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Keeping Shih Tzus Safe In Summer

The Shih Tzu is one of the most popular dog breeds in the UK, so much so in fact that they’re the 9th most common breed of all, and one that a great many new prospective owners each year begin to research and consider as their future pet.

The Shih Tzu coat is perhaps its most defining feature, and when allowed to grow to its full natural length, easily reaches the floor and would completely obscure the dog’s vision if not tied back to keep it out of their eyes!

They also have very petite, delicate faces that are almost flat in side profile; a trait that is known as being brachycephalic, and which can unfortunately come accompanied by health problems and elevated risk factors for the dog in day-to-day life, which are even more acute in dogs with particularly flat faces.

These and various other factors mean that anyone who owns a Shih Tzu or those researching the breed with a view to buying one need to take special care of Shih Tzus in summer, and understand the various elements involved in this and the type of problems that can pose a threat to the dog’s health and safety.

With this in mind, this article will share some tips and advice on keeping Shih Tzus safe in summer. Read on to learn more.

Managing the Shih Tzu coat to prevent overheating

As mentioned, the natural Shih Tzu coat is very long and flowing, which naturally, will make them hotter than most dogs in summer. If your dog has a full coat like this they will be more prone to overheating, which can happen very quickly with little to no warning.

You may want to think about getting your dog’s fur clipped or trimmed in summer in order to help them to stay cool, or otherwise, you’ll have to be particularly careful about managing their temperature.

The increased risk of heatstroke in Shih Tzus

Shih Tzus, along with all other brachycephalic dog breeds, are at a higher risk than dogs with normal-length muzzles of developing heatstroke in the summer. This is because their muzzles are shorter and nostrils narrower, which makes them have to work harder to get enough air, and panting is a vital part of how a dog keeps itself cool.

Additionally, the smaller surface area inside of their mouths provides less space for the inhalation of cool air to pass over the mucous membranes in the mouth, which is also a key part of cooling.

These factors combined make Shih Tzus more at risk of developing heatstroke far faster and more severely than most other dog breeds.

The risk of sunburn

Dogs with light coloured fur and pink skin in particular are at higher risk of sunburn than others, but any areas of finer fur or exposed skin are at risk; for most dogs, this means the nose and tips of the ears.

Shih Tzus with full or uniform coats will not be at particularly high risk of sunburn, but if you have had your dog clipped for summer and particularly if this was a very close clip of pale fur, bear in mind the added risk.


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Take care to avoid overexertion in hot weather

Dogs still need to be walked in the summer and the Shih Tzu is no exception. However, they need to be walked at the cooler times of the day, and care needs to be taken to avoid overexertion which again, greatly increases the risk of heatstroke. 

Always carry water when walking your Shih Tzu in summer too, and stop frequently to give them a break and the opportunity to have a drink.

Beware burnt paws

Dogs can actually burn their paws on hot pavements, and this is very painful and hard to heal. As a petite and quite delicate dog, this is something all Shih Tzu owners need to be aware of, and the pavement holds heat and reaches higher temperatures than the air itself too.

When temperatures climb above around 22 degrees Celsius, pavements can pose a potential risk. Read this article and follow the advice contained within it on how to tell if a pavement is too hot for your dog’s paws, and how to avoid paw burns in summer.

Access to water and shade

Shih Tzus need free access to water and shade at all times, and they should be able to move around freely to find cooler spots. If you’re outside in the garden with your dog, even if there is shade, ensure that your Shih Tzu has the choice to be able to go back in if they want to, as it may be cooler inside than out.

Don’t forget that your dog will drink more in summer and that water in their bowls will evaporate faster in the heat too, so check and replenish their water sources several times throughout the day.

Never leave your dog in a car or hot room

Finally, never, ever leave your Shih tzu in a car or confined to one room. Even within the home, a room that starts off cool is apt to heat up as the sun moves around the house, and so your Shih Tzu should have the freedom to move too to find a cooler spot.


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