Keeping Your Shih Tzu Healthy and Happy!
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Keeping Your Shih Tzu Healthy and Happy!

Dogs
Health & Safety

Shih Tzus are among the healthiest and sturdiest dogs available to most families. Despite their diminutive size and limited exercise requirements, this breed can walk and play for hours if they are so inclined. Despite this, you will still need to keep an eye on your Shih Tzu’s health.

Any dog should have a complete nose-to-tail check-up at the vet at least once a year. However, there are also a number of health conditions that impact specifically upon the Shih Tzu breed. Take the time to learn about them, and see a vet if you have any suspicion that your pet is sick.

What Health Conditions Could Affect My Shih Tzu?

The most prominent health concerns that impact Shih Tzus are as follows.

  • Eye Problems. The Shih Tzu has very large eyes, and a brachycephalic skull. This means that they may suffer from dry, irritated eyes that need to be lubricated by drops. Equally, a Shih Tzu may end up with a condition called Cherry Eye, whereby the eyeball slips from its socket and becomes very red and bloodshot. If your Shih Tzu has red eyes, or seems to be rubbing them excessively, with their paws, speak to a vet.
  • Ear Infections. Many dogs suffer from ear infections, but Shih Tzus are particularly prone thanks to the fact that their ears droop over their heads. Clean your pet’s ears with cotton buds regularly, and speak to your vet if you notice any discharge.
  • Breathing Difficulties. Like all dogs with brachycephalic skulls, a Shih Tzu may sometimes struggle to breathe and start snuffling. This will be especially noticeable when they sleep – prepare yourself for snoring!
  • Teething Problems. Shih Tzus have adorable, tiny teeth. However, their baby teeth do not always drop out before their adult teeth start to grow. This can be painful for your puppy, and lead to them chewing everything in sight. Permanent gum damage is also a risk if a vet does not remove these baby teeth. Seek professional help if your Shih Tzu starts to show signs of excessive distress during the teething phase.
  • Obesity. Shih Tzus are barrel-chested by their very nature. However, they are also prone to weight gain and obesity, which could lead to canine Diabetes. Discuss your dog’s ideal weight with a vet, and agree an exercise and feeding schedule accordingly.

Call you vet if you have any reason to believe that your dog is suffering with any of these ailments. They can all be treated if captured early enough!

How to Get Your Shih Tzu to the Vet

When the time comes to get your Shih Tzu to the vet, you will need to bear a number of things in mind to keep them happy and content. Visiting the doggy doctor can be a very frightening experience for any pooch. Remember this, and be patient with your pet!

Carrying Your Shih Tzu

Getting your Shih Tzu into the car is easy – it’s what you do once you’re there that the trouble starts. You have two real options when it comes to transporting a Shih Tzu in a vehicle.

  • Pet Carriers. As a Shih Tzu is a small breed of dog, you will be able to find a pet carrier that fits on a car seat to house them. This will appeal to a dog that likes to hide and seek shelter when nervous. You can also strap a pet carrier into a car using a seatbelt, making them a safe and legally compliant option.
  • Sitting on Your Lap. Most Shih Tzus are small and light enough to sit on your lap, which they may prefer if they are scared of the impending vet visit. Just bear in mind that if your dog is anxious and nervous, they will be crawling all over you! This may end up being uncomfortable for both parties. Also remember that the law dictates that your dog must be restrained at all times. Hold onto your pooch throughout the journey!

You know your dog better than anybody, so you’ll know what is best for them when transporting them to the vet. Do whatever it takes to keep them comfortable and happy ahead of their appointment, so they’ll be comparatively calm when they get there.

Arriving at the Vet

This can be a slightly tricky balancing act. You probably shouldn’t take your Shih Tzu with you to check in and sit around the waiting room. Doing so will allow all the other dogs in the waiting room to wind up your pet, sharing their own fears and anxieties. Remember, dogs don’t quite know what is happening behind that scary door. They just smell fear pheromones, and hear their fellow canines whining and crying!

On the other hand, Shih Tzus hate being alone. If you leave your dog in the car while you run to reception and check them in for their appointment, you’ll terrify the poor thing. A good compromise may be to make your appointment for first-thing in the morning, or last-thing in the afternoon. This will minimise the chances of your dog sharing the waiting room with too many other nervous pets.

After the Vet Visit

Your Shih Tzu may be a little shaken up after their trip to the vet, depending on what happened. As a result, you will need to be very patient and understanding with them.

This doesn’t mean that you should relax too many rules of the house, though. If you have a strict ‘no dogs on the bed’ policy, don’t change your mind. Your pet will not understand that this is a one-off, and it will cause confusion. However, consider making your dog their favourite dinner, offer plenty of cuddles, and have an extended playtime. They deserve it!

The Shih Tzu is a healthy and robust little dog breed, and one that will help you create countless happy memories together. Just keep an eye on their health, and take action when you need to!

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