones, among others.
As much as they standardize the evaluation through objective characteristics, the ECC is not as simple as they seem. One study found that most shih tzu owners continued to assign incorrect values to the animals even after using an assessment guide.
This demonstrates the difficulty that can exist when evaluating the overweight and obesity of the Shih tzu, usually, the weight of the shih tzu is 4 – 7.2 kg, but only a veterinarian will really know if your shih tzu is at the correct weight.
Problems caused by obesity
The accumulation of adipose tissue and fat in different organs causes a series of metabolic and hormonal changes. In addition, adipocytes, which are the cells responsible for storing fat, release substances that have an inflammatory character.
Because of this, obesity is now characterized as a chronic inflammatory state. In the long term, this constant inflammation starts to have a negative impact on the various systems of the body.
But it was just a little bit…
“my dog only eats kibble, nothing else”… “on pizza days I let him eat the edges”, “for breakfast I give him a banana”…
In the case of pizza, it is obviously completely wrong, but even fruits, as healthy as they are, can be great villains. I explain:
A 5 kg shih tzu, for example, needs something around 300 kCal/day. The values are approximate, but let’s assume that throughout the week his owner gives him some snacks: an apple (60 kCal), a banana (100 kCal), and the two pizza edges on the weekend (100 kCal). Over the course of that week, he will have ingested 260 kCal more than necessary, or he will have eaten almost a day more than he should have.
Solving The Problem
The first step to solving the problem is recognizing it. As we have noted, this task can be more difficult than it appears. Once recognized, unfortunately, there is no magic formula, and it is not an easy task.
In the vast majority of cases, obesity is caused by too little physical activity, too much food, or a combination of the two. The way to solve the problem is by changing lifestyle habits, increasing physical activity, and decreasing the amount of food.
Again, your shih tzu won’t raid the fridge on its own, so it’s up to you to be strong, resist the pitying face, the insistent meows, and provide just the right amount of food.