Shih Tzu Health Problems

Common health problems that may occur in the Shih Tzu include eye problems such as dry eye, cherry eye, and cataracts; brachycephalic syndrome; cleft palate; hip dysplasia; patellar luxation; and renal dysplasia.

The Shih Tzu (meaning "lion" in Chinese) is primarily of Tibetan origin. The breed was imported into the United States in the late 1950s.

The Shih Tzu makes a good companion dog due to his outgoing, affectionate, and friendly personality. The Shih Tzu is alert, intelligent, loyal, and devoted to his family. In return, he needs a lot of attention and human companionship.

Shih Tzu's are generally healthy and can live for a long time (10 to 18 years).

The Shih Tzu is a rather popular breed in the U.S.A.- Ranked 15th most registered breed by the AKC for 2013.

General Care for Your Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu Because of the special physical features of the Shih Tzu, care should be taken especially when it comes to the ears, eyes, nose, and mouth.

The eyes of the Shih Tzu are large and somewhat protruding, making them susceptible to injury. For example, they can easily scratch their corneas or even puncture their eyeballs. Therefore, try to protect their eyes as much as you can by keeping them away from sharp objects at all times! Also, keep their hair out of their eyes.

Due to its long flapped ears, the Shih Tzu is prone to ear infections. If you have a Shih Tzu, be sure to check and clean his ears regularly.

Another important thing to remember about the Shih Tzu is, since it is a brachycephalic breed (short muzzled breed), it should not be left outdoors, especially in the summer, because heat and high humidity can easily cause death due to the flatness of the face. Shih Tzu's may have difficulties breathing in the heat, so always keep them in cool places and avoid excessive exercise in the summer.

In addition, due to the shape of their muzzle and the small size of their mouth, special care has to be taken to check and brush Shih Tzu's teeth to avoid dental problems.

Shih Tzu Health Problems Related To The Eye

As mentioned above, Shih Tzus have big, somewhat protruding eyes, therefore, it is rather easy for them to sustain eye injuries or disease. They are prone to the following eye problems:

Shih Tzu Health Problems Related to The Face

  • Brachycephalic Syndrome: Brachycephalic airway obstruction syndrome (BAOS), or Brachycephalic Syndrome in short, is a condition unique to Brachycephalics (short-nosed dogs) like the Shih Tzu. Because of their short muzzle, many Shih Tzu's suffer from airway obstruction, which causes signs ranging from noisy breathing, coughing and gagging, fainting or collapsing episodes, and a decreased tolerance for exercise, depending on how serious the obstruction is.

    As mentioned above, overheating is especially dangerous for brachycephalics; therefore, do not leave your Shih Tzu in the sun for a long time. It is also important to keep your dog from becoming overweight, as this will worsen his respiratory difficulties in the long run.

    If the airway is seriously obstructed, surgery is necessary to widen air passages at the nostrils.

  • Cleft Lip/Palate: Cleft cleft lip or palate is an opening in the lip or the roof of the mouth that occurs as a result of failure of normal fusion processes when the fetus is developing. This condition is quite common in the Shi Tzu. Affected puppies are born with the condition. A minor defect will cause little or no problem and no treatment is needed. However, surgical repair is required for a more severe defect to prevent conditions such as chronic nasal discharge, poor growth, and aspiration pneumonia (from inhalation of food).

Other Shih Tzu Health Problems

Other health issues that may affect the shih tzu include:

  • Patellar Luxation
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Renal Dysplasia: Renal dysplasia is a very serious developmental disorder affecting the kidneys of puppies and young dogs. This condition is rather common in the Shih Tzu. Affected puppies are born with underdeveloped kidneys, in which the nephrons (the smallest functioning units of the kidneys) are at a more juvenile stage compared to the development of the puppy. The nephrons never reach maturity, so the kidneys never reach full capacity. As a result, the puppy shows symptoms similar to those involved in general kidney disease, such as excessive drinking and excessive urination. Some puppies may seem difficult to housebreak. They may develop a lack of appetite, weight loss, vomiting and/or dehydration.

    Treatments depend on the severity of the condition, and may include a low protein and low phosphorus prescription diet, IV fluids (to correct disturbances created by the retention of uremic toxins), and medication (to treat the anemia of chronic renal failure). Kidney dialysis for dogs is also offered at several veterinary medical sites although the procedure is very expensive.

Health Supplements for the Shih Tzu

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Recommendations for Your Shih Tzu!


Ark Naturals Eyes So Bright for Dogs and Cats

This eyewash is excellent not only for cleansing but also for promoting healing of sore, inflamed, and infected eyes. Good for eye conditions such as dry eye, conjunctivitis, and other eye infections.

Nature's Herbs for Pets Joint Relief for Dogs

This Chinese herbal formula contains effective herbs for joint problems such as hip dysplasia, arthritis, and stiffness due to inflammation of the joints. Works well as a preventive or as a remedy.

Nature's Herbs for Pets Respiratory Relief for Dogs

This Chinese herbal formula is effective for coughs caused by tracheal collapse. It eases breathing, reduces mucous production and clears it from the lungs.

References:

  • Canada's Guide to Dogs (http://www.canadasguidetodogs.com/)
  • Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island, Canada (http://www.upei.ca/~cidd/)