We wish to highlight at the start that Shih Tzus are widely known to be a healthy breed. As such, although these 7 health problems are issues that affect Shih Tzus the most, it does not necessarily mean that your Shih Tzu will experience any of these conditions.
However, as owners, it is our responsibility to equip ourselves with adequate knowledge about our Shih Tzus in order to ensure proper care and diet is given, thus do read on to find out more.
HEALTH ISSUE #1: KERATITIS AND PROPTOSIS
Shih Tzus have shallow ear sockets which results in their eyes often bulging which is why eye problems are the most common issues among Shih Tzus.
Pigmentary keratopathy/keratitis is an inflammation of the cornea which may result in corneal ulcer and surgery have to be performed to cure this issue. However, if this condition gets severe, it may lead to blindness. Besides Shih Tzus, this issue is also common among other short-nosed dog breeds such as Maltese, Pekingese and Pug.
Proptosis is another eye-related disorder whereby the eyeball is dislodged from the socket and the eyelid shuts behind the eyeball. It is unimaginably painful, surgery is often required and it may lead to blindness.
Initial symptoms usually begin with eye inflammation and subsequently, you will notice that your dog’s eye begin to shift forward. Fortunately for both keratitis and proptosis, surgeries are viable treatment solutions.
HEALTH ISSUE #2: PROGRESSIVE RETINAL ATROPHY (PRA)
PRA or more commonly known as Progressive Retinal Atrophy, is yet another eye related health issue whereby the photoreceptors in the back of the eye begins to degenerate or fail. The initial symptom is night blindness whereby your Shih Tzu have difficulty navigating in the dark and you notice him/her stumbling or bumping into objects.
As this disease progress, it will start to affect your dog’s daytime vision and eventually, for most cases, PRA will lead to complete blindness. Currently, there is no treatment available but veterinarians are able to detect and diagnose PRA years before blindness commences which allow your Shih Tzu adequate time to slowly adapt to the changes.
Always pay close attention on your Shih Tzu’s eye development and if you notice any unusual symptoms such as redness, swollen or if your dog is stumbling or bumping into objects, it is best to bring them to a veterinary ophthalmologist for further diagnosis. For most cases, if detected and treated early, eye issues can be fully recovered.
HEALTH ISSUE #3: EAR INFECTIONS
Due to Shih Tzu’s floppy ears and hair-filled ear canals, they are more prone to ear mite infestation or bacterial overgrowth which will lead to ear infections.
Symptoms of possible ear infection include bad ear odor, head shaking, frequent rubbing of ears against objects or with paws or when they are abnormally jumpy or frantic when they hear loud noises. To prevent ear infection, it is important to perform weekly check and cleaning of their ears.
Ear infection can be treated via medication and proper weekly routine ear cleaning however, your veterinarian will usually perform an ear cytology in order to determine the exact type of infection and the appropriate treatment.
HEALTH ISSUE #4: DENTAL DISEASES
According to American Veterinary Dental Society, 80% of dogs show symptoms of dental disease by age three. It is by far, one of the most common chronic problem for pets.
However, for Shih Tzus, they are more prone to dental problems as compared to other dog breeds. Aubrey Animal Medical Center states that if dental issues are left untreated, this disease may even shorten their lifespan by 1 to 3 years!
Dental disease begins with tartar build-up on the teeth which will progress to infection in both the roots of the teeth and the gums. Bacteria from these infected oral areas will eventually enter the bloodstream and affect your dog’s liver, kidneys, lungs and heart.
Antibiotics are often used to treat dental disease by administering it prior to and after a dental cleaning. This will help to prevent bacterial spread to the blood stream.