Know the Signs: 5 Most Common Health Issues in Shih Tzus

Written by: Arlene D.
| Published on May 23, 2023

Shih Tzus, adored worldwide for their friendly disposition and gorgeous coats, are generally a healthy breed. However, they’re not entirely immune to health problems. Understanding the five most common issues that Shih Tzus may face can equip owners with the knowledge to identify these signs early and seek timely veterinary care.

  1. Brachycephalic Syndrome

The flat face and short nose, characteristic of the Shih Tzu breed, are adorable but can lead to Brachycephalic Syndrome. This condition, common in breeds with a compressed facial structure, can cause problems with breathing due to narrowed nostrils, elongated soft palate, or tracheal stenosis. Look out for symptoms such as noisy or labored breathing, snorting, gagging, or episodes of blue gums due to lack of oxygen. Regular vet visits are essential for early detection, and in severe cases, surgery may be necessary.

  1. Hip Dysplasia

This condition involves a malformation of the hip joint, causing the hip’s ball and socket not to fit together correctly. Over time, it can lead to painful arthritis or even lameness. Signs of hip dysplasia in your Shih Tzu may include difficulty standing up or climbing stairs, reduced activity, or a “bunny-hopping” gait. If your dog exhibits these symptoms, a vet consultation is in order to discuss potential treatment plans.

  1. Eye Problems

Shih Tzus are prone to a variety of eye conditions due to their large, protruding eyes. Problems can include dry eye, corneal ulcers, and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), which can lead to blindness. Signs to watch out for include redness, excessive tearing, cloudiness, or visible discomfort. Regular vet check-ups can help detect these issues early, and your vet can recommend treatments to manage these conditions and preserve your dog’s sight.

  1. Patellar Luxation

Also known as ‘slipped stifles,’ this condition occurs when the patella (kneecap) doesn’t fit into the groove of the thigh bone correctly, causing it to dislocate. Symptoms can include a strange walk or skip, sudden lameness in the affected leg, or reluctance to exercise. If you observe these signs, it’s crucial to consult with your vet. Depending on the severity, treatments can range from physical therapy to surgery.

  1. Allergies

Shih Tzus are susceptible to various types of allergies, including food allergies, contact allergies, and inhalant allergies. Symptoms can include excessive scratching or licking, inflamed skin, chronic ear infections, vomiting, or diarrhea. If your Shih Tzu shows signs of allergies, a vet visit is necessary. Identifying the allergen and eliminating it from your dog’s environment is the most effective way to manage allergies.

In conclusion, although Shih Tzus are generally a healthy breed, owners must stay vigilant about these common health problems. Regular vet visits, a balanced diet, proper grooming, and moderate exercise are key to ensuring your Shih Tzu’s overall health. Being aware of these conditions and their signs can lead to early detection and treatment, enhancing the quality of life for your furry companion. With attentive care, your Shih Tzu can lead a happy, healthy life filled with tail wags and face licks.

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