As pet owners, we all want our furry friends to live long, happy, and healthy lives. However, even with the best of care, health issues can arise, and it’s important to be knowledgeable about them. This is especially true for owners of Shih Tzus, as this popular breed is prone to a variety of health problems. From breathing issues to dental concerns, and from joint problems to kidney disease, there’s a lot to be aware of. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at common health issues in Shih Tzus, including their causes, symptoms, and treatment options. Whether you’re a seasoned owner or considering adopting a Shih Tzu, read on to learn more.

Breathing Problems

Breathing Problems
Breathing difficulties in Shih Tzu can cause significant discomfort for your furry little friend. Shih Tzu breed is prone to several common health issues, and breathing problems is one of them. Some breathing difficulties are short-lived and harmless, while others can indicate serious underlying health conditions that require immediate attention. In this section, we will discuss the two most common breathing problems that Shih Tzu experience, namely Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) and Reverse Sneezing. It is important to know the difference between the two and learn how to identify and manage them to keep your Shih Tzu healthy and happy. Regular check-ups with your vet can help catch problems early, so make sure to schedule visits as recommended.

Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS)

Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) is a common health issue that affects many flat-faced dog breeds, including the Shih Tzu. This syndrome is caused by the dog’s unique head and facial structure, which can cause various breathing difficulties.

Signs and symptoms of BOAS

  • Loud and noisy breathing
  • Shortness of breath or rapid breathing
  • Snoring while sleeping
  • Cyanosis (bluish gums)
  • Difficulty exercising or playing
  • Fainting or collapsing

Causes of BOAS
BOAS is caused by a combination of genetic factors and environmental conditions. Some of the factors that contribute to BOAS development in Shih Tzus include:

  • Narrow and elongated nostrils
  • Excessive soft tissue in the throat
  • Enlarged tonsils or elongated soft palate
  • Narrow trachea (windpipe)
  • Obesity

Prevention and Treatment of BOAS
While some of the factors that cause BOAS in Shih Tzus are genetic, there are some measures you can take to prevent this syndrome. Here are some tips for preventing BOAS in Shih Tzus:

  • Keep your Shih Tzu at a healthy weight to reduce pressure on their airways
  • Feed them smaller and more frequent meals instead of one big meal to avoid excessive panting and swallowing of air
  • Avoid exposing your Shih Tzu to extreme temperatures, exercise them during cooler times of the day
  • Be aware of the signs and symptoms of BOAS and take them to regular check-ups

Treatment for BOAS varies depending on the severity of the case. Mild cases of BOAS can be managed with lifestyle changes. However, severe cases of BOAS may require surgery to open up the dog’s airways.

If you suspect your Shih Tzu may be suffering from BOAS, it is vital to talk to your veterinarian immediately. They can perform a physical examination and other diagnostic tests to evaluate the severity of the condition and recommend appropriate treatment options.

Regular check-ups with your veterinarian can help identify BOAS early on and prevent further complications. You may want to consider including information about Shih Tzu check-ups to know when to bring your dog to their vet.

Reverse Sneezing

Reverse sneezing is a common health issue in Shih Tzu that can be perplexing for dog owners. It occurs when an involuntary spasm causes the dog to inhale quickly and forcefully through the nose. This creates a snorting or choking sound and can last for several seconds. Though it is not harmful to your dog, witnessing a reverse sneezing episode can be distressing for owners.

Causes of Reverse Sneezing

Reverse sneezing in Shih Tzu can be triggered by various factors such as allergies, excitement, or irritants. In most cases, however, it is due to an irritation in the throat, nasal cavity, or pharyngeal area. Common causes of this irritation include:

AllergiesEnvironmental allergens such as pollen, dust, or mold, can trigger reverse sneezing in Shih Tzu. Food allergies can also be a cause, so it is essential to ensure your dog is on a high-quality diet.
External IrritantsYour Shih Tzu may inhale irritants from the environment such as chemicals, perfumes, smoke, or cleaning products that can cause reverse sneezing.
Excitement or Over-StimulationReverse sneezing can be brought on by excitement or over-stimulation in Shih Tzu.
Physical AbnormalitiesIn some rare cases, reverse sneezing can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition such as nasal mites or growths in the nasal cavity.

Symptoms of Reverse Sneezing

Shih Tzu owners should be familiar with the symptoms of reverse sneezing. The most common sign is a sudden, loud snorting or choking sound that can last for several seconds. This can be followed by gagging, coughing, or retching, although it is not always the case. In most cases, Shih Tzu will return to normal breathing immediately after the episode.

Treatment and Prevention of Reverse Sneezing

If your Shih Tzu experiences a reverse sneezing episode, remain calm and monitor the dog until breathing normalizes. You can also try to shorten the length of the episode by rubbing the throat, massaging the neck, or covering the nostrils to encourage the dog to swallow.

To prevent reverse sneezing in Shih Tzu, it is essential to identify and avoid environmental triggers such as allergens or irritants. For dogs with allergies or other medical conditions, your veterinarian may advise antihistamines or other medications to prevent reverse sneezing episodes.

While reverse sneezing can be alarming to witness for Shih Tzu owners, it is generally harmless to the dog. It is essential to understand the triggers and potential underlying causes of reverse sneezing to manage and prevent episodes effectively. If you suspect your Shih Tzu is experiencing reverse sneezing or exhibits any other concerning symptoms, contact your veterinarian or schedule a check-up by clicking on this link.

Skin Problems

Skin Problems
Shih Tzu dogs are known for their luscious, long coat, but that doesn’t mean they are immune to skin problems. Various skin issues are common in Shih Tzus due to their sensitive skin and the folds in their skin which can trap moisture and dirt. These problems can range from mild to severe and can cause discomfort and even infection. It’s important for Shih Tzu owners to be aware of the skin problems their pet can face and how to prevent and treat them. Let’s dive into some of the most common skin problems in Shih Tzus. If you notice your Shih Tzu having lethargy problems, check out our article on Shih Tzu lethargy tips. If your dog faces anxiety or separation issues, you can find useful information in our post Helping Shih Tzu separation anxiety. And if you suspect that your dog has food allergies, check out our article on food allergies in Shih Tzu dogs.

Hot Spots

Hot spots, also known as acute moist dermatitis, are areas of skin inflammation and irritation that can be quite painful for our furry friends. They are usually caused by a combination of factors such as allergies, poor grooming, and insect bites. It is a common health issue among Shih Tzus and can lead to scarring and hair loss if left untreated.

Symptoms of Hot Spots

The symptoms of hot spots are usually quite obvious and can be visually detected. Some of the symptoms include:

Symptoms of Hot Spots
Red, irritated skinItchy or painful areas on the skin
Moist, oozing soresOffensive odor
Hair lossCrusting or scabbing

Treatment for Hot Spots

If you suspect that your Shih Tzu has a hot spot, it is important to take action quickly to prevent it from getting worse. Treatment options may vary depending on the severity of the hot spot, but the following steps may be recommended:

Treatment for Hot Spots
Trimming the hair around the affected areaCleaning the area with a mild antiseptic or medicated shampoo
Drying the area thoroughlyUsing a topical medication, such as a hydrocortisone cream or spray, to relieve inflammation and itching
Preventing your dog from biting, scratching, or licking the affected areaAddressing any underlying allergies or health issues that may be contributing to the hot spot

In severe cases, your veterinarian may prescribe oral antibiotics or steroids to help treat the hot spot. In any case, it is important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions closely and continue to monitor your Shih Tzu’s progress to ensure a full recovery.

Prevention of Hot Spots

Prevention is always better than cure. To prevent hot spots, it is important to maintain good grooming habits for your Shih Tzu. This includes regular baths and brushing to prevent matting and tangling, which can trap moisture and create the perfect environment for hot spots to develop. You may also consider using flea and tick prevention measures to reduce the risk of insect bites, which can contribute to hot spots.


Hot spots can be a painful and uncomfortable health issue for Shih Tzus, but it can be easily prevented with good grooming habits and regular check-ups. In case your Shih Tzu develops hot spots, prompt treatment can help to prevent it from getting worse and reduce the chances of complications. If you suspect that your furry friend has hot spots or any other health issues, consult your veterinarian immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment.


Dermatitis is a common skin problem in Shih Tzus that can cause redness, itching, and inflammation. It can be caused by a number of factors, including allergies, parasites, and bacterial or fungal infections. If left untreated, it can lead to more serious skin conditions such as hot spots.

Symptoms of dermatitis include red, inflamed skin; scaly or crusty patches; itching, scratching or biting at the affected area; and hair loss. In some cases, Shih Tzus may develop a secondary bacterial infection that will cause a foul odor and discharge from the affected skin.

To prevent and treat dermatitis in Shih Tzus, it’s important to identify the underlying cause. Some common causes of dermatitis include flea allergies, food allergies, and environmental allergies. Treatment will depend on the cause and severity of the condition.

Preventive measures include regular grooming and bathing to keep your Shih Tzu’s skin clean and healthy, as well as flea prevention to avoid flea allergies.

Treatment for dermatitis may include topical ointments or medicated shampoos to soothe the skin and reduce inflammation. In more severe cases, antibiotics or antifungal medication may be prescribed by a veterinarian. It’s also important to identify and eliminate any allergens that may be triggering the condition.

Dermatitis is a common skin problem in Shih Tzus that can be caused by a variety of factors. Early detection and treatment are key to preventing more serious skin conditions from developing. Regular grooming and flea prevention can go a long way in preventing dermatitis from occurring in the first place.

Dental Issues

Dental Issues
As beloved members of our families, our furry friends deserve the best care possible. Unfortunately, dental issues are common in dogs, including Shih Tzus. Neglecting their dental hygiene can lead to serious health problems. That’s why it’s important to understand the dental issues that may afflict your Shih Tzu, and how to prevent or treat them. From tooth decay to gingivitis, let’s explore the common dental issues that Shih Tzus may face.

Tooth Decay

Maintaining your Shih Tzu’s dental health is essential for their overall wellbeing. One of the most common health issues that Shih Tzus face is tooth decay. Tooth decay is caused by bacteria in the mouth that creates a sticky film called plaque. If the plaque is not removed, it can harden into tartar and eventually lead to tooth decay.

Below is a table outlining the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for tooth decay in Shih Tzus:

CausesSymptomsTreatment Options
Poor dental hygieneBad breath, yellow/brown teeth, tooth loss, difficulty chewingRegular dental cleanings, daily brushing, dental chews/treats, antibiotics as prescribed by a veterinarian

It’s essential to brush your Shih Tzu’s teeth daily with a toothpaste made specifically for dogs to prevent tooth decay. Your veterinarian may also recommend dental chews or treats to help clean their teeth. Additionally, regular dental cleanings performed by a veterinarian can help remove tartar buildup and prevent tooth decay.

If left untreated, tooth decay can lead to more severe dental problems, such as infection or periodontal disease. To prevent tooth decay from turning into a more severe issue, it’s essential to seek treatment for tooth decay promptly.

By taking the necessary steps to maintain your Shih Tzu’s dental health and seeking veterinary treatment when needed, you can help ensure that they live a happy and healthy life free from tooth decay and other dental problems.


Gingivitis is a common health problem in Shih Tzus that affects their gums. It is an inflammation of the gums that can lead to other, more serious dental issues if left untreated. Here are some important things to know about gingivitis in Shih Tzus:

  • One of the most common causes of gingivitis in Shih Tzus is poor dental hygiene. When plaque and tartar build up on your dog’s teeth, the bacteria can cause an infection in the gums. This infection can quickly spread, leading to gingivitis.
  • If your Shih Tzu has gingivitis, you may notice symptoms like bad breath, bleeding gums, and even loose or missing teeth. Your dog may also be in pain and may not want to eat or play like usual. It’s important to take these symptoms seriously and seek treatment from a veterinarian.
  • Fortunately, gingivitis can usually be treated with a simple dental cleaning by a veterinarian. During the cleaning, your dog’s teeth will be scaled and polished to remove any buildup of tartar and plaque. Your vet may also prescribe antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications to help your dog’s gums heal and prevent future infections.

It’s important to take steps to prevent gingivitis in your Shih Tzu. This may include brushing your dog’s teeth regularly, providing dental chews or toys, and taking your dog for regular dental check-ups. With proper care and attention, you can help keep your Shih Tzu’s teeth and gums healthy and prevent gingivitis from developing. So, make sure you do everything you can to keep your pet happy and healthy, including caring for their dental health!

Eye Problems

Eye Problems
The eyes are often referred to as the windows to the soul, but for Shih Tzu owners, they can also be a cause for concern. Shih Tzus are known to be prone to a variety of eye problems, which can affect their vision and overall health. These issues can range from minor irritations to serious conditions that require immediate attention. So, it’s crucial that owners understand and recognize the signs of eye problems in their furry friend. Let’s explore some of the common eye problems that Shih Tzus face, including potential causes, symptoms, and treatment options.


Cataracts are a common health issue in Shih Tzus, especially as they age. This condition occurs when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, affecting their vision. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, trauma to the eye, or even diabetes.

If you notice any signs of cataracts in your Shih Tzu, such as cloudy or bluish eyes, it is important to take them to the vet for a diagnosis. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the cataract and restore their vision. However, there are also some preventative measures you can take to reduce the risk of cataracts.

1. Regular Eye Exams: Regular eye exams can help detect cataracts early on, allowing for prompt treatment.

2. Proper Nutrition: Feeding your Shih Tzu a balanced diet with plenty of antioxidants, such as vitamins A and C, can help reduce the risk of cataracts.

3. Avoiding Trauma: Protecting your Shih Tzu’s eyes from trauma, such as bumping into objects or getting hit in the eye, can reduce their risk of cataracts.

4. Managing Diabetes: If your Shih Tzu has diabetes, it is important to manage their blood sugar levels to reduce the risk of cataracts.

By taking these preventative measures, you can help reduce the risk of your Shih Tzu developing cataracts and maintain their eye health as they age. Remember to always consult with your vet for the best course of action for your specific Shih Tzu.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive Retinal Atrophy, often abbreviated as PRA, is a degenerative eye disease that affects the retina of Shih Tzu dogs. It is a genetic disorder, which means that it is inherited from the dog’s parents. This condition causes a gradual loss of vision that eventually leads to complete blindness.

Symptoms of PRA
– Night blindness
– Dilated pupils
– Difficulty navigating in low light
– Bumping into objects
– Reluctance to go down stairs or into dark rooms

These symptoms usually begin to appear when the dog is around 3-5 years old, but in some cases, they can appear as early as 1 year old.

Treatment and Prevention
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for PRA, and once a dog becomes blind, there is no way to restore their vision. However, there are things that can be done to slow down the progression of the disease and make the dog’s life more comfortable.

It is crucial to have your Shih Tzu regularly checked by a veterinarian, particularly if they have a family history of PRA. The vet can perform an eye exam to check for early signs of the disease. If caught early enough, there are supplements and diets that can be prescribed by the vet to slow down the progression of PRA.

The best way to prevent PRA is by breeding only from dogs that are free of the disease. Before purchasing a Shih Tzu, it’s essential to ask the breeder about the dog’s family history of eye diseases.

PRA is a severe health condition that can be heartbreaking for both the dog and their owner. It’s essential to be aware of the symptoms and take preventative measures to maintain your pet’s eye health.

Cherry Eye

Cherry eye is a common health issue that Shih Tzus can experience. It is caused by the prolapse of the gland of the third eyelid, also known as the nictitating membrane. This condition gets its name from the red, cherry-like appearance of the gland when it becomes visible in the corner of the eye. The prolapse of this gland can lead to discomfort, irritation, and even infection if left untreated.

What are the symptoms of cherry eye?
– Swelling, redness, and inflammation in the corner of the eye
– A noticeable pink or red lump in the corner of the eye
– Excessive blinking or squinting
– Eye discharge or tearing

What causes cherry eye?
The exact cause of cherry eye in Shih Tzus is unknown. However, it is believed to be a genetic condition, as well as a result of weakened connective tissue in the eye. It could also be triggered by trauma or eye infections.

How is cherry eye treated?
Cherry eye can be treated through surgery, which involves repositioning the gland and securing it in place. It is important to note that delaying treatment can increase the risk of complications and a reduced chance of successful treatment. Veterinarians have varying opinions on the timing of surgery, but it is generally recommended to have it done sooner rather than later.

What are the risks of untreated cherry eye?
If left untreated, cherry eye can cause irritation and discomfort for your Shih Tzu. The swelling and inflammation could lead to an infection in the eye, and the exposed gland could dry out, which may lead to further complications. In some cases, untreated cherry eye can result in permanent damage or blindness in the affected eye.

If you suspect that your Shih Tzu is suffering from cherry eye, it is important to take them to the vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Addressing cherry eye promptly can help your furry friend avoid potential complications and lead to a faster recovery.

Joint Problems

Joint Problems
Dogs, like humans, can experience joint problems that affect their mobility and quality of life. Unfortunately, Shih Tzus are not exempted from this health issue. These adorable companions are susceptible to various joint problems that can be devastating if left untreated. As a Shih Tzu owner, it’s essential to be aware of the signs and symptoms of joint problems and take preventive measures to keep your furry friend healthy and happy. In this section, we will explore some of the most common joint problems that can affect Shih Tzus and how to detect and treat them early.

Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation is a common orthopedic problem in Shih Tzu dogs. It occurs when the kneecap or patella, which is supposed to sit in the groove of the femur bone, slips out of its normal position. This condition can cause your furry friend to experience pain, lameness, and inability to extend the leg fully.


Patellar luxation is most commonly due to a congenital abnormality that affects the alignment of the bones in the hind legs. However, it can also be caused by trauma, which can damage the supporting ligaments around the knee joint. Some Shih Tzus may also develop patellar luxation as a result of obesity, muscle weakness or arthritis.


When your dog has a patellar luxation, you may notice that they limp, hop or skip when they walk, or that they extend their leg less than usual. Your dog may also sit with their hind leg extended to the side, and they may be reluctant to jump or climb stairs. In severe cases, the kneecap may even dislocate completely, causing the dog to hold their leg off the ground.


The treatment for patellar luxation in Shih Tzu dogs depends on the severity of the condition. Mild cases may only require management with weight loss, exercise and medication to control the pain and inflammation. For more severe cases, surgery may be required to realign the bones and stabilize the kneecap.

Here is a handy table summarizing the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for patellar luxation in Shih Tzu dogs:

Congenital abnormalityLimping, hopping, skipping, reluctance to jump or climb stairsWeight loss, exercise, medication, and surgery for severe cases
Trauma or injuryLeg extension, holding leg off the groundPain management, weight loss, exercise, and surgery for severe cases
Obesity, muscle weakness, or arthritisReluctance to move, lameness, painWeight loss, exercise, and medication to control pain and inflammation

If you suspect that your Shih Tzu is experiencing patellar luxation or any other health issues, it’s important to consult your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment options.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a common health condition in Shih Tzu dogs that can cause discomfort and mobility issues. It occurs when the hip joint doesn’t develop properly, leading to a loose and unstable joint. Here are some important details to know about hip dysplasia in Shih Tzu:


  • Walking with a limp or favoring one leg
  • Pain or stiffness when getting up or after exercise
  • Difficulty jumping on furniture or climbing stairs
  • Decreased activity level
  • Abnormal hip joint movement

Hip dysplasia can have a genetic component, meaning it may be passed down from parent dogs with the condition. However, there are also environmental factors that can contribute to the development of hip dysplasia, including:

  • Excessive growth or weight gain
  • Poor nutrition
  • Overexertion or repetitive motion
  • Injury or trauma to the hip joint

Treatment options for hip dysplasia may include:

  • Weight management to reduce stress on the joints
  • Low-impact exercise and physical therapy
  • Medications for pain relief and inflammation reduction
  • Surgical intervention, such as total hip replacement or femoral head ostectomy (removal of the top part of the femur bone)

While hip dysplasia may have a genetic component, there are still steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of it developing in Shih Tzu dogs:

  • Choosing a breeder who has screened their dogs for hip dysplasia
  • Feeding a balanced diet and avoiding overfeeding
  • Encouraging gentle exercise and avoiding overexertion
  • Providing a comfortable and supportive sleeping area

If you suspect your Shih Tzu may be experiencing symptoms of hip dysplasia, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment. With proper care and management, dogs with hip dysplasia can lead happy and healthy lives.

Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease

One health issue that can affect Shih Tzus is Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease, which is a condition that affects the hip joint. This disease occurs when the blood supply to the femur bone in the hip joint is interrupted, causing the bone to become brittle and eventually collapse. This can then lead to arthritis and possible loss of the hip joint.

There are several possible causes of Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease, including genetics, trauma or injury, and other underlying health conditions. Symptoms of this disease may include limping or difficulty moving, pain in the hip or leg, and muscle atrophy in the affected leg.

If you suspect that your Shih Tzu may be suffering from Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease, it is important to consult with a veterinarian as soon as possible. They will perform a physical examination and possibly recommend imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment for Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease may include medication for pain and inflammation, physical therapy, and possibly surgery.

Preventing Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease in Shih Tzus can involve maintaining a healthy weight, providing plenty of exercise, and avoiding activities that could cause trauma or injury to the hips. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian can also help catch any potential health issues early on and prevent them from becoming more serious problems.

It is important for Shih Tzu owners to be aware of the various health issues that can affect their furry companion. By taking preventative measures such as maintaining a healthy lifestyle and seeking prompt veterinary care when necessary, you can help ensure that your Shih Tzu leads a long, happy, and healthy life.

Kidney Disease

Kidney Disease
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a common health issue among Shih Tzus. In fact, it is one of the leading causes of death in this breed. CKD occurs when the kidneys gradually lose their function over time, which can result in a range of serious health problems.

One of the main causes of CKD in Shih Tzus is genetics. Some lines of Shih Tzus are predisposed to kidney problems, and often develop signs of kidney disease early in life. Other factors that can contribute to CKD in Shih Tzus include infections, exposure to toxins, and a poor diet.

Symptoms of kidney disease can be difficult to spot in the early stages, but over time, owners may notice that their Shih Tzu is drinking more water than usual, urinating more frequently, and experiencing lethargy or weakness. As kidney function declines, the dog may also suffer from vomiting, loss of appetite, and weight loss.

Unfortunately, once CKD reaches an advanced stage, there is no cure. Treatment options include managing symptoms, supporting kidney function and slowing down the progression of the disease. Your veterinarian may recommend a low-protein diet, medication to control blood pressure, and supplements to enhance urine output.

Prevention is key to avoiding kidney disease in Shih Tzus. A healthy diet and regular exercise, as well as avoiding exposure to toxins or infections, can help keep your pet’s kidneys healthy. It is also important to have regular check-ups with your veterinarian to catch any signs of kidney disease early on.

Kidney disease is a serious health issue among Shih Tzus. While there is no cure, early detection and treatment can help manage symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease. By taking steps to prevent kidney disease through a healthy lifestyle and regular check-ups, owners can help their Shih Tzus live happy, healthy lives.

Liver Shunt

Liver Shunt
A liver shunt, also known as a portosystemic shunt, is a serious health issue that can affect Shih Tzus. This condition occurs when the blood flow to the liver is bypassed, resulting in a buildup of toxins in the body. These toxins can cause a range of symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and lethargy.

Liver shunts in Shih Tzus can be congenital, meaning they are present at birth. In some cases, the shunt may not be detected until later in life as symptoms begin to appear. Other times, a liver shunt may be acquired, typically as a result of liver disease or trauma. Certain breeds, including Shih Tzus, Yorkshire Terriers, and Maltese, are more prone to liver shunts.

The symptoms of a liver shunt can vary depending on the severity of the condition. In some cases, there may be no symptoms at all. However, common symptoms that may arise include poor growth and weight gain, poor appetite, vomiting or diarrhea, lethargy, seizures, behavioral changes, a distended stomach, and increased urination and thirst.

Treating liver shunts typically involves surgery, but the exact course of treatment will depend on the type and severity of the shunt. In some cases, dietary changes or medication may be used in combination with surgery. The primary goal of treatment is to reduce the number of toxins in the bloodstream and improve liver function.

Unfortunately, there is no sure way to prevent liver shunts in Shih Tzus, but there are steps that you can take to reduce the risk. Maintaining a healthy diet and providing regular exercise can help to reduce the risk of liver disease, which can, in turn, reduce the risk of liver shunts. Regular check-ups with your veterinarian can also help to identify any potential issues early on.

Thyroid Problems

Thyroid Problems
The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped organ located in a dog’s neck. It secretes hormones that regulate metabolism and affect almost every organ and cell in the body. Unfortunately, thyroid problems are a common issue among Shih Tzu dogs. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone, while hyperthyroidism happens when it produces too much.

Hypothyroidism can cause lethargy, weight gain, hair loss, dry skin, and intolerance to cold. It can also cause mental dullness, which can make training or even simple commands difficult. In severe cases, dogs may develop a condition called myxedema coma, which is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment.

Hyperthyroidism can cause symptoms such as weight loss, increased appetite, excessive thirst or urination, diarrhea, vomiting, and restlessness or irritability. Other symptoms may include an increased heart rate, hypertension, and heart murmurs.

Diagnosing thyroid problems can be challenging as the symptoms are often similar to other common ailments. Blood tests can help determine if a dog has thyroid issues or not. However, it’s essential to have a thorough examination by a veterinarian to rule out other conditions that can mimic hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, such as kidney or liver disease.

While thyroid problems can’t be cured, it can be managed. Hypothyroidism is typically treated with daily hormone replacement therapy, which can lead to significant improvement in symptoms. Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, can be treated with medication, surgery, or radioactive iodine therapy.

Owners can help prevent or manage thyroid problems in their Shih Tzu dog by providing a balanced and nutritious diet, ensuring regular exercise, and scheduling annual check-ups with their veterinarian. Early detection and treatment of thyroid problems can lead to a healthier and happier life for your furry friend.

Heart Murmurs

Heart Murmurs
It is not uncommon for Shih Tzu dogs to suffer from heart murmurs, a medical condition in which an abnormal sound is heard when blood flows through the heart. In most cases, heart murmurs are harmless and can be caused by a variety of factors including anemia, fever, or pregnancy. However, in some cases, they can be indicative of a more serious underlying condition.

Heart murmurs in Shih Tzus can be caused by a number of factors, including congenital heart disease, mitral valve disease, pulmonic stenosis, or aortic stenosis. Congenital heart disease is a condition that is present at birth and may be caused by defects in the heart’s structure or function. Mitral valve disease occurs when the valves that control the flow of blood between the heart’s chambers do not close properly, causing blood to leak back into the heart. Pulmonic stenosis is a narrowing of the valve that controls the flow of blood from the heart to the lungs, and aortic stenosis is a narrowing of the valve that controls blood flow from the heart to the body.

The symptoms of heart murmurs in Shih Tzu dogs can vary depending on the underlying cause of the condition. Some dogs may display no symptoms at all, while others may experience coughing, difficulty breathing, fatigue, or poor appetite. In some cases, heart murmurs may also be accompanied by a heart murmur sound that can be detected during a physical examination.

The treatment for heart murmurs in Shih Tzus will depend on the underlying cause of the condition. In some cases, no treatment may be required at all, and the heart murmur may resolve on its own. However, in more serious cases, medication, surgery, or other interventions may be necessary. Medications may be prescribed to help regulate the dog’s heart rate, reduce fluid buildup, or decrease blood pressure. Surgery may be necessary to repair or replace a damaged valve or to correct a congenital defect.

Unfortunately, there is no surefire way to prevent heart murmurs in Shih Tzus. However, there are steps that pet owners can take to help reduce the risk of their dog developing the condition. Regular check-ups and monitoring of the dog’s heart health can help detect any issues early on, before they become more serious. Additionally, keeping the dog at a healthy weight, providing regular exercise, feeding a healthy diet, and avoiding exposure to environmental toxins can all help promote overall heart health and reduce the risk of heart murmurs and other heart conditions.

Seizures and Epilepsy

Seizures And Epilepsy
Seizures and epilepsy are common health issues that can affect Shih Tzu dogs. These conditions are characterized by various types of seizures, which are sudden and uncontrollable movements that can range from mild to severe. Seizures can occur as a result of many underlying health conditions, including epilepsy, brain tumors, infections, or traumatic brain injuries.

Symptoms of seizures in Shih Tzu dogs
Shih Tzu dogs experiencing a seizure may have a wide range of symptoms. The signs may include:

– Uncontrollable twitching or jerking movements
– Lethargy or confusion
– Loss of consciousness
– Staggering or stumbling
– Excessive drooling or foaming at the mouth
– Strange vocalizations, such as growling or barking
– Loss of bladder or bowel control

Treatment for seizures in Shih Tzu dogs
Treatment for seizures and epilepsy in Shih Tzu dogs can include medication, dietary interventions, or surgery in severe cases. The type and severity of the seizures will determine the best treatment options.

Anticonvulsant medications are often used to control seizures in Shih Tzu dogs. These drugs work by reducing the frequency and intensity of seizures. However, medications may have side effects, and it may take some time to find the right medication and dosage for each individual dog.

Preventing seizures in Shih Tzu dogs
There are steps that Shih Tzu owners can take to help prevent seizures or reduce the frequency of their occurrence. Feeding a well-balanced, nutritious diet, regular exercise, and stress management can all be helpful in preventing or managing seizures.

It’s important for Shih Tzu dogs with a history of seizures or epilepsy to receive regular check-ups with a veterinarian to monitor their condition and adjust their treatment plan as needed. Seizures can be frightening and stressful for both dogs and their owners, but with proper management and prevention strategies, Shih Tzu dogs with epilepsy or seizures can live happy and healthy lives.

Food Allergies

Food Allergies
One common health issue that Shih Tzu dogs can suffer from is food allergies. Food allergies occur when a dog’s immune system mistakenly identifies a protein in their food as harmful and attacks it. This immune reaction can cause a range of symptoms, including digestive issues, skin irritation, and even respiratory problems.

Some common signs of a food allergy in Shih Tzu dogs include vomiting, diarrhea, itchy skin, ear infections, and hair loss. These symptoms can be caused by a range of factors, so it’s important to take your dog to a veterinarian to get a proper diagnosis.

If your Shih Tzu is diagnosed with a food allergy, the first step is to identify the allergen or allergens. This can be a time-consuming and challenging process, as food allergies can be caused by a variety of proteins found in ingredients like beef, chicken, pork, grains, and dairy products. Your veterinarian may recommend an elimination diet, where you gradually remove suspected allergens from your dog’s diet until you find the culprit.

Once you have identified the allergen, the next step is to eliminate it from your dog’s diet entirely. This can be a challenge, as many commercial dog foods contain a range of ingredients that can be potential allergens. Your veterinarian may recommend a specially formulated hypoallergenic diet for your dog, which contains novel proteins that your dog has not been exposed to before.

In addition to changing your dog’s diet, there are other steps you can take to help manage their food allergy. For example, you can try feeding smaller meals more frequently to make digestion easier, or you can switch to a different type of protein, such as fish or lamb, which may be less likely to trigger an allergic reaction.

Food allergies can be a frustrating and difficult issue to deal with, but with the right diagnosis and management, your Shih Tzu can live a happy and healthy life. If you suspect that your dog may be suffering from a food allergy, be sure to consult with your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

Heat Stroke

Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is a serious and potentially fatal condition that can affect Shih Tzu dogs, especially during hot and humid weather conditions. It is characterized by the body failing to regulate its internal temperature, leading to rapid overheating and a range of severe symptoms.


The symptoms can range from mild to severe and require immediate medical attention. Symptoms can include excessive panting, rapid heartbeat, high body temperature (over 104 degrees Fahrenheit), drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and uncoordinated movements. In severe cases, dogs may collapse, lose consciousness, and experience seizures.


Heat stroke can occur if a Shih Tzu is left in a hot car, left outside in direct sunlight, or during vigorous exercise in hot weather. Dogs with underlying health conditions or those who are overweight are also more susceptible to heat stroke.

Prevention and Treatment

Preventing heat stroke involves keeping your Shih Tzu cool and hydrated during hot weather. Provide plenty of fresh water and shade and avoid exercising your dog during the hottest parts of the day. If you notice any signs of heat exhaustion, move your dog to a cooler area and provide cool water to drink.

If your Shih Tzu is suffering from heat stroke, take immediate action by moving them to a cool, shaded area and dousing them in cool water or wrapping them in a cool, wet towel. Call your veterinarian right away, as prompt medical treatment is crucial to their recovery.


Heat stroke is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition, but it can be easily prevented with proper care and attention. Keep your Shih Tzu cool, hydrated, and avoid exposing them to excessive heat during hot weather. If you suspect your dog is suffering from heat stroke, act quickly and seek immediate veterinary care.

Prevention and Treatment

Taking preventive measures and seeking prompt treatment is crucial when it comes to maintaining the overall health and well-being of your Shih Tzu. As a responsible pet owner, it is your duty to proactively guard against common health issues that may affect your furry friend. By proactively guarding against these potential issues, you can ensure that your pet will lead a healthy and active life. In this section, we will discuss some important preventive measures and various forms of treatments that can help you to properly care for your Shih Tzu, thereby providing them with the best possible outcomes in terms of their health and happiness.

Diet and Nutrition

One of the most important aspects of keeping your Shih Tzu healthy is maintaining a proper diet and nutrition. Shih Tzus are known to have sensitive stomachs, so it is essential to focus on providing them with high-quality food that suits their needs. Here are some key points to consider when it comes to Shih Tzu diet and nutrition:

Protein: Shih Tzus require protein to maintain their muscles, bones, and overall health. Look for high-quality proteins such as chicken, turkey, fish, and lamb.

Fats: While fats have a reputation for being unhealthy, they are an important part of a Shih Tzu’s diet. Fat provides your dog with energy, maintains their body temperature, and supports their skin and coat health. Opt for healthy fats found in fish oil, flaxseed oil, and chicken fat.

Carbohydrates: Ensure that the carbohydrates in your dog’s diet come from whole grains and vegetables rather than corn, wheat, or soy. Whole grains such as brown rice and quinoa provide necessary fiber and energy, while vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and peas add important vitamins and minerals.

Vitamins and minerals: Certain vitamins and minerals are essential for your Shih Tzu’s overall well-being. Vitamin A helps with healthy vision, while vitamin B supports the immune system. Calcium and phosphorus are necessary for strong bones, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids support skin and coat health.

It is crucial to avoid giving your Shih Tzu table scraps or excessive treats, as these can lead to weight gain and digestive issues. Instead, opt for healthy, balanced dog food that meets their specific nutritional needs. It is recommended to consult with your veterinarian to determine the best diet and nutrition plan for your Shih Tzu based on their age, size, and activity level.

Below is a summary of key points to consider when it comes to Shih Tzu diet and nutrition:

ProteinMaintains muscles, bones, and overall healthChicken, turkey, fish, lamb
FatProvides energy, maintains body temperature, and supports skin and coat healthFish oil, flaxseed oil, chicken fat
CarbohydratesProvides fiber and energyBrown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas
Vitamins and mineralsSupports overall well-beingVitamin A, vitamin B, calcium, phosphorus, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids

Regular Check-Ups

Regular check-ups are vital in ensuring that the overall well-being of a Shih Tzu is taken care of. It is recommended to take your furry friend to the vet at least once a year for a thorough examination. During these check-ups, the vet will conduct various tests and examinations to detect any health issues that may be developing. Here are some reasons why regular check-ups are important for your Shih Tzu:

  • Early detection: Regular check-ups can help in the early detection of health issues. This is important because the earlier a problem is detected, the easier it is to treat. Your vet will conduct diagnostic tests to detect any potential health issues and take necessary steps to ensure that your Shih Tzu stays healthy.
  • Prevention: Preventative care is crucial in maintaining your Shih Tzu’s health. During regular check-ups, the vet will provide vaccinations and deworming treatments to prevent diseases and parasitic infections. They will also prescribe preventive medications to protect your Shih Tzu from fleas, ticks, and heartworms.
  • Monitoring: Regular check-ups allow the vet to monitor any pre-existing health conditions. This includes regular blood tests to monitor organ function, cholesterol levels, and other important parameters. Monitoring can help detect any irregularities or changes, allowing your vet to adapt the treatment plan as required.
  • Professional advice: During regular check-ups, your vet can provide you with professional advice on various aspects of your Shih Tzu’s health. This includes advice on diet, exercise, dental care and grooming, and any other concerns you may have as a pet owner. It is a great opportunity to ask any questions or address any doubts you may have.

Regular check-ups are essential in ensuring that your Shih Tzu stays healthy and happy. By getting regular check-ups, any health concerns can be detected early, prevented or monitored effectively. So, be sure to schedule regular appointments with your veterinarian and ensure your pet gets the love and attention it deserves!


Keeping your Shih Tzu physically active is vital to their overall wellbeing, as regular exercise not only helps maintain their weight but also improves their cardiovascular health and strengthens their muscles. However, it is important to note that Shih Tzus are not known for their high energy levels and may not require as much exercise as other breeds. Here are some tips to help you provide your furry friend with the right amount of exercise.

  • Daily walks: Take your Shih Tzu out for a walk at least once a day, ideally for 20-30 minutes. Shorter, more frequent walks may be necessary for senior dogs or those with health issues.
  • Indoor play: Engage your Shih Tzu in indoor games such as fetch or hide and seek to keep them active and entertained, especially during bad weather or when it’s too hot outside.
  • Training activities: Incorporate training sessions into your Shih Tzu’s exercise routine. This can include teaching them new tricks, obedience training, or participating in agility courses.
  • Off-leash play: If you have a secure, enclosed yard, allow your Shih Tzu to play off-leash for short periods under close supervision.

It is important to avoid over-exerting your Shih Tzu, as they are prone to joint problems. Be mindful of signs of exhaustion or discomfort such as excessive panting, drooling, or reluctance to move. If you notice any of these symptoms, shorten the duration of your walks or playtime and consult with your vet.

Remember, regular exercise is only one aspect of maintaining your Shih Tzu’s health. Make sure to combine it with a well-balanced diet, regular veterinary check-ups, and plenty of love and attention to ensure your furry friend lives a long, happy life.


When it comes to treating common health problems in Shih Tzus, medication is often necessary. However, it’s important to note that not all medications are safe for dogs, especially for this breed. Always consult with a veterinarian before giving any medication to your Shih Tzu.

Below are some of the most common medications that may be prescribed to treat health issues in Shih Tzus:

MedicationCondition TreatedUsage
AntibioticsSkin Infections, Respiratory Infections, UTIsPrescribed by a veterinarian in the form of pills, ointment or injection to be administered by the owner
CorticosteroidsAllergies, InflammationPrescribed by a veterinarian in the form of pills or injection
Anti-Inflammatory DrugsPain and InflammationPrescribed by a veterinarian to be administered in the form of pills or injection
Anti-Epileptic DrugsSeizures and EpilepsyPrescribed by a veterinarian to be administered in the form of pills or injection
Cough SuppressantsRespiratory Infections, AllergiesPrescribed by a veterinarian to be administered in the form of pills or syrup

It’s important to remember that medication should only be used as directed by a veterinarian. Always keep medications out of reach of your Shih Tzu to avoid accidental overdose. If your Shih Tzu experiences any adverse reactions to medication, contact your veterinarian immediately.


In conclusion, understanding common health issues in Shih Tzu is essential for their well-being. These dogs are prone to a variety of health problems, ranging from breathing difficulties to joint issues and even kidney and liver disease. As a responsible pet owner, it is important to be aware of these issues and take appropriate measures to prevent them.

Proper diet and nutrition, regular check-ups with a veterinarian, exercise, and medication (if necessary) can all help to manage and prevent health problems in your Shih Tzu. It is important to also pay attention to your dog’s behavior and any changes in their health, and seek veterinary care immediately if you notice anything concerning.

Remember, prevention is key when it comes to your Shih Tzu’s health. By taking the necessary steps to promote a healthy lifestyle, you can help ensure that your furry friend lives a happy and healthy life. So, make sure to provide them with lots of love, attention, and care, and don’t hesitate to reach out to your vet if you have any concerns or questions. Your little companion deserves the best, after all!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is BOAS?

BOAS stands for Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome, which is a respiratory condition commonly found in Shih Tzus and other brachycephalic (short-snouted) breeds. The condition can make it difficult for affected dogs to breathe, especially during exercise or in warm weather.

What is reverse sneezing?

Reverse sneezing is a common respiratory phenomenon in Shih Tzus, in which the dog inhales noisily and rapidly through their nose. It is often a harmless response to allergens, irritants, or excitement, and usually resolves on its own within a few seconds.

What are hot spots?

Hot spots are areas of inflamed and infected skin that are common in Shih Tzus and other dogs with long hair. They can be caused by a variety of factors, such as allergies, flea bites, or skin irritation, and require prompt treatment to prevent further spread and discomfort.

What is dental tartar?

Dental tartar, also known as dental calculus, is a hard and yellowish substance that forms on the teeth of Shih Tzus and other dogs. It is made up of bacteria, food particles, and saliva, and can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath if left unchecked.

What is cherry eye?

Cherry eye is a condition in which the gland of the third eyelid in Shih Tzus prolapses, or pops out of place, causing a reddish or pinkish lump in the corner of the eye. It can be uncomfortable and unsightly, but is usually treatable with surgery or medication.

What is hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is a common joint problem in Shih Tzus and other dogs, in which the hip joint doesn’t develop properly and can become loose and painful over time. It can be caused by genetic factors, environmental factors, or a combination of both, and often requires surgery or ongoing management to minimize discomfort.

What is kidney disease?

Kidney disease, also known as renal disease, is a common health concern in older Shih Tzus, in which the kidneys become less effective at filtering waste and balancing fluids in the body. It can be caused by a variety of factors, such as genetics, diet, or infection, and can lead to symptoms such as increased thirst, frequent urination, and weight loss.

What is a liver shunt?

A liver shunt, also known as a portosystemic shunt or PSS, is a condition in which the blood supply to the liver in Shih Tzus is compromised, leading to a buildup of toxins in the bloodstream. It can be congenital or acquired, and often requires surgical intervention to correct or manage the condition.

What are the signs of heat stroke?

The signs of heat stroke, a potentially life-threatening condition in Shih Tzus and other dogs, include excessive panting, drooling, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, and collapse. If you suspect your Shih Tzu is experiencing heat stroke, seek emergency veterinary care immediately.

How can I prevent common health issues in my Shih Tzu?

You can prevent or minimize common health issues in your Shih Tzu by feeding them a nutritious diet, providing regular exercise and veterinary check-ups, keeping them up-to-date on vaccinations and parasite prevention, and addressing any health concerns promptly and proactively.


Matthew Farthing

Matthew Farthing

Сontributing author at DogCareHacks, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant.

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