shih tzu health issues

Shih Tzu Health Issues in 2023: Common Problems & Prevention

Every breed has its quirks. Delving into shih tzu health issues can equip owners to give their pets the best care possible.

Brief Overview of Shih Tzu Breed

Shih Tzus are a popular breed of small dogs that originated in China. They were bred to be companions for royalty and were highly valued for their affectionate nature and loyalty. The breed is known for its long, silky hair, which requires regular grooming to keep it healthy and free from tangles. Shih Tzus have a distinctive flat face with large round eyes and a short muzzle. They are playful, friendly, and make excellent family pets. While the Shih Tzu is generally a healthy breed, they are prone to certain health issues due to their unique physical characteristics. Their flat faces can cause respiratory problems, while their large eyes are susceptible to various eye problems. They also require regular grooming to prevent skin issues such as allergies or hot spots.

Importance of Understanding Health Issues in Shih Tzus

As with any pet, it is important to understand the health issues that may affect your Shih Tzu so you can keep them healthy and happy. Many of the common health issues in this breed can be prevented or treated if caught early enough. Additionally, by understanding the potential health concerns associated with owning a Shih Tzu, you can make informed decisions about whether this breed is right for you. It’s important to recognize that while these dogs make great pets, they may require extra care when it comes to their health. yet importantly, being aware of these potential health problems will help owners know what symptoms and signs to look out for if there is an issue with their dog’s health. Early diagnosis through regular checkups by veterinarians or observation at home may lead to successful treatment outcomes before conditions worsen. having an understanding about the potential diseases that impact your dog’s overall health and wellbeing is paramount. By focusing on prevention, early detection, and treatment of common Shih Tzu health problems, owners can ensure their furry friend lives a healthy and happy life.

Common Health Issues in Shih Tzus

Shih Tzus are a popular breed due to their adorable appearance, charming personalities, and small size. However, like all breeds, they are prone to certain health issues. Being aware of these potential problems can help owners detect symptoms early and get appropriate treatment for their furry companions.

Respiratory Problems

One of the most common health issues in Shih Tzus is respiratory problems. This is because of their short snouts and flat faces which makes it difficult for them to breathe properly. Two common respiratory problems that affect Shih Tzus are Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome (BAS) and Tracheal Collapse. Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome is caused by the short skull shape – it leads to breathing difficulty due to narrowed nostrils, elongated soft palate, a collapsed trachea or larynx hypoplasia. It causes snorting or grunting sounds while sleeping or during exercise, coughing or gagging after eating or drinking water heavily. Tracheal Collapse is another respiratory problem that can occur in Shih Tzus due to genetic predisposition as well as where they live – environmental factors such as air pollution can also lead to this condition. It’s characterized by a weakened trachea that collapses under pressure making it difficult for the dog to breathe properly leading to coughing fits which worsen with physical activity

Eye Problems

Shih Tzus are also prone to certain eye problems such as Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) and Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS), commonly known as Dry Eye. Progressive Retinal Atrophy affects vision over time – dogs slowly go blind starting at night-vision loss followed by day vision blindness eventually; however some dogs will not go completely blind. Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca is a condition where there is insufficient tear production, leading to dry and itchy eyes. Affected dogs may have eye discharge and be prone to corneal ulcers.

Skin Problems

Shih Tzus are also vulnerable to skin problems such as allergies and hot spots. Allergies can be caused by environmental factors such as dust, pollen or food – leading to itchiness in the skin, face rubbing and chewing of paws with a possibility of developing infections due to the excessive scratching. Hot Spots appear when bacteria multiply on an area of irritated skin – it leads to hair loss, inflammation and oozing pus from the affected region. Being aware of common health problems that affect Shih Tzus is essential in keeping them healthy and happy. Understanding respiratory issues such as Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome and Tracheal Collapse, eye problems like Progressive Retinal Atrophy and Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (Dry Eye) along with skin issues like allergies and hot spots can help owners detect early signs of these conditions before they escalate. Regular visits to the veterinarian for check-ups are recommended for maintaining a healthy lifestyle in Shih Tzus.

Prevention and Treatment of Health Issues in Shih Tzus

Respiratory Problems Prevention and Treatment

Dietary Management and Weight Control

Shih Tzus often experience respiratory issues due to their uniquely shaped nose. Dietary management is one essential way to prevent this problem from occurring. Overweight Shih Tzus typically experience more severe respiratory problems. Therefore, owners must ensure that their pets’ weight is kept under control by providing a balanced diet with proper portions. A healthy diet includes high-quality protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber to keep their weight in check. Owners should also avoid overfeeding treats as these are often high in fat content.

Surgical Intervention

Sometimes dietary management is not enough to prevent respiratory problems in Shih Tzus. In some cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to alleviate symptoms significantly. Different surgical methods can help minimize the severity of airway restrictions by removing excess tissue blocking the airway or by increasing the size of nostrils.

Eye problems Prevention and Treatment

Regular Eye Exams

Eye problems are common among Shih Tzus, so it’s essential to take proper care of your pet’s eyes regularly. Regular eye exams can detect early signs of diseases like cataracts which can lead to blindness if left untreated.

Medications or Surgery

Various medications are available for treating eye-related health issues such as dry eye or conjunctivitis in Shih Tzus. In some cases where medication fails or severe damage has been done, surgical procedures like corneal grafting may be required for better vision.

Skin problems Prevention and Treatment

Bathing Frequency

Skin allergies are prevalent among Shih Tzus, and it is essential to maintain proper hygiene by bathing your pet frequently. However, excessive bathing can also lead to skin problems. A regular bath every two to four weeks with a hypoallergenic shampoo can help maintain a healthy coat without stripping away natural oils.

Dietary Management

Dietary management can play an important role in preventing skin health issues in Shih Tzus. Foods high in protein and fatty acids like salmon or flaxseed oil may help prevent dry, flaky skin. Additionally, some dogs may have food allergies that contribute to their skin problems. By adjusting their diet and identifying the allergen source, you can help prevent future flare-ups. Shih Tzu owners must take proactive measures to keep their pets healthy and free from potential health problems. Proper dietary management and weight control are crucial for minimizing respiratory issues. Regular eye exams are necessary for detecting early signs of eye disorders while medication or surgery is available treatment options for more severe cases. Bathing regularly with hypoallergenic shampoo alongside balanced nutrition plays a significant role in preventing skin-related health issues in Shih Tzus. By following these simple steps, owners can ensure their pets live long, healthy lives free from potentially costly medical treatments down the line.

Rarely Known Small Details About Shih Tzu Health Issues

Their tiny nose makes them prone to respiratory issues

The flat, short face of Shih Tzus is not just something that look cute and adorable, but it can lead to a number of health concerns, especially respiratory problems. The breed’s breathing passages are smaller than those of other dogs, which makes them more susceptible to airway obstructions and breathing difficulties. The lack of space in their nasal cavities can also lead to respiratory infections and sinus problems in Shih Tzus. To help alleviate respiratory issues in your Shih Tzu, you should start by keeping their living area clean and free from dust, smoke or any atmospheric irritants that could worsen or trigger any existing condition. You may also want to consider using air purifiers with HEPA filters to ensure clean air circulation.


Many owners often wonder if they should shave their Shih Tzu’s coat during hot summer months or if they feel it’s too long. However, shaving your Shih Tzu’s thick coat could actually be detrimental to their health as it increases the risk of skin allergies and sunburns. Shading more often is a better solution for maintaining the length of your pet’s coat during hot summer days. Brushing regularly will help prevent matting, which can be uncomfortable for dogs with long hair. If you’re unsure about how to groom your dog properly or what tools you need for grooming sessions at home, consult a professional groomer for best results.


Understanding common health issues in Shih Tzus is crucial in preventing potential problems through proper care and attention given by owners. A healthy diet with proper exercise and regular vet checkups are important preventative measures that every owner should take seriously. While respiratory problems and skin allergies are common in this breed, it’s important to remember that with proper care, most Shih Tzus can live a healthy and happy life. Therefore, as a responsible pet owner, you should do everything you can to ensure your furry friend stays happy and healthy throughout its lifespan.

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