Home

Shih Tzu mug shots.

Welcome to Shihtzuandyou.com!

Shihtzuandyou.com - Life is a shih tzu!

Your “go to” website for everything shih tzu.

Where do you want to “go to” today?

Our Latest Posts:

Or click on a category to view all articles and reports:

Heath And Fitness Section
Behavior Issues Section
Feeding Your Shih Tzu Section
Training Tips Section
Grooming Advice Section
The Playtime Section
Shih Tzu Product Reviews
Subscribe to our FREE Newsletter.
Ralph at 9-months. Courtesy of Sarah from Bedfordshire, UK.
Bailey at 8-months. Courtesy of Neil from Dorset, UK.
Lady Mia with and without her lip gloss. Courtesy of Toy from Oregon.
Bailey, courtesy of Karen from Saskatchewan.
Luna aged 3-years, with her pink monkey. Courtesy of Ida from Putnam County, New York.
Dixie aged 1-year. Courtesy of Vicki from Jacksonville, Florida.
Charlie in the car.
Bruno in the car
CLICK HERE FOR THE READERS’ FUR BABIES GALLERY
Our Most Popular Articles:
Health and FitnessThe Jury Is Still Out On This One Now that there has been a relaxation in the cannabis and marijuana laws in many parts of the world, there has been a growing interest in cannabis products. You cannot view a pet-related website these days where a banner ad for CBD oil is not present. Apart from this one, that is. There are so many different CBD products with varying levels of quality on sale, especially for pets. None of the pet products have ever been formally, scientifically tested, so the answer to the question, “Is CBD oil good for dogs?” is, no-one can say for sure. Because of the lack of scientific tests, we cannot be 100% sure of the benefits of CBD oil, what any side effects are and how severe, how much is a safe dose, how much is a toxic overdose and what the long-term effects are. All we have to base our judgment on at the moment is word of mouth from people that have given it to their dogs over a period of time. Buy Quality If You Are Going To Use CBD Oil CBD, or cannabinoid, oil is derived from either the hemp plant or the marijuana plant. Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the constituent part that gives a psychoactive high, is removed entirely or as near to entirely as possible from the product so that what is left is an apparent relaxant that has a therapeutic effect on the nervous system. Because of the lack of scientific testing, the market has not yet been regulated. This means there are a lot of rogue traders out there selling inferior products that may be diluted, may contain no cannabinoids at all or may even be harmful. If you are going to buy CBD oil it is important that you avoid these inferior products which will mean paying a little more for a quality product from a reputed source. 6 TOP BUYING TIPS CBD oil can come on its own as a tincture or ready mixed in with foods and treats. Choose the tincture simply because you are then in control of how much you are giving your dog. Make sure it is made from hemp and not marijuana. It probably will be made from hemp, but check the label anyway.Buy human grade rather than pet grade. If this is not possible buy the highest quality pet grade you can.Buy organic. Non-organic may contain traces of pesticides, fungicides, solvents and other unwanted additives which may make your dog’s health worse rather than better.Make sure the product is not diluted and contains a decent amount of CBD. If in doubt, ask to see a lab analysis report. A reputed manufacturer will supply one.Make sure the product contains no THC. This probably will be the case, but check anyway. ID: 177959728 © Omstudio | Depositphotos What Are The Benefits Of CBD Oil? There are so many reported health benefits of CBD oil, it makes one wonder why everybody doesn’t use it and why it isn’t dripped into every pet’s food bowl. It certainly makes me wonder if they are all true, but I have had conversations on social media with many dog owners that give CBD oil to their pets and all but one say their dogs show signs of improvement, sometimes remarkably so. Even the one that didn’t see any improvement thought that it was because she had picked an inferior product. THE 8 MOST POPULARLY BELIEVED BENEFITS Remember, the purported benefits of CBD oil on pets has not been scientifically tested and the ones that are written here are based on manufacturers’ claims and comments from people that have been giving it to their dogs over a period of time. CBD oil can help reduce epileptic seizures. The shih tzu breed does appear to have a higher than average incidence of cases of epilepsy compared to all other breeds combined. Apparently, CBD oil can help reduce the frequency of seizures, especially in cases where drugs have been ineffective. The relaxing properties of CBD oil can reduce stress and calm down dogs with anxiety disorders, including separation anxiety, panic attacks and post-traumatic stress.Blood circulation and the heart can be improved. Irregular heart rates might be corrected. High blood pressure can be lowered, blood vessels protected, damaged blood vessels improved and arteries dilated.CBD oil has anti-inflammatory properties that particularly help with arthritis, diseases of the nervous system and inflammations of the bowel. Reduced inflammations of the bowel and improved bowel movement lead to increased appetite and fewer incidences of vomiting and nausea. This can be a great help if your shih tzu is fussy at feeding times.Allergies can be alleviated. It is claimed CBD oil can reduce the production of inflammatory immune system secretions called cytokines that cause allergic reactions. CBD oil is an efficient antioxidant, more so than either vitamin C or E, useful in clearing the system of free radicals. This is good for preventing brain cell death in older dogs.There are claims that CBD oil can stop the spread of cancer cells and even send them into remission. It does this by helping the cells of the immune system that kill off intruders to destroy the cancer cells. It kills off the cancer cells by blocking their energy building ability. CBD oil can also augment established cancer cell treatment. What Are The Possible Side Effects? It is claimed that you cannot administer an overdose of CBD oil but, as I said earlier, this has not been proved and too much of anything can be toxic, even too much water can be toxic. There are a few side effects that have been reported, however, so for this reason, if you are going to give it to your dog, start with very small amounts and observe any reactions before either increasing the dose, keeping it the same or stopping it altogether. 4 SIDE EFFECTS OF CBD OIL If your shih tzu is on medication, it is probably not a good idea to give him CBD oil. Whatever the medication is, it may be prevented from doing its job due to the CBD oil suppressing the action of the liver enzymes that react with the medicine to fight diseases.CBD oil reduces saliva production leading to increased thirstiness and a dry mouth.High doses of CBD oil can lead to a temporary and very slight fall in blood pressure which may cause dizziness.The calming and relaxing nature of CBD oil can cause drowsiness, especially when administered in high doses. How Do You Give CBD Oil To Your Dog? ID: 106919782 © vchalup2 | Depositphotos As previously suggested, the best way to control how much CBD oil your shih tzu is imbibing is to use the bottled tincture. You can use the dropper to administer the oil directly to your dog’s mouth but it will probably provide a more pleasant experience to mix it in with food or to drop it onto a treat. The oil can also be dropped onto a paw to be licked off, or, for skin disorders and ear infections, rubbed directly into the skin or dropped in the ears respectively. Again, start with a small dose until you are sure how much is required. The amount will depend upon the complaint, but for an initial dose, it is reasonable to calculate at 1 mg to 5 mg for every 10 lbs (5 kg) of body weight. For a 15 lbs (7 kg) shih tzu that’s around 2 mg to 7 mg of oil. Improvements can happen in as little as half an hour, but if there is no change after one day try increasing the dosage a little. For chronic pain, administer a dose every eight hours. Well, Is CBD Oil Good For Dogs – Should You Give It To Yours? As I have stated more than once in this post, none of the observations of the effects of CBD oil written down in this post is a scientific fact, they are just observations and hearsay. Popular opinion does lean towards CBD oil being beneficial in the improvement of certain conditions that your dog may be suffering from. If you do want to give CBD oil to your dog, please discuss it with your vet first. Personally, I have decided not to give CBD oil to my older shih tzu, Bruno, simply because he is on a lot of medication and the last thing I want is for his medication to be ineffective due to the oil. It’s a shame because he has heart problems, seizures and allergies but I don’t want to take chances where his life may be at stake. However, my younger shih tzu, Charlie, is only taking Apoquel to relieve the itchiness of his allergies. I believe that CBD oil may help with his condition, so I expect to try it out with him. I think that CBD oil will prove to be a good thing for dogs generally but for now, the only people who can decide if it is good for your dog are you and your vet. I hope that you have enjoyed this report on CBD oil for dogs. If you have any relevant comments or questions about this post or this website, please use the comments box below or contact us. You can be assured that your contact details will be held securely on this website and that it will never be shared with or sold to any third parties. Bye for now. Shih Tzu Steve. [...] Read more...
PlaytimeWhat Defines What Are The Best Toys For A Shih Tzu? To understand what the best toys for a shih tzu are we need to know what a shih tzu actually needs from a toy. It’s all too easy to build up a collection of toys for your shih tzu where most of them are redundant, totally ignored by your dog. However, you do need to experiment to find out what toys he really likes so it is almost inevitable that this will happen.  The answer to this problem is, once you have found the toys that your shih tzu likes, to have a clearout and pass the ignored ones onto a shelter. Your shih tzu will need different toys to fulfil different needs and it is best to shop only for toys that will specifically meet these needs rather than randomly purchasing on impulse just because you like the look of something. This will go some way to preventing the build-up of a “toy mountain”. What Does A Shih Tzu Need From A Toy? There are a few different reasons why a shih tzu will require a toy and I will go through these one by one. TOYS TO HELP WITH TEETHING From the age of 3 to 4 months up to around 7 to 9 months, perhaps a little longer in some cases, a shih tzu puppy has a tough time as the 42 adult teeth push through and displace the 28 baby teeth. During this period he will experience great soreness and discomfort and will instinctively try to chew anything in an attempt to alleviate the pain. Any toys you can provide to help with this will be most welcomed by your shih tzu and also by you as he will have something to chew on that isn’t your expensive shoe, purse or furniture. Of course, he is only a puppy and you will, through positive reinforcement, have to teach him what are the correct items to chew and what are not to be chewed. The most important quality a teething toy must have is durability. It must be able to resist a constant onslaught from strong, sharp teeth and attempts to rip it asunder. It must not fragment into small pieces that could become choking hazards. Next is size, a teething toy must be the right size for your dog. It must be not so small that it could be swallowed and block the airway and it must not be so large that it cannot be gripped comfortably between the jaws. Another essential quality of a teething toy is texture. Rather than be smooth all over it helps if there are different shapes and protrusions that can get into all of the crevices inside a dog’s mouth and between the teeth to soothe the gums. Rubber or plastic bones or balls with raised nubs are good for this, as are rope toys. Some teething toys a flavored or scented with something like chicken or bacon to encourage your shih tzu to actually pick it up and chew it. If you have problems getting your puppy to use teething toys it may be worth a try buying one of these. Toys that can be chilled or frozen can bring great relief to a puppy’s sore teeth and gums. Finally, teething toys can become very dirty, coming into contact with doggy saliva and, especially if your puppy is not fully potty trained, urine and excrement, making it a playground for bacteria. So a teething toy needs to be easy to clean, perhaps even machine washable or dishwasher safe. STRONGER CHEW TOYS FOR ADULT SHIH TZU Just because your shih tzu has passed the puppy and teething stage, his urge to chew at times during the day does not disappear. This is a good thing as regular chewing keeps your dog’s jaws strong and his teeth and gums healthy, especially if you buy him toys designed for this. Some dogs will chew out of boredom or stress and at times like this will often chew their paws. Providing and encouraging the use of chew toys rather than the paws can help with this. Adult chew toys, faced with the prospect of stronger teeth bearing down upon them, need to be even more durable than teething toys but with enough “give” to allow the jaws, teeth and gums a good work out. As with the teething toys, they need to be the right size for your shih tzu’s mouth. INTERACTIVE TOYS Interactive toys are designed to entertain or give your shih tzu something to think about, something to occupy his mind, keep him busy and prevent boredom especially at times when you are busy or not there with him.  These toys will stimulate a reaction through various means. Perhaps the toys will squeak, produce an animal noise or speak in a voice. Or it may move, either through inertia, i.e. as in a bouncing ball, or by electromechanical means, perhaps it will move along the floor, wiggling as it does so. Or, an interactive toy may keep a shih tzu interested just by having several different textures to explore. Rubber or plastic balls with nubs protruding make great interactive toys. Some shih tzu learn to roll and chase them themselves, not only keeping them amused but providing good cardiovascular exercise, too. GO FETCH TOYS Speaking of cardiovascular exercise, this comes in abundance with toys designed for you to throw for your shih tzu to chase and retrieve. You can play indoors if you have enough space, somewhere like a hallway where your shih tzu can get a decent run, but it you go outside into the yard or the local park it can be good exercise for you as well. If you are outdoors, perhaps you don’t need a toy, the traditional stick may suffice! Empty plastic bottles with the lid off so that they can collapse are a great favorite because of the noise they make and the change in texture. Bouncy rubber balls are good, shih tzu love to chase the pitch of the ball and catch it before it lands again. Frisbee like discs designed with the shape and durability suitable for a dog’s mouth are also good toys to play chase and catch with. Playing fun fetch games with toys like this for as little as fifteen minutes a day can increase the bond between you and your shih tzu immensely. It also allows your shih tzu to fulfil the need to work off excess energy, something many of the breed will do by running around in an apparently mad, haphazard manner for a few minutes if they don’t get enough exercise. LEARNING AND REWARD TOYS Shih tzu are an intelligent breed that sometimes need something to focus their minds on to stop them becoming bored. Hence there is a great variety of learning toys on the market designed to make a dog think of how to solve a puzzle that usually will ultimately lead to a reward as an incentive to complete the puzzle. The reward may be something like a squeaky toy or it may be kibble or other treat. Generally, though this is not always the case, the puzzles that offer toy rewards are for you and your shih tzu to work on together and the treat toys are usually for keeping him amused when his in on his own and you are out for a while. TIP: To make treat toys extra special, fill them with dry treats or kibble mixed with smooth peanut butter. Learning toys come in various degrees of difficulty with the better ones having the ability to adjust the difficulty level. If your shih tzu isn’t used to puzzle toys, start him off on easy level 1 or level 2 and, as he gets used to how to complete them, work him up the levels one by one until he is able to complete the most difficult puzzles. Among things a shih tzu may be called upon to do when playing with learning toys and to progress with the puzzle are to open flaps, reach into openings or crevices, remove covers, press buttons and switch levers. The best treat toys will only release a part of the treat at a time which will encourage your shih tzu to continue playing with it and keep him occupied for some time. This is good for when you are busy with something else and can also help prevent separation anxiety when you are out of the home. All toys need to be durable and easy to clean but this is more so with treat toys, especially if you are going to use the peanut butter mix. It also helps if they are dishwasher safe. COMFORT TOYS Comfort toys are basically soft toys that will help a new puppy through that difficult transition stage from parting the safety and warmth of his mother and litter siblings to moving into the initially strange surroundings of his new home for life. They will also help a shih tzu of any age that is left alone at times to get over any separation anxiety issues. The better comfort toys will mimic an animal in some way, probably with the ability to make a noise of some sort. Some are really sophisticated and can emit a simulated heartbeat and even simulate body heat.  These toys are usually see a lot of life, will get dragged around the home a lot and perhaps even be used as a humping toy. Once your shih tzu gets attached to a comfort toy, you will never be able to dispose of it. So it is essential to buy the best quality you can for maximum life and durability; it must also be machine washable with the ability to remove any electronic components first. Size is not such an issue with these toys as with all of the others but they still shouldn’t be so big and heavy that your shih tzu cannot move it around with his teeth. The Bottom Line Surveys show that most shih tzu owners buy their dogs rubber and plastic balls, rope toys, squeaky toys, soft toys and synthetic bones. The dogs themselves like toys that taste or smell of food, are chewable and make a noise. Armed with this information and all of the previous information in this article, you should now have a reasonably good idea of what to shop for to build up your shih tzu’s toy basket and keep him happy. If you have any thoughts or questions about this article, shih tzu issues in general or about this website, please use the comments box below or contact us. Happy toy shopping, Shih Tzu Steve. [...] Read more...
Shih Tzu Product ReviewsHow I Came To Pick The Winning Clippers To earn the title “best” the clippers have to be of the highest quality. But with so many high-quality models on the market, how did I arrive at the conclusion as to what are the best professional dog grooming clippers? Well, by process of elimination actually. For my readers, I felt the best model would have to reach certain criteria, the foremost of which, after quality, is “Are they suited to fully grooming a shih tzu?”. I Can Now Reveal Just What Are The Best Professional Dog Grooming Clippers Wahl Creativa Cordless Clipper SHIHTZUANDYOU RATINGQuality of Build:?????Ease of Use: ????Versatility:?????Battery Life:?????Charging Time:?????Value For Money:????Overall Rating:????? PROSCONS● Adjustable “5 in 1” blade● Expensive● Blade will not overheat● No variable speeds● Two batteries for continuous use● Not for salon use● Automatic speed control● Constant power level● Very light● Very quiet WHAT’S IN THE BOX 1 x Wahl Creativa Cordless Clipper1 x “5 in 1” stainless steel contour blade set, adjustable to sizes nos. 9, 10, 15, 30 and 40.4 x clip on guide combs, nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4.1 x charging stand1 x blade guard1 x cleaning brush1 x blade oil1 x instruction book It’s Not As Expensive As It Seems This clipper set won my recommendation because it is so comprehensively designed. It may seem comparatively expensive up front but apart from new blade oil when the included pot runs out you won’t need to buy any other accessories for this unit. The “5 in 1” adjustable contour blade set means you will not have to go to the expense of buying extra blades for this unit. The blade will adjust to sizes from no.9 for general body trimming work, down to size 40 for getting in between the paw pads. It also adjusts well for face work, the head and around the rear end. Being only 1.8” (46mm) wide, the blade is an ideal size for working on small breed dogs. You can extend the cutting range to full body grooming by using one or more of the four included guide comb attachments. With a guide comb in place, you are able to achieve coat lengths of around ½” (13mm) with the no.4 down to ⅛” (3mm) with the no.1. With practice, these tools can help you become quite an adept home groomer. Another useful feature of the blade set is a quick-release mechanism for cleaning and maintenance. Then when you replace it on the unit it automatically resets itself saving you the trouble. Performance That Gets Results I think is important for the shih tzu home groomer to have the tangle-free mobility offered by a cordless unit, especially if you have to chase after your little one after he sees what is coming! But you also need the power of a corded clipper and the Creativa certainly delivers enough on that count. The German-engineered blade set is driven by a powerful, XXL lithium ion battery. The power of the battery driving the DC motor is enhanced by a system called “Automatic Speed Control” that maintains a constant power level. This prevents the blades from slowing down and snagging even when encountering a tough spot such as a mat or tangle. This is one of the reasons I think these clippers are a match for a shih tzu as the blades simply zip through mats with virtually no resistance. The maximum speed of the blades is 5,300 strokes per minute and this speed is maintained until the battery is absolutely flat. There is no “winding down” of the stroke speed. When the battery runs flat you simply swap it for the fully charged spare and carry on with your shih tzu tonsorial masterpiece. An LED indicator light will warn you of when to swap batteries. Place the spent battery on the charger and you are set for uninterrupted all day grooming if you so desire. Because the motor is cool running and because the blades will not snag, the blades do not overheat. They will stay cool enough throughout the entire clipping process so as not to damage your dog’s skin through blade burn. This also saves you further costs as you will not have to buy and use potentially messy coolants to keep the blades cool. When you take your Wahl Creativa clippers out of the box for the first time expect to find the battery conveniently ready charged and ready to go. Wahl claims that this clipper will run 180 minutes without a charge while you charge the spare battery, which, again according to Wahl will take 120 minutes on the quick charge to reach full capacity. While they may have achieved these results under laboratory conditions and in practice the batteries may fall a bit short of these figures, it will take less time to charge the spare than it does to run down the one in use. A good safety point is that the battery cannot be overcharged, it will only power up on the charger until full. Comfort For You And Your Dog The clippers are very lightweight at 10.16 oz (288g) which is a good thing for you especially if you are on a lengthy grooming session. The lightness of the unit and the well designed, ergonomic grip area makes it much less likely that you will succumb to hand or wrist fatigue. You are protected also from succumbing to “white finger” from prolonged use of the clipper as the DC motor is very securely housed and produces little vibration. Of course, this will cause less irritation for you shih tzu compared to other clippers. The housing of the DC motor is soundproof, a major plus point if your shih tzu is usually spooked by the noise of a motor. The Creativa produces hardly any noise at all. The Final Verdict The Wahl Creativa Cordless Clipper is not generally favored by grooming salons as they are not up to a full day of grooming dog after dog. However, for home use on up to three shih tzu or shih tzu sized dogs at a time they are a perfect choice. The two coats of a shih tzu tend to get matted with loose hair and these blades just glide through these with ease. Yes, they are at the high ticket end of the market but they will pay for themselves within in time-space of eight to ten visits you would have made to the grooming salon. Much less if you have more than one dog. Also, the 5 in 1 blade system and the comb attachments means there are no expensive extra blades to buy. To find out how you can own your Wahl Creativa Cordless Clipper, click here. If you really don’t want to pay so much for grooming clippers, then Omorc has the best budget buy cordless grooming kit, for less than the price of a trip to the groomers’. For more information on Omorc clippers, click here. If you are taking up grooming as a business you will need salon grade clippers. For this, I recommend the Andis Pulse ZR2 5-Speed Clippers. Read more about the Andis Pulse ZR2 5-Speed Clippers by clicking here. I hope that this review has proved useful in helping you choose the perfect clipper set for your shih tzu. Please leave any comments or questions you have regarding clippers, shih tzu or this website in the comments box or you can contact us. See you next time. Shih Tzu Steve. [...] Read more...
Shih Tzu Product ReviewsWhy Furbo vs Petcube, Why Not A Security Camera? I first started to realize the need to watch my two shih tzus, well one of them in particular, while I was away from home for some hours when my wife had to stay in a hospital overnight and I accompanied her. As some of my regular readers may know, Bruno has multiple health issues, including seizures. I felt the need to keep an eye on him as he was only going to have Charlie for company while we were gone. Furbo vs Petcube was not a comparison I was aware of at the time, so I opted for a generic indoor security camera. Actually, I had to install two cameras. Although my chosen model had 360º of swivel, the actual lens angle was too narrow to capture all of my dogs’ domains in one field of view. Although the connectivity was good, the picture quality I can only describe as adequate and the two-way audio was poor. I wanted to interact with my boys but it proved impossible. On top of that, I received so many motion detection alerts on my iPhone that I switched alerts off. I thought that there had to be something better on the market. That’s when I started researching cameras specifically designed to watch over pets. I found that the best ones had high quality HD video and high quality two-way audio enabling the viewer to see their pets in fine detail and also to have the ability to interact with their pets remotely.  I was particularly drawn in by the cameras that also featured treat dispensers. This feature, along with the clear two-way audio has the ability not only to entertain your dog while you are away but can also help with separation anxiety issues. Some even feature a clicker that activates just before dispensing a treat. This can help with any positive reinforcement training, particularly with controlling barking issues. It didn’t take much research to discover that the two leading treat-dispensing pet cameras are the Furbo and the Petcube Bites 2. Both have individual features that may suit one dog parent and not another, so to help you decide which one is best for you, here is a comprehensive breakdown and comparison of what these two cameras have to offer. If you already know which camera you want, click on the appropriate button. These and any more buttons in this review contain affiliate links. Not ready to make that decision yet? Then read on …… How The Two Treat-Dispensing Cameras Compare Image Quality As the camera is, I suspect, usually the main reason for buying such a product, let’s start with image quality. Both of these devices boast 1080p full HD and, as long as your viewing device can support this, gives crystal clear images as if you were actually there with your pet. Where full HD really pays off is when utilizing the digital zoom. Anything less than full HD and the image tends to become blurry and pixelated. Both the Furbo and Bites 2 feature a 4x digital zoom that retains a reasonably sharp image of the subject. Both cameras capture their images through a 160º wide-angle lens which allows you to view a large portion of an average-sized room in the field of view. If you purchase either of these contraptions you won’t have to leave a light on to view your pet when you go out in the evening as both have an LED night vision facility. Video And Image Capture Each device connects to your WiFi to live stream video footage to your mobile device via a dedicated app. If your household has the greater capacity 5GHz WiFi, then the Bites 2 has the edge. The Furbo has only 2.4GHz WiFi while the Bites 2 has the option of 2.4GHz or 5GHz for a more solid, jump free live stream experience. If you want to save any of the video streaming, you can use your mobile device’s screen recording and screen capture facilities. However, if you want to take advantage of the various recording features offered by the Furbo app or Petcube app, you will need to purchase one of their subscription services. Audio Quality Two-way audio is present with either device, allowing you to hear and speak remotely to your pet or anyone that is within the range of the unit. When it comes to the quality of the audio, again the Bites 2 is the clear winner. The Furbo audio quality is decent enough but it only has one microphone and one speaker. This compares to the four microphones and speaker bar of the Bites 2 which gives a much improved depth of sound for both pet and viewer. Alexa, Should I Buy Bites 2 Or Furbo? The reason a mere treat-dispensing camera has such an impressive array of audio components is because the Bites 2 also doubles up as a stand-alone Alexa unit. But buyer, beware! The Bites 2 Alexa system does not have ESP (Echo Spatial Perception} installed. If you have multiple Alexa devices spaced around your household, this is the technology that deduces which speaker you are closest to. It allows only the closest device to answer you rather than all of them. Therefore, if you already have an Alexa device or devices installed in your household, your better choice of treat-dispensing camera may be the Furbo. The Furbo can be controlled by your existing Alexa system. If you don’t have Alexa already, then the Bites 2 may be the better choice. If you don’t want Alexa at all, the Bites 2 has a privacy setting on the app that allows you to deactivate its Alexa capabilities. Receiving Alerts When activated, Furbo will send an alert to your smartphone when your dog barks. The sensitivity level for this alert can be adjusted. Furbo does not send motion alerts to users of its free service. Petcube’s free service offers a little more with notifications available for sound and motion. Both devices have smart alerts available with their respective subscription services. Read on to discover more about these subscription services below. Treat-Dispensing Capabilities The treat-dispensing capacity of the Furbo is around 8-ounces (227g) of dry kibble. Furbo recommends using round-shaped treats around 0.4-inch to 0.5-inch (1cm to 1.25cm) in diameter. This relates to approximately 100 pieces. The treats are dispensed several at a time, usually five or more. The distance the treats travel cannot be controlled. Unless the Furbo is paired with an Alexa device, the intervals at which the treats are tossed out cannot be scheduled. Just before a handful of treats are going to come out, the unit emits a loud click-click noise. This could be distressing for a puppy that is spooked by loud noises. On the other hand, if you are using a clicker to train your dog, the noise can be utilized for positive reinforcement training. The treat compartment cannot be removed from the Furbo, making it difficult to get it thoroughly clean. The makers recommend using a damp cloth for cleaning. A much larger treat storage facility is afforded by the Bites 2. 1½-pounds (680g) worth of treats can be accommodated in its spacious compartment. The manufacturers advise rounded treats and these can be up to 1” (2.5cm) in diameter. There are three different inserts that can be put into the treat-dispenser compartment. The one to choose depends upon the size of the treat and how many you want to come out each time the device fires. Typically, the machine will launch between one and three treats at a time. You have some control over the distance the treats are fired with three settings for short, medium or long range. You can distribute the treats via Alexa, the app, or you can set up an automatic dispensing schedule. The latter you can set up exactly how you would like to. If you want you may vary the interval between each firing and you can also vary the distance each time, which can help keep your dog guessing when the next treat is coming and where it is going to land. The Bites 2 treat-dispenser tray can be completely removed from the unit for cleaning, either by hand or in the dishwasher.  Quality Of Build Designed specifically for watching over dogs, the Furbo is built with a hard, white plastic body, rather like a kettle, and has a bamboo lid. It’s about as robust as a plastic kettle also. The unit is designed to stand upright on a shelf or table top. To help prevent it from being knocked over and possibly damaged by an over enthusiastic dog there are industrial strength 3M double-sided sticky pads underneath the base. Be careful with these, though, as they may permanently mark the surface it is mounted on. A more sturdy, slightly heavier, hard black plastic and aluminum construction is apparent with the Bites 2. This camera has been designed with both dogs and cats in mind. It has a high-friction rubber pad on the base for grip when positioned on a shelf, floor or table. To save space, the Bites 2 can also be wall mounted using the kit supplied. Expansion – What If You Need Multiple Cameras? If you need more than one camera to watch over your dog while you are out, then your best option would be the Bites 2. With a Petcare Premium subscription you can operate an unlimited number of cameras from the Petcube range on the same account. This includes the Camera, Bites, Play, and Play 2 models. It’s back compatible, so if you already have an older Petcube camera in working order, it should fit seamlessly into the same network. With the Furbo, if you wanted more than one camera you would have to have separate Furbos with separate accounts. This means that when you have finished looking at one camera, you would have to log out of that account and then log in to the account of the next camera you wanted to view.  Social Sharing Both systems make it easy to share your video clips and photos with family and friends via their apps. Furbo, however, for some reason appears to encourage passing on your login details to allow family and friends access to your account, which doesn’t sound very secure to me. Petcube seems to have its finger more firmly on the security pulse. They include a data security statement on their sales page confirming that they use TLS protocol and 128-bit encryption for data transmission. I’m sure Furbo adheres to the same practices, but it would be nice of them to let us know before buying. Have you made your decision …….. …….. or would you like to read about the paid subscription services first: Furbo vs Petcube – The Paid Subscription Services Compared Both of these devices are adequately usable without paying for the extras their respective paid subscription services offer. To tempt you into signing up for these extra services, both manufacturers offer free trial periods when you open your account to experience what they have to offer. With Petcube you have 14-days to assess whether you want to continue with the premium services. Furbo gives you a more generous 30-days free usage before asking you to pay if you want to continue. The Furbo Subscription Furbo subscriptions are only available in the USA, Canada, Hong Kong and Taiwan. They have only one subscription level. At the time of writing, it costs 6.99 USD per month or 69 USD per year. For your money you receive a service called “Furbo Nanny Cam”. This service has several features that you may find useful. Perhaps the most important of these is the range of alerts now available. Apart from the free barking alert, if you subscribe you can then receive dog activity, dog selfie, person and home emergency alerts. Most of these alerts can be adjusted for sensitivity. The Furbo software has an in-built AI that learns about your dogs movements, making alerts more and more accurate as time goes on. The dog selfie alert activates when your dog walks face-first in front of the camera. You are then sent the resultant snapshot. The person alert lets you know when there is a human in view of the camera. Home emergency alerts are triggered if your smoke alarm sounds.  Furbo promises to bring in new alerts for dog vomit, choking and seizures in the near future. As the alerts are app based, if you were to buy a Furbo and subscribe now these new alerts should be available to you when they eventually appear. In addition to the alerts, there is an automatic “Cloud Recording” service and an automatic “Doggie Diary” service. Cloud Recording saves 15-second clips of your dog when in view of the camera for you to play back later. In a similar vein, Doggy Diary makes a daily highlights video of your dog’s activities.  The Petcube Care Subscription Petcube has a free basic level plus two levels of subscription services. Here is an at-a-glance chart showing what you can expect for each level of service: Petcube Care sends you Smart Alerts when your dog barks, if there is pet activity in front of the camera and if a person moves in front of the camera. As with the Furbo, the sensitivity levels of these alerts can be adjusted and AI within the Petcube app ensures that these alerts become more accurate as time passes. You can potentially save up to 500 USD should you take advantage of all of the partner deals Petcube has set up in its Pet Care Perks package. You can enjoy large discounts on such items as dog clothing, dog furniture and accessories, dog walkers and sitters, dog treats, dog DNA kits, and more. Furbo vs Petcube At-A-Glance Comparison Table So, Which Is The Better Treat-Dispensing Camera? I believe the answer to this question depends upon your individual needs. They are both efficient treat-dispensing cameras with spade loads of after sales back up that makes them worthy of their respective price tags. I hope that I have given you enough here to make an informed choice. If you are only going to have a single camera, have an existing Alexa system, or do not want to pay the higher price tag, then perhaps the Furbo is for you. If you are going to have a multiple camera set up, want a treat-dispensing camera that doubles up as an Alexa device, or price isn’t a major issue, then I would opt for the Petcube Bites 2. If you have any questions or comments relating to this Furbo vs Petcube comparison review, please use the comments box below or, if you prefer, send a message using the contact us form. Happy treat tossing! Shih Tzu Steve. [...] Read more...
Behavior Issues / Training TipsBefore we go into how to train a shih tzu puppy not to bark let us consider why your puppy is barking in the first place. If we can understand the cause of the barking we may be able to take preventative or remedial action and perhaps not have to indulge in any training at all. Shih tzu puppies develop their ability to bark at around eight weeks old. This is also the age many puppies are being introduced to their new home and these new, unfamiliar surroundings may lead to feelings of insecurity. In this case try to reassure the little one with cuddles and comforting words. Granted, he won’t understand what you are saying but it is the soothing tone of your voice that will have a reassuring effect. If your puppy is left alone for any length of time, say, for example while you are at work, his barking may be because he is suffering from separation anxiety.Just before you leave your puppy alone try providing him with something to stimulate his mind for the first hour or two that you’re gone. This may be something like  a rubber toy stuffed with treats that he has to work out how to remove from the toy himself.If cost isn’t a factor, have a dog sitter or dog walker call in to break up the time he’s left alone.In our own personal case, my wife and I were worried about the amount of time we sometimes had to leave Bruno alone. That’s when we decided to get our second shih tzu, Charlie. At first Bruno was a little unsure of his new companion but they soon became inseparable. Barking may also be caused by excessive pent up energy due to a lack of exercise, walking and stimulating activity.Try to take your puppy outdoors more often, preferably somewhere safe where he can have a little runaround. For his safety and your peace of mind I recommend you keep him on the leash for this.If you can’t get out, try playing some stimulating games indoors with him. Try hiding his favourite toy for him to sniff out or perhaps bounce a soft rubber ball for him to jump up and catch or chase. If you have already house trained your puppy he may be barking because he needs to answer a call of nature. Again, try to take him outside more. See my post “How Often Should You Walk a Shih Tzu” for more information.If you just can’t get outside try allocating a space, maybe in the bathroom or perhaps on the balcony, where you can put down a puppy training pad for him to do his business on. You will probably have to show him where this is the first few times until he gets used to it being there. He may just be barking to gain your attention. Be careful with this one. If you give him what he wants when he barks he will think he can get you to do what he wants every time. The bouts of barking will increase rather than stop.This is known as “small dog syndrome”. Your dog is instinctively a pack animal and until you show him otherwise he thinks he is leader of the pack. Giving in to his barking will only reinforce this belief.In this situation it may be better to employ one of the training methods set out below to control the barking rather than give in to his demands. How to train a shih tzu puppy not to bark As with all shih tzu puppy training, start as early as possible, the same day you bring him home for the first time if you can. Remember that consistency is the key to achieving the required results from training. In the case of barking, for instance, if you aren’t consistent with your stop barking commands and use them every time your puppy barks then the poor thing will become confused and won’t know whether he’s supposed to be barking or not. Training is more effective when your puppy is calm so avoid training during times when he is stressed or excited such as when you’ve just got home work or you’ve just brought home the shopping. During the text I often refer to giving your puppy a treat; bear in mind that giving a treat every time as a reward may not work. You may have to alternate rewards between treats, favourite toy, petting and praising. Before training your puppy not to bark you need to decide whether or not you want him to bark in certain circumstances, say, when a stranger is trying to access your home, or whether you don’t want him to bark at all. Never shout at your puppy while he is barking as he will just think that you are barking along with him. ID 81651387 © Daniel Malinowski | Dreamstime.com How to train a shih tzu puppy not to bark – method 1 This first method gives you control over commanding your puppy to bark or not to bark. Enlisting the help of a willing volunteer who your puppy isn’t familiar with will enable you to carry out this particular method more efficiently.Have your volunteer go outside your front door and knock or ring the bell to start your puppy barking.When your shih tzu barks give the command “speak”. You can use an alternative word if you wish but whichever one you choose you must be consistent and use the same one each time.Repeat the knock on the door followed by the speak command action several times.The aim is to train your puppy to bark just on the speak command.So, try using the speak command without the knock on the door.If your puppy barks, reward him with a treat.If he doesn’t bark, repeat the whole process again and again until he does.He will get there eventually!Once your puppy has mastered the speak command it’s time to teach him the “quiet” command to stop him barking.Have your volunteer knock on the door again to start your puppy off barking again.Give him (your puppy, not the volunteer) another treat when he stops barking on the quiet command.You may need at first to gently hold his muzzle closed get across the message that you want him to stay quiet. Or, another trick would be to have prepared a spray bottle filled with plain water. As you issue the quiet command spray a little water on his nose. The water spray method works for other behavioural problems, too.Persist with the training and before you know it you will have an obedient shih tzu puppy who will bark only on the speak command and will stop barking on the quiet command. How to train a shih tzu puppy not to bark – method 2 This method is solely concerned with stopping your puppy barking and is arguably the easiest to implement.It also helps to rid your puppy of small dog syndrome.Again, have a volunteer knock on the door or ring the doorbell, anything that will start your puppy off barking.Make sure as the barking starts to turn your back to the offender.Keep on ignoring your puppy until he stops barking.When he does stop, give him a treat.Repeat this training several times.Eventually your puppy will realize that his barking will not gain your attention and hopefully he won’t do it anymore. How to train a shih tzu puppy not to bark – method 3 This is another method solely concerned with stopping your puppy from barking.Again, as in the previous methods, you need somebody to knock on the door to start your puppy off barking.Give your puppy the quiet command and at the same time hold his mouth closed by the muzzle.Don’t hold his muzzle for more than a few seconds.When you release him and he doesn’t bark, give him a treat and plenty of praise.After repeating this a few timeseventually you will not need to hold his muzzle anymore as he will stop barking on just the quiet command.When this happens make sure you give him an extra special treat and really pile on the praise. So, these have been my best solutions for how to train a shih tzu puppy not to bark for both quick fix and long term situations. I hope that you have found them useful for trying out with your own shih tzu puppy and that they work for you. If, in the unlikely event that they don’t then you may like to consider the services of a professional trainer. You can either take your puppy to formal classes or there are trainers that make home visits. These days there are also some excellent online dog training courses. Once again I hope that you have enjoyed this post. If you have any questions related to shih tzu please make a comment or use our contact us form. See you in the next post. [...] Read more...
Shih Tzu Product ReviewsIn this post: Orthopedic Dog BedsBolster Style Dog BedsDonut Style Dog BedsTent or Cave Style Dog BedsFlat Dog BedsElevated Dog Beds Click above on your favorite style to jump straight there. How To Pick The Correct Shih Tzu Bed For Your Dog If you are searching for a shih tzu bed, then you are probably already aware of the confusingly diverse amount of styles, designs, materials and sizes. You may be wondering how you can pick out the bed that’s going to be right for your shih tzu. Of course, each individual shih tzu has its own character and characteristics. Then there are environmental factors to consider, such as: is your dog living in a hot or cold climate?  What I am trying to say here is, there are no one choice suits all solutions. What Is The Right Size Of Bed? One thing is going to be common with all beds and that is what size bed is correct. Your choice of bed should just have enough room for your shih tzu to completely stretch out in all directions and not much more. Shih tzu need to stretch out to relax their muscles and bones, and to breathe properly when sleeping. If you are opting for a tent-style bed, there should be just enough room for your dog to stand up and turn around.  Why the snug fit? First of all, if you have read my post “What Size Crate For A Shih Tzu”, you will know that any spare space in the sleeping area is subject to being treated as a bathroom area. But from the shih tzu’s point of view, it’s the type of small space a dog would choose himself as a safe sleeping place where he is cozy, safe, secure and sheltered from the elements, enemies and predators; a place where he can relax and sleep easy. Some shih tzu even like their beds to be placed under furniture such as coffee tables and chairs for the same reasons. So, before buying a bed measure your shih tzu and allow for an extra inch or 2.5 cm all around. If you are buying a bed for a puppy, allow an up to an extra 20% for growth. This means for the average adult shih tzu somewhere around 25” x 15” (64 cm x 38 cm). Manufacturer’s standards vary, most of the time this will be the “small” size but sometimes it will be “extra small” or “medium”, so always check the specified dimensions. Which Material Is Best? ID: 193888550 © PongMoji | Depositphotos Apart from the elevated beds which tend to be a steel frame covered in plastic mesh, most other designs are usually stuffed with poly fiber in varying degrees of firmness, along with a covering of polyester or a polyester and cotton mix which can be finished in various ways such as fleecy, fluffy or hard. Some bed designs are contained in basketware.  It’s just a case of knowing what sort of surface your shih tzu likes to spend his many resting and sleeping hours and going for something like that. Where does he like to lie down and sleep now? Is it on a rug, the sofa or, perhaps, even on your bed? It may be an idea to look at the texture of the surfaces he likes now and looking for a bed of a similar texture. Also, look for words and phrases such as “pet-friendly” and “hypoallergenic” in manufacurers’ descriptions. There are two properties of the material that are essential, though, if you want the bed to last a few years: 1 – Durability – I expect that you have noticed that when your shih tzu really wants to settle down for a long, relaxing sleep, there is a lot of intense scratching and plumping of the surface. The bed may also be subject to some other rough treatment from your dog. An inferior product is not going to stand up to this sort of treatment for very long. When you think you have found the bed you want, it pays to read some of the reviews first to help assess the quality of the build. 2 – Washability – After you receive your dog bed and your shih tzu makes it his home within a home, his place to relax, sleep and generally spend a lot of time, it is not going to take long for the surfaces to become soiled, especially if your shih tzu likes to roll around a lot. Shed hair will be released from its trap between his two coats and oil from his skin together with shed skin cells will be rubbed into the surface along with any allergens that were attached to the coat. Then there are the inevitable invisible bed bugs that occur naturally in bedding. Therefore, to keep your shih tzu’s environment as hygienic as possible, look for beds with an easily removable cover with a good zipper that can be machine washed on a regular basis. If the cover isn’t removable, check to see if the whole bed can be laundered and how well it stands up to repeated washes. Your shih tzu may become very emotionally attached to his bed, so the longer you can make the bed last, the better. If you do have to replace the bed at any time, try to retain an element of it, for example, a cushion, and incorporate it into the new one so that at least some of the old, comforting smells are still there. Now, let’s look at some of the different types of shih tzu bed available: Which Style Of Bed Is Right For Your Shih Tzu? ID: 10765677 © rudyumans | Depositphotos Orthopedic Dog Beds Don’t let the term “orthopedic” put you off, even if your shih tzu is in the best of health and full of beans. Because of their long backbones bearing on short legs, some shih tzu, in their later years, are prone to arthritis in the hind legs in particular. Also, a small percentage of shih tzu may develop the usually genetic joint diseases hip dysplasia or patellar luxation.  If your dog is unfortunate enough to be suffering from any of these, an orthopedic bed that offers support for sore joints is an essential choice. However, if your shih tzu is in the best of health, buying an orthopedic bed for him now will support his joints throughout his life and, who knows, may even help to stave off joint problems altogether, or at least make them less severe. Here’s an example of a good orthopedic dog bed: JOYELF Orthopedic Memory Foam Dog Bed I find it surprising that this bed only comes in at 11th on the Amazon best sellers list of orthopedic dog beds when it is clearly of a far better quality than the ten that appear above it. Awarded a score of 4.3 stars out of 5 by the people that have bought this bed, there is general praise for the quality of build and the value for money it represents. Their dogs appear to take to the bed as soon as it is presented to them. Soft To Touch Perhaps it is the warming, soft and breathable outer cover that attracts them. Or it could be the firm but comfortable, double-density cotton bolsters that surround the bed providing welcome head and neck support. These bolsters remain in place and do not buckle over as with some inferior products. Then there’s the 2” (5 cm) thick memory foam mattress that moulds itself around the dog’s contour and gives all round support for bones and joints.  Tear Resistant, Washable Cover The cover of the bed is sewn together with strong stitching that does not come apart easily. The material itself is tear resistant and will repel most attempts to bite through it. Should you dog ever actually manage to do this, you do not have to buy another complete bed as replacement covers are available. It is possible to remove the cover from its memory foam mattress and cotton bolsters for washing by opening a cleverly hidden zipper. It can be safely washed on the cold cycle with no loss of shape afterward. Tumble drying on low heat is possible, though the manufacturer recommends air drying. One more pleasing feature of the cover is the non-slip, textured rubber pad underneath, ideal for keeping the occupied bed stable on shiny floor surfaces. Resilient, Hygienic and Safe After unpacking the memory foam mattress, you should be able to place it in the cover and use it straight away, though one or two people complain of having to wait up to 48 hours for it to regain its full size of 25½” x 17½” x 2” (65 cm x 44 cm x 5 cm). I guess the beds of those with complaints must have become squashed in transit but it does prove that the foam will regain its shape even with rough treatment. The manufacturer claims that your dog’s imprint will disappear from the foam five seconds after leaving the bed. With such a solid bed that has just enough give to contour itself to your dog’s shape, you know that it is going to give great support for tired muscles and bones. This is good for even a healthy dog but vital for the comfort of a perhaps older dog that has orthopedic problems. The mattress is supplied with a water resistant liner. While a house trained shih tzu wouldn’t normally wet the bed, you cannot legislate for accidents, particularly if there are health issues such as epilepsy or bladder infections. In the event of this, the mattress will be protected. Another important feature of the mattress, and for me this is a deal maker, is that it is made from fire retardant material. According to the manufacturer, if the bed is pulled from a fire, it will self-extinguish within six seconds. Free Toy The bed comes with a “free gift”. It’s a bone-shaped squeaking chew toy that, by some accounts, isn’t going to interest your dog as much as the bed. Apart from being a nice gesture by the manufacturer, it’s difficult to understand why they have included this gift as it’s hardly likely to sway the decision of somebody wondering whether to buy the bed or not. Just The Right Size For A Shih Tzu The inside of the bed measures 20” x 13” (51 cm x 33 cm) and the outside 27” x 20” (68 cm x 51 cm). This is the ideal size for a shih tzu to lie flat with his head supported by one of the bolsters. The only thing I can find to criticize about the bed is its lack of color choice. It is only available in a three-tone grey design. However, it is a neutral color that will fit in with most home decor, so we can live with that. You can see the JOYELF Orthopedic Memory Foam Dog Bed on Amazon here. Be sure to select the “Small” size option when buying for your shih tzu. Bolster Style Dog Beds Charlie resting in his bolster bed. These are the beds you are likely to see commonly available in pet stores and veterinary surgeries everywhere. They can be round, square or rectangular, usually with a smooth outside and warm, fleecy inside. The edges are raised to form bolsters for head and neck support and can be all around the outside of the bed or only partly, The center, where the dog sleeps, will be cushioned but the degree of softness can vary from hard and firm to very soft and squidgy. The thickness of cushioning can vary, too. When choosing a bed of this style, look for the quality of stitching and whether the material is robust enough to stand up to some rough treatment. If the cover is removable, look at the quality of the zipper. Test whether, when you push in the mattress if you can feel the floor underneath. If you can, it is probably not going to be comfortable for your dog. This is my bolster bed of choice for quality of build and value for money: ANWA Rectangular Durable Machine Washable Dog Bed For those shih tzu parents that don’t like the idea of a memory foam or orthopedic bed for their dogs but still want a traditionally styled design, I think you will find it hard to find one that matches the ANWA for quality, comfort and value for money. It has a 4.4 star rating from Amazon customers. Many owners that have purchased this bed have gone on to buy a second one after seeing for themselves how well made, soft and supportive it is. One satisfied purchaser went as far as to say, “As someone who has easily purchased fifty plus dog beds in her time, take it from me, this is one of the best ones.” Good Quality, Pet-Friendly Materials The outside of the bed is made of a durable cotton oxford fabric given a faux sheepskin appearance, fleecy side inside for comfort and warmth. A firm bolster for neck and head support surrounds three-quarters of the perimeter, with the front cutaway for easy shih tzu access. Inside is polypropylene “cotton” stuffing that gives the bed a comfortable, soft feel and the ability to regain its original shape. As with the Joyelf bed, the base of the bed is covered with non-slip, studded, high-density rubber so that the bed stays where it is on hard and shiny floors whether your shih tzu is sleeping or playing in it. Hygienic – The Whole Bed Goes In The Wash The bed does not have a removable cover but the whole bed can be placed in the washing machine without fear of the bed losing its shape. Machine wash cold and tumble dry on a very low heat and the bed comes out still looking like new. When you receive your bed and remove it from the air-tight packaging, it immediately regains its full 24” x 22” x 6” (61 cm x 56cm x 15cm) size. It is very likely that your shih tzu will make it his own just as fast. Click here to see the ANWA Rectangular Durable Machine Washable Dog Bed on Amazon. If you decide to order one, the “24 INCH” is the option to choose for a shih tzu sized dog. Donut Style Dog Beds ID: 69799105 © cynoclub | Depositphotos These have become very popular recently, both with shih tzu and their owners. As the name suggests, they are round with a hole in the middle. Unlike a donut, though, the hole is a not very deep, blind hole and is where the main sleeping area is. These beds are very warm and cozy as they are usually covered in faux fur and the sleeping dog is surrounded by the raised bolster around the edge. As they can be quite high off the ground compared to traditional beds, your shih tzu may have to climb into it or hop over the edge, so this style of bed may not be suitable for a dog with orthopedic problems. Here is a donut bed that is of a better quality than some of its peers: Focuspet Faux Fur Donut Dog Bed If you need a warmer, much softer bed for your shih tzu, then this one from Focuspet represents a good combination of quality, durability, comfort and value for money. At the time of writing, it’s only 37th on the Amazon best sellers list but, again, it appears to be a better, all-round (no pun intended), bed than those in the same class that appear above it in the list. It does have a 4.4 star average customer rating, which is usually a good indication. A Very Soft And Warm Bed The Faux Fur Donut Dog Bed has a very soft feel to it, thanks to the polyester faux fur finish and the consistency of the deep stuffing inside. The faux fur traps warm air and together with the draft-excluding properties of the encircling raised bolster, this makes for a very cozy and snug bed for your shih tzu to relax and sleep in.  As well as keeping out the drafts, the raised bolster also acts as a pillow for supporting the head and neck, should your shih tzu prefer to rest and sleep that way. Support is also provided for the joints and muscles by the padding materials of the main bed.  It’s Not An Orthopedic Bed The manufacturer goes as far as claiming the bed provides pain relief for joints and muscles but I take this with a pinch of salt. If one of my shih tzu had painful joints I would buy a bespoke orthopedic bed rather than this one. As with the Joyelf and ANWA beds, the Focuspet also features an integrated non-slip base. However, instead of the rubber of the other two, the base of the Focuspet bed is constructed of the slightly less efficient but perhaps more durable nylon.  Although this bed lacks a removable cover, the whole bed can be safely machine washed on the easy care wash and tumble dried on the lowest heat setting without fear of loss of shape. No Small, But Medium Will Do Nicely Bizarrely, there is no “Small” size but the “Medium” size of 23” (58 cm) diameter x 8” (20 cm) high is a good size for a shih tzu. The bed comes compressed in a vacuum-sealed pack but should reach these dimensions after being unpacked and plumped up a little. Once again, as with the Joyelf, you can have it in any color you like as long as it’s grey. Small dogs, in particular, seem to take to this bed straight away with a passion.  You can see the Focuspet Faux Fur Donut Dog Bed on Amazon by clicking here. Tent Or Cave Style Dog Beds ID: 170378124 © topntp | Depositphotos This type of bed is enclosed all the way around with just a small opening at the entrance. The shape can be an actual tent in shape, a wigwam, a cave, an igloo or a novelty shape such as an open-mouthed shark, bear or another animal. The tent style bed will feel like a nice, cozy den to a shih tzu, somewhere he will feel safe and secure. If crate training is not for you, a tent bed would be an excellent alternative for a little space your shih tzu can call his own. It took me a while to find a good example of a tent bed. Apparently, there aren’t that many on the market big enough for a shih tzu and even less of a good enough quality, but I finally found this one: ManxiVoo Dog Igloo Kennel Bed This is about the only easily available tent-style dog bed where there is a consensus of opinion from people that have bought the bed that it is a well made, quality item. The outside is made of a strong, polyester-cotton faux suede material with minimal soft filling and minimal faux fir trim. Attached to this material underneath the base is a water-resistant, non-slip nylon material. All of the material is easy to wipe down and keep clean.  Machine Washable Cushion Cover The tent comes with a removable, soft, yet firm polypropylene cushion that forms the actual bed. The cushion is encased in a faux fur cover that easily unzips for removal when it can be machine washed on the cold or easy-care setting.  Two Beds In One This bed is adaptable. Although primarily designed as a tent bed, if you remove the cushion, press the top right down and then place the cushion in the resultant recess, you now have a bolster-like dog bed. Converting back to a tent is as easy as pushing the top back out again from the inside.  A Range Of Sizes And Colors This bed comes in three sizes, I recommend for a shih tzu “Size L”, 24” x 18” x 18” (60 cm x 45 cm x 45 cm). There is also a choice of 7 colors. The bed arrives flat and vacuum packed. When opened and assembled it will take one to two days to recover its full size. It is easy to assemble, the ends just zip into place. Then for washing or packing flat for travel, just unzip the ends again. This bed is very lightweight and features a handle at the top, so it is easy to carry around even when fully assembled. The only problem that I can see anyone having with this bed is that it ships from Hong Kong but as long as you can wait for the 12 to 20 days for delivery, that shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. Click here to see the ManxiVoo Dog Igloo Kennel Bed on Amazon. Flat Dog Beds ID: 41604977 © cynoclub | Depositphotos If your shih tzu will not take to a conventional dog bed and insists on sleeping on the floor or a rug, you might like to try buying him a plain, flat, mattress style dog bed as a sort of half-way compromise. If you buy one and he still refuses to use it, you can try placing his favorite blanket on top in an effort to encourage him. If you are crate training your shih tzu, one of these beds would be ideal to fit inside the bottom of the crate to help create a warm and comfortable environment. Flat dog beds are sold in orthopedic and non-orthopedic versions. MidWest Homes for Pets Ombré Swirl Pet Bed Scoring 4.3 out five from user reviews, the Ombré Swirl Pet Bed from MidWest Homes is the number one best-selling pet bed on Amazon. A product does not achieve that position unless it is of the optimum combination of high quality, ease of use and value for money. Soft, Plush Materials The cover of the bed, made from a very soft polyester material that has been finished in a dog-comforting, furry swirl pattern. This material does not snag in a dog’s toenails and also does not ride up like fleecy materials often do. Inside the cover is a tufted poly-fiber cushion that is firm enough to support a shih tzu but with just enough give to give maximum comfort. It’s thick enough for a resting shih tzu not to sink through to the floor but not so thick that it gives the appearance of being overstuffed. Underneath all of this is an integrated non-slip, studded, black rubbery material that will hold the bed fast on shiny surfaces while your shih tzu lies on it, yet if he decides to get off and drag the bed somewhere else, he will be able to do so with ease. Simple Maintenance The bed is very easy to keep clean. The cover is not removable and there are no zippers to break. Instead, the whole bed can be machine washed. The manufacturer recommends a bleach-free wash on the cold or easy-care setting, though there are reports from people who have purchased the bed that, because of bad soiling, have washed it at higher temperatures and have not noticed any resultant loss of shape or any deterioration in quality. Tumble drying on low heat is possible but, following the manufacturer’s recommendations again, re-shaping the bed after washing and laying the bed flat to air dry produces the best results. Long-Lasting There is a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty that comes with the Ombré Swirl but it is a very durable bed and in normal use should last for several years of shih tzu slumber. There are seven sizes of this bed available, of which the 24-inch is ideal for the average-sized adult shih tzu. The actual dimensions are 23” x 18” x 2½” (58 cm x 45 cm x 6 cm). These dimensions will fit snugly inside standard-sized crates. The bed comes in a choice of three colors, grey, mocha (a two-tone light brown) and coco chic (dark brown). For some reason that I haven’t been able to discover, the coco chic is almost double the price of the other two options. At the time of writing, the grey and the mocha are available at a very good price that even undercuts the price of the very similar AmazonBasics Plush Pet Bed.  To view the MidWest Homes for Pets Ombré Swirl Pet Bed on Amazon, click here. Elevated Dog Beds ID: 40489747 © Jstaley401 | Depositphotos Elevated dog beds usually consist of a synthetic canvas-like mesh material stretched taut over a tubular frame made of steel or plastic. The bed part is raised typically 7″ (18 cm) or more above the ground to allow airflow underneath. The materials used make elevated beds suitable for indoor or outdoor use and are usually easily to clean with a cold water hose or by rubbing with a sponge soaked in cold water only. These beds are particularly suitable for a shih tzu that is living in a hot climate. If, when the hot weather comes your shih tzu sits or lies panting with his tongue out for long periods in an attempt to regulate his body temperature, he could benefit from the cooling effect the all-round airflow of an elevated bed would bring. Here is one of the better constructed models: The Original Elevated Pet Bed By Coolaroo Of the three elevated dog beds that feature in the top 100 Amazon best sellers, this is the one of the the best quality construction and is the most durable. The mesh part of the bed is made out of a parasite resistant and mold resistant, high-density polyethylene that, when stretched over the steel frame, provides support for your dog’s joints and muscles, although the bed is not classed as an orthopedic bed. The steel frame, which outperforms the plastic frames available on other beds, is nylon powder coated for the best rust and corrosion resistance. The fabric is easy to maintain, wipe down or hose down with cold water only, no detergents. If it does ever become damaged, replacement fabric is available separately; you don’t have to buy a completely new bed. If you want to be eco-friendly, the fabric is recyclable. The “Small” size option is available in four colors and with dimensions of 35” x 22” x 8” (89 cm x 56 cm x 20 cm) there is ample room for a shih tzu to spread out and relax. The bed comes flat-packed but can be easily assembled by the purchaser. There is a hexagonal key provided to assist with this. See The Original Elevated Pet Bed by Coolaroo on Amazon by clicking here. Just The Tip Of The Iceberg So there you have my pick of the best value for money versus quality shih tzu beds easily available online. Of course, there are thousands more available in the styles I have featured and yet more in styles that I have not featured. I hope that this post has helped point you in the right direction. If you have any comments or questions about beds for shih tzu, anything else about the shih tzu breed or about this website, please use the comments box below or, if you prefer, drop me a line using the contact us form. Until next time, bye for now, Shih Tzu Steve. [...] Read more...
Behavior Issues / Thinking of owning a shih tzu?The Shih Tzu Temperament The shih tzu is a small dog that packs in a lot of a character. It must have one of the best character to size ratios of all dogs. You may have a mental picture of the shih tzu temperament being a stubborn one; well, there is some truth in that, even the best trained shih tzu can have their moments when they pretend not to hear you or when they dig their paws into the ground and refuse to budge. Largely, though, they are loveable, loyal and affectionate companion dogs that will stay by your side, watch out for you and follow you around everywhere if you treat them right. The Compact Pack Leader Unless you show them otherwise, they will try to assume the role of pack leader, or alpha, in your household. Sometimes this is referred to as “small dog syndrome” but, personally, I don’t think that the size of the dog has anything to do with it. All dogs are pack animals and it is only natural for any dog to vie to be at the top of the hierarchy of his pack. This desire is more apparent in independent-minded breeds such as the shih tzu. The shih tzu is easily trained out of thinking he is the alpha. This is just as well as it is essential for the owner to assume this role. Any dog will leave all decisions to the alpha; food, when to go out, where to walk, when to play and, most importantly, when to be aggressive. For example, young children, especially those in the household born after the shih tzu became a family member, are particularly at risk from a shih tzu that thinks he is the alpha, as a young child may, in all innocence, act in a way that the shih tzu thinks is a challenge to his leadership, resulting in a stern growl and a nip on the child as a warning to back off. This nip would be just strong enough to break the soft skin of  an infant. As long as the owner has established his or herself as alpha this won’t happen. For another example of what can happen with the alpha syndrome is if a shih tzu thinks he is the leader in a household containing more than one dog, he may assume the role of protector and become aggressive towards other dogs when out and about. Again, training the shih tzu to believe that the owner is pack leader is the remedy that will prevent this from happening. I’ve painted a bit of a dark picture here, I’m just giving you examples of the worst case scenarios of what could happen with an untrained dog. Generally, shih tzu are peaceful, friendly, good with children and strangers and almost never vicious. But do establish yourself as alpha should you own or are going to own a shih tzu. You can find out more about this in my post “How To Stop A Shih Tzu Puppy From Biting”. ID: 53626293 graphicphoto | Depositphotos Not Barking Mad Shih tzu do not bark very much compared to some other small breed dogs. The only times a shih tzu might bark continuously are to warn you of possible intruders, warn other dogs away or when you leave if he has separation anxiety. All of these can be trained out of them, though you may want to keep your biological intruder alarm. However, they will develop a vocabulary of different barks for various occasions. There will be a “going out” bark, a “feed me” bark, a “need a pee” bark, a “play with me” bark, an “I want attention” bark and several more. If you own a shih tzu for a while you will know what I mean. You will come to understand what the different barks mean. Playful Pal When a shih tzu is not out walking or at home eating, sleeping or resting, he is likely to be in a playful mood and will let you know, either by staring at you, using his “play with me” bark, or both, that he wants you to join in. This may involve throwing his favourite ball or toy for him to chase, playing a game of tug with his rope toy or tug toy, or just rubbing his tummy. He will let you know that he wants tummy rubbed by lying next to you flat on his back with his legs in tha air. Or he may provide his own entertainment by running around the home in an apparently frenzied and random manner, jumping on and off of furniture. My opinion is that these energetic outbursts are actually quite controlled as nothing ever seems to get broken and there are never any injuries to people or dog. As described in “How Often Should You Walk A Shih Tzu?”, a shih tzu will only be getting exercise through walks of twenty minutes to one hour per day. So any further exercise a shih tzu can get through play will be of great benefit to his health and well being as well as using up any excess energy he may have. If you have a backyard he will enjoy being let loose around there. ID: 5284680 thephotoguy | Depositphotos It’s Your Call Although these are the stereotypical traits of the average shih tzu, each shih tzu is different with his own distinctively individual character. The basic building blocks of his character are there at birth, but how that character develops depends upon his surroundings, the way he is treated and his upbringing. This is where the responsibility of the owner lies, to provide the correct training, socialization and guidance a shih tzu puppy, or on occasions adult, needs to develop into a healthy, happy and loving dog that is at ease with other people, children, other dogs and other pets. ID: 2039005 stevebonk | Depositphotos If you are thinking of owning a shih tzu puppy I urge you to give him or her the best possible start in life. Take a look at my post “Crate Training A Shih Tzu Puppy – Cruel Or Kind?”. When the time comes for me to find a companion for Charlie, this post describes the method I will use to train the new puppy for the first year or so. I believe it is the most reliable way to develop the aforementioned healthy, happy and loving dog with efficient house training thrown in. There is also a free shih tzu training course that I recommend that is delivered by my friends at TrainPetDog. If you would like to read more details about this, click here. By clicking the link you will be taken to TrainPetDog.com where you will, under no obligation, be given details of how to sign up for their free shih tzu training course email series. If you then decided to make a purchase, Shihtzuandyou.com would receive a commission at no extra cost to you. This commission will help with the running costs of this website and to keep it pop-up and banner ad free. If you have any thoughts or questions related to shih tzu or this website, please leave a comment or contact us. I will endeavour to give you an answer within 24 hours. See you soon. [...] Read more...
Thinking of owning a shih tzu?So, you’re thinking of buying or adopting a shih tzu but you’re unsure if you’re going to make the right decision. Is a shih tzu the right addition to join your household?  Shih tzu are wonderful, loyal and friendly companion dogs that will love you from the bottom of their hearts if you treat them right. They can be stubborn and independent thinking at times, sometimes suffering from “selective deafness” when you give a command they don’t want to comply with but generally all they want to do is please you and to be with you. But before I help you to provide your own answer to the question, “Should I get a shih tzu?”, I urge you to think it over thoroughly before committing yourself to the acquisition of such a fine animal. The most important thing to consider is that bringing a shih tzu home will bring demands upon you twenty four hours a day, seven days a week for hopefully the next fifteen years or more. Think carefully about it, it’s a life changing commitment for you and your family, particularly if you’ve never had a dog as part of the family before. Don’t get me wrong, I want you to be the proud owner of a shih tzu, believe me it’s well worth the effort, but it’s only right for the shih tzu and you that you are ready to make the necessary sacrifices. Registration and Vaccinations – the essential first steps Image courtesy of Cynoclub | Dreamstime ID 51270072 In some countries you may need to register your new shih tzu under a licensing system which will almost certainly involve having a microchip painlessly inserted into the loose skin at the back of his neck and a recording of his DNA profile. Usually this registration will not be granted unless your puppy or dog has had the necessary vaccinations. Even if you don’t have to register your shih tzu it is still a good idea to insert the microchip just in case he one day becomes lost or stolen. The microchip would then allow you, the owner, to be reunited with your dog. Even if you don’t have to register your shih tzu, vaccinations are still a must to prevent him catching fatal diseases and passing them on. The obvious one is the rabies vaccination, usually a legal requirement in most countries, which is given at age three months here in Gibraltar, the UK and the EU though this may be later in other countries. Check with your local veterinarian. The rabies vaccination must then be boosted, for legal reasons, every one year although the original vaccination would last for three years. As well as rabies the other absolutely essential vaccination, though not necessarily a legal requirement, is the combination jab against parvovirus, parainfluenza, hepatitis and distemper. This all-in-one vaccination is usually given in three rounds between age six weeks to age four months. Not only are these jabs essential for a shih tzu’s well-being but also for permission to travel, placing in kennels, joining training classes and similar. This vaccine will need boosting every three years or so. No puppy can be allowed outdoors until these core vaccines have been given. Apart from these two essential vaccines there may be one or two localized vaccines that your chosen shih tzu may need. For example, here in Gibraltar and southern Spain vaccination against leishmania, a disease transmitted by a mosquito known as “sand fly”, is necessary for dogs. If you live somewhere where there are a lot of ticks then vaccination against Lyme disease should be considered. If you live where there are wild animals around then it’s leptospirosis to guard against. If your potential shih tzu is attending classes or staying in kennels a vaccination against kennel cough, more formally known as bordetella, is advisable. These are just a few examples of the vaccinations that may be necessary in certain circumstances. You will have to consult your veterinarian to discuss which your shih tzu needs should you decide to have one. Going On Vacation – how your holiday choices may change Image courtesy of Chaoss | Dreamstime ID 55658263 Owning a shih tzu means planning your vacations very carefully. While you are gone you will either have to put him or her in kennels, have a dog sitter come to your home or take him on vacation with you.  Let me tell you, and I speak from personal experience here, that it is heartbreaking for both you and your dog when you part at the kennels. On top of this, he will be pining for you all of the time you are gone. If you choose to leave your shih tzu at home with a dog sitter popping in to feed him and take him for walks, this can be a professional or a family member, neighbour or friend. Whoever you choose, it must be someone your shih tzu trusts and you trust to administer doggy care to the same standard as you. If you take him with you, you will need to go camping or book dog friendly accommodation which narrows your choice considerably. Going to another country involves a lot of organization, a pet passport proving the necessary vaccinations have been administered  and, in some countries, may even require a period of quarantine. If your trip involves crossing the sea you may need to take a ferry instead of flying. Shih Tzu Potty Training – time consuming but necessary If the shih tzu you are considering acquiring is a puppy then you will need to take him outside for him to do his “business” every two hours or so to minimize the inevitable incidents of indoor soiling before your puppy is potty trained. Shih tzu have small bladders anyway and that of a puppy is even smaller so cannot hold much liquid and therefore he has to discharge often. As the puppy matures the frequency of having to go outside for a pee diminishes. Shih tzu are notoriously difficult to potty train but with persistent and consistent training it can be done. For more information, click on the link below to see my article on potty training: Are Shih Tzu Easy To Potty Train? Taking a Shih Tzu For a Walk – twice a day is the right way Once a shih tzu puppy reaches fourteen months he has reached adulthood, his bladder will be stronger and he will only need walking then twice a day. A shih tzu doesn’t need much exercise but in an ideal world you need to take your shih tzu for a walk of at least twenty minutes duration every morning and the same every evening, every single day. That’s a massive time commitment that will make you miss out on a lot of events and opportunities. On the plus side, you will be getting some healthy extra exercise that you may not have got otherwise. For further and more detailed information relating to when you should walk a shih tzu and for how long, please see my post “How Often Should You Walk a Shih Tzu?“. Coping With Separation Anxiety – a common problem with stay-at-home shih tzu Shih tzu that are left alone in the home all day, every day while their owner is at work or school are prone to suffer from separation anxiety. A shih tzu with separation anxiety becomes extremely distressed when his owner leaves the house, leaving him all alone. When he knows his owner is going to leave he will make an awful fuss, jumping up, barking and whimpering, even trying whatever he can  to stop the owner from leaving. Then for around the first forty minutes after the owner has left there will probably be a period of incessant barking and whimpering plus perhaps some destruction of furniture and clothing, maybe even some defecation, this even if he is house trained. Then when the owner comes home he, the owner will be subjected to the same fuss that was made when he left. Owners not being able to cope with separation anxiety is the most common reason why a dog will end up being abandoned or passed on to a rescue centre or sanctuary. Forewarned is forearmed and if you know before you become a shih tzu owner how to prevent separation anxiety or at least to minimise the symptoms, then hopefully you will be more than able to cope with it. My post “Shih Tzu Separation Anxiety” explains the symptoms, bad behaviour and what you can do to alleviate the situation. Medical Conditions That May Develop  Image courtesy of Eduardo Gonzalez Diaz | Dreamstime ID 96625441 Most shih tzu are healthy specimens and I sincerely hope that if you do go ahead and enjoy the delights of owning a shih tzu that yours turns out to be a healthy dog, that you have many years of happiness together and that he never suffers from any of the conditions below. You need to bear in mind, however, that the shih tzu is susceptible to the same health problems as any breed of small dog with an unnaturally short snout and unnaturally short legs. You should never use a collar on a shih tzu as the windpipe, or trachea, is made of cartilage and is easily flattened by the pressure. This leads to difficulty in breathing and in severe cases may need surgery. Breathing problems can also be caused by a shih tzu being born with narrow nasal passages. Again, surgery can fix severe cases. Shih tzu are at risk of heatstroke in extremely hot conditions. Because of the way their respiratory systems are designed they cannot pant fast enough to keep their body temperature normal. In these conditions it’s best to cut their hair short, keep them in an air conditioned room or at least in cool shade and give them iced water to drink plus ice cubes to chew on. You will need to watch out for eye diseases; at the first sign of inflammation, redness or abnormalities, consult your veterinarian immediately. It may be nothing but swift action could save your dog’s sight.  Mainly because shih tzu have short legs and a proportionally large back, there can be problems with hip joints, knee joints and even the possibility of a slipped disc. Most of these conditions can be treated, the most severe by surgery. Shih tzu have comparably very long and narrow ear canals which are covered by furry ear flaps. This creates a warm and moist environment that bacteria thrive in and make painful infection likely. For this reason a shih tzu’s ears need cleaning on a regular basis. Shih tzu can develop very itchy allergies that manifest as skin rashes and as a waxy substance inside the ear. Their paws and snouts may discolour due to scooping out this wax followed by licking the paw. These allergies can be treated by experimention in change of diet or products such as shampoo, for example, or by medication. Hypothyroidism is another condition that can affect shih tzu. The thyroid does not function correctly in a shih tzu affected by this illness resulting in varying appetite, weight gain, excessive urination, fatigue and hair loss. Hypothyroidism can be treated with medication. It needs to be diagnosed early otherwise the patient can fall into a coma. Another condition that can send a shih tzu into a coma if not diagnosed and treated early enough is Addison’s disease, a deficiency of the adrenal glands that inhibits  hormone production. This condition is hereditary, so as long as you get your shih tzu from a reputable source you should never encounter this disease. Bruno was diagnosed with Addison’s disease after falling into a coma and almost dying when a puppy. Since then he has lived a happy life thanks to his twice a day medication. He is one laid back shih tzu! If you’re speculating about choosing a female shih tzu she will need to be spayed either at an early age, around age six months, this is before she comes on heat for the first time, or, if she is going to be used for breeding, as soon as she has ended her breeding duties. Shih tzu come on heat usually twice a year from age seven months. During these times there will be a small discharge of blood that you might like to contain in a doggy diaper. All of these conditions and more I will be going into in greater detail in future posts. So if you do become a proud shih tzu owner, do please bookmark this site and come back again.  Although the chances of a shih tzu developing anything nasty are slight, treatment for most of the above conditions can turn out to be very expensive and it only makes sense to take out pet insurance to dampen the shock of any sudden, unexpected strains on your finances. Grooming -it’s not just about making your shih tzu look pretty  Image courtesy of Pavel Siamionau | Dreamstime ID 30102033 Many people, including some “experts” are under the misconception that shih tzu are hypoallergenic. Fact: they’re not! You generally don’t see any shed hair from a shih tzu on your carpet or furniture as they have a double coat. When they shed hair it tends to get caught between the two layers. This is evident when you brush a shih tzu, the loose hairs will attach themselves to the brush. If you keep a shih tzu’s hair long like the show dogs you would have to brush him every day to avoid his hair becoming a tangled mess. I, personally, prefer to take my two to the groomers every four to six weeks to maintain a short hairstyle. This not only prevents problems with matting but helps to keep them cool in the hot Gibraltar climate. I also ask the groomer to pluck the hairs from inside their ears and cut the hair from between their toes. This is for hygienic purposes as these are areas prone to infection. The groomer will also wash the dogs and cut their toenails, the latter being necessary every four weeks or so. There is some routine grooming, apart from the regular brushing, that you will need to do at home. One bath a week with a dog friendly shampoo should be sufficient unless the shih tzu has been rolling around in dirt or worse. Of course, then he would need a bath as soon as possible. A shih tzu’s ears should be cleaned out weekly with special dog ear cleaning fluid and sterile cotton wool. Every time he eats or drinks you need to wipe his face with a clean, damp cloth. This is to prevent a build up of food particles and spilled drink water in the creases, another bacterial breeding ground. In the near future I will be writing about all aspects of grooming in greater detail. Be sure to bookmark this site for all things shih tzu. I hope you now have the answer for “Should I get a shih tzu?” If you have read all of this post you will now be aware of the commitment, both financially and in time, that you will have to make if you want a shih tzu in your home. You will know the way you will have to change your daily routine and be aware of what could, however unlikely, affect your chosen shih tzu during his life. I sincerely hope that after considering the points covered that you go ahead and get your shih tzu and you have a warm, happy, loving relationship together. The companionship and affection you get back from your chosen one is well worth the time, money and effort invested a million times over! If you have any questions that you would like to ask regarding shih tzu dogs or you have any comments about this post or this website, please use the space below or use our contact us form. PS: Don’t forget to bookmark us so that when you have your new shih tzu puppy you can come back for more tips on how to successfully raise your newly acquired friend. [...] Read more...
Grooming AdviceTrim Shih Tzu Paws And Nails – A Necessary Task Why does the particular need to trim shih tzu paws arise? All long haired dogs grow hair on the bottom of their paws in between the pads. Problems can occur if this hair is allowed to grow beyond level with the pads. The shih tzu is no exception. The protruding tufts of hair can become matted and tangled. As well as making it painful to walk on and stand on for long periods of time the mats will trap substances and objects as the shih tzu walks along. Caked in mud, gritty sand, stones, glass, thorns, burrs, feces and carelessly discarded gum are examples of what can become tangled in the mats of excess paw hair adding to the pain and discomfort. In winter, compacted snow that freezes into ice expanding between the pads can be a problem also. To ensure that your shih tzu does not encounter any of these problems it is essential that this inter-pad paw hair is trimmed back below the level of the pads and that nails are trimmed back above ground level on a regular basis. Keep The Paw Hair And Nails Trimmed Back Charlie shows his hairy paw pads. Depending upon your personal taste, your shih tzu is going to need a haircut every six to eight weeks or so. Any groomer worth their name will trim the excess hair and trim the nails back as part of the grooming process. What do you do, though, if further trimming is required in between visits to the groomer? An option is to ask your vet to perform this but do you want to go to the trouble of taking your shih tzu to the surgery just for this? Why not perform your own paw grooming in the comfort of your own home? With the right equipment, a little bit of practice on your part and a little bit of training on your shih tzu’s part you can execute your own paw hair and nail trimming. The Equipment You Will Need Good, professional quality, home pet grooming kits can be bought these days for very little money compared to what a visit to the groomer or the vet will cost you. Also, purchasing your own equipment is a one-off cost, as opposed to the recurring cost of the groomer or vet. When purchasing your pet grooming kit, make sure it consists of at least the following items:- Electric Clippers ID: 185849010 © adogslifephoto | Depositphotos To avoid nasty power cord tangles with your shih tzu and for convenience of movement, go for cordless, rechargeable clippers. The traditional “buzz” of clippers may upset your dog so try to buy clippers with a silent, low vibration action. You have a small dog with small paws therefore it is necessary that the chosen clippers have small blades. For the paws size 15 (3/64”, 1.2mm) to size 30 (1/50”, 0.5mm) blades are best for getting into the crevices between the pads, though if the smallest blade you have is a size 10 (1/16”, 1.6mm), you may just get away with it.  Many clippers have adjustable blades so if purchasing such a model double check that you can achieve a setting of somewhere between 15 to 30 with them. Scissors ID: 64401355 © frank11 | Depositphotos There are many designs of pet grooming scissors. Whichever design you decide on make sure that they have rounded ends for safety should your shih tzu make any sudden, unexpected movement while you are cutting. Ideally, have two pairs of grooming scissors in your kit. A larger pair for general work and a smaller pair for finer, finishing work. If you can, get the type that curve up at the end for added safety and ease of use. Stainless Steel Comb ID: 37806587 © VIPDesignUSA | Depositphotos A good pet grooming comb will be made of stainless steel and have fine teeth on one half and coarser ones on the other. Nail Clippers ID: 24063703 © Amaviael | Depositphotos For small breed dogs the “guillotine” type clippers rather than the scissor is the most suitable. These are the clippers that resemble an electrician’s wire cutters. Styptic Powder Accidents happen and it is best to be prepared by having some styptic powder at hand to stop the bleeding should you accidentally nick your shih tzu’s skin or cut his nail back a little too far. Essential Checks Before Trimming Check out each of your shih tzu’s paws before starting any trimming. If he has been licking, chewing or biting his paw or paws frequently there may be a problem that needs attention. Even if he hasn’t been doing any of this, it’s still better to be safe than sorry and to examine the paws first. Particular attention should be paid to between the pads, also known as the interdigital area, the nails and between the nails. First check that there are no tumors, abscesses or cysts, foreign objects such as glass or tacks that have penetrated the skin, torn or broken nails and any other wounds or injuries. All of these conditions will need to be examined and treated by a vet before you can continue with the trimming. See my post “Shih Tzu Paw Problems – How To Cope With Them” for more details. Foreign objects such as stones and burrs that have not caused any damage can be carefully removed by yourself before commencing trimming. If you find any mats or tangles in the hair, these will need to be teased out with a stainless steel comb as best as you can before trimming. If your shih tzu has been licking, chewing or biting his paws and you have failed to find any evidence as to why, then it is almost certainly be because of an allergy. Whilst trimming the paw hair will not take the allergy away it may help make your shih tzu more comfortable with it. How To Trim Shih Tzu Paw Hair And Nails Like A Professional ID: 160108078 © AllaSerebrina | Depositphotos I am assuming that if you are reading this post that this is the first time you are going to attempt to trim your shih tzu’s paws. It may take your dog some time to get used to the way you will be handling his paws and the noise and sensation of the clippers. He may struggle at first until you have done this a few times. If the situation starts to become too stressful then abandon the clipping for that day and try again the next. Eventually you will become more confident and your shih tzu will become more acceptable of the situation. Let’s Get Trimming A grooming table would be the ideal venue for paw hair trimming but any raised hard surface will do, such as a coffee table, or you could kneel on the floor with your shih tzu either standing or lying on his side. If he likes having his tummy rubbed, you may even get him to lie on his back. Whichever way you find best suits you, start by standing or kneeling behind your shih tzu. If he is standing you will have to lift a back paw slightly and gently bend it towards you at the knee so that the pad is facing you. If the hair between the pads is quite long, first gently pull it up above the pads, teasing out any mats you find if you can. Usually if there are mats they will be between the large back pad and the four front pads. Now, making sure the clippers are set with the correct blade size, start trimming the hair between the back pad and the four front pads from back to front using a rocking motion as if you were drawing a letter “U”. Spread the pads apart with your thumb and only use the edge of the clippers rather than the whole width of the blades. Then move on to in between the four front pads, again spreading the pads with your thumb as you trim, only using the edge of the blades and using the same rocking motion. Repeat the whole process with the other rear paw and then move onto the front paws. Again, if your shih tzu is standing you will need to bend his paw up at the knee so that you can see the pads. If your shih tzu really doesn’t like electric clippers, you can perform the trimming by hand using the scissors with the safety rounded tips. There is potential to cause more damage with scissors than with clippers, so only trim the hair protruding above the pads with a flat cutting motion. Do not attempt to trim in between the pads with scissors. When you have finished all four paws, comb each one out in turn and trim off any protruding hairs with the finishing scissors. Trimming The Nails Trimming the nails can be a scary prospect but if you go about it the right way you won’t hurt your shih tzu. The nails have a vein running through them that finish a small distance from the end. If your shih tzu has clear nails you will be able to see the vein. Place you nail clippers over the nail just in front of where the vein ends and cut off the excess growth. If your shih tzu has opaque nails, trim off a small piece of nail at a time until you can see a small, dark, oval shape in the middle of the cross section. This is the vein, so don’t cut back any further. Use the length of the remaining nail as a gauge for the rest of the nails. Don’t forget the dew claw, the flappy appendage akin to the thumb on the inside of the leg about an inch or so back from the front of the paw. That’s if your shih tzu has them, sometimes they are removed at the same time as neutering. If he does have them, trim the nails in the same way. If you do accidentally cut off too much nail exposing the vein, stop any bleeding by dusting the wound with the styptic powder. Learn More About Home Grooming Your Shih Tzu ID: 191556760 © Serg0403 | Depositphotos Affiliate disclosure: The next paragraph contains affiliate links that will take you to the TrainPetDog.com website. You will be under no obligation to purchase anything nor disclose any personal information. If you do go on and make a purchase, Shihtzuandyou.com will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.   Now that you know how to groom your shih tzu’s paws, it’s not too big a step to learn how to trim all of his coat exactly how you want it. The finer points of total shih tzu grooming are too much to put into one post on this blog. I will be covering more about grooming in future posts but if you don’t want to wait that long my friends at TrainPetDog.com have a free dog grooming mini course that covers all of the essentials such as how to train your shih tzu for grooming, how to deal with “doggy odor” and how to groom different coat types. Click here for more details. I hope that you have enjoyed this post and it has helped you with the care of your shih tzu. If you have any thoughts or questions about this post, this website or anything to do with shih tzu, please leave a comment or use our contact us form. For more information, take a look at my post about shih tzu grooming tools. See you then! [...] Read more...
Training TipsIn this report: Why Dog Collars For Shih Tzus Are Not Advisable Other Likely Shih Tzu Injuries From Dog Collars The Benefits Of Using A Dog Harness For Your Shih Tzu It’s Important That The Harness Fits Well The Best Harness For A Shih Tzu The Most Common Dog Harness Designs Shihtzuandyou Top Recommended Harness Should You Meet Up With Any Resistance …….. If You Still Want Your Shih Tzu To Wear A Collar …….. The Best Dog Collar For A Shih Tzu Why Dog Collars For Shih Tzus Are Not Advisable Buying dog collars for shih tzus is not the best idea. If you are thinking of doing this, I urge you to think again and consider a harness instead. A dog collar can cause serious injury to a shih tzu, especially a shih tzu that pulls on the leash or if you have to suddenly yank the leash to pull your dog from danger. Your shih tzu may get lucky and never have an injury wearing a collar, but why take the risk? The shih tzu is one of the brachycephalic breeds, that is they have been bred to have a very short snout. The internal parts of the mouth and throat are just the same size as for a long-snouted dog, meaning that everything is squashed into a smaller space. The palette overlaps into the windpipe slightly and the windpipe itself is close to the skin.  This windpipe or trachea is protected somewhat by rings of cartilage but is still quite weak. Any pressure exerted upon it, such as that transmitted by a pull on a collar, can cause the trachea to collapse. This injury is usually permanent and can make breathing more labored as well as being very painful. It can be eased a little with medication but in severe cases will require surgery and in extreme cases euthanasia. Other Likely Shih Tzu Injuries From Dog Collars The pressure exerted on the back of the neck if a shih tzu being walked in a leash and collar combination lurches forwards or to one side can lead to intervertebral disc disease and other spinal injuries.Over a period of time, a collar exerting pressure on the thyroid gland can develop into hypothyroidism.A shih tzu that pulls on the leash wearing a collar can suffer nerve damage to the front legs, usually demonstrated by excessive licking of the front paws.A scientific study by the American Animal Hospital Association has shown that dogs wearing collars have shown a higher incidence of eye problems such as glaucoma and disorders of the cornea than dogs that wear harnesses. The Benefits Of Using A Dog Harness For Your Shih Tzu Using a dog harness for your shih tzu will help prevent the injuries that could potentially be caused by using a collar, particularly neck and spinal injuries.Your shih tzu will be more secure and safer in a harness.In a harness, it will be much more difficult for your shih tzu to wriggle free when out walking than if wearing a collar. With a well-designed, well-fitting harness it will be almost impossible to wriggle free.A dog harness will give you more control over your shih tzu than a collar. If you have a shih tzu that pulls you when out walking, a harness with the D-ring located in the chest area can tackle this problem.It will be easier and safer to clip your shih tzu to a car seat when driving. There are harnesses available that are supplied with straps that connect to the seat belt anchor. For extra safety, I recommend using the harness in conjunction with a canine bolster seat. It’s Important That The Harness Fits Well A badly fitting harness can also cause injuries and be a threat to safety, as can badly designed and worn-out ones. So it’s worth measuring your shih tzu first, paying attention to the sizing charts of your chosen harness and spending that little extra for quality. If you have a harness that is frayed or torn, particularly around the armpits area where it can chafe, replace it. To measure your shih tzu properly for a harness, use a dressmaker’s cloth tape measure to determine the circumference of the neck, the circumference of the girth from behind the shoulder blades and around the tummy, plus the length of the back from the back of the neck to the start of the tail. When you try the harness on your shih tzu, it should be a snug fit but not so tight that you can’t just get two fingers comfortably in between the harness material and your dog’s body without using force. For this reason, it is best to choose a harness with multiple adjustment points. The Best Harness For A Shih Tzu Materials used need to be lightweight and breathable. Lightweight because you don’t want your shih tzu struggling with a heavy harness. Breathable because your shih tzu has two coats, an inner one and an outer one. If you then cover these coats with a non-breathable material, it can cause overheating or hyperthermia, especially during hot weather. The most common lightweight and breathable materials used in dog harnesses are nylon and polyester but you can also find cotton ones if you prefer naturally occurring materials. Nylon is the stronger, cleans easily and is water-resistant, but polyester is less abrasive and dries faster after getting wet. The lightness and breathability of all of these materials is increased when used to form a mesh.  Many harnesses feature padding for the chest, back and sometimes on the inside of the straps. The padding is often made of neoprene, a soft, synthetic rubber that will mold itself to your shih tzu’s body shape. Chest padding will help distribute any forces caused by pulling on the leash evenly and away from the windpipe. Back padding will support the spine and help prevent intervertebral disc disease. Padding inside the straps will help prevent abrasions and chafing. As I previously mentioned, it helps to find the perfect fit for your shih tzu if you choose a harness with multiple adjustment points. These adjustment points plus the fastening buckles should be made of strong plastic or strong steel. Strong steel should also feature for the D-rings and any rings joining straps together. Some harnesses have the D-ring for connecting the leash at the back, either near the neck, halfway along the back, or both. Some harnesses have D-rings at the front in the chest area and some have D-rings in both locations, known as a dual-clip harness.  The back-clip D-ring is probably the most common perhaps because it is in a convenient position to easily clip the leash on and off. The main issue with clipping a leash to the back of a harness is that it makes it easy for your shih tzu to pull you along. If your shih tzu is a “puller”, it is perhaps better to choose a chest-mounted front-clip D-ring. With the leash clipped here, your shih tzu cannot pull you along. If he tries to pull you, instead of moving forwards he will be turned around to face you. After a few walks with this type of harness, the theory is that your shih tzu will realize that pulling gets him nowhere and he will stop doing it. The main disadvantage with the chest-mounted D-ring is that your dog’s legs can become tangled with the leash. For the best of both worlds, choose a dual-clip harness. You can choose to connect the leash to either ring or do as a lot of dog trainers do and connect leashes to both rings at once for maximum control.  If you walk your shih tzu in low light conditions, particularly along busy roads or unlit lanes and paths, reflective features incorporated into the harness will help your shih tzu be seen and increase both his safety and yours. The Most Common Dog Harness Designs Photo by Muffin Stretch Mesh Harness This style is good for shih tzus of all ages but is most suitable for puppies. Made from a stretchy, breathable mesh, it is soft, comfortable and cool for the dog. It is easy to put on and remove, this harness usually fastens with snap-buckles at the sides or the back. The adjustment will be at the chest and sometimes the neck as well. This type of harness is available in a variety of colors and most are machine washable. Padded Chest or Chest Plate Harness As the name suggests, this type of harness features a supportive, padded chest plate for comfort. This style will help prevent injury to a dog that pulls by spreading the load over a larger area. It is also good for preventing injury in the event of an accident when strapped into a car seat. The sides of this harness will have straps that the shih tzu steps into before securely fastening.   Vest or Coat Harness  If your shih tzu wears clothing when out in the winter months, this type of all-in-one harness and vestment may save you the struggle of having to put both a harness and a coat on your shih tzu before going out. You will probably need a second, mesh harness for the summer months, though, as your dog may become too hot in this one. This type of vest, coat or other garment harness has a convenient D-ring fixed onto the back for attaching the leash. It is primarily designed as clothing and as a consequence is relatively weak compared to harness-only designs but is quite adequate for a small dog breed such as the shih tzu. It is certainly secure as it is almost impossible to wriggle out of when fastened up properly. A large variety of designs and colors are available. You do need to be careful that you buy the correct size but when you do, it will be very comfortable for your dog. Most come with padding to decrease the risk of chafing, adding to the comfort. Strap or Roman Harness This harness consists of just a framework of straps typically made from strong nylon but, more unusually, could be of leather.  Straps circumvent the back of the neck to the lower chest and also the girth, joined along the back and inside the front legs. The straps are formed in such a way that pressure is kept away from the trachea. The better designs have the snap-buckle at the shoulder or under the tummy. They are difficult for a dog to wriggle out of although they are not as comfortable as other types of harness. The straps can become tangled when putting on or removing and will then need unraveling. Some have a contrast color lower strap to help with this. Designed for adult dogs rather than puppies, this is not the best choice for a shih tzu but it will serve its purpose. Step-in Harness This is similar to the strap harness in appearance. It lacks the neck strap of the strap harness, instead it has straps that circumvent each front leg. The dog steps in and the straps are pulled up to the armpits. It then fastens up at the back, This harness needs to fit and be adjusted properly, otherwise it is easy for a startled dog to wriggle free from. However, if you have a laid-back hound, the lightweight and compact structure of this harness make it perfect for short walks. No-Pull Harness The typical no-pull harness looks similar to the chest plate harness in that it has a chest panel to spread the load. The difference is that the no-pull has two leash attachment points that gives the handler complete control. The front attachment point on the chest plate allows the handler to steer the dog in the desired direction, while the attachment at the back prevents pulling. This harness is designed to be used with a double-ended leash. Shihtzuandyou Top Recommended Harness  EcoBark Max Comfort Dog Harness At Shihtzuandyou, we not only think that this is the best shih tzu friendly dog harness for value, comfort and quality of build, we also like the ethics behind it. Not only are Ecobark’s products made from recycled materials wherever possible but also for every harness, collar or leash they sell, they also donate another harness or leash to an animal shelter. This harness is ideal for shih tzu puppies and adults because it is lightweight and has a soft, comfortable fit. The main body is of a strong, padded, breathable double mesh manufactured in such a way as to discourage pulling and protect the dog’s trachea from injury. The mesh will stretch and move naturally with your shih tzu and the breathability helps keep the dog cool, even when running around. The vest is easy to ease on and off over the dog’s head. It has two adjustable chest straps that fix the harness in place with a secure but easy to use snap-buckle. There is also adjustment at the neck as well as the chest to ensure that you get the best fit.  The D-ring for the leash is positioned at the back, in between the neck and chest straps. It’s fixed securely in place with reinforced double stitching. The rest of the harness covering is stitched in such a way so as to prevent chafing, especially around the armpits area. The Max Comfort is available in a range of colors and patterns. There are some bright ones if you often walk your shih tzu in low light conditions. Ecobark also sell leashes that match these colors. The surface of the harness can be wiped down with a damp sponge or cloth, so keeping it clean is not a problem. I recommend carefully measuring your shih tzu and paying attention to the manufacturer’s size chart before ordering, as their sizes may be different to those of other harness makers. The harness is virtually escape-proof so long as you order the correct size. Click here to see the Ecobark Max Comfort Dog Harness on Amazon. However, If you drive a lot with your shih tzu with you in your vehicle, you may prefer to buy an all-round harness that has been crash-tested for extra safety. The Max Comfort is not such a harness. In this case, Shihtzuandyou recommends: The Enhanced Strength Tru-Fit Dog Car Harness  The Enhanced Strength Tru-Fit Dog Car Harness has been crash-tested for dogs up to 75 lbs (34 kg) using dog-shaped crash test dummies. When this harness is used with the included seat belt tether, your shih tzu’s chances of surviving an accident and not injuring any of the other occupants of the vehicle are greatly improved. What makes the Enhanced Strength a better choice for car journeys than standard Tru-Fit harnesses is the use of mountain climbing standard steel nesting buckles and hardware. The hardware includes a carabiner at the end of the seat belt tether. The rest of the harness is of the same robust and durable build quality of all Tru-Fit harnesses. The “Tru-Fit” brand reflects on the five points of adjustment that ensure a perfect custom fit for almost any dog. The padded chest section helps prevent injury to the trachea and the sternum by absorbing and dissipating the shock of a car accident, so you know your shih tzu isn’t going to be hurt if he starts pulling you on your walks. You can eliminate pulling altogether as the harness has a D-ring at the front, as well as another at the back. The harness comes with a lifetime guarantee against manufacturer’s defects. Click here to see the Enhanced Strength Tru-Fit Dog Car Harness on Amazon. Should You Meet Up With Any Resistance …….. Your shih tzu may not want to put on a harness at first. It’s better to get a shih tzu to wear a harness at the puppy stage when they are more open to learning new ways.  If you have an adult dog it may be an idea to first leave the harness somewhere around the main living area of your home so that your shih tzu can sniff around it, play with it and generally get familiar with it. That way the harness will not be a total shock when you try to put it on him the first time. You can further reinforce your shih tzu’s familiarization with the new harness by rewarding him with praise or a treat whenever he shows interest in it, so that he learns to associate good experiences with the harness. In a similar vein, don’t punish him if he gives you a hard time when you try to put the harness on him otherwise he will always associate bad experiences with it. It can take around one to three weeks for a shih tzu to get used to a harness and around the same time for the owner, also! If You Still Want Your Shih Tzu To Wear A Collar …….. ID: 214788448 © viclin | Depositphotos Unless your shih tzu has been diagnosed with a collapsed trachea or another breathing issue, in which case you should never use a collar, there is no other reason why you can’t have your shih tzu wear a collar just for carrying his ID tags or because you think it looks good. I still recommend also using a harness for the leash, though. Choose a lightweight material for the collar that preferably has a snap-buckle rather than a belt-buckle.  The collar should be removed when grooming your shih tzu to allow for full, efficient brush strokes and thorough cleaning when bathing.  For more information on grooming your shih tzu, click on the link below: How To Groom A Shih Tzu Dog – Easy Home Grooming You Can Do However, having said all of this, there is one harness that strips down to a collar when not in use: The Best Dog Collar For A Shih Tzu is: The Sporn Dog Training Halter The beauty of this device is that your shih tzu can wear the detachable collar section of this harness all of the time, should you so wish. Then, when it’s time for walkies, just clip on the rest of the harness in three easy steps and you’re ready to go on your walk with you in complete control. This is the one collar that does not put any pressure on the trachea, even when your dog is pulling. Even a dog that, unfortunately, already has a collapsed trachea or other throat injury can wear this. It is the only collar that Shihtzuandyou recommends. The complete harness is made from sturdy, quality materials. Braided cord and nylon webbing combine with nickel plated steel fasteners to give a very strong construction. When your dog pulls, restraints under the front legs humanely stop him in his tracks. The restraints are sleeved with a synthetic sheepskin material for your shih tzu’s comfort and to prevent chafing. The whole unit is weatherproof and machine washable. Sporn are so confident about this product that they offer a lifetime guarantee of satisfaction, so hold on to your proof of purchase even though I don’t think that you’ll need it.  This is the perfect harness for those who like their shih tzus to wear a collar and want to train them out of a bad pulling habit. As always, measure your dog and use the manufacturer’s size guide before making your purchase. Click here to see The Sporn Dog Halter on Amazon. Thank you for your interest in this article. If you have any comments or questions about this subject, anything concerning the shih tzu breed or this website, please use the comments box below or, alternatively use the contact us form. Best wishes, Shih Tzu Steve.   [...] Read more...
Grooming Advice / Health and FitnessAs I said in my previous post “How Often Should You Bathe A Shih Tzu?”, there’s a little more to bathing your shih tzu than just immersing him in water and drying him off if you want his skin and coat to remain in a healthy condition. Before I show you how to bathe a shih tzu dog the healthy way, first you need to prepare yourself, then you need to prepare your dog. Preparing Yourself To Bathe Your Shih Tzu The first thing you need to do is to decide where you are going to bathe your dog. Your shih tzu will never grow too big to fit into the kitchen sink and, if your kitchen sink is fitted with one of those flexible spray head mixer taps, this is the ideal venue for his bath as you will not have to bend down so much and all the things you need can be at hand on the drainer. If your kitchen sink does not have a spray attachment but your bath has a hand held shower head, then the latter would be the better choice, although you will be spending a lot of the time in a bent over position. Another alternative, perhaps less desirable because you would have to bend down even more and your shih tzu may be able to take the opportunity to run for it, is to use a large plastic bowl in the shower if an adjustable or hand held shower head is available. ID: 29630628 George Kroll | Dreamstime You may gather from this that spraying the water on your dog and the soap off, is the most efficient method of cleaning up your shih tzu. However, don’t worry if you don’t have a spray or shower head available, you can use a large mug to tip the water over him. What You Need Having decided on where you want to bathe your shih tzu, you will now need to gather your “grooming kit” together, a collection of tools and products to get the job done. Here, then, are the ideal components for the bathing aspect of your grooming kit. Double sided dog brush – A stiff-bristle dog brush is essential to prepare your shih tzu for bathing. A pin brush would be better for shih tzu with longer hair and for brushing all but the shortest haired dog after bathing. Double sided brushes with bristles on one side and pins on the other are the most convenient for grooming shih tzu. ID: 53876025 kitchbain | Depositphotos Shampoo – Do not use your shampoo on your shih tzu, it will most likely contain chemicals that will completely strip your dog’s coat and skin of it’s essential oils, leaving the coat flat and the skin dry and flaky. You can get away with baby shampoo but it’s a much better choice to use a dog specific shampoo with natural ingredients and vitamins. Shampoo with oatmeal among its ingredients is particularly good for dogs with dry skin. If your shih tzu has allergies then choose a dog specific hypoallergenic shampoo. These tend to be a little thinner with less lather, so only use them if needed. Look for the word “tearless” on the label. If a tearless dog shampoo comes into contact with your shih tzu’s eyes it will not sting, making bath time a more pleasant experience for him. Beware, though, as it may sting your eyes or those of any non canine pets you may have. Conditioner – Again, do not use your own. Go for a good quality, pet or dog specific conditioner and, if necessary, hypoallergenic. Applying a rinse through conditioner after the shampoo phase will help prevent and repair split ends, sealing the hair shaft. It will also replace essential oils to moisturize and help prevent the skin from becoming dry and itchy. Leave-in conditioner spray – This is not strictly a necessity, but spraying a leave-in conditioner onto your shih tzu’s coat after the drying phase will reinforce the strengthening actions of the rinse-through conditioner as well as providing an extra fluffy bounce to the coat and offering protection from the sun’s rays, dry air and wind. Rubber shower or bath mat – This is to place at the bottom of your sink or bath to reduce the chances of your shih tzu slipping on the wet, shiny surface and preventing a nasty accident. If you do not have this, you can use an old tea towel or hand towel instead. High quality bath towel – You will need an absorbent towel to soak up the excess water as you pat your shih tzu dry. For this reason, buy the highest quality, softest bath towel you can afford. Towels made of combed cotton, Egyptian cotton or Turkish cotton are a good choice. ID: 14872988 Oliver Le Queinec | Dreamstime Thin face flannel or washcloth – This is for wiping clean around your shih tzu’s face and eyes. The thinner and softer this cloth is, the better. Small bowl – You will need some diluted shampoo to clean your shih tzu’s face. As a rough guide the dilution should be around 10 parts water to 1 part shampoo, but consult the label first. Cotton wool balls – A shih tzu’s ears are very sensitive, the inner ear canals are narrow and deep. If water gets into them there is a high chance of an infection developing. To keep the inner ears dry and stop water coming in, it is important to insert a cotton ball, or half a cotton ball, into each outer ear canal prior to bathing. Soft bristled, children’s toothbrush – You will only need this if your shih tzu has prominent, brown tear stains below his eyes. Blow dryer – If you keep your shih tzu’s hair quite short, you can just pat him dry with your high quality towel. If his hair is longer, the use of a blow dryer will help reduce the chances of tangles and knots. You can use your blow dryer as long as you are careful and have it switched to its lowest heat setting. It would be ideal, however, to use a pet specific blow dryer. ID: 67430593 0sArt | Depositphotos Preparing Your Shih Tzu For Bathing Shih tzu have two coats, an outer one and an inner one. When they shed hair the dead hair tends to get trapped between the two coats, which is why you may only see the occasional strand of shed hair about the house. Before you start to bathe your shih tzu, you need to brush out this dead hair, along with all of the tangles, knots and mats. You may have to tease out the more stubborn ones with your fingers helped with some spray on conditioner or water spray first. When brushing your shih tzu it’s best to start with his legs and feet, brushing downwards, then his body from behind his head working back towards his tail and finally his head, face and ears. Once you have successfully brushed your shih tzu’s coat completely tangle free, you need to gently place a cotton wool ball, or half a ball if it’s a small ear, into each outer ear canal to prevent water entering the inner ear. With the cotton wool balls in place, your shih tzu is now ready for his bath. How To Bathe A Shih Tzu Dog First, put in the plug, place your rubber bath mat or tea towel flat on the bottom and fill your sink or bath to a depth of 2” to 3” (5 cm to 7 cm) with lukewarm water. All water you use for bathing your shih tzu should be no hotter than lukewarm. To clarify, by lukewarm I mean 98F to 105F (37C to 40C), a temperature range a degree or two below and above your shih tzu’s blood temperature. After testing the water is not too hot, with your elbow as you would a baby bath is fine, pick up your shih tzu and place him in the water, making sure his paws are on the mat. If, as my Charlie does, he puts his front paws on the side of the sink or bath, that is perfectly okay. Shampoo Next, with your water spray or mug of water, again testing the temperature first, completely soak your shih tzu’s coat through to the skin from the neck backwards and downwards, leaving his face dry for now. Check the directions for your chosen shampoo to find out if it needs to be diluted before applying. If it does, find a suitable jug or pitcher and dilute as described. ID: 161134322 edu1971 | Depositphotos Apply the shampoo to your shih tzu’s coat from the neck backwards and downwards, concentrating on one section at a time. Massage the soap in well with your hands and fingers but avoid making circular motions that may tangle the hair. Make sure you clean inside where his legs meet his body, underneath his paws, around his genitals and his rectum area. Now you will need your bowl of clean, diluted shampoo and thin face flannel or washcloth. Dip the cloth in the soapy water and wring out the excess drips. Proceed to gently scrub your shih tzu’s face. Give the corners of the mouth, the ears and eyes special attention. For the eyes, start on the nose side and work your way carefully out, over the eyelid. Always rubbing away from the eyes, try to scrub away any brown tear stains under the eye. If the stains are particularly bad, you made need the help of the soft bristled children’s toothbrush, dipped in the diluted shampoo and, again, scrubbing gently away from the eye. Shampooing completed, it’s time to rinse it out. Thoroughly flush out the shampoo using your water spray or mug. When rinsing your shih tzu’s head, place your hands over his eyes to prevent soap getting into them. Make sure all of the soap is flushed out. If you don’t do this, the conditioner will not be effective. You will know when all the soap is out when the water runs from the coat clear of suds. If during the rinsing session, or at any time, the water in the bottom of the sink or bath becomes too deep, let some out. Should your shih tzu’s coat have been excessively dirty and matted, you may need to repeat the shampoo and rinse phases one more time. Conditioner Having now thoroughly cleaned and rinsed your shih tzu’s coat, it’s time to apply the rinse through conditioner. Again, follow the directions on the label and dilute if required. Apply the conditioner in the same way as the shampoo, working it well into the coat. Leave the conditioner in for as long as stated on the label. If there is no time stated, leave the conditioner in for around five minutes. Once the conditioner has done its job, rinse it out just as thoroughly as you did the shampoo. If you leave any conditioner in, it will weigh down the coat. Drying Your Shih Tzu ID: 84945756 belchonock | Depositphotos Pick your shih tzu up with both hands, let some excess water drain off of him over the sink or bath and then place him on your super absorbent, luxury cotton towel. Wrap the ends around him, making sure you cover his head but, of course, not his face. Be prepared as you take your hands off your shih tzu to grasp the towel. He is most likely to shake off more excess water, giving you a mini shower in the process! Dry your shih tzu by going over him with the towel using a firm, patting motion. Do not rub, as this will cause his coat to tangle and develop split ends. In fact, if you were to rub excessively it would cause irreparable damage to the coat. Once you have your shih tzu damp dry you can now spray on your leave-in conditioner should you decide to use one. Again, cover his eyes with your hand to prevent conditioner entering his eyes. Hold the spray 6” (15cm) from his body and spray to just above the roots unless otherwise directed by the manufacturer. If your shih tzu’s hair is short you can now either let his coat air dry or, if you’re in a hurry, you can blow dry it. If his hair is long, then you will need to use the blow dryer. Either way, it is now time to brush your shih tzu’s coat as it dries. Use the pin side of the brush, if it has one, brushing from the head to the paws to the tail. Brush in sections using an upward stroking motion from root to tip. It’s easy to concentrate on the body, so make sure you pay attention to the head, ear flaps, legs, paws and tail. Don’t forget now to remove the cotton wool balls from his ears. Is That All? ID: 29630652 George Kroll | Dreamstime Following the above steps will go a long way to keeping your shih tzu’s coat and skin in a tip-top, healthy condition and a healthy shih tzu is a happy shih tzu. For further shih tzu bathing information, see my post “How Often Should You Bathe A Shih Tzu?”. I recommend performing one more act of grooming at this time, though. Shih tzu have notoriously sensitive ears that are prone to infection. It would be appropriate to initiate a regular ear cleaning session for your shih tzu after he has been bathed. I walk through how to clean your shih tzu’s ears in my third and final post in this mini series, “How To Groom A Shih Tzu Dog”. I also walk through how to clean your shih tzu’s teeth without poisoning him and how to clip his nails without hurting him. Plus, if you are interested in finding out more information about home grooming your shih tzu, I show you where to find it. If you have any thoughts or questions about this post or shih tzu in general, please comment or use our contact us form. Bye for now. [...] Read more...
Feeding Your Shih TzuWhy Bother With Home Cooking For A Dog? I am writing this post, “Healthy Home Cooking For The Shih Tzu Well Being”, because there is a lot of bad press at the moment for processed and mass produced dog foods available in supermarkets and pet stores. Some of this bad press is deserved. If you have read one of my previous posts, “Best Dog Food For A Shih Tzu? – Find Out Here”, you will know that many well known manufacturers use the unwholesome waste products from cereal and animal processing plants – and even animal shelters –  as fillers in their offerings. You will also know that, on the other hand, there are some more scrupulous manufacturers that only use wholesome ingredients in their wares and there is nothing wrong with feeding your shih tzu these products as long as the ingredients are specifically for shih tzu or small breeds. However, I was advised by my veterinarian to only feed my Bruno freshly cooked meat, fish and vegetables along with Royal Canin Shih Tzu Specific Dry Food; it would probably be detrimental to his health because of his Addison’s Disease to give him any processed or sub-standard food. Bruno is now coming up for twelve years of age, despite now also suffering from a heart murmur and epileptic fits. He is still otherwise fit and eager to chase his favourite ball around the house at every opportunity. My wife and I believe that Bruno has reached this age because of the home cooked food that we prepare for him. We believe that if we had regularly fed him processed food that we would have lost him some time back. We also feed Charlie the same home cooked food despite his apparent 100% fitness because when in the vet’s waiting room and when out for walkies, we often hear tales of unfortunate dogs that have passed away before their time. The common factor in these cases appears to be that they were fed on cheap, branded, processed dog foods bought from the supermarket. It may be coincidence but we’re not taking any chances with Bruno and Charlie, they’re too precious to us. Charlie tucks into a hearty meal. Healthy Home Cooking For The Shih Tzu Well Being If you do decide to give your shih tzu only homemade food you will need to add canine vitamin and mineral supplements to make sure he gets all the nutrition he needs. However, you won’t have to add this if you do the same as us and mix the home cooked food with a good quality dry food as all the essential vitamins and minerals will be contained within. If you are considering changing your shih tzu’s diet completely, please seek advice from your veterinarian first to make sure it is safe to do so. Further to this, I would advise you to introduce food ingredients new to your shih tzu one at a time so that you can assess how he reacts to it. If he suffers a runny tummy or an allergic reaction, then it may be best not to give it to him again. Now, I could run through a few shih tzu friendly recipes but I’m not sure there’s much call for Cordon Bleu style cookery for canines. I will just run through a few ingredients that are suitable for a small breed dog’s diet and leave you and your shih tzu to experiment with mixing two or three together to see what clicks. If you really do want to see some shih tzu friendly recipes on this website, then please leave a comment or contact us and if there’s enough demand I promise I will post some. A Well Balanced Meal A shih tzu needs protein to maintain muscle bulk and carbohydrates to provide the fuel to stay active. In addition, a shih tzu needs omega fatty acids for skin and coat maintenance and some calcium for healthy teeth. Each meal should contain at least 25% protein but the ideal meal for a shih tzu would consist of 45% protein, 45% carbohydrates and 10% fats. For portion sizes and how many times a day you should be feeding your shih tzu, it’s all on this post: “How Much Food Should A Shih Tzu Eat?”. Protein ID: 19386693 Robyn Mackenzie | Dreamstime Good sources of protein are lean meats such as turkey breast and chicken breast, beef and lamb with the fat trimmed and offal such as liver or heart. Offal should not take up more than 5% of the total diet. Fish such as salmon and tuna are not only great sources of protein but also rich in omega 3 oil. Try to give your shih tzu fish at least once, perhaps twice a week. We usually boil our shih tzus’ meat but occasionally we will dry roast it. The fish we tend to bake in the oven. You could also use the grill if that is your preference but I don’t recommend shallow or deep frying, If you have your shih tzu on a vegetarian diet some beans, pulses and lentils will contribute to his vital protein intake but you will need to mix these with some amino acid supplement to compensate for what he would be getting naturally with meat. Be wary of using soya bean products, including tofu, as the shih tzu breed is prone to allergies from soya. TIP: To add some extra calcium into a vegetarian diet for a shih tzu, wash some egg shells and then bake them in the oven for five minutes. Then take them out and crush them into a powder which you can then mix into the meal. Whether your shih tzu is an omnivore or a vegetarian, you can add more protein to his meal with the addition of a little peanut butter, cottage cheese or natural yoghurt. The latter will also provide extra calcium. You can use natural yoghurt even if your shih tzu is lactose intolerant as the live cultures in the yoghurt break down the lactose. Other protein rich items you might like to try with your shih tzu are some raw, quality, free range eggs mixed in or a little cubed or grated hard cheese. Generally, the harder the cheese the lower the lactose level. Carbohydrates ID: 29963295 rrrneumi | Depositphotos Sweet potato, pumpkin, squashes and boiled white or brown rice are great sources of carbohydrate suited to a shih tzu’s digestive tract. For a traditional “meat and two veg” you could combine one of these ingredients with one of cooked or raw carrots, green beans, peas, calcium rich broccolli or raw bell pepper for variety. You might also consider introducing some raw fruit into your shih tzu’s meals. Fruits such as bananas, apples, raspberries and blackberries are good choices. If serving apples ensure that you remove the poisonous pits first. Home Cooking Allows You To Mix It Up Apart from the health benefits, by home cooking for your shih tzu you know exactly what is passing through his lips and you can add a great variety to his diet by varying the ingredients and the combinations of ingredients. This is much more interesting for your dog than buying prepared dog food where you might just settle for the three varieties he likes and repeat them over and over again. After all, you wouldn’t like it if you had to eat the same meal day in and day out and neither would your shih tzu. You could create even more variety by adding some ingredient ideas of your own. Beware though, as there are some ingredients that can either be fatal or malignant that you must never give to your shih tzu. To find out which, take a look at “What Can Shih Tzu Not Eat – Malevolent Morsels Revealed”. I hope that I’ve given you plenty of ideas of what to cook up for your little one, that you enjoy preparing it as much as I do, and that you shih tzu enjoys eating it as much as mine do! If you have any questions or remarks about this post, this website or anything shih tzu related, please leave a comment or contact us. Until next time. [...] Read more...
Health and FitnessShih Tzu And Eye Problems What is it with shih tzu and eye problems? The comparatively flat face of the shih tzu, together with the shallow eye sockets and protruding eyes leads to several potential eye problems, particularly regarding injuries to the cornea. Once the surface of this protective layer has been breached, it is likely that an infection will follow. The nature of these injuries mean they are usually very painful and vision can be reduced, with permanent blindness in the worst cases. Here, then, are the most common eye problems that a shih tzu may encounter. There is no reason to presume that your shih tzu will ever suffer from any of these eye problems, just be aware that the shih tzu breed, in general, is known for a higher than average incidence of these ailments. Jump to:KeratitisProptosisProgressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)Retinal DysplasiaHarderian Gland Prolapse (Cherry Eye)CataractsEntropion (Abnormal Eyelid)Epiphora (Wet Eye)Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)Ectopic CiliaKeratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KC5 or Dry Eye)Glaucoma Keratitis Keratitis is an inflammation of the cornea initiated by a scratch or puncture, probably caused by abrasive particles in the wind, contact with foreign objects or by the dog actually inflicting it himself by rubbing the eye with his paw. If you let your shih tzu put his head out of the window of the car as you drive along, there is a high risk of him contracting keratitis. Keratitis can further be complicated by progressing to a corneal ulcer. ID: 116903368 © Chaoss | Dreamstime Symptoms: The dog squints with one eye.Watery eye.A bright redness on the eye.Partial or total blindness in severe cases. Treatment: This condition can be treated with antibiotics, painkillers and eye drops, even if an ulcer is present.The veterinarian may sew the third eyelid over the eye to keep the wound clean.If an ulcerated cornea will not heal, then surgery may be necessary. Proptosis This condition is certainly prominent with shih tzu because of their shallow eye sockets. The eyeball gradually moves forwards over time until it eventually pops out and the eyelids close behind it, which is very painful for the dog. Symptoms: Initially, there will be an inflammation of the eye.The eyeball slowly protrudes from the eye socket more and more each day.Possible blindness. Treatment: It is most likely that surgery will be needed to replace the eye into its socket.Antibiotics to prevent infection after surgery.In extreme cases, complete removal of the eye to prevent further suffering. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) PRA is a progressive deterioration of the photoreceptors in the retina. This disease is passed on genetically. Symptoms: At the onset, the dog will experience night blindness and will tend to bump into things in the dark.As the disease progresses, daytime vision will also deteriorate until total blindness sets in. Treatment: Regrettably, there is no treatment for this disease but it can be diagnosed early on which will give plenty of time to prepare the dog for what is to come. Retinal Dysplasia This is a condition of the retina where vision is impaired by the appearance of streaks or rosettes. In dogs, it is most likely to be genetic, although there is an outside chance that a virus, drugs or a lack of vitamin A may be the cause. Once diagnosed, usually by a veterinary ophthalmologist, the condition rarely gets worse. Symptoms: Partial blindness, causing the dog to bump into things.In the case of a completely detached retina, total blindness. Treatment: There is no known effective treatment but the dog does get used to living with the condition. Harderian Gland Prolapse (Cherry Eye) This is a disease where the tear glands of the third eyelid become detached and settle as a swollen, red mass in the corner of the eye, hence the term “cherry eye”. The tear duct needs to be put back in the correct position as it provides oxygen and nutrients to the eye. If a shih tzu is going to suffer from this condition it will usually be at an early age and, more often than not, it will affect both eyes at once. Symptoms: Gland moves around due to a loose connection.Can lead to swelling.Excessive discharge.Bloody ulceration.Conjunctivitis.Temporary blindness until treatment is given. Treatment: If diagnosed early enough, the glands can be successfully, professionally massaged back into position.If this is not possible, surgery to reposition and secure the gland is necessary. Cataracts As a shih tzu reaches his senior years he becomes more susceptible to cataracts, cloudy occlusions of the lenses of the eyes. Age-related cataracts are inherited and usually so small that the dog can still see quite well in spite of them. Cataracts can form for other reasons, such as diabetes, a nutritional deficiency or past eye injuries, and these tend to be larger, sometimes completely covering the lenses causing complete blindness. Symptoms: The lenses of the eyes become more cloudy, either partially or totally. This will still have to be positively diagnosed as cataracts as the symptoms are very similar to nuclear sclerosis, a natural age-hardening of the lenses that causes long-sightedness. Treatment: Treatment may be unnecessary as shih tzu will still get on well with impaired vision.If deemed necessary, cataracts can be surgically removed to restore sight. ID: 93951322 © Nathan0834 | Depositphotos Entropion (Abnormal Eyelid) Entropion is a genetic condition where either or both eyelids are turned inwards towards the eyeball causing irritation, scratching, infection or even a corneal ulcer. If a dog has it, it is usually diagnosed before it is one year old. Symptoms: Watery, excessively teary eyes.Inflammation of the eye.Rubbing of the eye with the paws. Treatment: In a few minor cases, eye drops can treat the condition.Mild cases will need surgery to turn the eyelid the correct way round.Severe cases merit facial construction surgery when the dog has reached adulthood. Epiphora (Wet Eye) Epiphora is not a disease in itself, rather it is a symptom brought on by one of several other problems, particularly a tear duct blockage, an abnormality of the eyelid or, quite simply, an overproduction of tears caused by another disease or allergy. A healthy shih tzu, like other dogs, is constantly, naturally lubricating its eyes from the tear glands. Normally, the excess will drain away through the tear ducts into the nose. With epiphora, the excess drains off over the face, making the face wet to some extent depending on how bad the problem is. Symptoms: Reddish brown stains on the hair below the eyes.Itchy or infected skin.A strange odor.A wet face. Treatment: Surgery to unblock the tear ducts if blocked.Surgery to widen the tear ducts if too narrow. Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) Again, this is not a disease in itself, more a symptom of one of several other eye afflictions. Conjunctivitis is a swelling of the lining of the eyelid, the conjunctiva, brought about by an allergy, infection, foreign body, parasite or condition such as glaucoma. It is possible for just one eye to be affected but if that is the case it will normally quickly spread to the other one. Usually, though, both eyes will be affected anyway. Symptoms: Clear or green discharge.Redness of the whites of the eyes.Swollen eye surroundings.Squinting.Excessive blinking.Pawing at the eyes. Treatment: Treatment will largely depend upon what the underlying cause is. Ectopic Cilia This is the abnormal growth of eyelash hair or hairs actually through the eyelid where they come into contact with the eyeball, causing further problems. Symptoms: Excessive twitching of the eye.Epiphora.Severe pain. Treatment: Surgical removal of the offending hairs. Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KC5 or Dry Eye) Bruno’s scarred left eye © Shih Tzu Steve This condition is brought about by a lack of sufficient fluid to lubricate the eye causing the eyeball to dry out, leaving it sore, itchy and open to infections. It is usually due to a problem with the tear gland, for example, a swelling or a reduction of tissue due to a reaction from the autoimmune system. Symptoms: A thick, sticky discharge from the eyes.A dry appearance of the eyes.Conjunctivitis.Keratitis.Pigmentation of the cornea.Squinting.Very painful. Treatment: Frequent application for life of ointment or drops containing tear stimulants and tear replacements.Antibiotics and anti-inflammatories to treat any secondary infections or diseases. Glaucoma Pressure builds up on the optic nerve due to either the eye’s inability to drain fluid or a secondary eye disease. The condition may be successfully treated if diagnosed early enough but it doesn’t usually get noticed until it’s too late. It is a sad fact that up to 40% of dogs that contract glaucoma lose their sight in the affected eye. Symptoms: Extreme pain from the pressure.Blinking and squinting,The eyeball may recede to the back of the head.Enlargement of the eyeball.Bluing of the cornea.Redness in the white of the eyes.Dilated, unresponsive pupil.Noticeable loss of vision.General deterioration of the eye. Treatment: If the disease has been discovered in the early stages, medication to lower the pressure on the optic nerve and keep it at the correct level.If the disease has previously gone unnoticed and the optic nerve is damaged beyond repair, surgery will be needed to remove the eye.If only one eye is affected, every precaution will be taken to prevent the disease from spreading and preserve the good eye. Keep An Eye On Your Shih Tzu’s Eyes Your shih Tzu’s large eyes protrude from the shallow sockets, leaving them susceptible to trapping foreign bodies that can lead to inflammation and infection that can be made worse if he scratches at them with his paws. As well as that, there are the genetic diseases that may be underlying. For these reasons, regularly check your shih tzu’s eyes for abnormalities and reactions. If he is pawing at his eyes frequently, there is probably something wrong. If you suspect anything, contact your vet immediately. The sooner any ailment is diagnosed, the better the chances of a full recovery.   I sincerely hope that your shih tzu never encounters any of these problems and, I stress again, there is no reason to think that he or she will. If you have any questions or comments about this post, shih tzu in general, or this website, please use the comments form below or contact us here. See you next time, Shih Tzu Steve. [...] Read more...
Behavior IssuesIs Your Shih Tzu Licking All The Time? There could be one of several reasons for a shih tzu licking all the time to excess. Though this reason is much more likely to be a behavioral issue rather than a serious medical one, it is better to be safe than sorry and to go through the possible medical conditions first, if only to eliminate them from the list of possible reasons. Any suspected medical conditions should be checked out by a vet as quickly as you can. The medical conditions that may encourage excessive licking are: Allergies – the skin or paws or both may itch. Infection – bacterial, fungal or parasitic infections may all cause itching.Pain – pain from an injury or arthritis may cause a shih tzu to lick the affected area.Gastroenteritis – or GI for short, and other stomach upsets may result in the dog licking surfaces and objects.  While these are the conditions that may result in behavioral licking: Separation anxietyStress and anxiety in the homeSelf-calmingBoredomAffectionLiking the taste of somethingLong term habit. Under these behavioral conditions, the shih tzu may lick one or more of the following: HimselfFurniture, toys, bedding or other surfacesThe owner, other people or other pets. Why You Need To Prevent Excessive Licking If your shih tzu is constantly licking himself there is the risk of red raw sore patches and thinning hair developing in the areas of skin where most of the licking occurs. This is known as lick granuloma and it leaves the affected area open to infection which, because dogs lick their wounds to release pain-numbing endorphins, then encourages even more licking, creating a vicious circle. Speaking on behalf of all shih tzu owners, I think we all like an affectionate, loving lick, the canine version of the kiss, now and again but persistent and constant attempts to lick you at every opportunity can be overwhelming. Even if we are prepared to put up with it, our family, friends and acquaintances probably aren’t. Plus, and I speak from first hand experience here, if you have an open wound and your, albeit well-meaning, shih tzu licks it, you then run the risk of a serious infection developing. I will now go into all of the conditions under which a shih tzu may be licking excessively to help you identify the reason why your dog is doing this and, once this reason is identified, how to remedy the situation. Medical Conditions That May Cause Excessive Licking ID: 162214034 © edu1971 | Depositphotos As I said before, in most cases the cause of excessive licking is behavioral but sometimes it is for a medical reason. If you suspect that you shih tzu does have a medical reason for excessive licking it is important that you have the diagnosis and course of treatment confirmed by a vet. The following notes in this section are designed only to serve as a guide. You may also like to see “Shih Tzu Common Health Problems” also posted on this website. Allergies By far, the most common medical reason for a shih tzu licking all the time is an allergy. If you have ruled out all other possibilities it almost certainly is an allergy. Allergies can affect the skin and paws, making for an itchy and scratchy experience. Allergies can make the eyes red and watery and may also affect the ears where a reddish wax accumulates. If the wax is not cleared away with a proprietary pet ear cleaning fluid and a cotton ball it will almost certainly lead to a yeast or fungal infection that can prove painful. A shih tzu will bite, scratch and lick the affected areas of skin leaving it damp and open to fungal infections. These fungal infections give off a musty odor and discolor the hair to a red rust color. If you suspect that your shih tzu is suffering from an allergy, take him to your vet who can arrange a skin test to discover the exact triggers of the allergy. In particularly severe or persistent cases the vet may prescribe topical creams or lotions to treat the affected areas and antihistamines to suppress further development of the symptoms. Preventative And Remedial Action You Can Take Chemical additives, preservatives and colorings added to food can all be triggers, so only give your shih tzu additive-free, hypoallergenic food made with quality ingredients. It may cost a little more initially than big brand dog food but it will prove cost-effective in the savings made on vet’s bills. If you try this and the allergy still persists, then it may be that a protein is causing the reaction. Experiment by removing one protein at a time from your dog’s diet. For example, try a lamb free diet for a spell. If it proves not to be that, re-introduce the lamb and remove another protein, say, beef. Keep on experimenting until you discover the culprit. It may even prove to be the chicken. Take a look at “Best Dog Food For A Shih Tzu? – Find Out Here” for more feeding advice. When grooming your shih tzu, only use hypoallergenic, pet-specific, shampoos, conditioners and sprays. If the areas of irritation have developed a fungal infection use products that also have antifungal and antibacterial properties. Treat the sensitive areas that your dog is licking with medicated lotions and sprays that contain hydrocortisone to relieve itching and other ingredients such as aloe vera, tea tree oil or chamomile to treat the dry skin. Also see “How To Bathe A Shih Tzu Dog For Healthy Skin And Coat” for further information on grooming products. It can be difficult to prevent your shih tzu from licking off any topical treatment that you have administered and you may need to use an Elizabethan collar to do so. To prevent the paws from being licked you can try putting on dog socks immediately after applying the treatment. Choose a good quality set of socks that are difficult for your shih tzu to remove by himself and that have grips on the soles to prevent him from slipping. Around the house, if you have air conditioning ensure that you have a HEPA filter fitted. Vacuum the floor regularly with a pet-friendly vacuum that also has a HEPA filter fitted. Every time you enter the home with your dog, rub him down with hypoallergenic wipes, making sure that you also clean his paws well. ID: 309029162 © PongMoji | Depositphotos Lick Granuloma Lick granuloma is not so much the initial reason why your shih tzu licks himself excessively, it’s more as a result of excessive licking for another reason that encourages even more licking. It starts as a small sore that spreads out as the shih tzu licks more and more. As the sore spreads, the skin is subject to break in places. Where the skin is broken it is subject to bacterial infection. This infection, in turn, can spread to the skin follicles and cause thinning of the hair and bald patches. This condition, in minor cases where the skin isn’t broken, can be treated with proprietary lotions, creams and sprays. If the skin is broken and there is bleeding or pus, then there is almost certainly a bacterial infection that needs to be treated by a vet. The vet may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection and, in the case of large skin breaks, recommend surgery. Dry Skin The shih tzu breed, with its double coat of hair instead of fur, is prone to suffering from dry skin. The itching sensation caused by the dry skin results in the shih tzu licking the affected area. The licking action washes away any essential skin oils that remain, making the dry skin condition even worse. Dry skin can be caused by weather conditions, such as the cold, dry winds of winter or too much exposure to the sun in summer. It can be caused by using shampoos and conditioners intended for humans that are too strong for a shih tzu’s skin or by using pet-friendly products but using them too often. Both scenarios result in essential hair and skin oils being flushed away. Finally, if the shih tzu rolls around a lot on dry, abrasive surfaces, this can also develop dry skin. What You Can Do To help to clear dry skin problems and prevent them from recurring, always, when bathing your shih tzu, use quality, pet-friendly, hypoallergenic products and, to retain essential skin and hair oils, do not bathe your shih tzu more than every four to six weeks. Keep him clean in the meantime with hypoallergenic wipes. See “How Often Should You Bathe A Shih Tzu?’ for more on this. Try to keep your home humidified. If you don’t have a humidifier use house plants and bowls of water strategically placed around the house to moisten the air somewhat. Keep your shih tzu hydrated by making sure he always has access to fresh drinking water and supplement his food with a few drops of omega-3 fish oil and water-bearing additions such as blueberries and raspberries. Urinary Tract Infection or UTI This can become a very serious condition, especially if your shih tzu is not peeing at all when it should be treated as an emergency. If you suspect your shih tzu’s excessive licking is because or a UTI, consult your vet as soon as possible. Although if your dog is licking around the genitals does not necessarily mean a UTI is present, it is one of the signs. Others are too much or too little urine being produced, pain when peeing and peeing “accidents”. Thyroid Problems A shih tzu may lick if there is a hormone deficiency of the thyroid. This is another condition where, if you suspect that this is the problem, you need to contact your vet as soon as possible. Suspect a problem with the thyroid if your shih tzu is weak, slow and lethargic with noticeable weight gain or loss. The coat will also lose its shine and there will be thinning hair and bald patches. Injuries ID: 58522397 © blanscape | Depositphotos Injuries, visible or internal, are another possible cause of a shih tzu licking. The licking will take place at the site of the injury in an attempt to alleviate the pain. If your dog is limping or walking awkwardly and constantly licking the same paw, then there may be a foreign object wedged between the paw pads. These foreign objects are usually easily removed. Parasitic Infections If a dog is playing host to fleas, ticks or mites, he might not only lick the areas where he is being bitten but may also chew, gnaw at or scratch to try and free himself of his invaders.  If it is only a minor case, you may be able to treat the condition with over the counter parasiticidal skin treatments, lotions and shampoos. For more severe cases your vet can prescribe stronger medicated products. Regular application of “spot-on” type skin treatments will help prevent parasitic invasions altogether. Behavioral Conditions That May Cause Excessive Licking Separation Anxiety As the name suggests, separation anxiety is the stress a shih tzu may suffer when the owner is away from the home for some time leaving the dog behind, though it can also happen if the owner is there but too busy to pay any attention to the dog. Licking either himself or objects is a way of trying to soothe away the loneliness. Again, excessive self-licking will develop sore spots that will lead to even more licking. A shih tzu can get up to all kinds of strange and sometimes destructive behavior when left alone and suffering separation anxiety but as soon as you return, apart from perhaps an over enthusiastic greeting, the unusual behavior ends. If there is no physical evidence, that is, for example, pee or poo where it shouldn’t be or damaged furnishings, you would have no idea that your shih tzu has separation anxiety. The answer is to observe unnoticed through a window if you can or install a pet cam. My post, “Shih Tzu Separation Anxiety – How To Cope” shows ways of dealing with and preventing this problem. ID: 84809126 © PepscoStudio | Depositphotos Stress From An Over Busy House This, if you like, is the exact opposite of separation anxiety in that the shih tzu is stressed out because there is too much noise and mayhem going on in the house. Again, the shih tzu may try to soothe away the stress by self-licking with the same compounded problems of sore spots developing as a result. The answer is to create a small but adequate space for the shih tzu in a quieter part of the house. Make it into a space that he can identify as his own, what he will think of as his den. Include a warm and comfortable bed and make sure his favorite comfort toys are there. Ensure that he also has adequate water to drink. If he usually sleeps in a crate, include this in the quiet area too. Excessive Licking Of The Owner ID: 28248965 © sjhuls | Depositphotos Your shih tzu may start off licking you as a sign of affection but then he will soon realize how much he likes the taste of the mineral salts left on your skin after any of your perspiration evaporates. If you are not careful, this licking can become obsessive. You can break this habit with some behavioral training that is similar to my “no bark” training in another post, “How To Train A Shih Tzu Puppy Not To Bark”. With this training I said that to stop a shih tzu from barking, you have to teach him what you mean by “bark” in the first place. It follows, then, that in order to stop your shih tzu licking you, you have to teach him what you mean by “lick” first before you can ask him to stop. So, when your shih tzu does start licking you, say “lick” in the same voice that you would use for a command. Repeat this action for a few days every time that your shih tzu starts to lick you. By this time he should now have grasped what “lick” means. He is now ready for the next stage. This time as he moves to lick you, move back just out of range and command “no lick”. When he doesn’t lick you on command, reward him initially using a small treat, then, as he starts to “get it”, by diverting his attention with a favorite toy. Keep this up persistently for a few days or more and he will eventually understand that he is not to lick you under the “no lick” command. Compulsive Licking Of Furniture Or Objects Shih tzu may lick furniture or objects for a number of reasons but it is likely to be one or more of the following: Taste Although a shih tzu’s sense of smell is way behind that of a bloodhound, it is still way ahead of that of a human. Your shih tzu may be sniffing where your perspiration has permeated the material of your sofa and starts licking for the same salty taste he experiences when licking you. This behavior can be connected with the next reason, which is: Self Comforting When a shih tzu licks away at a piece of furniture or object it could be because he finds it comforting and calming, so much so that it may become a habit bordering on obsessive-compulsive disorder. He may be licking to relieve the stress of separation anxiety or a noisy household. To help manage this stress, see previously under the heading “Stress From An Over Busy House”, or my “Shih Tzu Separation Anxiety – How To Cope” post. Boredom It just may be that your shih tzu is licking furniture out of sheer boredom. To alleviate this boredom, try to spend as much quality time with your shih tzu as you can. Ideally, go for two walks per day, one of at least twenty minutes, the other between twenty minutes and one hour.  For more information on walks, see my post “How Often Should You Walk A Shih Tzu?”. Play regular games, such as “fetch the ball” or “chase and catch the frisbee” with your shih tzu and also give him interactive toys to keep him amused. For example, toys where he has to work out how to remove a treat, toys where he has to work out a puzzle, toys that make noises or companion toys that have a simulated heartbeat.  See “Best Toys For A Shih Tzu – What To Look Out For” for further details. You may also like to try adding a second shih tzu or other breed of dog to your family as a living companion, though it can never be guaranteed that they will “hit it off” together, so beware as this one can be a bit risky. If you are going to do this it’s best, if you can, to have the two dogs spend some time together before actually adopting or buying. Other Things To Try To End Excessive Licking To finish off with, then, here are a couple of other things you can try to stop your shih tzu licking all the time.  A shih tzu doesn’t need a lot of exercise, so avoid overfeeding him, that way he doesn’t have a lot of excess energy to burn off.  For further guidance on feeding a shih tzu, see “How Much Food Should A Shih Tzu Eat?”. To break your shih tzu’s licking habit when he will not pay any attention to you, try to divert his attention away from licking and give him something to occupy his mind. To get his attention when he is suffering from the traditional shih tzu “selected deafness”, try scrunching an empty, plastic water bottle. Or, you can use a “positive interrupter” which is a word of your choice that isn’t a negative word such as “no”. Your positive interrupter must be a word that grabs your shih tzu’s attention. For example, say “treat”, then give him the promised treat. Once you have your shih tzu’s attention, offer him a toy to mouth instead of whatever he was licking. Use a toy that is filled with treats or flavored, a good quality, synthetic bone, a speaking toy or a comfort toy. Once he accepts the toy, lavish him with praise to reinforce this behavior. ID: 13914637 © willeecole | Dreamstime If you have the time and the commitment you could also try teaching your shih tzu tricks to keep his mind off of licking.  One perhaps worthwhile trick you can teach a shih tzu is to fetch a certain toy or object and bring it to you. Keep the name of the toy or object to one or two syllables if you can to make it easier to remember. You need to offer a reward every time he gets it right and brings whatever it is you asked for. Some shih tzu have been known to memorize up to twenty toys or objects by name, by which time I am sure that they have forgotten about licking! If you have any questions or comments relevant to this article, to this website or shih tzu in general, please leave a comment below or, if you prefer, use our contact us  form. You should get an answer within 24 hours, though sometimes this may not be possible. Until next time, this is Shih Tzu Steve saying “bye for now”. [...] Read more...
Health and FitnessHow Old Is Old? – Shih Tzu Senior Problems & Care It doesn’t matter if you have a year-old shih tzu or a sixteen-year-old, it’s never too early or too late to take the precautions and the action to help your dog live a longer life and be more comfortable in his or her senior years. Just as with us humans, when a dog reaches a certain age it stops growing and the metabolism gradually starts to slow down. The age at which this happens varies from breed to breed and dog to dog. This depends upon the average lifespan of the breed and the health of the individual dog.  With the shih tzu breed the change from adult to senior begins usually at age 9 to 10-years. This can happen as early as 8-years-old in dogs with other health issues. It’s the vet who will declare if a dog has reached his senior years, though any shih tzu over 10 is considered a senior regardless of this. The change is gradual. It happens at such a slow pace that you probably will not notice its onset. Read on to find out what these changes are and what you can do to keep your senior shih tzu healthy beyond the average shih tzu life span of 13-years and perhaps up to 16-years and more. The Changes To Look Out For There are several changes that can happen to a shih tzu when reaching senior status. These changes may appear to happen all of a sudden but will have actually been establishing themselves over some months. All of the symptoms of aging could also be symptoms of several serious illnesses. So when you notice that your dog has one or more of these symptoms, especially if they have come on rapidly over a day or two, it’s best to take him to the vet to ensure that it is old age and not something more serious.                     Your shih tzu, on reaching seniority, may experience one or more of the following changes: Decreased Level Of Hearing When every time you call your shih tzu by name or give him a routine command and he doesn’t respond, he is not deliberately disobeying you. It’s probably because his sense of hearing is not as sharp as it was. Hearing difficulties usually start at around 13-years of age, can affect either or both ears, and the condition can deteriorate quite rapidly.   Diminishing Eyesight Your senior shih tzu’s vision may be on the decrease. This could be affecting one or both of his eyes. You’ll notice it’s happening if he starts walking into objects. His eyes may become cloudier. Reduced Mobility, Agility, And Flexibility The joints, particularly the hips and the knees, become stiffer, perhaps arthritic, leading to slower and shorter walks, less energetic play, and the inability to jump up onto raised surfaces such as sofas and beds. TIP: If your shih tzu used to be allowed to jump up on the sofa or your bed and can no longer manage this, you might like to install a doggy ramp or doggy steps so that he can continue to do so without your help. Loss Of Muscle Mass This is more of a side effect of reduced mobility. The lack of or reduced amount of exercise means that the muscle groups do not get their full daily workout and so begin to shrink back, leaving your shih tzu feeling “boney” when you pick him up. Less Or No Control Of Bladder, Bowels Or Both You may start to find “little presents” of pools of pee or feces in inappropriate places around the house. Your senior shih tzu will not be doing this on purpose, it will be because he cannot hold it long enough until his next walk or to get to the appropriate toilet place. Problems With Teeth And Gums Teeth can become chipped, broken, or fall out. For an old shih tzu this can cause difficulty with eating properly. Changes In Behavior There are some behavioral changes that can indicate that your shih tzu has reached his senior years. You may find that he is sleeping for longer, sleeping more often, or both. There could be changes to what he likes to eat, how much he wants to eat, and how often he wants to eat. Sometimes he may want to be close to you more often than usual and other times he may disappear into a quiet corner for long periods of time. The latter is more likely if you live in a noisy household, perhaps with children or other pets. Old Age For A Shih Tzu Means More Check-Ups ID: 162214034 © edu1971 | Depositphotos Ever since your shih tzu became an adult at around eight to ten months, he should have been having regular annual check-ups at the vets to monitor his health. When your vet has officially declared that your dog has become a senior, these check-ups should be made more frequently, which is every six months for an otherwise healthy dog. Old shih tzu are subject to the same health issues that can affect a younger dog. However, the immune system of a senior is weaker, meaning that the affects of any health problems can be more severe. The more frequent examinations will help detect any of these potential health issues at the first opportunity, allowing a course of treatment to be determined early to give the best chance of recovery. For more information on shih tzu health issues, see: Shih Tzu Common Health Problems During the six-monthly check-ups, as well as the routine examination, the vet should check for heart, liver and kidney function, bone and joint problems, and vision and hearing efficiency. This should involve extra blood, urine and stool tests, extra biochemistry profiles, and ultrasound tests to check if the major organs are functioning as they should. Caring For Your Senior Shih Tzu Exercise Is Important It would be all too easy to let your elderly shih tzu wile away his time sleeping and resting indoors all day every day, but this would contribute to bringing about his premature demise. Regular exercise, albeit not as intense as previously, will help reduce the rate of muscle degeneration and that includes the heart muscle. It will help keep the heartbeat regular and keep the circulation healthy. Exercise will also help maintain the immune system as sound as possible and help keep stiff, arthritic joints lubricated and moving. Try and keep up the same number of walks per day as your senior shih tzu enjoyed through adulthood, though they may need to be slower and shorter. He may start to struggle with steep hills, so a flatter route may need to be planned. Dealing With Arthritis It’s a fact that around 80% of dogs over the age of 8 suffer from some degree of osteoarthritis, usually to the hips, knees, or both. But it doesn’t have to be that way if you start taking preventative action at an earlier age. Around when your shih tzu reaches 6 years of age, start adding joint supplements to his food at least once a day. The best supplements to maintain joint lubrication and flexibility include ingredients such as glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM. This is the best combination for maintaining the lubricating gel between bones, in my opinion. Supplements may also have an extract from the yucca schidigera plant, and hyaluronic acid, a naturally occurring acid that lubricates the cartilage.   Something like this from NaturVet would be ideal: This is an affiliate link. Click on the image to go to the product page at Chewy.com Even if your shih tzu is not yet a senior but is older than six, if you begin using these supplements now, they are going to help alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis to some degree. These supplements will never cure the condition, but they will help keep the joints lubricated, more supple, and less painful. If you notice your shih tzu struggling to stand up, unable to walk as fast as he used to, sometimes his back legs fall away when walking, can’t jump up, or he has difficulty sleeping, then, subject to confirmation by a vet, he probably has arthritis. If this is the case, there are two things that you can do to help him be more comfortable with his condition. To manage this illness, introduce the supplements described above to his diet, if you haven’t already done so.Treat him to a quality, orthopedic bed. As a senior, your shih tzu will require more sleep than when he was an adult. Ordinary beds can create pressure points that can be very painful on arthritic joints. An orthopedic bed with a memory foam base of at least 2-inches (50mm) thickness for total support and substantial side bolsters for neck support, will provide a warm, comfortable, pain-free place for him to sleep.    This is the best bed that I can find that satisfies ALL of these requirements. It’s a little more expensive than the average bed, but then it is an above average bed: This is an affiliate link. Clicking on the image will take you to the product page at Chewy.com. Keep Your Aging Shih Tzu Warm As your shih tzu enters his senior years he will find it more difficult to regulate his body temperature. Shih tzu of any age find it difficult to cope with very hot temperatures, so you probably already have the facilities, such as air conditioning, fans, raised beds, cooling mats, etc., to deal with this. For the cold weather an orthopedic bed similar to the one described above will help, together with a fleece blanket on top. For trips outdoors, depending upon the weather conditions, a thermal, wind proof, or waterproof vest or jacket will keep your shih tzu snug and warm. This jacket is a good all-rounder – thermal, wind proof and water resistant: This is an affiliate link. Click on the image to go to the product page at Chewy.com. Coping With Your Shih Tzu’s Hearing Loss When you first notice that your shih tzu is having difficulty hearing, it’s best to have his condition diagnosed by a vet to confirm that it is due to old age and not because of an infection, especially if he is under 13-years-old. Your shih tzu can be quite startled if you suddenly appear after approaching him from behind and he can’t hear you coming. So, always approach him from where he can see you, that is in front of him or from the side. He won’t be able to hear clearly when you call him or give him a command, so start using hand gestures along with spoken words. Be consistent and use the same gesture each time for a particular command and a different gesture for each individual command. Switching the lights on when you enter the room that your shih tzu is in and switching them off again when you leave will help let him know whether you are there or not. TIP: There are in-ear hearing aids available for dogs but they are very expensive, very cumbersome, unreliable, and dogs generally don’t like to wear them. My advice is to steer clear of these devices, at least until the technology improves and the price comes down. Making Accommodation For Your Shih Tzu’s Weakening Eyesight You can expect your shih tzu’s eyes to appear cloudier in his senior years. However, if you do notice this starting to happen it is still a good idea to consult your vet to make sure it is not anything more serious such as cataracts or glaucoma. There are ways that you can help your shih tzu cope with his less sharp vision. Avoid moving furniture around as he is less likely to bump into anything that is sited in its usual place where he is expecting it to be. In any case, cover with soft padding anything around the house that could cause him harm if he collided with it. Think of places that you would place a baby gate if you had an infant toddling around the house, such as a staircase, and do the same for your senior shih tzu. If you move his food and water bowls to a different spot, he may not be able to find them, so always keep them in their usual place. To enable him to consistently find his toys, keep them all together in a box that is always kept in the same place, a place where he can access them. As with hearing issues, don’t sneak up on your shih tzu from behind where he can’t see you as this could startle him and stress him out. Always approach him from the front or the side and give him time and a chance to see you coming. Even if his eyesight is really bad he will probably be able to make out your silhouette. When out for walks, use familiar routes that you’ve both been on together many times before.  How To Cope With Reduced Bladder Or Bowel Control As your shih tzu moves further into his senior years he may develop less control over his bladder, his bowel movements or both. Whereas in his adult years he may have been able to go the whole day between his morning walk and evening walk without needing a toilet break, his older and weaker bladder and bowel muscles mean that he may need to “go” one or more times in between walks. When you do notice this happening, first have your vet rule out anything more serious, such as kidney disease, or bladder or urinary tract infections. If you have a backyard that your shih tzu can access during the day, try and train him to use a particular spot as his toilet. If not, try placing a puppy pad in perhaps your bathroom or other appropriate place for him to use.   If that doesn’t work out you could try using doggy diapers to prevent messy floors. However, this will mean that you have a messy dog that will need bathing more often. Bear in mind that excessive bathing can exacerbate another shih tzu age-related problem, that is dry skin. Treating Dry Skin And Coat As a shih tzu reaches his advanced years, his skin cannot retain moisture on the same scale as when he was an adult. The skin becomes less supple, dry and itchy. This can, in turn, lead to skin infections, especially if the skin becomes cracked or peeled, or the dog tries to scratch it a lot. Dry skin will cause the hair of the coat to become thin and brittle, some of it may even fall out. You can help alleviate dry skin and its effects by bathing your shih tzu using a shampoo that matches his skin’s pH level of 7.5.  A shampoo rated anywhere between pH 6.5 and pH 7.5 will suffice. It should also be soap-free with plant-based cleansers and paraben-free so that it rinses out easily. ID 161134312 © edu1971 | Depositphotos After rinsing out the shampoo, a wash-out conditioner with similar pH values should be worked in and left in for five minutes before again rinsing out. Then, pat your shih tzu with a towel to rid his coat of excess water and allow him to completely dry in air, if possible. If not, blow-dry on the lowest heat setting. If there are then any rough or dry patches of skin, rub in some moisturizing cream. There’s more about bathing here: How To Bathe A Shih Tzu Dog For Healthy Skin And Coat While bathing your elderly shih tzu you may notice a lump on his skin that you’re sure wasn’t there before. While you should get this checked by a vet to confirm that it isn’t anything malignant, don’t worry too much as any such lumps are probably just tissue building up due to old age. Pay Attention To The Paws Dry skin problems can be at their worst around the paws as they bear all of your shih tzu’s weight when walking and running on sometimes abrasive surfaces. Keep the skin around the paws supple by massaging in some good quality moisturizing paw wax. Make sure you pay attention to the areas in between the paw pads, in between the toes, and where the nails bed in to the toes. Keep the nails trimmed back while being careful not to trim so far back as to cause bleeding. A shih tzu’s nails can become brittle in old age and keeping them trimmed back will help prevent painful breakages. Read more about keeping a shih tzu’s paws in the best condition here: Shih Tzu Paw Problems – How To Cope With Them The nails may become less brittle if you introduce some food rich in vitamin B12 into your shih tzu’s meals. Such food includes liver, lean beef steak, tuna, salmon, eggs and cheese. If you also add a few drops of Omega-3 oil this can help improve the dry skin and coat issues. If you notice abrasions around the nail beds, or a musty odor, or both, this could indicate a yeast infection. If so, this should be checked out by a vet.  ID: 106919766 © vchalup2 | Depositphotos Keep Track Of Your Senior Shih Tzu’s Weight As your shih tzu moves into his senior years his metabolism slows down. He will probably not want to exercise as much or walk as far as he used to and he will be sleeping more. All of this means that he needs less calories day by day to sustain him. If he continues to eat as much as he did as an active puppy and adult, he may start putting on weight.  Extra weight means that his heart will have to work harder to pump his blood around his body and there will be more stress on his joints. If significant weight gain occurs, you will probably need to cut down on portion sizes at feeding times and hand out less treats during the day. If the weight gain becomes chronic you may need to use weight control formula kibble or wet food. It can also go the other way. Your senior shih tzu may start losing weight. There are several reasons why this might happen. These are the most common ones: If he is on medication, it may cause him to lose his appetite.There may be an illness causing him to lose his appetite.He may have problems with his teeth or gums making it difficult or painful for him to eat.It may just be that his appetite is not as big as it once was. If you find that your shih tzu is losing weight, you will need to take him to your vet to have the exact cause diagnosed in order that the correct course of action can be planned. Whatever the cause, it may be a good idea to make his food easier to eat. Use only the tenderest cuts of meat, cut up into bite sized pieces mixed with soft boiled vegetables and white rice.  TIP: If your shih tzu will only eat kibble, try softening it first by pouring some warm water over it. This will make it easier for him to chew. Watch Out For Canine Dementia Hopefully, it won’t happen to your shih tzu, but dogs, particularly elderly ones, can suffer from a canine form of dementia, known technically as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome or CDS for short. All of the symptoms for this disease could also indicate a completely different issue, so if you notice that your shih tzu has any of them its best to have your vet assess exactly what the problem is. The symptoms of CDS can include one or more of these: An inability to find the way around familiar areas, such as around the house.A failure to respond to his name, familiar commands or events occurring close to him.He has become easily startled.He appears to be confused.He appears to be depressed.He stares into space or appears withdrawn.He paces around the house aimlessly.There is little or no enthusiasm to interact with his owner or other humans and pets in the household.His appetite has changed, or his eating pattern has changed, or both. CDS cannot be cured but there is medication available that can improve the quality of life of an afflicted shih tzu. The most popular is selegiline which is also used to treat humans for major depression and Parkinson’s Disease. The top brand name of selegiline prepared for canine use is Anipryl, which is also used to treat Cushing’s Disease. In tests, over 70% of dogs with dementia showed at least some improvement after one month of selegiline treatment. Live Long And Prosper Old Father Time catches up with us all eventually but our little furry friends seem to reach their pensionable age all too soon. However, with a little extra effort and care from us we can make sure that the little fellas and little ladies carry on to live as long a happy and active life as possible as comfortably as possible. I hope that you and your shih tzu(s) go on to have many more happy times together. I dedicate this report to my eldest, Bruno, who was also the inspiration for writing not only this page, but also the whole website.  13-years-old at the time of writing, he still soldiers happily along despite suffering a heart murmur, an enlarged heart, Addison’s disease, arthritis in his hips, epilepsy, being blind in one eye, being hard of hearing, and now the onset of kidney failure.  I have to force him to have seven different medications per day, some of them twice a day, yet he still remains my good friend, pleased to see me when I come home, and for that I will be forever grateful.   Until next time, Shih Tzu Steve. [...] Read more...
Thinking of owning a shih tzu?A Name As Long As You Like Before I go into my top ten list of popular names for shih tzu puppies, here are a few pointers you may like to take into account when choosing a name for your puppy. I’ve read a lot about dogs being only able to understand the first syllable of any word or phrase you speak to them. This may be true for some dogs, and it does explain why, when training a dog, commands are generally kept to single syllable words such as “sit” and “stay”. But I am sure some dogs can understand two syllables or more, otherwise commands like “lie down” or “roll over” wouldn’t work. I am convinced that my two boys can understand two syllables and sometimes whole phrases. For example, Charlie understands his whole, two syllable name and doesn’t respond when I just call “Char”. He also understands the entire phrase “want to go walkies?”. I’m in danger of a severe face-licking when I mention this! The reason I am saying all of this is because there are those “experts” around that will advise you to choose a name for your shih tzu that is of only one syllable. I say choose a name with as many syllables as you like. What To Consider When Choosing A Name Having said to choose a name that is as long as you like, bear in mind that at times when your shih tzu is off the leash, say when chasing a ball in the park, you are going to have to call him or her to come back to you. It could become a little tedious to call “Princess Priscilla Cuddlemuffin the Third, come!” every time, so I would keep the name to something simple that rolls off the tongue. Also bear in mind that it is going to cause confusion and misunderstandings if you choose a name that is the same or sounds similar to the name of another member of the household or if it sounds similar to a command you might use for your shih tzu, for instance “Sita” and “sit!” or “Stacey“ and “stay!”. So, with those restraints in mind, choose a name that you like and matches the character of your shih tzu. You could also name your puppy after his or her coloring. Although I didn’t name him myself, Bruno got his name because of the liver colored patches on his otherwise white coat. I’ve noticed that some owners of black and white colored shih tzu have chosen the name “Oreo”. Whatever name it is you choose, make sure it is one that you can call out in public. After all, you don’t want to end up in court for shouting obscenities in the park! ID: 51259821 © Patryk_Kosmider | Depositphotos The Top 10 Most Popular Names For Shih Tzu Puppies I have surveyed social media and several websites to discover the names that owners are actually giving to their shih tzu. Here are the ones that turned out to be the most popular. Some of them you may find surprising. No.10 Girl: Lola The name Lola has two origins. It is the shortened form of the German name Aloisia and also the shortened form of the Spanish name Dolores. Dolores means “sorrow”, which is probably the last word that comes to mind when looking at a shih tzu puppy but the meaning of Aloisia, “famous fighter” may be fitting. No.10 Boy: Buddy Buddy comes from the North American slang word for a close friend. Need I say more? No.9 Girl: Mia From its Latin origins, Mia has several meanings. “Bitter” is one you would be hard pressed to apply to a shih tzu whereas if you have a particularly stubborn young lady, “rebellion” may apply. But the meaning most likely to fit your puppy is “wished for baby”. No.9 Boy: Lucky If, like the 13th puppy in 101 Dalmatians, you have a shih tzu puppy that has survived against the odds or have one that has brought along good fortune, then Lucky would be an apt name to choose. No.8 Girl: Cookie It could be that this name became a popular name because of the coloring of the coat, perhaps resembling a cookie with chocolate chips or because the puppy is sweet like a biscuit. No.8 Boy: Maximus This name originates from the Roman Latin for “greatest”. If you think your shih tzu puppy is the greatest, then Maximus is a fitting name to choose. No.7 Girl: Coco Coco as a name came into existence as a familiar shortening of any name starting Co. Give your puppy the name Coco simply if she looks like a Coco or if she has a chocolate colored coat. No.7 Boy: Bandit Owners are choosing this name for their puppies for two reasons. Either the puppy has a distinctive dark band across the eyes resembling the mask worn by the stereotypical Wild West outlaw or the puppy likes to grab objects in his mouth and run off and hide them. No.6 Girl: Willow Willow derives from the tree of the same name. This could be the name for your puppy if she shares the same slender and graceful characteristics. No.6 Boy: Cooper In the past English craftsmen acquired a surname reflecting their trade. A cooper was a man who made wooden vessels, particularly barrels. It has now become a given name, though the connection with a shih tzu puppy is beyond me. Perhaps shih tzu given the name Cooper bear a resemblance to Kyle MacLachlan who played Special Agent Dale Cooper in Twin Peaks. ID: 5224484 © thephotoguy | Depositphotos No.5 Girl: Bailey Bailey originates from the Old French for administrator or manager and adopted by the not quite as Old English for bailiff or law enforcer. So if your puppy is a little miss bossy boots, Bailey would be an apt name to give her. No.5 Boy: Gizmo Originally, a gizmo was a handy mechanical or electronic device that would neatly solve a specific need. I suspect, though, that people are naming their shih tzu puppies Gizmo for their resemblance to the Mogwai character in the Gremlins films. No.4 Girl: Daisy The name Daisy simply derives from the flower of the same name. This name befits a puppy that is as pretty as a daisy. No.4 Boy: Oliver Oliver is a name which is associated with the olive tree. As an olive branch is the symbol of peace, Oliver could be a good name for a restful, laid back puppy. No.3 Girl: Molly Molly is a derivative of Mary which, in turn, hails from the Hebrew name Miryam. Miryam is widely thought to mean “beloved”. Fitting for a shih tzu, I think. No.3 Boy: Sammy Sammy is short for Samuel which in its original Hebrew means “asked of god”. No.2 Girl: Chloe The name comes from Khloe, an alias of the Greek goddess Demeter. Chloe means “blooming” or “fertility” so it would be an apt name for a puppy that will later become a mother. No.2 Boy: Charlie I am proud to say that my boy Charlie comes in at the second most popular name for a shih tzu puppy. Charlie comes from the old medieval feudal system rank of “freeman”. And the no.1 most popular girl’s name for a shih tzu puppy is………… Bella! Bella is by far the most popular name for a shih tzu puppy in my survey. Bella derives from the Latin for beautiful, so its popularity is quite understandable. And the no.1 most popular boy’s name for a shih tzu puppy is………… Teddy! I believe Teddy to be so popular because of a shih tzu’s resemblance to a cuddly teddy bear. In this case Teddy is short for Theodore, the Latin translation of “god’s gift”. ID: 13914637 © willeecole | Depositphotos Also Consider The following names proved popular but didn’t quite make the top ten: Girls Dora, Nala, Pepper, Phoebe, Ruby, Sophia, Sophie, Zoe, Zoey Boys Cody, Frankie, Miles, Milo, Mocha, Mowgli, Obi, Ollie. What’s Your Favorite? My name survey was taken from a sample size of 552 different shih tzu dogs worldwide. If your favorite isn’t there, why not add yours to the survey by entering it in the comments box below. I will update the results accordingly. Also use the comments box or the contact us form if you have any comments or questions related to the shih tzu breed. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the next post. [...] Read more...
Grooming Advice / Health and Fitness“How To Groom A Shih Tzu Dog” is third post of a series of three linked articles aimed at helping you keep your shih tzu in peak condition. The first two, “How Often Should You Bathe A Shih Tzu?” and “How To Bathe A Shih Tzu Dog For Healthy Skin And Coat” are available by clicking the respective links. This time I’m going to discuss a few more home grooming tips that you can easily do and add to the routine after bathing your shih tzu. These actions will make your shih tzu feel much more comfortable and happier, though he may not think so at the time! Shih Tzu Ear Cleaning As I implied at the end of the previous post, the narrow inner ear canals of a shih tzu are very susceptible to painful infections, especially if you don’t keep them dry and clean. If you have been following my articles you will have kept your dog’s ears dry while you were bathing him by placing cotton wool buds just in his outer ear canal. Now it’s time to remove them and clean inside his ears. In order to do this you will need to visit your veterinarian and purchase some medicated ear cleaning fluid. It comes in a squeezy bottle with dispensing nozzle attached. You can buy these online but if this is your first time doing this it’s best to find out which one your vet recommends specifically for your dog. You will also need your bag of cotton wool balls. This time I would say to definitely cut them in half because they will need to fit all the way inside his ear at the appropriate time. If your shih tzu hasn’t experienced this before, he’s likely to struggle the first time you administer the fluid, so be prepared. The complete ear cleaning process is best actioned one ear at a time. It doesn’t matter which ear you start with, but for now let’s say we’re starting with the left ear. Span your right hand over the back of your shih tzu’s head at the top of the neck. Lift up his left ear flap, folding it back at the hinge and tucking it under your right thumb. This exposes his inner ear while also allowing you to hold his head steady with one hand. ID: 154124336 Nomadsoul1 | Depositphotos With your left hand, pick up the ear cleaner bottle, twisting the dispenser nozzle open in the process. Insert the nozzle into the top of his ear orifice and administer the correct number of drops as directed on the bottle. Immediately cover his ear with the flap and hold it there. If you don’t do this he will shake his head, spreading ear cleaning fluid everywhere, including over you. Still holding the flap over his ear, massage the ear for a minute or so. Next, grab a half of a cotton wool ball and insert it into the ear as deep as it will go. Twist it around once or twice and withdraw it. You may find the cotton wool ball now has some reddish brown earwax deposited on the end. Now, if you can, either with a pair of tweezers or your thumb and forefinger, pull out the tufts of soft hair growing inside his ear. If you don’t want to do this, your veterinarian or professional groomer can do it for you. That completes cleaning the left ear, now repeat the whole process for the right ear. Of course, you will need to hold his head with your left hand this time, and administer the fluid with your right hand. Shih Tzu Teeth Cleaning Your shih tzu’s teeth are subject to decay, painful infections, plaque and falling out just like ours. You can help prevent any of this happening by brushing his teeth on a regular basis. This needs to be done more often than every four weeks after his bath. Try and clean your shih tzu’s teeth at least once a week, more if you can to win the battle against plaque. ID: 115805094 helga1981 | Depositphotos Do not use toothpaste intended for humans. Such toothpaste is designed to be spat out and not swallowed. Your shih tzu will swallow it, not knowing that he should spit it out. Apart from this, human grade toothpaste will almost certainly contain two ingredients that have the potential to make your shih tzu seriously ill. Fluoride, originally developed as an insecticide and rat poison, can cause problems with teeth and bones if ingested in large enough quantities, even in humans. Xylitol, an artificial sweetener I talked about in “What Can Shih Tzu Not Eat?”, can cause diminishing blood sugar levels leading to canine diabetes and also liver disease. So choose a good quality, unsweetened, canine toothpaste that has been designed to be swallowed. It should be flavoured to taste appealing to your shih tzu, potentially making teeth cleaning time easier for you to administer. Your chosen toothpaste should also contain a mild abrasive to enhance the removal of plaque, bacteria and food particles. It should not foam when used. Also don’t skimp on the quality of the canine toothbrush you buy. Choose one of a size suitable for small breeds that ideally has two heads of stiff bristles facing inwards towards each other at a 45 degree angle. This arrangement allows you to clean both sides of your dog’s teeth at once. When the bristles soften with age, replace the toothbrush. ID: 10708841 igterex | Depositphotos As your shih tzu will swallow the toothpaste, you don’t have to clean his teeth in the bathroom, you can do it from the comfort of your favourite armchair. Just squirt a little paste onto the toothbrush and scrub away at the teeth for two or three minutes as you would your own. ID: 128278134 pedphoto3pm | Depositphotos If this is the first time you have cleaned your dog’s teeth, he may absolutely refuse to let you put the brush into his mouth. In this case, just put a little toothpaste on your index finger and rub his teeth that way. After a few times, when he is used to having his teeth cleaned, you can try the brush again. There are also available finger toothbrushes, that fit on your finger like a thimble, to help you with this. To keep your shih tzu’s teeth in good condition in between brushes, there are dental sticks, biscuits and toys available that are designed to clean a dog’s teeth as he chews on them. ID: 130961772 Lantapix | Dreamstime How To Clip Your Shih Tzu’s Nails If you have a tiled or wooden floor in your house, you will know that your shih tzu’s nails need clipping if you can hear them tapping as he walks across the floor. Clipping your shih tzu’s nails is another task that you could pass on to your veterinarian or professional groomer if you cannot do it yourself for any reason. However, if you have a quality pair of canine nail clippers and some styptic powder, there is no reason why you couldn’t do this job yourself and after bathing is as good a time as any. What you must be careful of is cutting the nails too short, just as you would be so careful with your own. Inside each of your shih tzu’s nails is a vein that ends somewhere near the front. To avoid causing pain and some slight bleeding you should clip no further back than this vein ending. If your shih tzu has light coloured or transparent nails the vein inside should be clearly visible. It is then easy to place the blades of your clippers just in front of the vein and make the cut. ID: 185853884 adogslifephoto | Depositphotos It’s a little more tricky if your dog has dark, opaque nails. If this is the case, trim a very small section from the end of the nail. Have a look at the cross section of the cut. If you can see a pink or grey oval, this is the quick. Do not cut back any further. If you do not see the oval, cut back a little at a time until you do. This will then be the correct length to cut all of the nails. If you do have a mishap and cut back too far in error, sprinkle some styptic powder over the end of the nail to stop the bleeding. To complete the pedicuring properly, trim back any tufts of hair growing between the pads of your shih tzu’s paws. This will help reduce the chances of inflammation and infection. It is also a good opportunity to check for any debris trapped in the paws that survived the bathing process. How To Groom A Shih Tzu Dog – Further Information I have put this series of three posts together, this post, “How Often Should You Bathe A Shih Tzu?” and “How To Bathe A Shih Tzu Dog For Healthy Skin And Coat”, to put across how easily you can home groom your shih tzu to help keep him in prime condition. Fancy Trying This At Home? Here’s a very good video kindly supplied by Mark Barkan, demonstrating just how easy it can be to trim back a shih tzu’s coat just like a professional: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtbkPOlddFY This video was made by the chihulife team. If this has whetted your appetite and you want to get more involved with home grooming your shih tzu, I recommend the free dog grooming course offered by my friends at TrainPetDog.com. These people know everything there is to know about grooming a dog and their free course can lead you to develop your skills so that you never have to visit the groomers’ again. Take a no obligation look at this free dog grooming course by clicking here. Disclaimer: The above paragraph contains affiliate links. If you click on them you will be taken away from this site to an information page at TrainPetDog.com where you will be under no obligation to sign up for anything or to buy anything. If you do decide to sign up for the free dog grooming course, you will not be required to provide any credit card details. If you decide to make a purchase from TrainPetDog.com we at Shihtzuandyou.com will receive a referral commission at no extra cost to you. Any commissions we receive will help with the running costs of Shihtzuandyou.com and help to keep the site free of banner ads and pop ups, for which we thank you. ID: 221178794 PongMoji | Depositphotos If you have any thoughts or questions about this post or anything shih tzu related, please leave a comment or use our contact us form. See you next time! [...] Read more...
Health and FitnessFirst, A Word About Shih Tzu Common Health Problems In this post, you will find a few details about shih tzu common health problems, the illnesses, ailments and diseases that are most likely to affect the shih tzu breed. These are diseases and problems that your shih tzu could suffer from but don’t worry, just because he could suffer it doesn’t mean that he will and the chances are that your dog is going to live a full and healthy life, especially if you play your part and do what you can to make it so. I just believe that you should be aware of what could happen so that you are prepared in case anything does happen. If you think your shih tzu could be starting to suffer from any of the following conditions, it is important that you take action early to maximize the chances of a full recovery. Jump to:Dental ProblemsKidney DiseaseDental DiseaseCushing’s DiseaseEye Problems (opens in new tab)Addison’s DiseaseEar ProblemsKidney StonesBreathing ProblemsPortosystemic Liver ShuntBrachycephalic Airway SyndromeUmbilical HerniaBack Problemsvon Willebrand’s DiseaseIntervertebral Disc DiseaseOther ProblemsJoint ProblemsAllergiesHip DysplasiaInfection And ParasitesPatellar LuxationObesityProblems Of The OrgansInterdigital FurunculosisHeart MurmurReverse SneezingHypothyroidismMinimizing The Chances Of Shih Tzu Common Health ProblemsJuvenile Renal Dysplasia Dental Problems ID: 238853558 © cynoclub | Depositphotos I am starting off with dental problems because it is easy to underestimate the importance of keeping you shih tzu’s teeth clean and healthy and the effect this can have on his general health. DENTAL DISEASE The very small mouth and almost non-existent snout of the shih tzu creates an environment prone to several forms of dental disease. Dogs like the shih tzu are more prone to teeth issues than dogs with longer snouts. Most are born with the characteristic underbite, known as a malocclusion, but there is also a chance of misalignment of the teeth, overcrowding or the reverse, oligodontia, a condition where only some of the teeth appear. Sometimes baby teeth remain intact when the adult teeth come through. In most cases, these conditions can be treated with extractions, the wearing of braces or a combination of the two. Of course, trained professionals must do this but the owner can help with dental health by cleaning their dog’s teeth regularly. If not, as the dog gets older tartar and plaque builds up, eventually spreading to the gums and the roots of the teeth where infections will take hold. The dog may then lose his teeth and there is also the increased danger of the heart, liver, kidneys or joints being affected which could result in the dog’s lifespan being cut short by up to three years. So, if you want your shih tzu to live a full and happy life, keep his teeth clean! Eye Problems There are many eye problems that can manifest themselves upon an unfortunate shih tzu. I have written a separate post exclusively about shih tzu eye problems: Click here to read about shih tzu and eye problems. Ear Problems ID: 2784393 © lovleah | Depositphotos Shih tzu have a comparatively wide ear opening funneling into a deep, narrow ear canal that is kept warm by their thick and hairy ear flap covering. Throw the constantly growing inner ear hair into the mix and it is as if the shih tzu’s ear were a Petri dish, a perfect environment for breeding bacterial cultures. Ear infections can occur as a result of an allergy, too much hair in the ear canal, a build-up of earwax, the presence of yeast or an ear mite infestation.  Your shih tzu could also suffer an ear infection as a result of swimming in affected water. Symptoms: Shaking of the head so much that you can hear the ear flaps clap.Rubbing of the ears on carpets, rugs, cushions, soft toys, etcetera.Digging out of the ear wax with the paws, then licking the paws.Scratching of the ear with the paws.Bad odor emanating from the ears.Ears feel hot to touch.Agitated by loud noises.If you have a second dog, he may constantly lick the infected dog’s ears. Treatment: Routine cleaning of the ears with cotton balls and canine ear drops will go a long way to prevent any infections from starting.Regular plucking of the hairs inside the ears will also help prevent infections.If an infection does occur, have your vet diagnose exactly what the infection is so that a course of treatment can be started as soon as possible.Medication, including antibiotics and medicated ear drops, may be prescribed.                                                                                            Breathing Problems ID: 5246714 © fantazista | Depositphotos BRACHYCEPHALIC AIRWAY SYNDROME (RESPIRATORY DISTRESS SYNDROME) Shih tzu, along with most short-nosed breeds, sometimes have difficulty breathing normally because inside their mouths, noses and throats they pack into a smaller space the same amount of tissue as breeds with longer snouts, resulting in narrower or partially obstructed airways. Brachycephalic Syndrome is brought about by one or any combination of four contributing factors: Elongated Soft Palate:As from birth, shih tzu generally have soft palates that are too long for their mouths and some have part of it overhanging the back of the mouth obstructing the throat and airway.Stenotic Nares:If a shih tzu has this, it will be from birth. The passageways of the nostrils are too narrow, causing breathing difficulties and oxygen deficiency. Stenotic nares can be fatal if left untreated.Abnormally Small Trachea or Collapsing Trachea:Again, if your shih tzu has an abnormally small trachea, or windpipe, it will be from birth. The weakened cartilage that can lead to a collapsing trachea can be from birth, brought on by struggling to cope with other breathing problems or, more rarely, due to a trauma such as an ill-fitting collar or badly designed harness. Click here for a full report concerning Collapsing Trachea.Laryngeal Collapse:Laryngeal collapse, the deterioration of the voice box, is usually brought on by any of the previous conditions causing the cartilage to become fatigued and weakened because of the extra effort put in to inhale sufficient air and oxygen, although there are rare cases of it being caused by trauma. Any one of these conditions will cause breathing difficulties, so a dog suffering from more than one will have severe breathing problems that will need the intervention of a veterinarian to decide what action to take. You may not notice that your dog has a problem until he is between the age of one year and six years. As dogs regulate their body temperature by breathing in cold air, if they are struggling to breathe this becomes difficult. If your shih tzu has any breathing difficulties, be wary, especially on hot and humid days, of any rises in body temperature that may lead to heatstroke. Symptoms: Long term noisy and difficult breathing.Sudden worsening of breathing, struggling to breathe.Cyanosis – lack of sufficient oxygen turns the lips and gums blue.Any or all of coughing, choking, gagging or vomiting.Constant panting.Elevated body temperature.Collapse or even death in severe and untreated cases. Treatment depends upon the urgency and severity of the condition. Emergency treatment:Emergency oxygen supply.Sedation to prevent panic.Anti-inflammatories.If necessary, an emergency, temporary tracheostomy. Mild to severe cases:Removal of the excess piece of the soft palate that is blocking the airway.Removal of excessive and obstructive tissue in the throat.Widening of the external end of the nostrils to allow a greater volume of air through. If necessary, the partial removal of damaged cartilage through the mouth. Severe cases:A permanent tracheostomy. Dogs treated for mild to severe cases usually recover well. Dogs given a permanent tracheostomy are in danger for a week after the operation from blockages caused by mucus and blood, which must be cleared out. After that, the opening needs to be vigilantly kept clean and dry. Back Problems ID: 8841156 © Klanneke | Depositphotos INTERVERTEBRAL DISC DISEASE This is a frequent occurrence in dogs with short legs and a long back. It is the most common back problem to affect the shih tzu breed. The leverage between the vertebrae and the legs can sometimes cause one or more of the intervertebral, gel-like, shock-absorbing discs to pop out of place. The slipped disc or discs then rub up against the spinal cord causing problems with the nervous system and excruciating pain. If left untreated it can progress to chronic weakness or even paralysis. Symptoms: Severe pain, extreme sensitivity in the affected area.Inability to walk properly, may drag a rear foot.Cannot jump onto the sofa or climb the stairs.Weak limbs, difficulty rising from lying position.Does not want to move or be moved.Muscle spasms.Back is hunched.Loss of appetite.Sudden paralysis, inability to use the back legs. The paralysis may become permanent if the condition is not treated. Treatment: Muscle relaxing drugs.Anti-inflammatories.Plenty of rest.Corrective surgery.Complete removal of the ruptured discs if paralysis has occurred. Joint Problems ID: 75104531 © Taranukhin | Depositphotos HIP DYSPLASIA Hip dysplasia is usually a hereditary disease where the soft tissue surrounding the hip joint develops in an abnormal way that means the bones are not contained as they should be and can move apart slightly. This, in turn, causes extra friction on the joint which leads to osteoarthritis. The condition can also be initiated or worsened by a shih tzu’s frequent overconfidence in its own jumping capabilities where it lands too heavily, causing an accumulative injury to the hip joint. Hip dysplasia, which can vary a lot in its severity, is usually diagnosed in senior dogs but there have been cases with dogs as young as four months. Symptoms: Intermittent to constant pain, varying in its severity.Awkward, often narrow stance.Stiffness or lameness in the back legs.Unnatural walking action, usually with difficulty.Rising from a lying position is an ordeal.A gaunt look due to loss of muscle tone.In the severest of cases, total immobility. Treatment: Anti-inflammatories for the swelling and the pain.Medication for the arthritis.Heat treatment.Special diet to improve joint health and control weight.Dietary supplements to improve joint health.Physiotherapy or controlled exercise.In severe cases, especially where lameness occurs, surgery will be needed. PATELLAR LUXATION This condition is an abnormal movement or dislocation of the knee cap, usually on one or both of the back legs. It is hereditary and can happen at any time in the dog’s life. There is a wide range of severity for patellar luxation, varying from an infrequent limp to complete lameness. The degree of the condition depends upon how much play there is between the patella and the trochlear groove that it is usually located in. If left untreated it can lead to osteoarthritis. Symptoms: The dog walks with a limp, or picks up the affected leg and tries to walk on three legs or hops.The dog shows he is in pain by lifting his leg.Lameness in severe cases. After the knee cap has popped out once, it is likely to pop out repeatedly in the future. The leg may become deformed if not treated but it is very rare that a successful solution cannot be found. Treatment: The dog may try to pop his own knee cap back into place by thrusting the affected leg out sideways.Less severe cases can often be treated with just anti-inflammatories and arthritis medication.The worst cases can be treated with steroids, bed rest and a gradual return to active exercise after three weeks, avoiding putting the affected leg under stress.Severe cases will need surgery to realign the patella. Problems Of The Organs ID: 151602108 © chaoss | Depositphotos HEART MURMUR A heart murmur is a hindrance of the blood flow through the heart, so called because of the “whooshing” sound that can be heard amongst the regular heartbeat when examining with a stethoscope. Tests, including blood tests, an ECG and ultrasound carried out by your vet will determine if the condition needs treatment or not. Heart murmurs may originate from several causes, including heart valve deficiencies, blockages or infections, defects in the heart wall, deterioration of the heart muscle, tumors or heartworm. A heart murmur can be detected at any age, more often in senior dogs. If detected in a new puppy it will either be congenital or it could be an “innocent” murmur that will disappear at around four months of age. Symptoms: Difficulty in breathing and rapid breathing that may be accompanied by a congested sound.Chesty cough.Tired and weak, doesn’t want to exercise.Cyanosis, that is a bluing of the lips and gums.Fainting fits.Sudden collapses.Distended stomach or pot belly. Treatment: If detected early enough, medication can be administered for life to make the dog more comfortable and improve life expectancy.Addressing the causes of the heart murmur.If heartworm is the cause, treatment for heartworm will normally clear the murmur completely.Surgery will be needed in severe cases. HYPOTHYROIDISM In dogs, hypothyroidism is often caused by an inflammation or shrinkage of the thyroid gland. Shih tzu with hypothyroidism suffer from their thyroid glands under producing enough thyroid hormone, the hormone responsible for the regulation of the body’s metabolism. The condition is not common with small dogs but some shih tzu have been known to suffer from it. It can be diagnosed at any age but it is more common to find it in senior dogs. Symptoms: Loss or thinning of the body hair, the head and legs are usually unaffected.Reduced tolerance of cold temperatures.Painful ear infection.Skin infection resulting in sores.Thickening of the skin and increased pigment in the armpit areas.A less common symptom is a widening of the esophagus causing food to be regurgitated.Also less common is the nervous system to be affected in such a way as to cause weakness and an inability to walk properly. Treatment: Thyroid hormone replacement medicine for life.Antibiotics to treat ear and skin infections. JUVENILE RENAL DYSPLASIA (JRD) Juvenile renal dysplasia is a genetically inherited disease most often diagnosed in younger dogs. Not all puppies from the same litter will suffer the same degree of severity. As the shih tzu puppy grows into an adult, the kidneys remain in an immature state and of inadequate size to cope with adult life demands. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for this condition. Symptoms: Excessive water consumption, up to five times what is considered normal.Excessive volume of urination, usually pale in color.Reduced body weight and comparatively small stature.Signs of debilitation. Treatment: A low phosphorus, low protein and low sodium diet supplemented with omega-3 fish oils can help lessen the severity of the symptoms. GLOMERULONEPHROPATHY (KIDNEY DISEASE) Microscopic glomeruli, of which there are millions contained within the kidney structure, become inflamed and fail to filter out toxins from the blood in the urine production process. The condition is further complicated as immune system antibodies become trapped within the glomeruli, causing the immune system to attack them. The condition can be caused by any disease that bears heavily on immune system activity, diseases such as cancer, heartworm, dental diseases, diseases initiated by tick bites, pancreatitis or prostatitis. Symptoms: Weight loss.Loss of muscle tone.Fluid in the abdominal cavity.Fluid in the lungs causing labored breathing.Swollen legs. Treatment: Medication to inhibit immune complex formation.Medication to prevent high blood pressure.Aspirin to help prevent clotting in the glomeruli.As with JRD, a low phosphorus, low protein and low sodium diet supplemented with omega-3 fish oils. HYPERADRENOCORTICISM (CUSHING’S DISEASE) This is a condition mostly diagnosed in older dogs where the adrenal glands produce too much cortisone for a shih tzu’s body to cope with. The most common cause of this is a benign tumor of the pituitary gland, the organ that is responsible for all hormone production within the body. This is known as pituitary dependent hyperadrenocorticism or PDH. A less common cause of the disease is a tumor of the actual adrenal glands, known as adrenal dependent hyperadrenocorticism or ADH. Much more rarely, the condition can be brought on by over prescribed corticosteroid drugs for other ailments. The excess cortisone produced can inhibit the metabolic process, bring on gastrointestinal problems and cause high blood pressure and skin disorders. Symptoms: Greater appetite leading to obesity.Greater thirst leading to increased urination.Excessive panting.Lethargy.Loss of muscle strength.Difficulty sleeping.Fluid in the abdomen causing a pot-belly.Loss of hair.Darker skin pigmentation that may also have scaly, white patches.Skin bruises easily. Treatment: In most cases, medication for life. The drugs administered may have serious side effects and so will be prescribed to match the severity of the condition.If the condition is caused by corticosteroid over-administration, a gradual reduction in the dosage will often relieve the symptoms completely. The reduction in dosage has to be gradual to prevent an Addisonian crisis. See Addison’s disease below.If the condition is diagnosed as ADH, surgery will be needed to remove the tumor after it has been reduced in size by drugs.The dog’s health will need to be frequently checked for life. HYPOADRENOCORTICISM (ADDISON’S DISEASE) Addison’s disease is almost the direct opposite of Cushing’s disease. With Addison’s the adrenal glands fail to produce sufficient quantities of the hormones cortisone and aldosterone to fight stress and regulate water and electrolytes respectively. The condition can be there for days or months before diagnosis. There are primary and secondary classifications for this illness. Primary is the most common and occurs when the autoimmune system attacks the adrenal gland. Primary is further classified between typical and atypical cases. The cause of the typical primary condition has never been proved but it may be genetic. Atypical can be caused by cancer or toxins in the system and also over medication of drugs for other illnesses, particularly Cushing’s disease (see above). Secondary hypoadrenocorticism is often triggered in the same way as Cushing’s disease, a tumor in the pituitary gland. It can also happen if a long-term steroid treatment for another complaint is suddenly stopped. Treatment is usually for life and is almost always successful. Symptoms: Loss of appetite leading to weight loss..Excessive thirst from dehydration.Lethargy.Loss of muscle strength.Depressed mood.Heart rate too slow.Shaking.Body is cold to touch.VomitingDiarrheaIf the vomiting or diarrhea becomes severe or the dog collapses, it is a medical emergency. Seek the attention of a vet immediately. Treatment: Daily medication for life to maintain optimum cortisone and aldosterone levels.Regular monitoring of the dog’s health, especially at the start of treatment, with regular blood and urine tests to ensure the medication is working as intended.When faced with a stressful situation, for example, undergoing surgery or being left in boarding kennels, the dosage of the medication may have to be increased. ID: 73815665 © belchonock | Depositphotos KIDNEY STONES Kidney stones do not cause as much pain for dogs as they do for humans and may be so small that there are no symptoms and only get discovered when a shih tzu is x-rayed for another problem. If there is no blockage to the flow of urine, a vet may leave the condition untreated but with regular monitoring for any changes. However, the stones can go on to be a contributing factor to chronic kidney disease (CKD) or kidney colic, which may be announced by abdominal pain plus vomiting and may progress to swollen or damaged kidneys. This happens when the stones become larger or fragment, causing blockages in the ureter. If this occurs in both kidneys simultaneously it is a medical emergency as the near total blockage of the urine flow will make the dog critically ill. The most common stones to form inside dogs are formed of calcium oxalate when there is an imbalance in the blood or urine. These stones do not dissolve, making treatment difficult for both the dog and the vet. Stones formed of struvite, consisting of phosphate, magnesium and ammonium, are less common and form as a result of a bacterial infection. These types of stone can be dissolved with treatment over a period of months. Stones occur more in female dogs than male dogs and can form several times despite any efforts taken to prevent them. Symptoms: High temperature, feverPainful abdomen.Painful kidney or kidneys.Urine contains blood.Abnormal amount of urine, either an increase or a decrease.Lethargy.Loss of appetite.Vomiting.Loss of weight. Treatment: Removal or dispersal of non-dissolving stones.Even the most skilled surgery can leave the kidney damaged. For this reason, techniques have been developed where larger stones are broken up into smaller pieces that will pass with the urine. This is performed internally using endoscopes and special tools.Dissolvable stones can be treated with medication, including antibiotics to subdue the infection, special diets low on protein and phosphates and, crucially, plenty of water.Increasing the dog’s consumption of water has the effect of diluting the minerals present in the urine, which helps to reduce the chances of the formation of stones. PORTOSYSTEMIC LIVER SHUNT (PSS) Portosystemic liver shunt is a condition where the portal vein, which should be sending blood to the liver for purification, actually links up with another vein and bypasses the liver. PSS can be termed congenital, where it forms from a birth defect, or it can be acquired, where it is brought on by another disease such as cirrhosis. Unfortunately, only around 33% of dogs with PSS respond well to treatment and go on to live a full life. Symptoms: Stunted growth and under-developed muscles.Disorientation, pacing around in circles.Vacant staring into space.Seizures Treatment: Special diet and medication designed to reduce the toxins reaching the intestines.Severe cases may need an intravenous drip to restore and maintain blood sugar levels.Enemas to remove toxins from the intestines.Medication to prevent seizures. Some simple cases can be corrected with surgery. UMBILICAL HERNIA An umbilical hernia is often seen on a shih tzu. It happens when the abdominal ring is not closed off properly at birth and some abdominal fat or part of the intestinal wall protrudes slightly under the belly. The precise cause is unknown but it may be at least partly genetic. Most are painless and some even go back inside the body by the time a puppy reaches four months. Surgery to retract the hernia is usually only a matter of necessity if there is part of the intestine trapped, otherwise most umbilical hernias are not detrimental to the health of the dog. Symptoms: A protrusion of between ¼” (0.6 cm) and 1” (2.5 cm) long from the area of the navel. Treatment: The hernia may be routinely closed by surgery at the time of spaying or neutering. VON WILLEBRAND’S DISEASE Several breeds of dog are affected by this hereditary disease, of which the shih tzu is one. It is caused by a deficiency of the von Willebrand protein in the blood, meaning that there is a difficulty forming platelets when there is a hemorrhage. The condition may go unnoticed until the dog is spayed or neutered. Symptoms: In some dogs there may be no obvious symptoms at all, in others there can be spontaneous bleeding from the nose, vagina, bladder or oral mucous membranes,Excessive bleeding after trauma or surgery.In severe cases, death from uncontrollable bleeding. Treatment: Certain medications must be avoided as they can initiate bleeding. If your dog has, or you think he or she has von Willebrand’s disease, never give medicine for anything without consulting your vet first.A drug known as DDAVP can increase the amount of von Willebrand protein in the bloodstream.In an emergency situation blood transfusions will be necessary. Sometimes the donor blood will be fortified with DDAVP to assist clotting.   Other Problems ID: 106919752 © vchalup2 | Depositphotos ALLERGIES Dogs can be allergic to many of the same triggers that we humans can suffer from. They may react to certain foods or certain substances and, less commonly, pollen, dust or fungi. Allergies usually show up between the ages of one and three years and the effects may get worse as the dog gets older. The reaction often causes an itchy rash in the areas of the feet, ears, abdomen and in the folds of the skin. This reaction is known as “atopic dermatitis” or “atopy”. Symptoms: An itchy skin rash, frequently scratched at.Frequent licking of the paws.Frequent infections in the ears.Bloodshot eyes.Frequent rubbing of the face on mats, carpets, cushions, etcetera.Upset stomach and poor appetite. Treatment: If a food allergy is diagnosed, removing that item from the dog’s diet.If a substance allergy is diagnosed, such as a shampoo, flea and tick treatment or a certain type of bedding, for example, seeking out an alternative product or material that doesn’t cause a reaction.If there is a certain plant or fungus causing the allergy, keeping the dog away from the source as much as possible.Daily, non-steroidal medication, such as Apoquel, to suppress the symptoms. INFECTIONS AND PARASITES As with other dogs, shih tzu are at risk from infections such as parvovirus, rabies and distemper, plus parasites such as fleas, ticks, ear mites and all kinds of worms. Treatment: Prevention is definitely better than the cure here. Before taking charge of your new puppy or rescue dog, make sure that it has had all of the necessary vaccinations and preventative measures taken. Ask to see proof that this has been done.Consult with your vet to make sure that all future vaccinations and boosters are scheduled to be given at the right times.Your vet can also advise you of any extra vaccinations that may be needed for any local issues. For example, here where I live on the south of the Iberian Peninsular, Leishmania, a disease transmitted by a mosquito, is fatal for dogs and prevention needs an initial course of three vaccinations followed by yearly boosters.When out walking your shih tzu, be alert and don’t let him drink any dirty water or eat any discarded food items. Take your own supply of clean water and food with you on the walk if necessary. OBESITY In my experience, shih tzu are not greedy dogs and tend to eat only what they need to sustain themselves. However, there have been cases of obesity with the shih tzu breed. Obesity can instigate or cause deterioration in many other diseases such as joint problems, thyroid problems, diabetes, back pain and various heart problems. Treatment: It is important to obtain dietary advice from the vet and follow it to gradually reduce the dog’s weight.Regular exercise. INTERDIGITAL FURUNCULOSIS (ABSCESSES BETWEEN THE TOES) Shih tzu, with their hair growth between their paw pads, are subject to abscesses and infections here which are medically known as interdigital furuncles. Equivalent to pimples on the face in humans, these pus-filled blisters can be very painful, causing limping or temporary lameness. The most common cause of interdigital furuncles is when a hair shaft is pushed back into the skin, causing inflammation that then becomes infected with bacteria. This type of infection often has new furuncles emerging as the old ones heal. A less common cause is when the infection is caused when a foreign object, such as a splinter or a burr, is forced into the hair shaft. This type of infection usually results in just one abscess and is usually found on a front paw. Symptoms: Tiny bumps that appear in one location between the paw pads. These bumps swiftly grow into shiny, dark red boils up to ¾” (2 cm) in diameter.If any of the boils burst they will exude a blood-like fluid.They are usually so painful that they cause limping or temporary lameness.Frequent licking of the wounds. Treatment: The vet will make tests to confirm whether the cause is bacterial or invasive and check for any parasites.If it is a bacterial furuncle, a culture may be made in order to choose an effective antibiotic.Oral antibiotics will usually be prescribed for four to six weeks but some cases may require eight weeks. Failure to complete the course of antibiotics may result in a recurrence of the furuncles.Antibiotics may also be administered by ointments and special dressings.If it is an invasive furuncle, it may be lanced to locate and remove the foreign object.Further medication may be required in the event of a secondary yeast infection being discovered.If the correct medication has been prescribed and administered and the furuncles still reappear, there could be another problem such as hypothyroidism, parasites or a fungal infection. REVERSE SNEEZING The exact cause of this phenomenon is unknown but it could be down to one or more of an allergic or other nasal irritation, the dog trying to clear mucus from its nose or the dog becoming overexcited. It happens a lot with short nosed, flat faced breeds. If a dog reverse sneezes he will probably continue to have bouts throughout his life. Symptoms: The dog remains in one spot, stretching the head and neck forwards.Breathing may be deep and rapid.There may be snorting and wretching noises. Treatment: Reverse sneezing is not usually harmful and no medical treatment needed, although some severe cases may need steroid treatment or antihistamines if due to an allergy,It can be distressing for the dog. If this is the case, talk to him reassuringly as you stroke his back and throat area.It is believed in some camps that pinching the nostrils closed to force breathing through the mouth may help. Personally, I think this only causes more distress and that it is better for the bout to see itself out. Minimizing The Chances Of Shih Tzu Common Health Problems – What You Can Do. ID: 5246738 © fantazista | Depositphotos As you may have gathered from the previous sections in this article, there are many problems that could affect your shih tzu. Hopefully they won’t, but we need to be aware of them. The first way of ensuring that none of these diseases ever take hold is to take your shih tzu to the vet for a check over as soon as you become the parent of your new dog and to make sure he gets all of the vaccinations he needs. Then make regular visits for routine check ups and vaccination updates. This way, if anything does happen your vet will spot it straight away and begin treatment at that crucial, early stage. It is well worth considering pet insurance so that you are not hit financially by a sudden need for any expensive treatment. It would be bad enough of having to go through the trauma of your shih tzu being ill and needing treatment and the last thing you would want to do is deal with how you are going to finance it all as well. Be careful with your choice of provider and do read the small print. You can also keep an eye on and maintain your dog’s health by regular home grooming. By this, I don’t mean giving your shih tzu a haircut every six weeks or so, although you can do if you have the know how and the tools. Healthy grooming involves a lot more than a haircut: Daily brushing with a suitable brush will remove dead hairs plus unfurl any tangles and mats and help prevent any more forming. The brushing also helps distribute your dog’s natural oils for a healthy, glossy coat.Every four to six weeks give your shih tzu a bath using dog grade shampoos and conditioners that do not contain the harmful to dogs ingredients that the human grade equivalents do. Avoid bathing any more often as essential oils needed to keep the skin and coat healthy will be washed away completely.Brushing the teeth every second or third day will help maintain dental hygiene and prevent more serious health issues from developing.The nails will need clipping when you can hear them tapping on hard floors, usually every four to six weeks. At the same time, trim back the hair between the paw pads with suitable, curved safety scissors.Every week clean the outer ear canal with cotton balls and ear cleaning fluid to reduce the risk of ear infections.Every two weeks, give your shih tzu a full inspection, looking for anything unusual with the coat, skin, ears, eyes, nose, mouth and paws. Check for any rashes, inflammations, redness, parasites and infections. Remember, if you discover a problem early in its development, the more chance of treatment leading to a full recovery. You can find out more about grooming in my Grooming section here. A fit dog is less likely to succumb to health problems, so make sure your shih tzu eats a well-balanced diet of good quality, healthy food and also gets plenty of exercise, including somewhere where he can have a good run around. Click here for more dietary information in my Feeding Your Shih Tzu section …….. …….. or here for more information on exercise in my Health And Fitness section. I hope that you have found the information you required in this rather longer than usual post. If you have any thoughts or questions about shih tzu common health problems, please use the comments box below or use the contact us form. I will endeavour to reply within 24 hours. Be assured that any contact details you give will be held securely on this website and not shared with anybody else. Bye for now, Shih Tzu Steve. [...] Read more...
Behavior IssuesHow To Make Your Shih Tzu Happy I don’t know about you, but it breaks my heart to see either of my boys lying stretched out with chin on front paws, that sad, bored look on their faces. Then when they let out that long, bored, sigh of a breath together with the shrug of the shoulders, I know I just have to do something to entertain them, to make the situation a little more interesting for them. So I decided to write down everything that will show you how to make your shih tzu happy. There is nothing like the pleasure you get from seeing your little one prancing around with a smile on their face and their tail wagging enthusiastically like a windscreen wiper in a severe rainstorm. It sends a tingle down your spine! Keep Your Shih Tzu Well Groomed If your shih tzu’s coat is allowed to grow haphazardly, become dirty and tangled with mats, he is not going to be very happy with the resulting discomfort. If his ears are dirty and infected, the irritation will be driving him nuts! Excess hair between the paw pads and over long nails will make walking difficult, even sore and painful. It varies from shih tzu to shih tzu, but a visit to the groomers for a complete makeover will be necessary every four to six weeks. Either that, or you can learn to do it yourself. With the right tools, it’s not too difficult a job for you and your shih tzu to learn to do together. You will still need to perform some maintenance in between major grooming sessions to keep your shih tzu neat and healthy. Brushing should be a daily routine to keep the coat free of mats and tangles. Complete baths are recommended routinely every two weeks; any more frequently and you risk damaging your shih tzu’s coat and skin by washing away the essential oils. It is okay, though, to give the occasional extra bath should he have got himself really dirty. ID: 39876599 © chaoss | Depositphotos Click here to read more on How To Groom A Shih Tzu Dog. The hair in the ears and between the paw pads will also need trimming, along with the nails, at least once between grooming sessions. After trimming the ear hair, clean the ears with a cotton ball and pet ear cleaner drops. Carefully keep the hair around the eyes trimmed so that it doesn’t dip into water and feeding bowls, and keep the anal hair trimmed for hygiene reasons. Being Well Fed – The Root Of Contentment Your shih tzu will not be content unless he is fed properly. Two appropriately portioned meals per day (three for a puppy) will be adequate. Try to avoid big brand supermarket labels and go for either the new wave of wholesome dog foods that are appearing, or make your own wholesome meals from scratch. Whether you use dry food, wet food or a mixture of both is a matter of choice between you and your shih tzu, but either way check the ingredients first. Avoid giving the same meal time after time. Vary the ingredients as much as you can to prevent food boredom. You can give occasional treats between meals but don’t overdo it. Although in my experience shih tzu aren’t greedy dogs, you still need to guard against over feeding. An obese shih tzu is not a happy shih tzu. © Aisha | Pexels Make sure you change the water in the drinking bowls at least once a day. Empty out the old water, rinse and wipe the bowl before refilling with fresh water. Click here to find out about the Best Dog Food For A Shih Tzu Your Shih Tzu Is Happiest When With You Shih tzu were bred as companion dogs and they are genuinely never happier than when with their owner or interacting with their owner, the one that they see as the Alpha of the pack. So, be with your shih tzu as much as you can and interact with him as much as you can, when he’s not sleeping, of course! Try to take your shih tzu out for two walks per day of at least twenty minutes in duration. He will love parolling and marking out his regular walks, sniffing out familiar smells. Having said that, though, he will also love the variety of a new walk where he can discover new smells, textures and unfamiliar dogs to socialize with. So try to fit one or two new walks in every week. How Often Should You Walk A Shih Tzu? – Click here for more. If you are able to, take him to the beach to experience the sand and the sea. Also, shih tzu go absolutely crazy over fresh snow, so whenever you get the chance, seek out the snow! ID: 221229090 © viclin | Depositphotos As well as the regular walks, when you go out take your shih tzu with you if it is possible. Don’t do this, though, if it will involve leaving him alone in the car. Dogs left in cars can quickly develop possibly fatal hyperthermia, so in this case it is better to leave him at home. Set aside some time for some quality playtime to spend with your shih tzu. Some open space in your backyard, if you have it, or over the park is fine. For example, you can play hunt the treat, chasing games or fetch the ball or stick. I do the fetch the ball thing with my boys but somehow it gets turned around and I do all of the fetching! When at home with your shih tzu, give him plenty of attention, petting and cuddles. When he lays next to you, flat on his back with his legs in the air, give him a good tummy rubbing session. This will definitely put a smile upon his face. Further interaction with your shih tzu can be had by training him to do things like “sit”, “stay” and “come”. Despite his inherent stubbornness, he is happy to do things to please you, so why not train him to obey these simple commands that may keep him out of trouble later? Use the the reward system to let him know when he gets it right. That is, when he gets it right pet him and make a fuss over him, or give him a small treat, or both. Under no circumstances punish him if he gets it wrong. For more detailed training tips, my friends at TrainPetDog have a comprehensive email course dedicated to training your shih tzu. It’s completely free to sign up. Click here for more details at TrainPetDog. Keep The Mind Occupied To prevent boredom setting in when you are busy doing other things or not there at all, provide your shih tzu with plenty of toys to play with. These should be a variety of soft toys, interactive toys and balls small enough for him to pick up with his mouth, but not so small as to swallow it. The toys that you insert treats into and your dog has to work out how to get at them are particularly good for exercising your dog’s mind. A half dozen or more soft toys scattered around the house is good, although your shih tzu will always pick one in particular as his favorite to take to his bed. If you have a puppy, get him a teething ring or other chew toy and encourage him to use that to ease the soreness of his gums rather than taking it out on your furniture or footwear. As soon as he has reached the stage where he has finished teething, chewing, mouthing and nipping must be discouraged. ID: 14607739 © chaoss | Depositphotos Click here to read How To Stop A Shih Tzu Puppy From Biting. Shih tzu instinctively love the safe, cozy feeling of being inside a den, so either make one for yours out of cushions or buy one of those beds that resembles a house or kennel. It seems that the narrower the opening is, the better. My boys squash the entrance down if they think it is too big. Keeping Your Shih Tzu Healthy If your shih tzu has suddenly started to limp, carefully check first to see if any foreign matter such as burrs or seeds have become trapped between the paw pads, otherwise at the first sign of any injury or illness, please consult with your vet straight away. It is better to be safe than sorry and sometimes swift action can be vital. Try to set your home up to be free of insects, fleas and allergens. Dogs have a hard time with flea infestations or allergic skin reactions and are helpless to do anything about them. With modern manufacturing techniques, it’s relatively inexpensive and simple to fit mosquito nets at all entrances and windows these days. In areas of high pollen counts, try to keep windows closed during times of high activity or use an air purifier with a hypoallergenic filter. There are some very efficient portable models available now. Washing your shih tzu’s bedding regularly in hypoallergenic laundry products will also help. Dogs do not understand the dangers of man made items, so make sure your home doesn’t have any dangerous furniture or appliances installed that your shih tzu could receive an injury from. Likewise, don’t leave any dangerous tools or other items lying around as an accident waiting to happen. Ensure your shih tzu doesn’t have access to any areas of the house where he could be in peril. Shih Tzu Are Happy Dogs © cesar_abud | Pixabay Shih tzu are generally happy dogs when well looked after. Follow most of these tips and you will have one extremely content bundle of fun willingly staying by your side. Basically, your dog will sense your emotions and react to them, so if you are happy, then he is likely to be happy too. I know a lot of the information that I have written in this article is just common sense, but sometimes it helps to have all the relevant information written down in on place for easy reference. If you have any thoughts or questions about How To Make Your Shih Tzu Happy, shih tzu in general, or this website, please do leave a comment below or contact us. Your details will be held securely within this website and will never be disclosed to a third party. [...] Read more...
Training TipsShih tzu generally want to please their masters but they do occasionally have that stubborn moment when they want to do their own thing and nothing else, which can make them difficult to potty train. However, you can turn that around and with some persistence and patience on your part. You can make the answer to the question “Are shih tzu easy to potty train?” a resounding “Yes!”. The Sooner The Better – potty train from two to three months if you can As with any training, potty training is best taught from the earliest opportunity when the shih tzu is a puppy. A shih tzu puppy will start to understand potty trining from the age of around two to three months. If you have adopted an older dog that doesn’t know where to relieve himself you can still apply the same techniques set out in this article but it’s going to be a lot more difficult and you’re going to need a lot more persistence, understanding and patience. With such dedication you will win through in the end. Contrary to the old adage you can teach an old dog new tricks. The first step in potty training is to designate an area for your shih tzu to do his business. This can be a sheltered spot in your backyard or front garden, ideally protected from precipitation by a roof overhang or dense tree so that you can still go there with your pup in foul weather. If your house doesn’t have an outside area then pick an appropriate spot outdoors that is close by, won’t annoy anyone and you can clean up any mess easily. If you live on the upper floors of a high rise it’s going to be too late by the time you get outside in which case I recommend using a commercially available dog litter tray and placing it on your balcony or in your bathroom should you not have a balcony. If you have a male shih tzu the type of litter tray with the small, vertical post in the centre is best. The tray may also be employed by those owners that will be out at work or school all day and there is no-one else available to take the puppy to his designated spot during the day. The tray, in this case, should used in conjunction with “open crate training”. This is totally different to “crate training“, where your shih tzu is shut into a smaller crate for periods of time (Not as cruel as it sounds!). Open crate training is better described in my post: “Shih Tzu Separation Anxiety – how to cope“. Go, Go, Go! – Quite Literally! Once you have established where the designated “go to” area is, it’s time to start the potty training in earnest. Whilst in toilet training, have your puppy wear his harness and have his leash at hand so that you are ready for emergency action. If you spot the signs that he needs to go or is about to go you can quickly clip on the leash and take him to the designated area. Walk your puppy on the leash to the designated toilet area and give, in a clear authoritative voice, an appropriate command such as “go toilet” or “go potty”. Whatever phrase you use it has to be a specific toilet command that can’t be confused or used for anything else. For example, if you used the phrase “let it go” you could have a puddle on the floor the next time you try to get your slipper back. After you’ve issued the toilet command wait and see if your shih tzu does his business. If he does, give him a reward. This can be a small treat or some lavish praise. If your puppy doesn’t do anything, don’t worry and don’t take any action. Just go back to where you were and try again ten to fifteen minutes later. Give the command again and when he does eventually do his business in the correct place you must administer his reward immediately. Any delay and he won’t associate the reward with going to the toilet in that place and with the command. This is important, you need your puppy to think good things are going to happen if he responds to your commands. In a few months when doing his business in the right places becomes habit, you can gradually tone down the rewards until completely stopping them. Shih tzu have small enough bladders as it is, so it follows that the bladder of the puppy is going to be even smaller and not capable of holding on to much urine. For that reason you really have to take your puppy to the designated spot every two hours. You need to say the command every time and reward a successful discharge every time. Consistency is key! With day to day repetition of this training it won’t take long for your puppy to associate your command with going to the toilet. After a few visits your puppy will be attracted to your designated area just by the smell of urine and feces. Dogs instinctively like to urinate on previously soiled spots. Although the shih tzu’s short snout makes their sense of smell weaker than that of a longer snouted dog and, even if you clean the area or tray, they will still pick up the odour. There will inevitably be some accidents, especially during the night when you’re not going to want to get up every two hours to take your shih tzu puppy out. If you catch him in the act, issue no punishment other than a resounding “no!” and clap your hands sharply. Then pick him up, grab his leash and take him out to the designated spot to finish. (You did have his harness on, didn’t you?) If there is only evidence of his mishap after the fact, issue no reprimand or punishment at all. He will become confused as he will not know what he is being reprimanded for. Because your shih tzu will be attracted by the smell to defecate in the same spot again, all incidents of indoor mishaps must be thoroughly cleaned up using a cleaning product specific formulated for cleaning up after pets. When the area is dry, spray it with an odour neutralizing product. Follow all of this advice and the accidents will become less and less as the training goes on. Keeping Regular While continuing the training you can also take your puppy for walks, ideally twice a day. See my post “How Often Should You Walk a Shih Tzu?” for further discussion. As you walk, use your chosen toilet command in appropriate places, such as the grass at the base of an established tree. Of course, reward him as usual if he responds to your command. So in addition to poop scoop bags, always take a small bag of treats on the walk with you, at least until he is fully house trained. Try and keep the two walks at regular times of the day, every day. Ideally, take your shih tzu out first thing in the morning so that he learns he will be able to discharge his overnight build up of urine at that time. The second walk should ideally be ten to fifteen minutes after his evening feed. A shih tzu is usually ready to defecate around half an hour after eating. It will also help with the potty training if you keep meal times to the same time every day. Regular meal times = regular potty times. Some people, including experts, will tell you not to allow your puppy access to water at night. This is a definite no no!  You must allow your shih tzu access to water at all times . Depriving your puppy of water can lead to dehydration and heatstroke, both potentially fatal conditions in the extreme. As your puppy gets older, so his bladder capacity and strength will increase allowing you to increase the time interval between visits to the designated area. When he reaches 12 months he should be able to go through the night without needing a potty break. At 14 months he will be a fully grown adult and under normal conditions able to hold back his bodily functions for his twice daily walks. So, Are Shih Tzu Easy To Potty Train? Okay, I’ll be honest with you, putting in the effort and patience on your part can be a little testing at times. Your shih tzu’s characteristic stubbornness can be a little testing at times. But keep your mind set on the task in front of you, follow all of the guidelines set out above, and you will find that he will eventually take to potty training with ease. All of a sudden he’ll “get it”. I wish you success with your shih tzu’s potty training. If you have any questions or views on this subject or anything shih tzu, please leave a comment or send a message using our contact us form. [...] Read more...
Health and FitnessWhat It Means Should you neuter your dog? Every shih tzu owner must agonise over this decision, a decision that must be made considering what is right for that particular dog. First, let’s make it clear what is involved. Neutering is the act of surgically removing part of a dog’s reproductive organs under anaesthetic in order to prevent unwanted pregnancies. In females this means the removal of the ovaries and usually the uterus as well. This operation is known as spaying. It means the female will no longer produce eggs or go on heat. For males the testicles are removed in an operation known as castration. This will stop the production of testosterone and sperm. Vasectomy can also be considered for a male but this is a much less often performed operation. With vasectomy a section of the semen canals is removed. After the surgery testosterone is still produced and so is sperm but it cannot leave the body. It costs about the same as castration and, like castration, it is irreversible. The Advantages Of Neutering The most obvious advantage, one that I’ve already mentioned, is that there will be no unwanted pregnancies. On a larger scale that means less abandoned puppies and less dogs in shelters. There are several health benefits to neutering. Males operated on before reaching sexual maturity, which is usually at six months, will have very little chance of developing testicular cancer and later in life will have a reduced risk of prostate problems. ID 42268924 © Helgidinson | Dreamstime.com The lifespan of a female can be increased if she is spayed before she first comes into heat. The probability of developing breast cancer or urinary infections is greatly reduced. While a dog is under anaesthetic for neutering surgery a good vet will take the opportunity to check for the presence of diseases such as hip or joint problems or any puppy teeth that have not fallen out and need extracting. Attending to everything in one go under the one administration of anaesthetic causes less distress to a puppy than multiple visits to the operating table. A male neutered before reaching sexual maturity will not be so interested in marking out his territory with samples of his urine. Nor will he have the desire to escape his home to roam around, with the possibility of encountering dangerous road traffic, in search of a female on heat. Fights with other dogs to establish mating rites will become unnecessary. All of this means he will be less interested in females and more attentive to his family. Because a female will not come on heat there will be no stains on the carpet, furniture or clothing. Males will not come along to bother her. Neutering will save you money in the long run. That is the money you will not have to spend caring for an unexpected litter or for the cost of having stitches put your dog’s wounds after he has lost a fight with a rival. The Disadvantages Of Neutering There is a minor risk that a dog may have an adverse reaction to the anaesthetic. There may be a minuscule increase in the chances of developing bladder cancer or joint problems but this has not been satisfactorily proved. Breeding actions may continue. If a male dog practiced humping before the operation, he may still like to do so after recovery. Male and female dogs could continue to participate in sexual relations should they so desire. A neutered dog may experience reduced energy levels for a short while after the operation. A dog neutered after reaching sexual maturity may experience an increase in appetite. At What Age Should You Neuter Your Dog? As previously stated, dogs should ideally be neutered before reaching sexual maturity which, for shih tzu, is generally around the six months mark. This is particularly important if you have mixed sex dogs in your household to prevent insestuous pregnancies. Although many vets will tell you that six months is the correct age for the operation, there is now a strong case for performing the operation as early as eight weeks with the proviso that the puppy has reached a minimum weight of 2 lbs (0.9 kg). Puppies have a faster metabolic rate than adults. At eight weeks they have a faster recovery rate from the surgery and the anaesthetic. The blood vessels that serve the ovaries, uterus and testicles are far from fully developed and so there is less bleeding. The faster metabolic rate also means a young puppy will heal faster than an older puppy or adult. Animal shelters have to neuter puppies as early as possible, that is eight weeks. No side effects of neutering at this early age have been reported. For surgeries that charge for operations by the weight of the dog, neutering at eight weeks will save you money. Vets in such surgeries that say the operation cannot be carried out until the dog is six months old are probably just saying so to charge you more. After Surgery – What To Expect No dressings will be needed on the wounds as for males the scrotum shrinks in upon itself and for females all of the surgery is on the inside, including any self-dissolving stitches under the skin. However, an Elizabethan collar, or head cone as it is also known, will be necessary for the male to prevent him from licking his wounds. ID 38620850 © Chaoss | Dreamstime.com Painkillers will be prescribed to ease soreness and antibiotics prescribed to prevent infection. With careful attention to the wound, which involves disinfecting it daily, it should heal in about two weeks. If during the healing time any redness is observed around the wound or the dog becomes lethargic or stops eating, then contact the vet immediately to find out if there are any post-surgery complications. Two weeks is also the time it will take the male to lose his hormones after surgery. During this time he should be kept away from females and any other dogs or animals he is likely to be aggressive with to avoid interrupting and setting back the healing process. He should also not be given the opportunity to exercise vigorously. Common Myths Dispelled Many people think that neutering will make a dog put on weight. This is not true. The only factors that will contribute to making a dog overweight are poor diet and lack of exercise. For further information on this, please see my posts, “How Much Food Should A Shih Tzu Eat” and “How Often Should You Walk A Shih Tzu?”. Many people, perhaps the same ones, think that neutering will make a dog lethargic and lazy. While this may be true immediately after the operation, after full recovery the puppy will be as active as before surgery. I was one of the people that thought neutering may change a dog’s character but now I know better. Apart from the positive changes previously mentioned, that is less marking territory, less desire to roam and less aggressiveness to other dogs, a neutered dog will have exactly the same character as before the operation. ID 124691139 © Teeradej Srikijvilaikul | Dreamstime.com Should You Neuter Your Dog? – The Verdict As you can see in this post, there are more advantages than disadvantages regarding neutering, suggesting that it is something that should be done and I think that most vets would agree with that. But there are other factors to be considered before making a decision. Certainly if your shih tzu has underlying health conditions such as heart or kidney problems, then surgery is not in his or her best interest and a vet would probably not perform the operation anyway. If you have a one dog household, or one sex dog household, then surgery is not really necessary unless your shih tzu is going to be roaming freely amongst other dogs. In households with two or more mixed sex dogs, then it is essential that all are neutered, otherwise there will be puppies everywhere! I hope this post has helped you in your consideration of whether you should neuter your dog. If you have any thought or comments on the subject, or about shih tzu in general, please leave a comment or contact us. Until next time. [...] Read more...
Behavior IssuesShih tzu aggression is a problem for many owners but one specific form of aggression I am most frequently asked about is “Why is my dog aggressive towards other dogs?” Most shih tzus are very affectionate and playful companion dogs but if not controlled, they can have an underlying vicious streak in certain circumstances. Before we go into how to prevent your shih tzu from behaving aggressively with other dogs, let’s find out the reasons why they do this. Why Is My Dog Aggressive Towards Other Dogs? There are two fundamental reasons why your shih tzu, or any dog for that matter, will display aggression towards another dog. The most common one is that he is scared of an unknown dog or one that he has had a previous aggressive encounter with. There are two different types of aggression that can be displayed under these circumstances, fear aggression and defensive aggression. The shih tzu could be defending you or another dog or pet from your household. The other main cause of aggression towards another dog, and this could either be an unknown dog or another dog from your household, is possessiveness. Possessive aggression occurs when the shih tzu thinks something is going to be taken away from him. Fear Aggression And Defensive Aggression Just like us humans, some dogs are socially skilled naturally; for others, we have to work at it. Dogs that have these skills naturally or have been taught them since they were a puppy are unlikely to instigate an aggressive encounter with another dog. It is only those with poor or no social skills that are panicked into aggressive behavior when they encounter another dog. Puppies learn social skills naturally from their litter siblings but if they are taken away from them too early, it is up to the new owner to make sure these skills are learned. ID: 169375906 © cynoclub | Depositphotos A dog with fear aggression bought on by an approaching dog will display his fear with certain forms of body language. The types and combinations of these traits will vary from dog to dog but here are some of the more common ones: The tail tucked between the legs and the ears pointing backward. This reflexive action leaves an assailant less to grab hold of while the tail between the legs has the added benefit of guarding the genital area.Growling, barking and then lunging towards the other dog in an attempt to gain the dominant position.Hiding behind the owner to avoid any retaliatory actions.In most cases, the dog will try to avoid eye contact. If a dog feels that his aggressive reactions have been successful, this body language may become more confident and assured as such incidents increase over time. These reactions often start with growling and snarling when first noticing the other dog, progressing to barking and lunging towards the other dog as the distance between them decreases. If the two dogs get too close and one does not back down, there will almost certainly be snapping and biting resulting in injuries, perhaps serious ones. Possessive Aggression ID: 35123417 © Jstaley401 | Depositphotos This form of aggression occurs in some dogs when another dog or human tries to take away an item, such as a toy or treat, that the dog has possession of. The aggression may also be shown when just approaching a position that the dog has perceived as too close. Households with more than one dog can experience possessive aggression from a dog if it becomes jealous over the attention another dog is giving the owner or vice versa. Possessive aggression may also be displayed if the dog is hiding under the table or behind the sofa, for example, with an item it knows it shouldn’t have and the owner or a family member tries to take it away. In either case, to protect the item the dog has in its possession, it will probably at first growl as a warning, followed by a lunge and snapping or biting if there has been no backing off. A similar reaction can be expected form a dog showing possessive aggression of what he perceives as his territory, be it his bed, his home or a regularly visited spot outdoors. Four Things Not To Do Punishing your dog by shouting at him or even smacking him will only teach him that behaving aggressively is the correct way to behave. The same goes for electric shock or prong collars, aggressive punishments only lead to more aggressive behavior.Similarly, pulling your dog back on the leash when encountering another dog will add to your dog’s excitement and anxiety, making the situation worse.Attempting to calm your dog down will almost certainly communicate to him that his aggression has been successful.In the case of encounters between two dogs, the owner physically removing one of the dogs will leave the other dog thinking that his aggression has paid off and encourage him to show more aggression in the future. How To Prevent Your Shih Tzu Being Aggressive Towards Other Dogs ID: 21375171 © jbryson | Depositphotos If your shih tzu is still a puppy, then you should start socializing him with other dogs. Ideally, get him used to interacting with dogs of his own size at first, then gradually move on to larger dogs and different breeds. Even if your shih tzu is older you can still do this although it will take longer and you will need to have complete control over him.  Which brings us to ……. Putting Yourself In Control Teach your shih tzu to respond to some basic commands such as “sit”, “stay” and “quiet”, the latter command being very useful to stop your dog barking. Teaching your shih tzu basic commands will not only make him more responsive to you but also give you the opportunity to positively reinforce his good behavior with a reward such as praise or a treat rather than punish his bad behavior. For more information on stopping a shih tzu from barking, see my post: How To Train A Shih Tzu Puppy Not To Bark For more information on general shih tzu training, my friends at TrainPetDog have a free email course dedicated to the shih tzu breed. You can find this through the affiliate link below: Shih Tzu Training When you are out walking your shih tzu, teach him to walk to heel. This means having your shih tzu walk alongside you, not in front of you or behind you, and to walk at your pace and your choice of direction. If you have a dog you intend to put on show, he should walk on your left side. In real life, it doesn’t matter which side of you your dog walks.If you’re having trouble walking your dog at the pace and in the direction of your choice and he starts pulling on the leash, turn him around and walk in the opposite direction. Continue to do this every time your shih tzu starts pulling. There are harnesses available designed to help with this. You can read about them here: Dog Collars For Shih Tzus – Is A Harness Better? If your shih tzu has previously shown aggression towards other dogs, you will know that there is a certain distance apart from the other dog where your dog’s reaction starts. When you are out walking your shih tzu and you see another dog approaching, at the point your shih tzu starts reacting, turn around and walk the other way. After a time, you may find the distance at which the reaction occurs decreasing. When the distance is small enough, walk past the other dog but on the opposite side of the road or path. Each time you’re out and walk past the dog, as long as your dog doesn’t react, reduce the distance slightly. Eventually, you should be able to walk past the other dog with your shih tzu at heel by your side without any problems.Asserting your position as the Alpha of the pack will also contribute to ending aggressive encounters as your shih tzu will be more likely to accept your decisions. The simplest way of demonstrating your authority is to make sure that you walk through all exits and entrances in front of your shih tzu, particularly those at your home. It always surprises me at how effective this simple action is.You may also like to take full control of feeding times. He who controls the food, what to eat and when, controls the pack. Place your shih tzu’s food in his bowl in the usual place and at the usual time. Call your shih tzu to eat and if he doesn’t come after the second or third call, take the food away and don’t put any more down until the next scheduled meal time. This is also a good remedy for fussy eaters! For more reading on asserting your position as pack leader, take a look at: How To Stop A Shih Tzu From Being Aggressive Better Times Ahead ID: 132555328 © DragonImages | Depositphotos I hope that you have enough information here to train the aggression out of your shih tzu and that you both have a more relaxed life together from now on. If you have any queries about this subject or anything to do with the shih tzu breed, please leave a comment below. Alternatively, you can drop a message to me using the contact us form. Bye for now, Shih Tzu Steve. [...] Read more...
Feeding Your Shih Tzu / Health and FitnessProcessing Shih Tzu Food – How It Might Affect Your Dog’s Health I apologize if you landed upon this page expecting to see a list of recommended shih tzu food items, products or recipes. If that is what you were looking for, you may find the information you require in one of my previously published articles: Best Dog Food For A Shih Tzu? – Find Out Here Healthy Home Cooking For The Shih Tzu Well Being How Much Food Should A Shih Tzu Eat? However, I suggest sticking around and taking a read of this important food health report: In this report I’ll be looking into the composition of shih tzu food, together with how it is processed and how it is handled with respect to the effect it may have on the health of a shih tzu. Thanks to the researchers at CANWI (the Companion Animal Nutrition and Wellness Institute) and the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, there is about to be a revolution in the way we think about feeding our dogs and, hopefully, the manufacturing processes of the pet food industry. CANWI is registered as a charitable organization.  If you would like to make a donation, you can do so here. Sixty Years Of Canned Food And Kibble For ever since I can remember, and that goes back over sixty years, we have been feeding our pets high processed canned foods and ultra processed dry kibble. More recently, there has been a trend to move away from these diets with the introduction of less processed foods such as air-dried kibble, commercial homemade-like, actual homemade and even raw diets. Up until now, no-one has ever conducted any serious research into which of these diets with which ingredients is best for our pets. The only completed research so far has been about the nutrients in pet food. This is why the only existing legal requirement regarding the composition of pet food is that it has adequate nutrients for the average dog or cat. However, just as there is no such being as a an average human, there is also no single example of an average pet. Anyway, which of us shih tzu parents would be happy with just adequate nutrition for our not average charges? As I say, all this is set to change thanks to CANWI and the University of Georgia group. As I write, they are researching the effect different ingredients, and different processing and preparation methods have on the pets eating them regarding their health and well being. The aim of their research is not to tell you what to give and what not to give your pet. Instead, they are going to make all of the results of their research freely available to the general public. This is so that pet food manufacturers can improve their products, vets and pet nutritionists can give better dietary advice, and you and me, the pet parents, can make informed and better choices over what diet we feed our dogs. Perhaps it will even help us make better choices for feeding ourselves, also. Read on to discover the major areas of research the CANWI and Georgia teams will be looking into. About Dietary Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) Advanced glycation end products, or AGEs for short, are formed in the body when a sugar meets a protein. AGEs then move around the body, eventually binding to tissues, organs, cells and DNA, causing them to malfunction. Here they subsequently cause inflammation. In humans this leads to chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and cancers. AGEs even accelerate the growth of tumors, causing even more painful inflammation. The Western Diet is Full of AGEs The group of foods known as the Western diet is packed with high fats, high protein and high sugar content. When these foods are processed, there is a dramatic increase in the number of AGEs within. The more processed a food item is, the less taste it has. So that we eat their high processed foods, and therefore keep on buying them, manufacturers add artificial flavorings to their products, AGE is one such artificial flavoring, increasing the AGE count yet more. Research indicates that to avoid chronic disease we should be consuming no more than 15,000 to 20,000 AGE units per day. Now consider this example. A 3-ounce (64g) piece of raw chicken contains approximately 800 AGE units. When this piece of chicken is fried, the AGE count increases tenfold to 8,000 units.  This is around half the daily recommended total for a human. From this it is easy to understand that most of us are consuming way too many AGE units. Now think that we humans, generally, do not eat a diet that consists solely of high processed food. We also eat minimally processed foods such as raw fruit and vegetables. Then consider your shih tzu. If he is on an ultra processed diet, that’s the term given to canned food or dry kibble where the ingredients are individually processed and them processed again when they are brought together, that is all he is eating day in and day out for all of his life. If this is the case, he could be consuming up to 150 times the amount of AGEs than for you and I. It’s the same for any breed of dog, though if you have a cat it is only 50 times due to their different dietary requirements. With AGEs scientifically shown to be a major factor in the development of chronic diseases in humans, it is fair to assume that with their amplified consumption of units, AGEs are having the same effect on our pets and are a contributing factor as to why, generally, they are not living as long as they used to years ago before the advent of high processed food. This is what the research aims to prove and the results are already leaning that way. The Damage AGEs Can Do For an example that makes the damage AGEs can do easy to picture in your mind, AGEs bind to the collagen underneath your skin. Eventually the collagen dies away and because of the AGEs cannot be repaired. This leaves behind wrinkles.  Only this is just not happening to your skin, it’s happening to every organ in your body. If you are eating a lot of AGEs you grow old quicker due to this breakdown of tissue structure and functionality. Now, if AGEs is doing this to us humans, what is it doing to our dogs that are consuming 150 times the amount we are? To give one representation, in the course of her work as a vet, Dr Raditic has witnessed changes to the lens tissue at the back of the eye in dogs. This is an area with a high concentration of collagen. She has noticed a greying of the tissue due to AGEs, which is similar to what would be expected for an aging change in the tissue. What Do We Do? – We Can’t Stop Feeding Our Dogs Around 90% of us pet parents feed our dogs high processed canned or dry kibble foods. We do it for convenience and because we know it’s safe as the product has to be recalled if there’s any sign of bacteria, and also we know it contains all the minerals and vitamins our dogs need.  Dr. Turner of the research group has overseen the collection of a database of the AGE count of over 500 human foods. Now he is looking to do the same for all pet diets including raw, flash-frozen, canned, dry, and more. When the database is ready, Dr. Turner plans to release it for all to see. When that happens in the near future we will be able to make better decisions to reduce the AGE count of our pets’ diets, so reducing the inflammation that AGEs cause, and so reducing the chances of serious and chronic diseases developing. What Research Into AGEs Is Telling Us Dr Bridglasingh of the Georgia group previously headed research studying four diets of as similar composition as possible but each processed in different ways. The aim of this study was to evaluate how the different levels of processing affected the amount of AGEs in each diet and how this in turn affected the dogs eating the diets. The four diets studied were high-heat processed kibble, heat processed canned food, air-dried food, and minimal processed raw food. The minimal processing for the raw food diet was necessary to eliminate the bacteria. The results came through as suspected. The more processed the diet. The more AGEs were found in the blood and urine of the dog eating that diet than of the dogs eating the less processed diets. Next, Dr. Bridglasingh wanted to know if the increased AGE counts had any effect on metabolism. She found that the higher number of AGEs makes changes to the bacteria in the gut which, in turn, alters the metabolism. As the research continues now at Georgia University, the team is looking at the role of AGEs in the diet and so then in the body of dogs and cats in both healthy and diseased conditions. If the results are as expected and AGEs are proved to be involved with diseases such as chronic kidney disease, diabetes mellitus and osteoarthritis, the aim is to discover what can be done to lower AGE levels and to help individual pets have an improved quality of life. Our pets live with us in the same environment, breathing the same air, drinking the same water, sometimes eating the same food, and suffering from very similar diseases.  For us humans, on medical and nutritional advice there has been a move towards eating minimal processed products consisting of whole ingredients. The pet food industry will need to take note of this and start providing the same for our dogs and cats. The emphasis used to be just about the nutrients. It’s not any more. Now it’s also about the ingredients and the way that they are prepared. Safe Nutrition For Your Shih Tzu Every situation is different and every dog in each of these situations is an individual, so there is no blanket single diet that can be said to be right for all dogs. Several different factors have to be taken into consideration. The health status of the dog, the financial status of the pet parent and that parent’s personal beliefs are just three of the main ones. Then there’s the question of the food companies. Are they doing enough to make sure that the food is safe and nutritious? Do they follow safety procedures? Do they have certification for the premises where the food is processed, regardless of whether they make it themselves or buy it in from a third party? One question that may well get a negative reply is have they tested their finished product to ensure that it is digestible? The product could well contain the best nutrients available, but if the dog cannot digest the food, all of those nutrients are going to waste. Many pet food companies would claim not to do a test for digestibility because they do not run tests on animals on ethical grounds. Yet there isn’t much that could be considered unethical about this particular test. It merely involves giving the food to a sample pool of dogs for one or two weeks and collecting their stools for laboratory analysis. Whatever came out with the stools can be taken as indigestible, and whatever stayed in as digested and absorbed into the body. It is then a simple case of mathematics and adjusting the food content accordingly. It’s a relatively inexpensive test that can be carried out on kennel dogs or selected individual household dogs. There is no reason for pet food companies not to conduct this test. We shih tzu parents can carry out a simplified version of this test on our own dogs. If you try out a new food on your shih tzu and it makes him poop more, then he is not getting as much nourishment from it and it would be wise to not continue with it. However, if you try a new food and he poops less, then he is probably getting more out of this food than his usual food, and it would be a good choice to add this to his regular diet. As well as finding out if your pet food company runs digestibility tests, finding out who actually formulated the food and if they have the relevant qualifications to do so would also be useful information to have. There are many people in the pet food industry that are well intentioned when putting recipes together but are not necessarily qualified to do so. Safe Food Handling For Our Pets We are constantly being advised by doctors, dietitians and nutrition experts, whether personally or through the media, to eat more fresh food in the place of high processed food. This is evidently filtering through to us pet parents as there is a trend for us to use the same philosophy on our dogs. Utilizing this philosophy can result in a substantial rise in the cost of our pet food shopping bill. The more processed foods have a much longer shelf life. They can stay on sale for months or even years. Less processed foods have to be eaten immediately, or if not within a day or two, otherwise they go off. For this reason, less processed foods are more expensive to produce. There is some concern over the safety of commercial  minimal processed foods and raw diets. Despite the fact that many pet food manufacturers have in place a system to check for possible bacterial contamination, we as pet parents should be vigilant and ensure that the food we are giving our dogs has been subjected to such tests. If the information isn’t clearly available on the packaging or the company’s website, we should be asking them about this directly. There should be a quality control system in place checking for bacterial pathogens and any risk of contamination in minimal processed and raw food production, just as there is for canned food and dry kibble. Recently, at the time of writing, there have been recalls of dry kibble contaminated with salmonella. We should expect the same action if any minimal processed or raw diet food is found to be contaminated. Whatever diet we are giving our dogs, we need that assurance. We should get as much information about the food we are giving our dogs as we can, in particular regarding safety and nutrition. Again, if this information is not on the label or the website, we should contact the food companies directly. The ones that respond accurately and willingly with the answers to our questions are most likely to be the companies with the best manufacturing practices and philosophies. Safe Food Handling At Home The need for the safe handling of food for your shih tzu doesn’t end with the food manufacturers. We pet parents need to be even more careful and vigilant when handling our dogs’ food as we do not have the same safety checks installed at home as the manufacturers have in their processing plants. This is true for all the types of food and treats that you give your shih tzu, but especially so if you are providing your own homemade or raw diet. The human-intended food we buy from our shops isn’t subject to the same stringent contamination tests as pet foods are. This is because if our raw and fresh food is contaminated with bacteria it isn’t as critical, for the food is intended to be cooked to kill off any such bacteria. So in theory anyway, it is perhaps safer to give your shih tzu a commercial homemade-like or raw diet than to put together your own. In practice, this is not necessarily so. Nicole Cammack headed a survey into households where pet parents were feeding raw or minimally processed diets to their dogs. The aim was to determine whether there were any food borne illnesses contracted as a result of having raw food in the house. The survey returned no confirmed cases of illness at all. What we do know for sure is that whatever diet you are feeding to your shih tzu, to reduce the risk of food borne illness, storing the food correctly, cleaning up thoroughly after making the food and washing your hands is just as important as having the correct ingredients in the food. What Is The Best Shih Tzu Food? There is not yet any proven evidence to determine which diet is the best but current research implicates that the more processed a food is, the more AGEs it will contain. There is evidence that shows that cutting down on the amount of AGEs in our diets lowers the risk of disease in humans. Until the research is completed, it is reasonable the same is true for our pets. The research is pointing that way, anyway. On this basis, the more fresh food and less processed food in your shih tzu’s diet the better, with the proviso that the fresh food is added safely. If you are already giving, or are planning to give, a homemade diet to your shih tzu, it is a good idea to consult with a qualified pet nutritionist to make sure that your dog is getting all of the nourishment he needs. Individual dogs with their varying activity and health levels, and variations in size and weight will have very different nutritional requirements.  Making up your own diet plan may contain some errors that could be detrimental, or at least not beneficial to your shih tzu’s health and well being. A consultation with a suitably qualified and experienced pet nutritionist can correct these errors. One final point. Allowing your shih tzu to become overweight can be just as hazardous to his health as too many AGEs or poor food safety. Whatever diet your dog is on, stay within the portion guidelines as given, in order of merit, by your pet nutritionist, your vet, or as stated on the product label. I have published feeding charts based on age, weight and activity levels for a healthy shih tzu in my post: How Much Food Should A Shih Tzu Eat? These charts are just a rough guide and the advice of your food nutritionist or vet takes precedence, especially if your shih tzu unfortunately has health issues. Remember when using these charts that if you regularly give your shih tzu treats, that 10% of the daily allowance should be reserved for this purpose. I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this report. I hope that it has given you some minimal processed food for thought.  I believe that the findings of the research being carried out by CANWI and the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine will revolutionize the pet food industry for the better. If enough of us pet parents ask these companies enough questions, it may even speed things along.If you have any queries about this report or anything relating to the shih tzu breed, please leave a comment below or use the contact shihtzuandyou form. List of Acknowledgements All of the information written in this report is based on knowledge I have learned from these good people: Dr. Donna Raditic Co-founder of CANWI Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionist Dr. Karen Becker Co-founder of CANWI Holistic Veterinary Surgeon Dr. David Turner President and co-founder of the Anti-A.G.E. Foundation.  A researcher into the link between cancer and diet at the South Carolina Medical University at Charleston. Dr. Turner has now joined the CANWI group. Dr. Joe Bartges Professor of Internal Medicine, Interventional Radiology and Nutrition at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. Heading the research group in AGEs, Dr. Siobhan Bridglasingh Completed her doctorate on AGEs in dog food. Postgrad joining Dr. Bartges’ team. Nicole Cammack Master’s Degree in Human Nutrition Studying at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine for a Ph.D in Comparative Biomedical Sciences for Companion Animal Nutrition Dr. Laura Gaylord Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionist I would like to thank all of these good people for passing on their findings to the general public and for all of the time and effort they are putting into this research for the benefit of our pets worldwide. I am sure that you can also appreciate the good work that CANWI is doing. Please remember that CANWI is a registered charitable organization and, as such, relies on donations to fund the cause. Please click here if you would like to make a donation to CANWI. Thanks again, Shih Tzu Steve. [...] Read more...
Health and FitnessWhen Do Shih Tzu Puppies Stop Growing? There are several distinct stages to a shih tzu puppy’s development, which I’ll come to later in this post, but to get to the point and answer your question, “When do shih tzu puppies stop growing?”, the answer is that although full adult height can be reached between six and eight months, growth usually continues until between nine and eleven months.  In some cases, growth can continue until fifteen months and small weight gains can be made up to age two years. How Big Is A Fully Grown Shih Tzu Dog? The American Kennel Club (AKC) affirm that the standard range of sizes and weights for the shih tzu breed of dog are as follows: Height range, standing, from the floor to the withers: 8 inches to 11 inches. (20.3 cm to 28 cm) Weight range: 9 pounds to 16 pounds (4 kg to 7.25 kg) Any fully grown shih tzu that falls outside of these ranges does so because of breeding abnormalities, either deliberate or natural, or because of underlying health issues. Terms such as “teacup shih tzu”. “toy shih tzu” or “imperial shih tzu” refer to undersized dogs and not to a recognized separate breed.For more information, see “Teacup Shih Tzu – The Cute Dog Facts“. How Big Will My Shih Tzu Get? ID: 15473429 © williecole | Depositphotos There are several methods that can be used to estimate the size that your shih tzu puppy will grow to, some more accurate than others. Perhaps the most accurate indicator of your puppy’s likely adult size is to look at the size of the parents if at all possible. Your puppy is likely to grow to somewhere between the height and weight of the father and that of the mother, although this can also be influenced by the size of the grandparents. If you don’t know the genetic history of your puppy, then there are some formulae that have been devised to estimate a shih tzu puppy’s full-grown adult size. Shih Tzu Puppy Growth Chart 1 – A Quick “Guesstimate” Age Of PuppyEstimated Adult Weight2 months3 x present weight + 2 to 3 pounds (0.9 to 1.4 kg)3 months2 x present weight + 1 pound (0.5 kg)4 months2 x present weight Shih Tzu Puppy Growth Chart 2 – Traditional Shih Tzu Weight Estimating Table Age Of PuppyEstimated Adult Weight1 month10 x present weight2 months5 x present weight3 months3 x present weight4 months2 x present weight5 months1.5 x present weight6 months1.2 x present weight7 months1.04 x present weight10 months1 x present weight Shih Tzu Puppy Growth Chart 3 – Estimation Based On Actual Puppy To Adult Weights This table is based on weighing 8-month-old puppies and then weighing the same puppies again when reaching adulthood. As it is calculated with actual weights it probably gives the most accurate estimate of the three tables. Weight at 8 weeksEstimated adult weight1¼ pounds (0.6 kg)5½ to 7 pounds (2.5 to 3.2 kg)1½ pounds (0.7 kg)6 to 7½ pounds (2.7 to 3.4 kg)1¾ pounds (0.8 kg)7 to 8 pounds (3.2 to 3.6 kg)2 pounds (0.9 kg)8 to 9½ pounds (3.6 to 4.3 kg)2¼ pounds (1 kg)9 to 10½ pounds (4.1 to 4.8 kg)2½ pounds (1.1 kg)9 to 11 pounds (4.1 to 5 kg)2¾ pounds (1.2 kg)11 to 14 pounds (5 to 6.4 kg)3 pounds (1.4 kg)12 to 15 pounds (5.4 to 6.8 kg)3¼ pounds (1.5 kg)13 to 16 pounds (5.9 to 7.3 kg)3½ pounds (1.6 kg)14 to 16 pounds (6.4 to 7.3 kg)3¾ pounds (1.7 kg)15 to 17 pounds (6.8 to 7.7 kg)4 pounds (1.8 kg)16 to 18 pounds (7.3 to 8.2 kg) Bear in mind that the adult weight your puppy will reach can also be affected by how much exercise he gets and how active he is, how much he eats and the quality of the food he eats plus his overall state of health. This is in addition to the size of his parents and grandparents as mentioned earlier. Shih Tzu Growth Stages ID: 75104747 © Taranukhin | Depositphotos Here’s a run through the main phases of a shih tzu puppy’s growth, as promised earlier. Stage 1 – From Birth Up To 3-Weeks-Old A newborn shih tzu puppy will weigh around 6 ounces (170g). It will be born unable to see or hear, as both the eyelids and the ear canals will be closed. However, the puppy’s central nervous system will be developing and certain essential survival reflexes will be present. These include suckling to ensure nourishment is taken in, perineal to let it out at the other end in the form of urination and defecation, the instinct to burrow to hide from predators and the instinct to tense up when carried by the scruff of the neck. At 2-weeks-old the eyelids and the ear canals will be starting to open, though sight and hearing will still be restricted. There may be some tail-wagging and some attempts at crawling. For some early developers, their puppy teeth may be starting to push through. At 3-weeks-old, sight and hearing will be much improved but still not yet fully developed, despite the eyelids and ear canals being fully opened. The skill of walking will probably be mastered over the course of a three day learning period as the puppy becomes more active and becomes aware of its surroundings, litter siblings, mother and humans. The puppy may also start making squeaking noises as it discovers its vocal cords. Stage 2 –  Young Puppy 4-Weeks-Old To 4-Months-Old There is a big growth spurt at 4-weeks-old and as a result of this, a lot of rest and sleep is taken. Outside of these rest periods, there is much activity as the puppy interacts more with his litter siblings establishing emotional bonds and boundaries of tolerance and fear. There may even be some venturing outside of the immediate litter area. The remaining milk teeth are coming through as the puppy is introduced to solid food. Though still not fully developed, sight, hearing and vocalization will be stronger. On reaching 6-weeks of age, the transition from mother’s milk to solid food should be complete. Sight and hearing is now completely established along with the desire to explore their environment. If you have a puppy of this age in your house it is important not to leave any items around that he could injure himself with and to put any items you value out of his reach. At 2-months the puppy is able to feed himself from a bowl presented to him. At this age, potty training can be started and understood. There is a school of thought that puppies can be taken from the litter and moved to their new home at 2-months, while others say that, because shih tzu mature later than other small dogs, 3-months is the ideal age for this. 3-months sees the puppy trying to find his place in the pack. If left unchecked, he will assume the position of alpha, or pack leader. This is the time to make it clear that you are the alpha and all humans in the household rank above him.  The puppy should be eating three meals per day now. The food should be formulated to provide the nutrition required by a rapidly growing puppy.  Read more about how much food to give your puppy here:  How Much Food Should A Shih Tzu Eat? Exercise should be provided through play and through walks during which socialization skills can also be further developed. Find out more about walking your puppy here: How Often Should You Walk A Shih Tzu? ID: 240183666 © cynoclub | Depositphotos At 4-months the puppy will still be learning his place in the pack, so keep on asserting your position as pack leader. Potty training continues but is at a more advanced stage. Now is a good time to start teaching some basic commands. The puppy will have high energy levels, so the basic training, along with play and walks, will help expend some of the excess.  The process of replacing milk teeth with adult teeth begins so, to save your footwear and furniture legs, have plenty of chew toys and teething toys available.  From this age, the puppy may develop separation anxiety if left alone or not given enough attention. Find out more about dealing with separation anxiety here: Shih Tzu Separation Anxiety – How To Cope  Stage 3 –  Older Puppy 5-Months-Old To 11-Months-Old 5-months to 6-months sees the puppies of both genders reaching puberty and the adolescent phase. Females not spayed will experience their first heat. However, although puppies of this age are rapidly approaching sexual maturity, if you are considering using your puppy for breeding this should be deferred until the age of 18 months. Growth will be slowing down, teething will be nearing completion and any previously excitable puppies should be calming down somewhat. Keep on asserting your pack leader position as any lapse will surely be challenged. By 9-months-old the puppy will probably have reached his full adult height although as he bulks out his weight will continue to increase up to 11-months. Some dogs may even add a little more weight up until 2 years. The growth rate slows down noticeably and this is the time to take the puppy off of the specially formulated puppy food that assists healthy growth and given adult formulated food in its place. Most puppies of this age will have their full set of adult teeth. Stage 4 –  Adult 1-Year-Old To 9-Years-Old Shih tzu are usually fully grown adults by 1-year of age. For standard sizes and weights, see “How Big Is A Fully Grown Shih Tzu Dog?” above. Generally, the male will grow slightly larger than the female.   Stage 5 –  Senior 10-Years-Old Plus 10-years-old is the average age that an adult shih tzu will become a senior dog, though there is no official age for this progression. Shih Tzu Life Expectancy The average lifespan of a shih tzu is 13 years and 2 months. However, with good health, good care, plenty of exercise and a healthy diet, there is every chance of a shih tzu reaching 16 years plus. I have even heard of exceptional dogs that have reached their 20th birthday.  I hope that your shih tzu has a long and happy life. Please use the comments box below if you have any questions or thoughts about this post, about the shih tzu breed or about this website. Alternatively, you can send a message using the contact us form. Shih Tzu Steve.   [...] Read more...
Health and FitnessShih tzu, being the small, short legged breed that they are, do not need nearly as much daily exercise as bigger breeds such as labradors and Alsatians. Shih tzu were originally bred as indoor house dogs but, nevertheless, they need exercise to keep them fit and healthy. Outdoor exercise especially will improve overall physical and mental health and potentially add months or even years to their life expectancy compared to sedentary dogs. Lack of exercise and particularly walks will subject your shih tzu to boredom and most probably lead to behavioral problems such as excessive barking or chewing. So, just how often should you walk a shih tzu? Frankly, this can vary from dog to dog depending on factors such as their individual character and age but generally a shih tzu will need a bare minimum of a daily walk of twenty minutes duration, walked at what, regardless of the dog’s age, is a brisk pace for the dog. This brisk pace will be broken up with plenty of breaks for sniffing, peeing and pooping. I can’t understand people who are almost dragging their dog along without giving them a chance to do any of the three. If you have the time, two walks per day of at least twenty minutes duration each is a better habit to get into. Not only is this even better for your dog’s physical and mental health but also, if you can put twelve hours between the two walks, will mean there is much less chance of your dog taking a toilet break indoors than if he only had the one walk per day. Some shih tzu may, on a particular day when they are feeling extra energetic, want to walk for up to an hour or more. I find that if this happens the next two or three walks turn out to be of much less duration. I don’t know if this happens with other dogs, but I can usually predict what length of walk Bruno is going to finish up doing by the amount of urine he releases at each pee stop. If there’s a lot I know it’s going to be a short one; just a few drips and I know we’re going to be out for some time. Taking Shih Tzu For a Walk Walking your shih tzu for more than an hour a day is getting towards the limit of what it’s little body is designed to do. Sure signs that your little one has had enough walking for one day is if he is panting heavily and/or if he lies flat on his belly and refuses to budge. If either of these happen it means it’s time to finish the walk or any other exercise and go home. If, like me, you are walking shih tzu with several years between their ages you may at times need to take the older ones back home before taking the younger ones with their extra energy of youth out again for a longer session. Try to vary the routes you walk your dog along. Yes, have your regular walks within the immediate neighbourhood area but also consider occasionally moving further afield. Shih tzus love a runaround in an open field, a frolic along a beach (check dogs are allowed on the beach first) and they absolutely love rolling around in freshly settled snow. If walking near trees or shrubs be careful that there are none of those little, sticky burrs lying around. These have a habit of sticking well into your dog’s coat as well as between his toes. You’ll know if any of these burrs are between his toes as he’ll be limping. They can be removed slowly and gently by hand or, if this proves difficult, from the coat with a comb and from the toes with tweezers. Shih tzu in general can be very obedient and usually want to behave in a way that makes their owners happy but no matter how obedient they may be they still have their moments when they want to do their own thing and stubbornly refuse to answer your commands. For that reason, when I’m walking Bruno and Charlie I always have them on extendable leashes. Although they know that moving vehicles are a bad thing to go near they are prone to dash across the road if they pick up a smell they like or see another dog they like/hate. It would break my heart if anything happened to them, so always the leash attached to the back of a harness it is and I recommend the same for any other shih tzu owner. Always set out prepared for the weather. Shih tzu overheat easily so in the hotter months it is a good idea to keep their hair cut short and then taking walks at sunrise and sunset avoiding the heat of the day. Carry a bottle of water with you on the walk, especially if it’s going to be one of the longer ones, and also a vessel for your dog to drink it from. One of those all in one plastic bottles hinged into an oblong drinking bowl is ideal for this. Halfway through the walk find a shady spot and offer your dog the drink. In the colder months keep your shih tzu‘s hair longer and in extremes of cold, frost and snow dress your dog in a fleece or waterproof jacket and don’t expose them to cold temperatures for more than fifteen minutes. If the weather is so bad walking the dog is out of the question then consider exercising your dog indoors. Shih tzu are usually very playful and respond well to chasing or catching rubber ball and hunting for their favourite toy that you’ve hidden somewhere are just two ways you can get your dog running around indoors. If you have a tiled floor your shih tzu will love to push an ice cube around the floor. Charlie sometimes initiates his own indoor exercise by running backwards and forwards from room to room like a demented Banshee for a few minutes. Bruno used to do the same when he was younger, but he is more into sleeping now! In summary then, to answer the question “How often should you walk a shih tzu?”, a minimum of one walk per day of at least twenty minutes duration, but preferably two walks a day, one of twenty minutes, the other a bit longer up to an hour and these walks to be at sunrise and sunset if possible. You need to get a “feel” of what length of walk is right for your dog. If the weather prevents “walkies”, then some form of indoor exercise should be encouraged as a substitute. I hope this has proved useful for you, please make a comment or use the contact us form  and I’ll see you in the next post. [...] Read more...
Health and FitnessIdentifying Shih Tzu Paw Problems If a shih tzu is suffering from problems in the paw area the first indications for the owner are likely to be excessive licking of the paw which may be accompanied by chewing or biting in the same area. There may be a swelling and inflammation of the paw and the pads, otherwise known as pododermatitis, a condition for which there are several causes and in order to treat the ailment effectively it is vital to pinpoint the exact cause. Extreme cases of pododermatitis may show bleeding, peeling of the skin of the pads and difficulty walking or standing. Shih tzu paw problems can initially be assessed by which paws are involved and how many. Please remember as you read on that I am only giving advice informing you of what could be causing paw problems so that you can decide what to do next. I am not intending to replace the professional and more accurate diagnosis offered by your vet. For anything other than the most minor complaint you can treat at home, please do consult your vet. Paws For Thought The most likely reason for a shih tzu licking his paws is an allergy and if only the front paws are affected, then it is almost certain to be an allergy. Allergies can be caused by the environment, often seasonally, by contact or by certain food items. They can cause a rash and itchy skin and it is usually the paws that are affected first. If only one paw is affected the likely causes are an injury to the paw, a foreign body attached to or in the paw, an insect bite or sting, a broken nail or the appearance of tumors or abscesses. ID 34601063 © Blanscape | Dreamstime When all four paws are affected the cause is likely to be burns from walking on a hot road surface or pavement or walking through a corrosive or caustic substance, friction burns from overindulging in exercise on hard surfaces, damage from snow melt or hyperkeratosis, a condition where hair grows on the actual pad, If swollen paws are accompanied with coughing, this may indicate a heart problem. Bacterial infections and fungal infections such as yeast are other complaints that would affect all four paws. These infections can make the paws swollen, itchy and malodorous. Crusty, swollen pads that do not appear to be causing any pain could indicate lupus, a disease where the autoimmune system becomes hyperactive and attacks otherwise healthy tissue. Or if there is pain it could be pemphigus foliaceus, another autoimmune deficiency which causes blisters and perhaps hyperkeratosis on otherwise healthy tissue. ID: 69108967 © Azaliya | Depositphotos What Your Vet Will Do If it is unclear what is causing the discomfort and swelling of the paws then after giving your shih tzu a thorough physical examination which, of course, will focus on the paws, your vet may run some tests to determine what the problem is and how to treat it. The vet may take a hair sample from the edge of the affected area and place it under a microscope to examine the structure and health of the hair. There will also be a check here for parasites, fungal infestations and dandruff as an indicator of dry skin. Next, the vet may take a scraping of skin cells from the paw area for microscopic examination to check for the presence of parasites, fungal and bacterial infections in a process known as cutaneous cytology. Other tests such as blood count, biochemical profile and urinalysis will further check for infections, autoimmune system deficiency and hormone deficiency. Dealing With The Problems Excessive Licking, Chewing And Biting Of Paws If you notice that your shih tzu is often licking, chewing or biting his paw or paws you need to find out the root cause and take some remedial action. If not eventually sores may appear around the area of attention. With even more licking and chewing the sores may then crack and bleed, becoming open to bacterial infection. The area may then become red, swollen and very painful. This encourages more licking and chewing, creating a vicious cycle. Hair may then fall out in the affected area. Allergies – The Most Common Reason For Excessive Licking ID: 79398704 © REDPIXEL | Depositphotos Allergies can be triggered by environmental elements such as pollens or dust, certain food items or insects such as dust mites or fleas when they bite. If you can discover what is triggering the allergy you may be able to deal with it at home just by removing or eradicating the trigger source. The paw licking should then stop as soon as any rash or inflammation has subsided. If there are any complications, such as open sores or bleeding, or the symptoms will not go away, you should consult your vet. In the first instance to check for any infections that may have resulted from the wounds and to administer medicine accordingly. Secondly to assess what is causing the allergic reaction and how to end it. This may also require medication. The licking and chewing of the paw and itchiness could be the only indications that your shih tzu may have an allergy, or it could be accompanied by any of a number of other symptoms. The licking and biting may spread to other parts of the body that have become itchy, have developed a rash or have sore spots. The back paws may be used to scratch the itchy areas of the body. Ear infections are common with allergies, often a reddish brown wax will develop that the shih tzu will dig out with a paw and then lick off of the paw, staining the fur in the process. Watery eyes will leave the tell tale brown tear stains under the eyes. The eyes may also become bloodshot. A runny nose, sneezing, coughing and wheezing may not be a cold or flu but may be further symptoms of an allergy, as could thinning hair, not wanting to exercise and rubbing the body against rough surfaces. Upset stomach, diarrhea or vomiting could be symptoms of a food allergy. If you suspect your shih tzu has a food allergy, experiment by removing an item you suspect may be causing the allergy from his diet. It the allergy clears up after a few days, all well and good. If it doesn’t it must be something else, so replace the first item and try removing another until you find the culprit. Frequent food allergy triggers are dairy products, wheat, soya but also consider individual meats and poultry, fish, eggs and corn. There are several steps you can take within your own household to minimize the risk of your shih tzu developing an allergic reaction. Firstly, frequently clean your floors and soft furnishings with a vacuum cleaner fitted with a HEPA filter, then dust the entire house with a damp cloth. Frequently launder all bedding, both human and dog, in hot water to 140ºF (60ºC). Before replacing the bedding, cover the mattresses and pillows with mite proof covers. When feeding your shih tzu try for food that has all natural ingredients which do not include any know triggers. Go for food that has no grains, is free from wheat and soya, corn, by products, chemical preservatives and artificial flavoring. See my post “Best Dog Food For A Shih Tzu” for more information. Serve the food in a stainless steel bowl as a plastic one will leach chemicals into the food. Don’t take out your shih tzu for walks during the middle of high pollen days, instead go out when pollen counts are lower, first thing in the morning and just before dusk. When you return home rub him down with hypoallergenic dog wipes and wash his paws in the bath or sink. TIP: Instead of hypoallergenic dog wipes use good quality hypoallergenic baby wipes – they’re usually at a lower price point and good quality ones will be strong enough for a shih tzu. Spray the paws with an itch relief spray for dogs to help remove the urge to lick. Yeast Infection If your shih tzu licks, chews and bites his paws a lot it could be due to a yeast infection, or it could be that a yeast infection has developed because of the licking and chewing. As the infection develops there will be a noticable, musty smell akin to that of stale, cheesy corn chips. Following this may be the occurrence of crusty sores on the skin which could spread to the ears, nose, anal area, neck and armpits (Should that be leg pits?) Yeast is naturally present on dogs, it’s only when the balance is upset and the yeast starts to take control, called overgrowth, that there is a problem. If you suspect that your shih tzu has a yeast infection, first consult your vet to confirm the diagnosis. If your vet thinks the overgrowth is severe enough, oral tablets containing either ketoconazole or fluconazole may be prescribed. TIP: If your shih tzu refuses to take any prescribed tablets, try wrapping them in a piece of his favorite food or favorite treat first. You may need to wrap it in food that has a stronger odor than the tablet for this to work. ID: 106919782 © vchalup2 | Depositphotos You can supplement the oral treatment prescribed by your vet by bathing your shih tzu’s paws using a medicated shampoo and then applying a medicated spray to his paws after drying. A good antifungal dog shampoo will contain 1% ketoconazole and 2% chlorhexidine gluconate. Bathe your shih tzu’s paws with the shampoo two or three times a week, soaking the paws for at least ten minutes each time until the symptoms subside, usually within a month. Then continue with the shampoo once a week to ensure the symptoms do not return. It will also help to spray the paws three times a day with an antifungal dog spray containing around 0.25% ketoconazole and 1% chlorhexidine gluconate. This will also make your shih tzu more comfortable by providing relief from itching. Dry Skin Dry skin on the paws can occur when out walking in cold temperatures or sometimes just from the accumulative effect of walking on hard surfaces. Chemicals used for de-icing roads and sidewalks that come into contact with the paws can further dry them out by dissipating the natural skin oils secreted by the sweat glands, or they may even cause chemical burns. To decrease the probability of dry skin developing, make sure your shih tzu is well hydrated and drinks plenty of water. Take some water with you on walks. If you have a humidifier in your household this will help too. Before you take your shih tzu out in cold weather apply a good quality paw wax to protect the paws from the elements and de-icing chemicals, or put your shih tzu in some good quality, all weather booties. When you return from any walk your shih tzu could become poisoned if any chemicals are ingested when he licks his paws, so clean the paws first with warm water and then apply some paw balm or paw spray to alleviate the discomfort of dry, cracked and chafed skin. Make sure the balm or spray gets in between the pads and the toes. Only use products specifically made for dogs as human products will be too strong. Cuts, Abrasions And Blisters Unfortunately, cuts and abrasions can happen from time to time. Deep cuts will need to be dealt with by your vet, just try your best to stop the bleeding until you get to the surgery. Apply pressure to the wound preferably with a sterile dressing. Minor scrapes you can deal with yourself. Wash the wound with warm water and antibacterial soap, then pat dry with a clean towel or cloth. Apply some antiseptic cream to the wound, I find tea tree cream very good for this, then cover the wound with a sterile dressing. Blistering can occur during the summer months when your shih tzu has been walking on a road, sidewalk or sandy beach that has been baked in the hot sun. In hot weather, always test the temperature of the surface you are going to walk your shih tzu on by touching it with your fingers first. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s to hot for your shih tzu’s paws. If this is the case, pick him up and carry him to somewhere more shady. Bear in mind that some surfaces, such as tarmac, will be hotter than others, such as grass. If you come back from a walk and find that your shih tzu’s paws are sore or burned from walking on hot surfaces, bathe the paws in cold water for at least ten minutes to halt the burning process, then clean the paws with antibacterial soap. Carefully pat the paws dry and wrap in gauze. If the blistering is severe or weeping, consult your vet as soon as possible. ID: 42713241 © meepoohyaphoto | Depositphotos Lack Of Attention If there are no signs of any physical ailments, your shih tzu may be licking and biting his paws as a way of dealing with boredom or stress. Boredom may set in if your shih tzu is at home alone for long periods of time or if he has human company but no attention. Being home alone for long periods can also lead to stress through separation anxiety. Other circumstances that can trigger stress for your shih tzu are bereavement, a new household member, beit another human or another pet, or if your household is noisy and chaotic. End your shih tzu’s boredom by interacting with him more. Take him for two walks of at least twenty minutes duration per day. Play at least one game with him, such as fetch the ball or tug the rope. If you have to go out somewhere take him with you if you can. Treat him to some interactive toys to play with, something with a puzzle to work out such as how to remove his treat from the toy. A flavored toy he can chew may take his mind off of his paw. If your household is noisy and chaotic, find your shih tzu a quiet little corner out of the way that he can call his own little piece of territory. This corner needs to be somewhere where he is in frequent contact with you and other family members. As for the stress caused by separation anxiety, I have a whole post just dedicated to dealing with this issue which you can find by clicking here. Other Paw Problems That May Be Licked It will happen from time to time that a foreign body such as a stone or a burr may become lodged between the paw pads. When this happens you will probably notice your shih tzu limping before you notice the licking. Gently remove the foreign body from the paw and bathe the paw with some antibacterial soap. If the skin is broken, treat as for cuts and abrasions. Another problem, and a potentially more serious one, where you may notice limping as the first symptom is the presence of an abscess or a tumor on a paw. These must be treated by your vet as soon as possible. They may be treated by medication alone but more severe cases may need to be surgically removed, particularly in the case of a tumor. Your shih tzu may be licking his paws simply because they have become swollen through overexertion. Plenty of rest and avoiding hard surfaces when walking is the remedy for this problem. Bathing the paws with some Epsom salts may also help. Paw Maintenance Issues Hair Between The Paw Pads All long haired dogs have hair growing between their paw pads that needs to be trimmed back regularly from the age of six months onwards and the shih tzu is no exception. Your groomer can do this for you, as can your vet but in between visits to either, it’s quite an easy job to perform yourself as long as you have the right equipment. For more details about how to trim your shih tzu’s paws yourself, see my post “Trim Shih Tzu Paws Like A Professional”. When walking outdoors the hair between the paw pads can be a magnet for gravel and small stones, mud, thorns, burrs, feces, gum, in fact almost anything on the ground small enough to wedge in the gap, making it a breeding ground for bacteria. Walking in winter can have the added problems not only of salt and corrosive chemicals but also of snow compacting into the crevices and expanding when it freezes to ice, causing pain for the unfortunate dog. Excess hair between the pads can also become tangled and matted which will also be painful and cause the dog to lose traction on shiny floor surfaces. Keeping the hair trimmed back below the surface and washing the paws with antibacterial soap after walks will help prevent a lot of problems. Hyperkeratosis – Hair On The Paw Pads Hyperkeratosis is a condition that affects some dogs where their paw hair actually grows on the pads as well as between them. As you can imagine, a dog’s weight pressing down on the hairs can be very uncomfortable. The hairs compressing against the pads can cause dry and cracked skin, leaving the paws open to infection. This condition cannot be cured but it can be managed. If your shih tzu is unfortunate enough to suffer from this you will need to consult your vet to discuss the best treatment. This treatment will probably involve the daily application of a medicated paw balm containing butters and oils. This combination of lubricants will give both instant and lasting relief. Hyperkeratosis can also appear in the nose. Nails Of course, as well as the hair between the paw pads requiring regular trimming, the same is also true of the nails. When you can hear your shih tzu’s paws tapping as he walks on a hard surface, that’s when his nails will need trimming. Again, you groomer or vet can do this for you but I will be talking through how you can do this yourself in my next post. Recovery ID: 169886086 © B-L-V | Depositphotos The amount of time it will take a shih tzu to recover from any of the problems discussed in this post largely depends upon what the ailment is, how badly affected the shih tzu is and how healthy the dog is otherwise. Some conditions will clear up in days, others will take weeks or even months. All you can do is make your shih tzu as comfortable as possible while their condition improves by using any prescribed medicines in the correct doses and applying  sprays, balms and protective dressings as necessary. I hope that you have found this information useful. Please do leave a comment or use the contact us form if you have any questions or thoughts about this topic, shih tzu in general or this website. Don’t forget to take a look at “Trim Shih Tzu Paws Like A Professional” where I run through how to trim back paw pad hair, how to trim the nails safely and describe the essential tools you will need. Until then, bye for now. [...] Read more...
Feeding Your Shih Tzu / Health and FitnessBest Homemade Food For Shih Tzu Dogs You’ve landed on this page because you want to know what the best homemade food for shih tzu dogs is. Then probably, like me, you have discovered to be true what you have suspected all along. That is that the majority of commercially produced dog food is full of ingredients that in the long term will do your shih tzu more harm than good. You have perhaps also discovered that so-called “natural” and “healthy” alternatives are much more expensive and if fed to your dog day in and day out will dramatically increase your monthly grocery bill. Even then, you cannot be sure that what it says on the label is accurate or not, or whether these alternatives are actually any more natural or healthy. Like many shih tzu parents, including me, you believe that making your own food for your little one is the best way forward to avoid all of the health problems that could arise from a constant diet of ultra-processed commercial canned food and kibble. The one problem with homemade food is, how do you know you are giving your shih tzu the correct food items in the correct quantities to provide all of the nourishment and vitamins your dog needs without causing weight problems? I usually recommend to my readers who want to put their shih tzu on a homemade diet to consult a qualified pet nutritionist to prepare a suitable diet plan for their dogs. The emphasis is on “qualified” here because anybody can set up and call themselves a pet nutritionist. The only ones you can trust are the ones that have successfully completed a recognized college or university course on pet nutrition.  Such a consultation, though, can also work out to be very expensive. I receive a lot of requests for homemade dog food recipes but I am reluctant to personally suggest exactly what to feed to your shih tzu because I am not a qualified pet nutritionist. However, it is a subject that in recent weeks has become of great interest to me. It is during my research into pet nutrition I believe I have discovered a solution that is easily affordable and assures me that the homemade diet I am giving to my shih tzus is balanced and provides all of the nourishment and vitamins they need for a healthy existence. I hope and I believe that it will also add months or even years to their lives. Before I reveal this solution, I am going to give you some background information first. But if you cannot wait, click the button below. Click here for over 60 healthy and nutritional homemade recipes for your shih tzu! AFFILIATE DECLARATION: This and similar links on this page will open a separate window at the TrainPetDog website, You are under no obligation to make a purchase there but if you do, Shihtzuandyou.com will earn a small commission at no extra expense to you. Dietary Advice From Leading Trained Pet Nutritionists For less than the price of a 10-pound (4.5kg) bag of “all-natural ingredients minimal processed dog food”, you get access to an ebook containing over sixty wholesome homemade recipes. From this choice, you are sure to find some that your shih tzu is absolutely going to love.  Many of these recipes can be put together with ingredients you may already have in your kitchen, again helping to keep the costs down. Many of the recipes can also be made in bulk and preserved in your fridge or freezer for later use. This is very helpful if you are living on a busy and tight schedule as it makes feeding your shih tzu homemade food almost as convenient as reaching for a packet or can. You can trust that these recipes are going to provide a balanced diet for your shih tzu along with all of the wholesome nutrients and vitamins he needs because they have been compiled by a group of very qualified pet nutritionists brought together by my partners at TrainPetDog. This group includes:  Dr. Susan Lauten Ph.D., founder of Pet Nutrition Consulting Dr. Jennifer Coates, Veterinarian, DVM, from The Spruce Pets Veterinary Review Board and Sabrine Contreras, Professional Canine Care / Nutrition Consultant, with Certification in Animal Care. These three people have a vested interest in animal welfare and you can be sure that all of their expert pet nutrition knowledge has gone into producing the 60+ recipes for this ebook. Unlike the majority of the pet food industry which puts its profits before the quality of ingredients, these ladies have your pet’s best health interests at heart. Their recipes are consistent with AAFCO (The Association of American Feed Control Officials) requirements. The authors do stress, however, that the recipes have not been tested on dogs, so it is up to each individual user to have their vet regularly check their dogs to ensure that they are thriving on their new homemade diet. Dog Friendly Homemade Recipes With In-Depth Analysis What makes the recipes in this ebook stand out as being so good for your shih tzu’s long-term health is that they are not just about the list of ingredients and how to bring them together which you would expect. In addition to this, there is a lot of useful, perhaps essential information included that the layperson such as you or I would not know about if we were putting together our own homemade recipes. This additional information for the first twenty recipes consists of: A breakdown of the percentage nutritional content of each recipe, including protein, carbohydrates, fats, fiber, and moisture.The calorific value per gram for each recipe, with advice on how to use this value to calculate how much of the food your dog will need to suit his individual circumstances.How many days supply of food each recipe makes, some recipes based on a healthy, 40-pound (18kg) dog, some based on a 25-pound (11.5kg) dog. TIP: For the average-sized shih tzu, multiply the 40-pound value by three or the 25-pound value by two. General tips on how to prepare the recipes, plus more preparation tips for each individual recipe. Even for the healthy dog recipes that follow these first twenty, there is still plenty of information there to help you prepare them. A Variety Of Choices For A Variety Of Situations The opening of the ebook contains a total of twenty recipes covering adult maintenance, active adult maintenance, allergenic adult maintenance, low-fat adult maintenance, and vegetarian adult maintenance. All of these come before we get to the sixty healthy dog recipes. There are recipes for complete meals, meal supplements, and healthy treats. Hundreds of different ingredients are featured throughout the ebook, some of which you may never have thought of feeding to your shih tzu before. Who would have thought that such diverse ingredients as quinoa, carob, charcoal, soy sauce, and kiwi fruit could be included in dog food? Most of the recipes are constructed in such a way that you can make similar substitutions for some ingredients should you have any difficulty finding the original choice. This Has To Be The Best Homemade Food For Your Shih Tzu In my humble opinion, and as the parent of two shih tzu dogs that I am desperately seeking an alternative diet for that doesn’t largely consist of ultra-processed commercial food, I think that this recipe book is the way forwards to giving my boys a healthier lifestyle, and I truly believe that, used properly and integrated gradually into your dog’s diet as suggested in the book, it could do the same for your shih tzu also. For Bruno at 14-years, it is probably too late, but for Charlie who is just coming up for 6 at the time of writing, I believe that moving him on to a diet consisting mainly of these homemade recipes could add months or even years to his life expectancy. I have bought this recipe book and I urge you, as a fellow shih tzu parent, to do the same. If you did, indeed, land on this page searching for the best homemade food for shih tzu, congratulations, you have found it! Low Cost + Save Money! As I previously mentioned, the ebook is available at a very reasonable low price, about the same price as a bag of kibble. I don’t want to reveal the price here, I want to leave that to the publishers at TrainPetDog and also I want you to be pleasantly surprised at how low the price is for what you are getting for your money. Because included in the package is not only the “Best Homemade Dog Food Recipes” ebook containing over 60 homemade ideas for nutritious meals and treats, but also four more very useful and informative ebook publications: The Ultimate Guide To Your Dog’s Diet & Nutrition – This book contains all of the information you need to provide your shih tzu with healthy, complete diet that fulfills all of his nutritional needs through all life stages and in an economical way. How To Increase Your Dog’s Lifespan By Changing His Diet – A look at the science behind dog nutrition and how to apply that to certain conditions, such as building strong bones and joints, combating obesity, and cancer prevention, to name a few.Healthy Diet For Bright & Shiny Skin & Coat – Expert dietary advice on how to keep your shih tzu’s skin and coat healthy.How To Handle Overweight Dogs & Picky Eaters – How to remedy two of the most common canine diet problems through feeding methods. You will receive all of this for one low price! These books are not just added as afterthoughts in a bid to persuade you to make the purchase. They are each informative in their own right and there’s a lot more to these books than I have highlighted here. They are more fully explained by the publishers before the purchasing stage if you click on the link below: This way to the Best Homemade Dog Food Recipes and 4 more healthy dog diet ebooks Not only will you not have to scrape many dollars together to own these five books, but they also have the potential to save you money over and over in no more wasted, uneaten food and fewer vets’ bills if you apply the dietary principles with the recipes and ingredients featured in the books. Not only this, but when you buy this set of ebooks, it is on approval. If you are not in any way satisfied with your purchase, you have 120 days to let TrainPetDog know, and they will refund you all of your money. Personally, I don’t think that you will want to take advantage of this facility, but it is reassuring to have it there all the same. The low cost, the potential health benefits for my boys, and the guarantee that I could get my money back if I wasn’t happy made the decision to buy these books very easy for me. I have not regretted it and I’m sure Bruno and Charlie will appreciate it. I’m sure your shih tzu will love you for it too! Learn more about the Best Homemade Dog Food Recipes 5 ebook package here! I hope that this report has been of some help and that your shih tzu will soon be enjoying some of the delicious recipes from TrainPetDog. You can also find further information on healthy diet and eating for your shih tzu at Shihtzuandyou.com following these links: Shih Tzu Food – Which Diet Is Best? Best Dog Food For A Shih Tzu – 2021 Revision If you have any questions or comments on this topic or anything concerning the shih tzu breed, please use the comments box below or, if you prefer, drop a message on our Contact Shihtzuandyou form. Bye for now! [...] Read more...
Grooming AdviceWhy you need shih tzu grooming tools. If you want the best for your shih tzu then you will have to be active with home grooming at least to some extent. If you’re currently taking your shih tzu to the groomer’s every six to eight weeks, which is a reasonable interval between haircuts, then you will have to be maintaining your dog’s appearance and health in between visits, for which you will have to acquire your own shih tzu grooming tools. Essentially, once or twice between groomer visits you will have to bathe your shih tzu. At least once a week it would be good practice to check the ears for excessive hair growth and that the ears are clean and free of infection. At the same time the paws will need to be inspected for excessive hair growth between the pads and to check that the nails have not grown too long. Then there’s brushing. Your shih tzu has two coats, an outer one and an inner one. Contrary to what a lot of people believe, the shih tzu breed does shed hair. The reason you don’t see the shed hair all over your clothes and furniture is that it gets trapped between the two coats. If you don’t brush your shih tzu’s hair every day and clear out the dead hair, mats and tangles can form. The Tools You Will Need ID: 240850542 © hurricanehank | Depositphotos This is not going to be a comprehensive list of what to have in your home grooming kit. I will just run through the basic equipment that will make life easier for you and your dog. Some are essential, some are desirable. I will let you know which ones are the essential tools. Just a few more words before I carry on. I advise against buying cheap items as they will be of a lesser quality and often badly designed to the extent that they may even hurt your shih tzu. Cheap items tend to break or wear out quickly and will need replacing often. They will actually cost you more in the long run. As a rule of thumb, it is usually best to go for the best professional quality, trusted brand equipment that you can afford. Generally, it will be better designed for your comfort, your dog’s comfort and will be more durable, lasting for years instead of weeks or months. Also, do not be tempted to use human grooming products on your shih tzu. For example, the blade sizes on clippers will be unsuitable, pin spacing and lengths on brushes will be wrong as will teeth spacing and lengths on combs. Always use grooming products specifically designed for small breed dogs on your shih tzu. Electric Clippers ID: 202627720 © djekill2007 | Depositphotos Electric clippers are a handy tool to have to trim the hair that grows between the paw pads, something that will need to be done between visits to the groomer. They are not strictly essential, as you can do this job with a sharp pair of rounded end scissors but electric clippers will do a better and more efficient job. Plus, as you and your shih tzu gain more confidence with the clippers, you may even want to progress to a complete shih tzu grooming haircut. Many clippers now are cordless which makes them much more portable and easier to maneuver around your shih tzu to reach those hard to get at places. In addition to this, there is no cord for a playful puppy to chew through. Some dogs become anxious and intolerant of loud clipper motors that cause much vibration, so look for clippers that specify low noise and low vibration. Also consider the weight of the clippers and the grip as you could be holding them for several minutes at a time. Blade size is probably the most important consideration when choosing clippers. Most professional quality clippers come supplied with a single, fixed size blade, usually size 10 which is just about small enough to trim in between paw pads, but a no.15 or smaller is better. If purchasing clippers with an adjustable blade, make sure sizes 15 to 30 are achievable. The no.10 blade is also good for trimming around the anus area for sanitary reasons, under the armpits and under the eyes if your shih tzu will tolerate this. If you do progress to performing complete shih tzu haircuts you will need to buy some bigger blades or use the plastic, clip-on combs that come with some clippers or can be purchased as extras. If using these combs a size 30 blade will be needed. Check for the availability of spare blades before deciding on your clippers. As inferred earlier, don’t buy cheap clippers. The blades will be inferior and will blunt easily, snagging on mats and becoming hot enough to burn a dog’s skin. Professional quality clippers will have sharp blades that will glide though mats and have less tendency to overheat with continuous use. Professional groomers use well known quality, brands such as Andis, Oster and Wahl. Click here for my review of the best professional dog grooming clippers for a shih tzu. ID: 132960022 © photography33 | Depositphotos Electric Clipper Spare Blades. If you decide to cut your shih tzu’s hair yourself you will need some extra blades for you clippers. Sizes 3 and 4 are good for general shih tzu clipping, whereas a 5 or 7 will be needed to remove stubborn mats. The higher the blade number, the closer to the skin it will cut. Size 3 will leave ½” to 1“ (13mm to 25mm) of hair and a 7 will leave ¼” (6mm). In addition to the size number the blades fall into “Finish Cut” and “Skip Tooth” categories. Finish Cut, represented by “F” or “FC” after the size number, does just that, finishes the cut off by giving a smooth appearance to the coat. Finish Cut blades will not deal with tough mats. Skip Tooth is for an initial rough cut to remove the majority of excess hair and mats but can also be used for finishing if you want a layered effect. To complicate things even further, there is a choice of blade edges. “UltraEdge” blades use high carbon stainless steel to prolong the life of the cutting edge. “CeramicEdge” being harder still will last even longer, though they will break if dropped. The ceramic does not conduct heat as readily as steel so will stay cooler for the comfort of the dog. “ShowEdge” blades you will only need if you require that immaculate finish to the coat that show dogs have. Clip-on Combs Clip on combs are ideal for new groomers as an alternative to changing the blades. They ensure that there is a gap between the clipper blades and the skin making it unlikely that you will nick your shih tzu’s skin. The combs, usually made from plastic or stainless steel, come individually numbered in a set. Again, the higher the number, the shorter the hair after cutting. For example, a no.1 will leave ½” (13mm) and a no.5 will leave ⅛” (3mm). There’s nothing to choose between the plastic or stainless steel version except for the stainless tends to stay on the clippers better if you hit a knot or a mat. Clipper Lubricating Oil Every time the clippers are used a drop or two of lubricating oil should be applied to the blades to prevent the possibility of them seizing up, to keep them running freely and keep them sharper for longer. TIP: If you have a sewing machine, you can use sewing machine oil to lubricate the blades. Clipper Coolant If the clippers are in use for a long time the blades may become too hot for use against a dog’s skin. A liberal squirt of coolant will almost instantly cool the blades down again ready to carry on cutting. The coolant when applied to the blades also acts as a cleaning agent. Blade Wash Blade wash will keep the blades clean and disinfected. To use and to avoid contaminating the whole jar, pour a little of the cleaning agent into a small dish, for example a ramekin dish, then dip in the cutting edge of blades while the clippers are running. Dog Grooming Shears ID: 27495345 © semenovp | Depositphotos In my opinion shears or scissors designed specifically for dog grooming should be an essential tool in your home grooming kit whether or not you are doing a complete grooming job. Ideally for working on a shih tzu, they should be 6½” to 7” (160mm to 175mm) size with gently curving up blades and rounded safety ends. Curved blades allow you to get into awkward areas and also to work around the eyes with the ends of the shears pointing safely away from the eyes. It is also good to have a smaller pair of shears, say around 3½” (90mm)  in your grooming kit for finishing work and getting into even tighter spaces. Coming soon: Shihtzuandyou.com’s favorite recommended dog grooming shears. Brushes Ideally, a shih tzu should be brushed every day to remove dead hair, dirt and other debris that gets trapped between the two coats and also to prevent uncomfortable and ultimately painful mats and tangles from forming. You will appreciate that with such frequent use a cheap brush is not going to be up to the job. The cheaper end of the range of brushes available have badly designed pins that are too sharp, dig into the skin and cause unnecessary pain. They will not be designed to avoid bristle burn on a dog’s skin. Cheaper pins will also be quite weak and will bend or break when getting caught in a mat or tangle. The handle is also likely to break easily. Go for good quality, well designed brushes from trusted brands. They will have sturdy pins that do not bend or break and a sturdy, ergonomically designed handle that won’t start to feel uncomfortable on longer brushing sessions. Before using any brush or comb test it out on your own arm first to make sure it is safe and to discover how much pressure you can put on it when brushing. That way you will avoid inflicting painful bristle burn upon your shih tzu. The Pin Brush – A Grooming Kit Essential A good quality pin brush will have rounded ends to avoid damaging your shih tzu’s skin. If you keep your shih tzu’s hair long a brush with 27mm pins will brush through the more dense outer coat to the woolly undercoat removing tangles and mats. 20mm pins are the recommended size for shorter haired shih tzu. Some pin brushes have retractable pins for cleaning purposes that greatly helps to empty the brush of accumulated dead hair. Don’t use pin brushes designed for human use on a shih tzu as the plastic tipped pins will not penetrate a shih tzu’s coat. The Slicker Brush – Another Grooming Kit Essential I say essential, but if your shih tzu has short hair you may get away with just a pin brush. ID: 44218807 © trybex | Depositphotos Slicker brushes have thinner, more densely set pins than a pin brush. It separates the hairs, enabling you to glide through mats and tangles, removing loose hair and debris whilst at the same time massaging your shih tzu’s skin encouraging the release of natural oils that keep the skin and hair healthy and shiny. Boar Bristle Brush – Optional But Nice To Have This type of brush will not remove any stubborn mats or tangles, therefore it should only be used after a slicker brush has done its job or if your shih tzu hair is cut really short. Use of this brush will stimulate the skin to release its natural oils, so if you want to give your shih tzu’s coat a glossy, shiny finish, then a once-over with a boar bristle brush will do the job. Generally, shih tzu love the feel of the bristles brushing against their skin and in some cases may even find a way of letting you know when they want to be brushed this way. Brushes Designed For Puppies Shih tzu puppies will not grow their second coat until the age of around ten months. Brushes designed for adult shih tzu are too big and too harsh for a puppy’s sensitive skin. Only brushes designed specifically for puppies should be used. Because it is very rare for a shih tzu puppy to suffer from mats and tangles the pins on these brushes are softer and more flexible. When the puppy has grown into an adult the brush can be kept for face work. Coming soon: Shihtzuandyou.com’s favorite recommended dog brushes. Combs Combing will not be necessary for really short coats but for longer haired shih tzu brushing alone may be insufficient and a good combing after a thorough brushing may be necessary. Going over the body and the face with a professional quality comb will remove any last remaining mats and tangles, leaving a neat, shiny coat. There are several types of grooming comb available and which ones you need, if any, depends largely upon you, your shih tzu and your grooming strategy. I think having at least one comb in your grooming kits is essential. If you have just one comb it should be one of the Greyhound variety. ID: 41220573 © chaoss | Depositphotos Greyhound Comb The classic style steel comb, the Greyhound comes in many shapes and sizes. The perfect one for shih tzu will have two sizes of teeth on the same comb. One half side will have extra fine teeth for under the eyes and face finishing work, while on the other half side will have medium or coarse teeth for removing any remaining tangles or mats from the body to make the coat totally mat free. Rat Tail Comb A rat tail comb is like half a greyhound comb with a long, tapering handle from which it gets its name. It’s only necessary to own one if you have a long haired shih tzu and you want to part the hair along the back bone. The rat tail is the perfect comb for this. It is also good for parting the head hair for making a topknot. The handle of the comb can be used carefully for loosening stubborn mats. Plastic rat tails do not work very well, so if you are going to buy one go for a steel one. Flea Comb Apart from the obvious, that is checking the coat for fleas, the extra fine teeth of a flea comb is great for removing food particles and other debris from the face including under the eyes, the whiskers and the beard. Flea combs tend to be less expensive than other combs. Dematting Comb A dematting comb can be used as an alternative tool to the slicker brush. You will only need to use one or the other, not both. Dematting combs are great for ensuring that long haired shih tzu with thick coats are kept mat and tangle free. The teeth of these combs are actually individual, tiny, sharp knives that slice through mats and tangles removing them with ease. Your shih tzu is protected from skin damage and lacerations by a guard that ensure the knives only cut hair. ID: 27193799 © budabar | Depositphotos Deshedding Brush Although termed as a brush by the grooming trade, this tool more resembles a comb with its steel teeth. It is another one of those tools that isn’t essential but is good to have at hand. Its purpose is to comb out the loose and dead hair that accumulates between the two coats of a shih tzu. This allows air to pass through the coat which, in turn, allows the skin to breathe. Deshedding brushes are not designed to cut hair or remove mats and tangles. Coming soon: Shihtzuandyou.com’s favorite recommended dog combs. Nail Clippers and Grinders Nail clippers are another essential item for your grooming kit. Your shih tzu’s nails are going to be in need of clipping every two to three weeks, which means that even if your groomer does the job at haircut time, you will still have to cut the nails in between visits. You will know that the nails need trimming when you can hear them tapping as your shih tzu walks on hard surfaces. Nails that are too long can put pressure on the toes and stress on the legs from having to stand awkwardly. As your shih tzu stands upright and still, the nails should not quite reach the ground. If they protrude any further they may get damaged and split, leaving them open to infection. Nail clippers come in various sizes and two basic designs, the guillotine type and the scissor type. Whichever design you opt for, choose the small size. Before clipping make sure the blades are sharp as dull blades can damage or splinter the nail. After clipping, smooth down the rough cut end of the nails with a nail file or nail grinder. ID: 43859905 © Aksakal | Depositphotos Guillotine Style Clippers These resemble an electrician’s wire stripping tool. The excess part of the nail is placed in a circular aperture between the two blades. The nail end is then sheared off as the handles are squeezed together. The guillotine style clipper generally makes a clean cut and rarely splinters the nail, if at all. These are my favored style of nail clippers for a shih tzu. TIP: Cat nail clippers are ideal for a shih tzu puppy’s nails. Move on to adult dog clippers when the nails no longer fit into the aperture. Scissor Style Clippers As the name suggests, these clippers resemble scissors and cut using a similar action. The better designs have a guard fitted to help prevent cutting off too much of the nail. Nail Grinders And Nail Files Freshly clipped shih tzu nails can feel sharp and scratchy if your shih tzu paws at your bare arm or leg. Ragged edges can draw blood or put a run in nylons. Smoothing over the cut ends with a grinder or a file will ensure that your shih tzu’s nails will not damage people or property. This is especially important if you have children around that interact with your dog. An adult shih tzu’s nails smooth down well with a nail grinder. Some people even prefer to perform the whole trimming operation with a grinder as it reduces the chances of accidentally cutting into the quick and causing bleeding. Some shih tzu may even tolerate the grinder rather than the clippers. TIP: If you have a Dremel type tool available in your household, you can use that with the appropriate nail polishing point mounted, saving you from having to buy a new nail grinder. Puppies’ nails are difficult to grind and are better suited to being smoothed over with a file. ID: 33677417 © vlabos | Depositphotos Styptic Powder Hopefully you will never need to use this but it is an essential part of your shih tzu grooming kit. Make sure you have some to hand before you start any nail trimming just in case you accidentally over trim and cut into the quick. A little styptic powder dusted over the wound will stop the bleeding. Alternatively you can use silver nitrate powder to do the same job. Ear Grooming Just as important as regular nail trimming is regular ear grooming. The hair that constantly grows inside your shih tzu’s ear needs to be plucked out by pinching it with your thumb and forefinger and pulling or, if you find that difficult, with curved hemostat forceps. The hair needs plucking out because it attracts dirt and debris, leading to a build up of wax and subsequent painful bacterial infections and allergies. As with the nails, if you take your shih tzu to a groomer he will do this for you but you will need to do some home plucking and cleaning between visits. If you notice any redness or bad odor around the inner ear then do not proceed with ear grooming until you have consulted you vet. If there is no such redness or odor then continue with the ear grooming process. Ear Cleaner, Cotton Balls And Ear Powder One ear at a time, squeeze the recommended drops of ear cleaner into the ear. Immediately cover the ear with the ear flap and massage the bottom of the ear for a minute or two. WARNING: You are probably going to have to battle some resistance with this! Then stand clear and allow your shih tzu a head shake which will loosen up any debris. After this, remove the debris with a clean cotton ball or clean ear wipe. Some people use cotton buds but I’m afraid of causing damage with one of these if my shih tzu flinches. Whichever you use, don’t insert it into the ear any further than you can see. After cleaning dry the ear and treat with ear powder. Summing Up Your Shih Tzu Grooming Tools ID: 72668413 © frank11 | Depositphotos The Essentials Electric clippersAdditional blades for electric clippers (If you are trimming the coat.)Clipper lubricating oilClipper coolantClipper blade wash6½” to 7” curved dog grooming shearsPin brushSlicker brush or dematting combGreyhound combRat tail comb (If your shih tzu has long hair, a centre parting or a top knot.)Nail clippersNail grinder or nail fileStyptic powderDog ear cleanerCotton balls or dog ear wipesDog ear powder Add These If You Can Clip-on comb set for electric clippers (If you are trimming the coat.)3½” curved dog grooming shearsBoar bristle brushFlea combDeshedding brush (If your shih tzu has long hair.)Dog curved ear hair hemostat forceps NOTE: The following paragraph contains affiliate links. If you click on one you will be taken to the TrainPetDog website where you will be under no obligation to disclose any personal information or to purchase anything. However, if you do make a purchase Shihtzuandyou.com will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I hope that you have found this post useful. If you are seriously interested in home grooming my friends at TrainPetDog.com have an instructional shih tzu grooming ebook for you to download absolutely for free. For more information, click here. If you have any questions or opinions related to this post or anything shih tzu, please leave a comment or contact us. Goodbye for now, see you next time. [...] Read more...
Health and FitnessWhen You See Your Shih Tzu Throwing Up There are several possible reasons that may cause a shih tzu to vomit. Not all of them will require an immediate visit to the vet, if at all.  When you notice your shih tzu throwing up, to determine if the intervention of a vet is needed and how urgent this is, you need to observe your shih tzu’s symptoms and, however unpleasant this sounds, look at the appearance and contents of the vomit. Before I go through all of the most common causes of a shih tzu vomiting and the best action to take, I think it’s first most important for you to know when you need to take your dog to be examined by a vet as soon as possible. When To Take Your Shih Tzu To The Vet While the most common causes of a shih tzu throwing up are treatable at home, there are some more serious problems that need more urgent, professional attention. Call your vet straight away, use the out-of-hours emergency number if you have to, if your shih tzu has any of these following symptoms. CHRONIC VOMITING If your shih tzu just throws up once or twice, this is known as acute vomiting. If he vomits continuously for three days or more, the condition then becomes known as chronic. Take your dog to the vet if his vomiting becomes chronic. SHIH TZU LOOKS WEAK AND VERY SICK This often goes hand in glove with chronic vomiting. The abdominal muscles have to contract forcefully every time something is brought up. This, together with dehydration caused by the expulsion of so much liquid, leaves the dog feeling weak and looking very sick. The vet may need to put the patient on a drip to replace lost body fluids and nutrients. PRESENCE OF RED OR BLACK FLECKS Red flecks are likely to be blood, while darker, blackish flecks are likely to be dried blood. If red or black flecks are present in your shih tzu’s vomit, call the vet right away. PROJECTILE VOMITING This is another one where the vet needs to be consulted immediately. What the dog brings up comes out with tremendous force.  The solid food contents of the stomach will come out first, followed by the liquid contents. There will then be some dry retching after the stomach has been emptied. VOMITING + OTHER MAJOR SYMPTOMS You should also consider a consultation with your vet if your shih tzu is vomiting while also suffering from one or more other major symptoms such as fever, diarrhea or a distended stomach. 8 Most Common Causes Of A Shih Tzu Throwing Up The shih tzu is not fed often enough throughout the day.There is a sudden change to different food.The shih tzu bolts his food too fast and swallows it without chewing.There is an intolerance to a certain food item or ingredient.The dog has an allergic reaction to something.A foreign object has been swallowed causing an obstruction.Gastritis or gastroenteritis.Parasites are present. Observe The Symptoms To Know What Action To Take It’s not a pleasant thing to do, I know, but if you examine the contents and the constitution of the vomit, together with the time of day and the situation, an assessment can be made to determine the possible causes and what action to take. Here are some of the most common symptoms a nauseous shih tzu may experience. YELLOW LIQUID This is the most common substance a shih tzu may bring up. It’s strictly speaking not vomit and it is not caused by something the shih tzu ate. Rather, it’s an expulsion of bile that happens because the shih tzu hasn’t eaten. Small dogs have short intestinal tracts that absorb food rapidly. This soon results in an empty stomach. With no food in the stomach, the bile swills around causing a reflux. The bile is then thrown up as a yellow to pale green liquid which can vary in its viscosity. It can sometimes be accompanied by a white foam. This is true in 98% of cases. For the other 2%, the yellow liquid is brought up because of gastritis or gastroenteritis. TREATMENT: An empty stomach can be prevented by spreading out your shih tzu’s daily food allocation. If you give your shih tzu two meals per day, give him the same amount of food but spread it out over three meals per day, morning, midday and evening. EXAMPLE: Instead of offering two 1.5 oz (42g) meals during a typical day, offer in place three 1oz (28g) meals. Or, if you are already giving your shih tzu three meals daily, try adding an extra dry snack to the menu. This should help prevent the stomach becoming completely empty and thus also help prevent the yellow vomit issue. TIP No.1: If you find it difficult to judge portion sizes, first fill up the bowl as far as you have been doing. Then tip out the food and either judge two-thirds by eye or weigh the food on some scales and remove one third. Place the two thirds back into the bowl and note how far up the food reaches. If you can, mark the position, or make a mental note if you can’t. Then, in future, just fill up the bowl to the mark.  TIP No.2: A lot of shih tzu parents will not be at home all day to administer the midday meal. If this applies to you, try leaving you dog with a treat release toy that will make available small amounts of food to reach his stomach regularly throughout the day. For an appetizing filling that will keep your shih tzu interested, stuff the toy with good quality kibble that you have mixed with a coating of good quality smooth peanut butter and a few drops of Omega-3 fish oil. This is the type of toy I had in mind: PET ZONE IQ TREAT DISPENSER BALL Click here on this affiliate link to visit Chewy.com for further information. This type of toy is ideal as it not only dispenses the kibble in small amounts at a time, it will also help keep your shih tzu amused during the time you are away. It also has four difficulty levels should your shih tzu outsmart it! FOOD COMES STRAIGHT BACK UP Technically, this is not vomiting. It is the regurgitation of the food that your shih tzu has just eaten. It usually comes up within fifteen minutes of the meal or snack. As the digestion process hasn’t begun, it comes up looking pretty much the same as when it went down only with that sickly odor. It happens either because the shih tzu eats too much too quickly or because of an intolerance to a food item. TREATMENT TO PREVENT EATING TOO FAST: The easiest way to regulate the speed at which your shih tzu eats is to use a food bowl or device especially engineered for such a purpose.  There are slow-feeder bowls available, but the majority of these manufactured for small dogs tend to be made of plastic. Plastic is not a good material to make a dog bowl from as tiny scratches that can harbor harmful bacteria accumulate on the surface over time. Then, in poor quality designs, there are potentially harmful chemicals in the structure of the plastic that may leech out and affect your dog over time.There are some stainless steel slow-feeder bowls on the market but I’ve not found one yet designed for a small dog. With the bowls built for larger dogs the gaps are too large to regulate a shih tzu’s feeding habits. It’s far more effective to use a portion pacer. OMEGA PAW STAINLESS STEEL PORTION PACER For further information on this, click on the image or product title for the affiliate link that will take you to the product page on Amazon. Just place the hygienic stainless steel ball in your shih tzu’s existing feeding bowl. The presence and nature of the moving ball as he nudges it with his snout then makes it impossible for him to bolt his food. If you think your shih tzu also gulps his water too fast, you might like to consider a second ball for his water bowl. TREATMENT FOR FOOD INTOLERANCE: You will need to discover exactly which particular ingredient or ingredients that your shih tzu has an intolerance to. This can be done by process of elimination. Remove one item from your shih tzu’s diet. Start with the item that you most suspect is causing the reaction. If the vomiting then stops, you’ve found the offending item. If the vomiting continues, try removing the next most suspected item, and so on until you find it. To help you, here is a list of the most common causes of food intolerance in shih tzus: Inferior additives found in low quality dog food, including by-products, synthetic preservatives, coloring dyes and flavoring, particularly MSG.Ingredients such as soy, corn and grains.There exists a small chance that a protein such as chicken could be causing the issue. Feeding your shih tzu only high quality food without any unnatural additives is as likely as anything to stop this type of vomiting.  The high quality food varieties may appear to cost more than the inferior varieties, but for what they potentially save you in vets’ bills, they usually work out more economical, not to mention much healthier for your shih tzu. VOMITING WHEN EXERCISING OR JUST AFTER This type of vomiting usually happens if a shih tzu becomes highly active soon after consuming a meal and the food hasn’t had time to settle in the stomach. In hot weather, too much exercise in the middle of the day can cause the onset of hyperthermia, of which vomiting is a symptom. Shih tzus have difficulty controlling their body temperature during periods of excessive heat. TREATMENT: After you shih tzu has eaten, let him rest for at least one hour before taking him out for a walk or engaging in active play. In high temperatures, schedule walks for early in the morning and late in the evening when it usually isn’t so hot. ID: 197285118 © jovep305@gmail.com | Depositphotos DRY RETCHING BUT NO VOMIT APPEARS Vomitless dry retching can be due to a partial blockage of the airway. This can be a food or bone particle, a foreign object that your shih tzu has swallowed, or a hairball. Hairballs can accumulate if you don’t brush the loose hairs out of your shih tzu’s coat regularly and your shih tzu licks his coat a lot. Think twice before giving your shih tzu a natural bone to chew on as fragments can splinter off and become lodged in the throat. TREATMENT: The object causing the obstruction may find it’s way out, though you might try opening your shih tzu’s jaws to see if you can remove the item yourself.  In the event that the dry retching continues for more than four hours, it’s wise to go and see the vet. If the problem does turn out to be a hairball, the vet may prescribe laxatives to help it pass through the body. Should the blockage be so severe that your shih tzu has difficulty breathing, you will not have time to get help from a vet. You will have to perform the Canine Heimlich Maneuver yourself. If you are unfamiliar with the procedure, I explain it here, step-by-step. THE CANINE HEIMLICH MANEUVER The first step is to check to see if you can remove the object yourself. Open your shih tzu’s jaws.Pull the tongue towards the front of the mouth, away from the throat.If you are able to see the offending object, pull it out or hook it out with your finger.Should this not be possible, then continue with the maneuver. NOTE: ONLY proceed with the canine Heimlich maneuver if there is no alternative as thrusting too forcefully can seriously injure your shih tzu. Hold your shih tzu in your arms with his back resting against your chest.Place your fist against the middle of his chest about 1-inch (2.5 cm) below his armpit level.Cover your fist with the palm of your other hand and make five thrusts inwards and upwards in rapid succession.If this has not dislodged the obstruction, hold your shih tzu by the top of his back legs, face pointing downwards.ONLY if the object has still not been dislodged, place your shih tzu face down with his chest on the palm of your hand.With the palm of your other hand, apply five sharp slaps in rapid succession between the shoulder blades. PROJECTILE VOMITING You need to take your shih tzu to the vet immediately on the first instance of any projectile vomiting as there are several serious illnesses or diseases that can cause this to happen. Examples of some conditions that can cause projectile vomiting are the presence of worms, an obstruction in the system, or parvovirus. If it is parvovirus there are usually other symptoms such as bloody diarrhea and weakness. VOMITING CAUSED BY TOXIC SUBSTANCES If you think that none of the previously mentioned causes are the reason why your shih tzu is vomiting, then consider that he may have ingested a poisonous substance. To determine if poisoning could be the reason, look for other symptoms which may include: Particularly intense vomiting. This is typical if a poisonous plant has been eaten.Bleeding from the eyes, nose and mouth. This happens if rat poison has been ingested.Dry retching.Weakness.Fainting.Panic attacks.Pacing.Diarrhea. TREATMENT: If you know that your shih tzu has taken in something toxic, call your vet straight away. Call the vet even if you are not 100% sure a poisonous substance is to blame.  Depending upon the poison, you may or may not be asked to make your shih tzu throw-up, typically with a specified dose of hydrogen peroxide. Then you will probably be requested to take your shih tzu to the surgery, together with a sample of the offending item if you have it. For example, if he has eaten some ivy, take a piece of the ivy with you. Or, if he has drunk some liquid you have spilled, take the rest of the bottle with you. Typically, poisons will not pass naturally through your shih tzu’s system, so medical intervention from a vet is essential. For information on food that could be harmful to a shih tzu and cause him to vomit, see my post: What Can Shih Tzu Not Eat? – Malevolent Morsels Revealed ACUTE VIRAL INFECTION Acute vomiting may be a symptom of an acute viral infection. As long as the vomiting doesn’t become chronic and there are no other symptoms that merits visit to the vet, this can be dealt with at home. See “General Treatment For Vomiting” below. VOMITING AFTER SURGERY If your shih tzu has just been operated upon, there may be a period of nausea and vomiting for a short while afterwards.  TREATMENT: Your vet should have spoken to you about this and also have prescribed the correct medication. TRAVEL SICKNESS ID: 38912635 © tomwang | Depositphotos Some shih tzu suffer nausea and vomiting when traveling by car or other vehicle. TREATMENT: Avoid taking your shih tzu in the car whenever you can. For the times when you have to travel with your shih tzu, your vet or your pet store can provide you with appropriate medication, usually on prescription. Here is a popular brand of canine travel sickness tablets, or antiemetics, to use a more technical term. You will need a prescription from your vet to purchase these. CERENIA ANTIEMETIC FOR DOGSFor further information click here to follow this affiliate link to Chewy.com. Home Treatment For Non-Emergency Cases If the reason for your shih tzu throwing up is not chronic and not in need of urgent medical attention, you can allow him to recover at home. After the vomiting has ended, wait for a minimum of twelve hours and at least until the next morning before feeding your shih tzu again. This allows his stomach time to get back to normal. Anything fed to your shih tzu before then is likely to be thrown up again. During the fast, ensure that plenty of water is available for your shih tzu to drink. The act of throwing up has a dehydrating effect and the lost fluid has to be replaced, essentialy. Plus, as he is not eating, he won’t be taking in any moisture with his food. Generally, dogs like to chew ice. So, one way you can encourage your shih tzu to take fluids on board is to offer him some small chips of ice from a lightly crushed ice cube. If he likes apples, you can try making ice from a mix of equal parts natural apple juice and water to help his sugar levels recover. When the time comes to end the fast, don’t force your dog to eat but offer him a small portion of bland food of equal parts one protein and one carbohydrate. For example, shredded chicken breast and white rice, or ground lean beef and sweet potato. Offer small portions frequently. Over the next three days, gradually change back to your shih tzu’s normal diet. Hopefully, he will then be fully recovered. However, if he starts throwing up again, it’s time to call the vet. If In Doubt …… I hope that you are now able to make an informed decision about what is the cause of your shih tzu throwing up, what action you can take and whether to involve the vet or not. I have tried to cover all of the common and most likely scenarios here but I am sure there are other, rarer conditions that can make your shih tzu vomit.  If you are in any doubt at all, call the vet. It’s better to be safe now than sorry later. If you have any queries relating to this article or anything concerning the shih tzu breed, please leave a comment in the box below or use our contact us form. Bye for now, Shih Tzu Steve. PS: Don’t forget to sign-up for our brand new newsletter, if you haven’t already done so. There’s a sign-up form in the sidebar (desktop) or below (mobile). As a thank you bonus you’ll get our free downloadable e-guide “7 Steps To A Happy Shih Tzu”, yours to keep. See you on the inside! [...] Read more...
Training TipsWhat Is Crate Training? I used to be dead set against crate training a shih tzu puppy, thinking that it was mentally cruel for the dog and anyway, why would you buy or adopt a dog and shut it away in a crate all day? On further investigation I have found that it is not cruel at all but, in fact, just the opposite. With the correct crate training methods a puppy will grow into a calm and stable adult dog while, at the same time, retaining his unique character. The primary reason for crate training a shih tzu puppy, however, is to teach him when and where he can go to the toilet. Crate training is arguably the easiest way to potty train a young shih tzu puppy. The main theory behind this is that a puppy will not, if he can at all help it, defecate in his sleeping area. So, if you have a crate that is just big enough for him to comfortably sleep in, then he will have no space to “do his business” and will learn to depend upon you to take him to where he can. Before setting yourself up to crate train your puppy you need to bear in mind that initially either you or someone else will have to be around to take the puppy out of the crate to the place where he can pee and poop every two hours. The time interval between toilet breaks will increase as the puppy grows, his bladder capacity increases and his bladder control strengthens. It’s not so bad, after the first three days he will likely be able to last six or seven hours during the night. Selecting A Suitable Crate There are three basic designs of crate. There’s the plastic box construction with a metal grill front door, the collapsible nylon type and the metal wire cage type. You may also see images of dogs in beer bottle crates or similar but these are unsuitable for crate training as there is no means of keeping your shih tzu from leaving the crate. A shih tzu about to fall asleep in a crate. Of the three, I recommend the wire cage type. With this design you can easily observe your shih tzu puppy at all times and he can also be reassured by seeing you when you are there with him. If you are going to buy one look for the following features. First of all, the size. There needs to be just enough room for your shih tzu puppy to stand up, turn around and to lie down comfortably and go to sleep. For the average sized shih tzu the optimum dimensions would be 13” (33cm) wide by 22” (56cm) long. The height is not as important but needs to be a minimum of 13” (33cm). If you are the proud owner of the larger American variant shih tzu puppy you will probably need to add around 20% to these dimensions. The next most important feature that your crate must have is a divider panel. The purpose of the divider panel is to restrict your new puppy to the front half of the crate for the first few days. Then, as he grows you can incrementally move the divider towards the back of the crate as necessary until it is no longer needed at all. The divider is there to restrict the amount of space your shih tzu puppy has inside the crate. Give him too much space and he will sleep at the back of the crate and then when he needs to pee or poop he will come to the front of the crate to do his business. If you just leave enough room for sleeping and nothing else he will probably, 99% for sure, not do anything in the crate. Another desirable feature is a leak proof, easy to clean, fitted pad in the bottom of the crate. The pad will give your puppy something more comfortable than the wire frame to sleep on and being leak proof will contain any fluids from both the biological and water bowl types of accident. Having two doors, one at the front and one at the side, will allow you to place the crate in some tight spaces while still being able to place your puppy in or out of the crate. With some designs however, you may not be able to use the side door until the divider is set towards the back of the crate past it. If the room where you are thinking of locating your crate has a hardwood floor then you might like to consider buying a crate featuring tiny rubberized or plastic wheels. Apart from making it easier to move the crate around, these wheels will lift the wire frame above the surface helping to prevent scratches and gouges. One last feature you may want to look out for when choosing your crate is the ability to collapse into a flat pack. This is a handy feature if you will be storing the crate away or if you are traveling and taking the crate with you. Having said that, traveling by car with your puppy inside the fully assembled crate is a great way of ensuring safety on the road as he is not free to roam around inside the vehicle. In a lot of countries it is a legal requirement to immobilize any pets traveling inside a vehicle. For further information, see “What Size Crate For A Shih Tzu?” The Theory Behind Crate Training It is a natural instinct for a dog to want to sleep in a den where he can feel safe from rivals and predators. In his den he would not make a mess near where he sleeps; he would either go outside or somewhere else in the den if it was large enough. The idea behind crate training is to make the crate his den, a place that is his own where he is comfortable, feels safe enough to sleep and where he won’t want to pee and poop. If you get the training right he will actually want to be inside his crate most of the time when he is relaxing or sleeping. Until your shih tzu is fully house trained he should never be left unsupervised unless safely inside his crate. If he were to defecate somewhere in the house, and if he has the chance he probably will, then the whole crate training program would be in jeopardy of failing. The program would also fail if you put him inside the crate as a form of punishment. This would have the effect of making the crate a place where your puppy doesn’t want to be, the exact opposite of the desired one. The crate must become a happy place for your shih tzu to be for this to work. You can increase your puppy’s feeling of his crate being a good place to be by giving him his food and water inside the crate. You can either use no spill bowls that lay on the floor but with little floor space available I recommend the clip-on type bowls that hang from the side of the crate. Crate Training A Shih Tzu Puppy – how it’s done. No, I said CRATE training! IMPORTANT WARNING! – Before placing your puppy inside a crate, make sure you remove any collars or neckwear to avoid any chance of entanglement and accidental strangulation. Ideally, you must put your puppy in his new crate as soon as he becomes your puppy. For the first three days of crate training you must carry him from the crate to the place where you want him to go to the toilet and when he has finished you must carry him back to the crate again. After the three days you can start walking him out on the leash but you must prevent any fouling between the crate and the toilet spot. You must never let any accidents happen with this method. Shih tzu do not like being alone so place the crate somewhere where he will have some human company from you and any other family or household members. Do not put any soft toys or blankets inside the crate as these can become “targets” to get peed on. To get started with the training, take your puppy from the crate whilst at the same time saying something out loud such as “walkies!” or “let’s go!”. Keep to the same command every time you do this and he will come to learn what is going to happen. If it’s the first three days of training carry, or after three days walk him to the place where you want him to pee and poop, whilst saying something along the lines of “let’s go outside” so that he gets to learn that means he is going to get the chance to relieve himself. When you reach the spot where you want him to pee let him on the ground and give another command such as “go potty” or “go toilet” to let him know you want him to do his business. In a few days or weeks he will associate this phrase with relieving himself and you will be able to get him to go on command. But for now he may go, he may not go. If he does, reward him with praise and possibly a small treat as well. If he doesn’t go do not punish him or scold him. Either way, whether he goes to the toilet or not, let him run around for a while to get some vital exercise, perhaps chasing his favourite ball or toy. Working his excess energy off like this will help reduce the chances of anxiety setting in during the times he is alone in his crate. Give him plenty of time and try the toilet command to see if he wants to pee or poop any more. Don’t forget to reward any successes. You can also use exercise time to teach other basic commands such as “sit”, “stay”, “come”, “lie down” and so on. When toilet time is over take your puppy back indoors for a session of petting and socializing prior to returning him to the crate. During this vital bonding time if it is the first three days of training you must hold on to him at all times. After three days you can let him loose but you must supervise him to make sure there are no “accidents”. After a few minutes of this, pick up your puppy saying the words “crate time”, and place him back in the crate. As you close the door, reward him with a treat and perhaps rub his head as you say “good boy!” so that he associates going back into the crate with good things happening. Watch him settle down then leave him to have a nap, he should need it after his exercise and excitement. You can leave him there for two or three hours before repeating the process again. If he needs a potty break before then he’ll let you know by whimpering or crying but be careful that this is the case and he is not doing it just to be let out of the crate. For the first three days you may well have to take him out once or twice during the night but after that, as I implied before, he should be able to last the night without a potty break. Just be there to take him out first thing in the morning. As your shih tzu puppy grows older you can start to lengthen the time he stays in the crate up to a maximum of four hours during the day. If you’re out at work all day this means either coming home for lunch or having someone else to take your puppy from the crate for a toilet and exercise break at this time. Paying a visit to the toilet spot. If Your Shih Tzu Becomes Agitated In His Crate This is more likely to happen if the shih tzu you are attempting to crate train is not a new puppy but an older puppy or even adult dog. When you are training a new puppy he is still learning about his environment and surroundings. You are training him at the right time for him to readily accept that his crate is a natural part of his environment. When training an older puppy or dog, he has probably already established what his environment and surroundings are and suddenly putting him in a crate comes as a shock. He then is likely to become anxious and agitated. There is a proven method that will calm your shih tzu down to the point where he accepts being in his crate. You have to be strong and not be manipulated by any fuss, whimpering or crying as he tries to get you to let him out of the crate. So, you have your shih tzu inside the crate, he wants out and kicks up a fuss to try to get you to open the door. Sit or kneel in front of the crate facing your dog. Don’t do anything until he stops still. Then, reach forwards as if you were to open the door. If he starts making a fuss again, take your hand away. Repeat this action until you can actually take off the latch without any fuss. Be careful, he’ll know probably try to poke his head through the door. If he does, make sure you close the door and put the latch back on. Repeat this until you can fully open the door and your shih tzu stays put without any fuss. When this happens, take him out of the crate, praise him because he has completed a desired behaviour, then, guess what? Put him back in the crate and close the door again! Apart from calming down an anxious shih tzu, the object of this exercise is to drive home that whenever you come to the crate and open the door it doesn’t necessarily mean he can come out, therefore it isn’t worth creating a fuss as you cannot be manipulated into giving him what he wants. It will teach him that coming out of the crate is a routine thing rather than a reward. When you put him back in the crate, for the first few times he will more than likely start with the whimpering and crying again, so carry on repeating the opening door, taking out and putting back exercise until he remains calm at all stages. You can give him treats every time he goes back into the crate, if you like, to help make being in the crate a pleasant experience. After Crate Training Is Completed Your puppy’s crate training is completed when he can seek out the place you have chosen for him to pee and poop without any prompting from you and he will even let you know by some means that he wants to go to the “go” spot. For example, my Bruno has a special “let me go to the toilet” bark, whereas Charlie lets me know by standing on his back legs and pawing my knees. You will have to discover the way your shih tzu is letting you know. When you are 100% sure that your shih tzu is not going to make a mess in the house, you can leave the door of the crate open for him to come and go. You may find that the crate remains his favourite place to sleep. Whether he does or not, it’s worth keeping the crate for transportation, travel and for occasions where you may have guests and you want to keep your shih tzu from under everyone’s feet. Spending some quality time together before going back in the crate. I hope that you have enjoyed reading about crate training. If you have any questions or comments please leave a comment or send us an email using our contact us form. See you in the next post, bye for now. [...] Read more...

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

Click here to let us know!

We’ll try and have something for you ASAP.