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11 Ways to Treat & Prevent Ear Infections in Shih Tzus

Written by: Arlene Divina
Arlene Divina, one of the content writers at IHD, loves going on adventures with her adorable fur baby. She now creates informative content for pet parents. Read more
| Published on June 1, 2023

Caring for your Shih Tzu requires understanding their unique health concerns. One of the most common issues faced by Shih Tzus is ear infections due to their long ears that can trap bacteria and yeast. This article will guide you through 11 effective ways to treat and prevent ear infections in Shih Tzus, and we’ll also discuss the role Omega-3 fatty acids play in their diet.

iHeartDogs is reader supported. Some of the links below may be paid affiliate links, where we receive a small commission on a product at no additional cost to you. 

1. Regular Ear Cleaning

Shih Tzus benefit from routine ear cleaning. Aim for once a week, using a vet-approved ear cleaner to gently wipe out debris and excess wax. Be careful never to insert anything into the ear canal.

Our favorite ear cleaner is these PetMD brand ear wipes on Amazon. 

2. Keep Ears Dry

Shih Tzus’ long, droopy ears can trap moisture, creating a breeding ground for bacteria. Always dry your dog’s ears thoroughly after baths or exposure to water.

3. Regular Vet Check-ups

Regular veterinary visits ensure early detection of potential ear infections. During these visits, your vet can professionally clean your Shih Tzu’s ears and offer preventive measures.

4. Balanced Diet

A well-rounded diet boosts your Shih Tzu’s immune system, reducing the risk of ear infections. Omega-3 fatty acids play an essential role in maintaining overall ear health.

5. Omega-3 Supplements

Omega-3 fatty acids help combat allergies, a common trigger of ear infections. They reduce inflammation, decrease itching, and improve immune response.

We’re fans of this Norwegian salmon oil on Amazon. It’s a bright orangish-pink color and has no fishy smell at all due to it’s ultra high purity.

6. Allergen Avoidance

Watch for potential allergens. If your Shih Tzu starts scratching or shaking their head excessively after certain foods or environmental exposure, it might indicate an allergy. Identifying and eliminating these allergens can greatly reduce ear infection occurrences.

A few good supplements to help your dog’s allergies are apple cider vinegar, quercetin, and colostrum, all of which are found in many natural allergy supplements like this one. 

7. Topical Treatments

Topical treatments containing hydrocortisone can provide relief from minor ear infections by reducing inflammation and itchiness. However, always consult your vet before starting any medication.

8. Oral Antibiotics

In more severe cases, oral antibiotics may be necessary. They’re typically prescribed for a few weeks, and it’s important to complete the full course to fully eradicate the infection.

9. Surgery

For recurrent or severe infections that do not respond to other treatments, surgical intervention may be necessary. A Total Ear Canal Ablation (TECA) can offer a permanent solution.

10. Regular Exercise

Regular exercise helps maintain a strong immune system. A well-exercised Shih Tzu is less likely to develop infections due to enhanced blood circulation, which benefits the overall ear environment.

11. Preventive Medications

Your vet might suggest specific preventive medications, especially if your Shih Tzu has a history of recurring infections.

Here are some frequently asked questions about ear infections in Shih Tzus.


1. What are the symptoms of ear infections in Shih Tzus? Common signs include excessive head shaking, scratching at the ears, redness, swelling, a foul smell, and sometimes, discharge.

2. Can Shih Tzus suffer from chronic ear infections? Yes. If not properly treated, or if the underlying cause isn’t addressed, ear infections can become chronic in Shih Tzus.

3. Are certain Shih Tzus more prone to ear infections? Yes, Shih Tzus with allergies, or those who frequently get their ears wet, might be more prone to ear infections.

4. How often should I clean my Shih Tzu’s ears? Aim to clean your Shih Tzu’s ears once a week. However, if they swim often or have a history of ear infections, more frequent cleaning might be necessary.

5. What should I avoid when cleaning my Shih Tzu’s ears? Avoid using cotton swabs, which can push debris further into the ear canal. Also, avoid using alcohol or vinegar, as they can cause irritation.

6. Can diet help prevent ear infections in Shih Tzus? Absolutely! A balanced diet, especially one rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, can boost your Shih Tzu’s immune system and lessen the risk of ear infections.

7. How are allergies linked to ear infections? Allergies can lead to inflammation and excess wax production in the ear, creating an ideal environment for infections.

8. Can Omega-3 supplements cure ear infections? While Omega-3 supplements can aid in prevention and recovery, they are not a replacement for a vet’s prescribed treatment for existing infections.

9. When should I consult a vet if I suspect an ear infection? Consult your vet immediately if you suspect an ear infection. Early treatment is vital to prevent complications.

10. Is surgery common for ear infections in Shih Tzus? Surgery is typically a last resort, generally recommended for severe or recurring infections that do not respond to other treatments.

In conclusion, taking care of a Shih Tzu’s ears requires regular attention and care. Regular ear cleaning, incorporating Omega-3 in their diet, and routine vet check-ups are fundamental steps to prevent ear infections. Remember, a healthy Shih Tzu is a happy Shih Tzu!

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