25 Bad Foods That Are Poisonous & Toxic to Shih Tzus


There are many people that will feed their dogs with the same food that they eat themselves, perhaps while sitting at the table after a meal, tossing the odd leftover to their begging pooch. 

More often than not however, this is a mistake. There are some foods that may seem risk-free, but are actually toxic for dogs, and can leave them suffering with illness or even worse, kill them. After all, there’s a reason why dogs have their own food. The dog food they eat contains all the nutrients they need in order to grow and live a healthy lifestyle. Human food doesn’t. 

As a Shih Tzu owner, you’ll be all too aware of this risk. Shih Tzus are renowned for being sick far more frequently than most other dogs after consuming certain foods. This is mainly due to their small and delicate stomachs.  

Needless to say, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of them getting sick by not letting them eat some of the foods that are most dangerous to their health. This is your responsibility as a dog owner, because Shi Tzus, like most dogs, will happily eat whatever you put in front of them. Therefore, knowing exactly what your pooch can’t eat is vital in keeping them safe. 

To help understand some of the foods that are most toxic and poisonous for Shih Tzus to eat, I’ve put together a list of 25 of the worst foods. This list is based on internet research and reading some of the heartbreaking stories of disgruntled dog owners who’ve learned of the damaging effects the hard way. 

Just remember, if your Shih Tzu eats anything they shouldn’t, don’t wait around reading notes like these on the internet – call your vet immediately and get their advice!

1). Chocolate

Shih Tzus go crazy for the smell and taste of chocolate, but it’s vitally important to keep it out of their reach. Chocolate is probably the most commonly misunderstood food that Shi Tzus can’t eat, and subsequently, the one that leads to most people having to contact a vet. 

The ingredient in chocolate that makes it poisonous to dogs is the toxic theobromine substance. Theobromine is similar to caffeine and has the same effect on the nervous system. This substance is poisonous to dogs because their metabolism deals with it significantly slower compared to the speed of the human metabolism.

In large quantities, theobromine will cause vomiting, diarrhea and labored breathing, and in more serious cases, seizures, abnormal heart rhythm, and even death. 

2). Avocado 

Avocado is another food that should never be given to your dog. This is because of a poisonous toxin called persin which is concentrated mainly in the skin and pit of the avocado. 

While a small amount of avocado isn’t likely to threaten the life of your shih tzu, regular consumption of persin could cause gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting in your pooch. The high fat content of an avocado also means that your shih tzu, if consuming large amounts of the fruit, could develop the life-threatening condition of pancreatitis. 

3). Onions and Garlic 

Thankfully, a number of dogs will turn their noses up at the pungent smell of an onion or garlic clove. However, for those that are walking dustbins, it’s important that you avoid feeding them onion or garlic as it can make them very poorly. 

Irrespective of whether it’s been boiled, cooked or whatever, eating onions and garlic can damage your dog’s red blood cells. In some cases, where large amounts have been ingested, these red blood cells can be killed off prematurely before they’ve transported oxygen around the body. This is a condition commonly known as ‘hemolytic anemia’. 

It’s worth noting that you won’t always see the main symptoms of poisoning – including nausea, vomiting and lethargy – straight away. It will often take a few days for the toxic effects to fully kick-in. 

4). Bacon 

Even if your shih tzu is giving you puppy eyes at breakfast, you should never feed them raw or cooked bacon. It’s high in both fat and salt content which could damage your dog’s digestive system, making them potentially susceptible to canine pancreatitis. 

Bacon is also full of calories, so consuming it regularly could cause your shih tzu to suffer from issues such as obesity, hypothyroidism, and cardiovascular disease.

5). Cooked Bones

Everyone knows that dogs love to eat bones. They’re a great source of minerals and nutrients for your pooch. However, you should be incredibly careful if you do give them bones to chew on.

They’re not poisonous, but what makes them dangerous when cooked is that they can become brittle and break apart. This means that the bones can splinter into fragments and shards which not only pose a choking risk to your dog, but also cause serious risks to their mouth, throat and intestines. 

Poultry bones like chicken or turkey, as well as fish bones are the most dangerous, so if you’re planning to give your shih tzu fresh cooked meat or fish for dinner, thoroughly check that you’ve removed all of the bones. For many concerned dog owners, this isn’t a risk worth taking. 

6). Artificial Sweetener (Xylitol) 

Xylitol is by far one of the most toxic things your shih tzu can eat. It’s an artificial sweetener commonly used in sugar-free gum, candy, mints, mouthwash, and much more. To put its toxicity into context, research states that xylitol is 100 times more toxic than chocolate is for dogs. 

If your pooch eats something that contains xylitol it could result in their insulin levels going through the roof. This in turn, can absorb too much sugar from their blood, causing hypoglycemia. Repeated exposure to this deadly artificial sweetener can also lead to canine diabetes. 

Some of the other foods that contain xylitol include: peanut butter, fruit drinks, jellies and jams, cereals, baked goods and over the counter vitamin supplements. 

7). Candy and Sweets

Many candy brands come with toxic xylitol so make sure you always check the label. Although, in fairness, you shouldn’t really be thinking about feeding your shih tzu candy anyway. 

Not only does the vast majority of candy contain high levels of sugar, there’s also the risk of your pooch choking and experiencing blockages in their digestive tract.   

8). Peanut Butter 

There are certain brands of peanut butter that also contain significant amounts of xylitol. Therefore, these brands are toxic to dogs, and should be avoided at all costs in the best interests of your furry friend. 

9). Corn on the Cob

While corn on the cob is by no means poisonous for shih tzus, it’s dangerous due to the cob part of the snack. These can lodge themselves, sometimes fatally, in the throat or intestines of your dog. 

It’s worth noting however, that sweetcorn itself is fine as it’s easily digestible for all dogs. 

10). Grapes, Currants and Raisins

These fruits are bad for your shih tzu to consume because of the fungicides, herbicides and pesticides that often dirty them. They can also be harmful if there’s a large amount of metal, vitamin D and mold in the fruit. 

It doesn’t take many of these fruits to make a small dog feel ill. For shih tzus, as little as three or four grapes could fully deprive them of their strength and energy. 

11). Cinnamon

Although not toxic to dogs, cinnamon can cause a number of problems for your shih tzu. One of these is the irritation it can afflict on the skin, the inside of the mouth and the digestive tract of dogs. This is especially true if a large dose of cinnamon has been ingested.

If this is the case, some of the common symptoms include: vomiting, diarrhea, abnormal heart rate, and low blood sugar levels. In the worst case scenarios, liver disease may also occur. 

12). Macadamia Nuts

All nuts should ideally be avoided in a shih tzu’s diet as they are the size and texture of a food that often leads to choking. Macadamia nuts are particularly poisonous, and can cause hyperthermia, vomiting and lethargy. 

13). Cherries, Peaches and Plums 

The pits of these fruits are extremely dangerous for all dogs, but especially smaller ones like shih tzus. They can become lodged in the intestines and cause dangerous blockages. Some of the symptoms to look out for are a loss of appetite and constipation. 

There are also small traces of cyanide in the pits of cherries, peaches and plums. This won’t be anything to worry about if your shih tzu only eats one or two, but if they were to eat a whole host of these fruits, you should look out for signs of cyanide poisoning. If you notice any labored breathing, reddened gums or dilated pupils, you should immediately contact your vet. 

14). Mustard Seeds 

Dogs tend to hate the strong smell and taste of mustard. In fact, it’s so vomit-inducing for shih tzus that vets sometimes use it to make them vomit for treatments and other medical purposes. The seeds are particularly toxic, as they contain a number of poisonous ingredients to dogs. 

15). Bread Dough 

If a dog ingests yeast dough, it’ll continue to heat up and rise in their stomach and intestines, likely blocking them. This is extremely problematic in a shih tzu’s digestive system, and can lead to extreme pain and a twisting of the gut. This can interfere with several internal organs, therefore potentially proving fatal. 

The yeast can also ferment in the stomach, changing into ethanol, which may lead to alcohol poisoning. 

16). Coffee, Caffeine and Tea

One or two drops of tea or coffee won’t do your shih tzu any harm. However, consumed in moderately larger quantities, there is serious cause for concern as large amounts of caffeine can prove fatal for smaller dogs such as shih tzus.  

This is because of the methylxanthines in caffeine which cause similar reactions in dogs to chocolate. If your shih tzu is exhibiting any of the following symptoms: vomiting, abnormal heart rate, hyperactivity, muscle tremors, seizures or hyperthermia, then call your vet immediately as a matter of emergency. 

17). Alcohol 

It’ll come as no surprise that alcohol is highly toxic for all dogs. For shih tzus, this is no different. In fact, their smaller stomachs and faster metabolism means that only a very small amount of alcohol can have a potentially catastrophic effect. 

It can cause obvious symptoms of illness such as diarrhea and vomiting, as well as more serious issues including abnormal blood acidity, central nervous system depression, and even death. 

So if you’re ever tempted to give your dog a little sip from your beer glass down the pub as a laugh – don’t.

 

18). Hops 

Along similar lines, the hops used in home brewing kits are equally dangerous for shih tzus. Most notably, there are compounds in the hops that can lead to malignant hyperthermia. This is a condition where your dog’s temperature can shoot up rapidly, potentially causing long-lasting damage to their organs and brain. 

19). Nutmeg 

Nutmeg contains the toxin myristicin which should be kept away from dogs at all costs. While ingesting a small amount of nutmeg is unlikely to have a harmful effect on your shih tzu, larger quantities can result in a number of problems. The most severe include an increased heart rate, seizures, and even the possibility of troublesome hallucinations. 

20). Chilli Peppers 

For obvious reasons, chilli peppers and jalapenos shouldn’t be fed to your shih tzu as their digestive system isn’t designed to deal with spicy foods. Ingesting chilli peppers would prove to be incredibly uncomfortable for your pooch, and likely lead to gastrointestinal upset and a fair amount of vomiting and diarrhea.   

21). Potatoes

If you have potatoes with green patches, these are toxic not only to humans, but also dogs. While ingesting them won’t have the most severe effect on a fully-grown human, the effect will be much greater for a shih tzu with their considerably smaller stomach. 

Potatoes that are cooked in a hefty amount of oil, such as french fries, are similarly bad for dogs. Consuming such an item on a regular basis could result in pancreatitis.  

22). Milk

Consuming cow’s milk safely all depends on your shih tzu’s ability to digest lactose. In order to successfully break down lactose an enzyme called lactase needs to be present, and most dogs don’t have this. These dogs are lactose intolerant and shouldn’t be given dairy that contains cow’s milk as it’ll make them sick and suffer with diarrhea.  

23). Blue Cheese 

Now that you know dairy isn’t a good option for dogs, it’s hardly surprising that some cheeses can also be poisonous. Blue cheeses such as Roquefort and Stilton should especially be avoided. This is because they contain the compound roquefortine C which is known to elicit bad reactions in dogs. 

Some of these bad reactions include alarming symptoms such as a tendency to experience tremors and seizures. 

24). Fat Trimmings 

To preserve the good health of your beloved shih tzu, avoid giving them fat trimmings. It’s also worth trimming any excess fat off of fresh cooked meats before giving them to your pooch. As I’ve looked to explain a number of times already, too much fat in your shih tzu’s diet can result in them developing pancreatitis, a potentially fatal disease. 

25). Moldy Food 

If your dog has access to some of your trash bins, it’s important to be careful. Moldy food is harmful for shih tzus as it can often carry unpleasant mycotoxins, which is poisonous when ingested. 

This reaction can be worsened if the moldy food your dog has eaten is another poisonous and toxic item from this list. If this is the case, you’re best off contacting your vet as soon as you can. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What plants are poisonous to shih tzus? 

In addition to the 25 foods explained above, there are also things that your shih tzu shouldn’t eat outdoors. This includes a number of toxic plants. Listed below are some of the most common found in gardens and parks that you should try to avoid. 

  • Amaryllis bulbs
  • Azalea 
  • Citrus
  • Daffodil bulbs
  • Day lilies 
  • Delphiniums 
  • Foxgloves
  • Hibiscus 
  • Hyacinth 
  • Hydrangea
  • Ivy
  • Mushroom plants
  • Rhubarb leaves
  • Tomato leaves and stems
  • Tulip bulbs
  • Yew

It’s worth remembering that this list is based on the most common plants that are poisonous to shih tzus. If you want a more comprehensive list that’s applicable for all dogs, the Dogs Trust provides one. 

How much xylitol is poisonous to a dog? 

It’s vitally important to understand that even a small dose of xylitol can be fatally dangerous for your dog. For example, hypoglycemia can occur with as little as 50 milligrams (mg) per pound of body weight of xylitol being ingested. Taking into account the small size of shih tzus, it really won’t take a great deal of xylitol to cause serious long-lasting problems. The higher the dose ingested, the more at risk your shih tzu will be to liver failure. 

As reported by Pet Poison Helpline, the most common source of xylitol poisoning comes from sugar-free gum. While some brands of gum contain only small amounts of xylitol, there are other common brands which contain one gram per piece of gum. Alarmingly, your shih tzu would only need to ingest two pieces of this gum to suffer severe hypoglycemia. A further eight pieces would likely result in liver failure. 

The bottom line is, if you find that your pooch has ingested any product that contains xylitol, it’s essential that you immediately call for professional advice. 

Final Thoughts

Most of the time, your shih tzu will have eaten only very small amounts of the bad foods mentioned on this list. Therefore, they should be okay and avoid suffering any nasty after-effects. However, it’s always best to be overly-cautious and not leave anything to chance, because you’d never forgive yourself if something bad did happen.

Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone or get in the car to get some professional advice! 

Kerry White

Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners. Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.

Recent Posts