Shitzu puppies are very active and they burn calories quickly. Their initial growth phase is during the first six months of life, although theoretically they are still puppies until eight to twelve months of age, or when they reach puberty.
While your shitzu is still a puppy, he should be fed at least four times a day because he has a small stomach and a high metabolism. As he gets older and his growth and development slow down, you can decrease the feedings to three meals, and later two meals a day. Be sure to consult your veterinarian to be certain this feeding schedule matches your shitzu’s needs.
Unless your shitzu is a very active dog, he probably will not require more than one to two meals a day when he is an adult. Ideally the meals should be provided at twelve-hour intervals, or if only one meal is provided, in the early evening, after he has exercised and before bedtime. If all of the food has not been eaten after twenty minutes, remove it. An after dinner stroll before bedtime will help your shitzu sleep more comfortably.
Some shitzu owners prefer to feed free choice, which means that food is available at all times and the dog eats whenever it desires. This method works well for dogs that are nibblers, not heavy eaters. Free choice feeding may be convenient, but it is difficult to know exactly how much food your shitzu is eating daily. It also is not usually successful because most dogs will eat even if they are not hungry. These dogs will eventually become overweight.
Obesity in dogs has now reached epidemic proportions in the United States – more than 30 percent of the canine population is obese. Overfeeding your shitzu (especially if it is a puppy) and inactivity can cause obesity, which in turn can lead to heart disease, skeletal and joint problems, and metabolic diseases.
The most effective way to prevent your shitzu from becoming overweight is to closely monitor his food intake and not overfeed him. Overeating is the most common cause of obesity in dogs.
The best way to know if your shitzu is eating the proper amount is to check his overall physical condition. You should be able to feel the ribs, but not see them. Weigh him once a week, if possible, and not less than once a month.