Shih Tzu Health





With the proper series of inoculations, your Shih Tzu will be almost completely protected against the following canine diseases: rabies, distemper, hepatitis and leptospirosis. Respiratory diseases may affect the Shih Tzu dog or puppy. It happens because he is forced to live in a human rather than a natural doggy environment. Being subjected to a draft or cold after a bath, sleeping near the air conditioner or in the path of air from a fan can cause one of these respiratory ailments: coughs, colds, bronchitis, pneumonia. The signs are similar to those in humans. However, the germs of these diseases are different and do not affect both dogs and humans so they cannot catch them from each other. Keep the puppy warm, quiet, well fed. Your vet has antibiotics and other remedies to help the puppy fight back. See that he doesn't over exercise himself.


As with any animal, health problems and diseases can occur. This list is the most common health issues in Shih Tzu.


Umbilical Hernias -This is a condition where there is an abnormal opening on the dog’s abdomen which allows part of the abdominal contents to protrude. This problem can be surgically corrected but most often times will close by the time the dog reaches 1 year of age.


A small range of eye problems - such as juvenile cataracts and Progressive Retinal Atrophy can lead to early blindness in your Shih Tzu as they can be prone to these conditions.


Hip problems (hip dysplasia) - where the bones of the hip do not fit properly causing wear and tear and arthritis. Often symptoms will begin to show around mid life, starting with a limp and discomfort and eventually resulting in total loss of mobility.


Kidney problems (Renal dysplasia) - This is a condition where the kidney cells do no mature properly in the dog causing the kidney to gradually stop functioning over time. This can take anywhere from several months to years. One of the signs to look out for is severe thirst and urination.


Intervertebral disc disease -This is a condition where discs in the spine slip causing nerve damage, pain and possible paralysis. Most owners report that signs of the slipped disc occurred following a fall or jump. Treatment ranges from rest in mild cases to surgery in more serious ones.



Conventional wisdom says that umbilical hernias are inheritable, and a dog with a hernia should not be bred. Conventional wisdom, however, does not differentiate between "true hernias" where there is a defect in the body wall, and "delayed closures", where a small bit of omentum slips out of the area before the umbilicus closes.

"True hernias" are indeed highly inheritable. They generally have a thick cartilage edge with an irregular, more or less circular shape. They may extend up into the diaphragm, causing a communication between the thoracic (chest) cavity and the abdominal cavity. These are very difficult to repair surgically because there is a great deal of tissue missing and the tissue is hard and inflexible. They often require the use of a mesh implant to close the defect. These hernias can be related to other midline defects such as heart abnormalities and cleft palates.

"Delayed closures" are just that. There is an area in the abdominal wall where the great vessels of the umbilical cord exit the body of the fetus to derive nutrition and oxygen from the placenta. After birth, these vessels close and shrink up. There is left behind a small area in the midline where the vessels formerly escaped the body. The nature of this structure is a linear slit in the midline, lined with normal connective tissue. There are other structures on the 'midline' that undergo similar development after birth. In the heart, there is a hole between the upper chambers that allows the fetus to bypass the lungs, which, of course, cannot contribute any oxygen to the blood before birth. Oxygen is obtained through the umbilical cord from the placenta, where the mother's blood stream exchanges oxygen and carbon dioxide with the baby's circulation. When there are delayed closures in the heart, it may be possible to hear a murmur at 4 or 5 weeks that is no longer audible by 6 or 8 weeks. This is normal development. These holes, like the umbilicus, must be present in the fetus and close over a period of time after birth.

Omentum is a kind of slippery thin sheet of tissue which is present in the abdomen. It provides several services to the abdominal organs. It has blood vessels travelling through it to the intestine. Its surfaces produce serous fluid which lubricates the abdominal organs and makes it possible for them to slide against each other without rubbing. It carries lymph nodes for the abdomen, and is a major depot for fat storage. It partially contains the abdominal organs - especially the small intestine - and supports them in a kind of "plastic bag". As the puppy puts on weight, it is possible for a bit of this thin slippery tissue to protrude through the umbilical slit. As the normal process of closing of the umbilicus proceeds, it is possible for this bit of tissue to be entrapped. The danger here is whether it is solely omentum that is escaping, or if the defect is large enough for a loop of small intestine to escape the abdomen as well.

It is essential with either condition to "reduce" the tissue escaping at least once daily. Turn the puppy on its back and gently massage the protrusion and slide the contents back up into the abdomen. This lowers the risk of a loop of intestine becoming strangulated in the protruding tissue. If the 'hernia' is a closure defect, the normal process of closing will continue, and at some point a small amount of omentum may be entrapped in a bubble outside the essentially closed body wall. This is viewed by most people as a hernia, and a serious problem. If the dog is a year old, has a small bubble, or 'belly button', and it cannot be reduced, has been there since it was a baby, and the dog is healthy and well, it is pretty obvious that the bubble does not contain any intestine. While the puppy is younger, it may not be clear. The very tiny holes with a small bubble of omentum do not require surgery. Slightly larger holes should be closed to be sure that no intestine becomes strangulated in the process of closure. NOTE: no delayed closure can ever close completely simply because there is something sticking through it. If there were no omentum sliding out, they would continue to close normally. What they do, is they close tightly around the omentum, trapping it outside in an absolutely firm unchanging bubble.

"True" umbilical hernias can make no progress in closing, ever. They must always be surgically repaired. These individuals should never be bred. These are quite serious.



Most Shih Tzu at some time or another will make this snorting/snuffling/honking sound - do not panic, gently cover his nose with your hand thus making him breathe through his mouth and it will stop.



Stenotic nares is part of the brachycephalic syndrome of short-nosed dogs. Breeds such as Boxers, Bulldogs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Pugs, Boston Terriers, Shih Tzus, Lasa Aphsas, etc. are all considered brachycephalic breeds. Stenotic nares means the nostrils are pinched or narrow. This makes it more difficult to breathe and causes snorting and snoring in these animals. It is a congenital trait; these animals are born with it. Veterinarians perform a simple surgery to help widen the nares, often at the same time as a spay or neuter. 



Many Shih Tzu puppies nose’s will become tight during the teething phase. It will often cause them to snort and mouth breath. This will go away usually around 12-16 weeks of age sometimes longer. It is very different than Stenotic Nares which is noticed from birth.

TEETHING PROBLEMS - When the Shih Tzu puppies experience teething trouble the noses swell and pinch off some and they may have a little clear, watery discharge. They will also make some snorting and snuffling sounds and may mouth breath. They will usually outgrow this after the adult teeth come in. As long as they are playful and active and eating and drinking well, they are ok. If they can’t eat or drink well and are lethargic or the discharge changes color, they may have developed infection and need to be checked and treated. Most Shih Tzu pups are fine after adult teeth have come in. The official book of this breed recommends not letting any surgery be done until after adult teeth are in as most will then resolve.



This is a disgusting habit that some Shih Tzu do have. It has been suggested that it is natural instinct linked back to undomesticated times when dogs in the wild would eat their stool to eliminate the scent so that predators wouldn’t pick it up. There are products, such as ‘Forbid’ you can acquire from your Vet or catalogs that can be put on the food that is suppose to help in stopping this habit. I have also been told that a wedge of pineapple with their food or a teaspoon of spaghetti sauce or spinach over their food will help break this habit. Still, being close to remove the poop immediately is the sure method to prevent this from happening should they have the tendency.



Neutering and spaying your household pets is a sound investment in their health and companionship. You are also doing your part to help control the pet population. With the exception of professional breeders equipped to handle the burdens of breeding dogs, owners should get their pets spayed or neutered as soon as their veterinarian recommends.


What Is Spaying and Neutering?
This is the surgical procedure in which the reproductive organs are removed from a female dog (spaying), or the testicles are removed from a male dog (neutering). Although often thought of simply as a way to prevent unplanned litters of puppies, it also has numerous other benefits for dog and owner alike.


Benefits of Spaying and Neutering
In addition to preventing unplanned litters, which can be a burden on owners and communities, this basic procedure can:

· Eliminate the risk of ovarian and uterine cancer in females and testicular cancer in males

· Reduce the risk of mammary gland cancer in females

· Make males less likely to roam, which can lead to lost dogs.

· Make males less aggressive and more affectionate.



There are many misconceptions about spaying and neutering. Some are misconceptions based on the real effects of the procedure, but others have no real basis in proven fact.

Fiction: Female dogs are more content after having a litter, or should have one litter before being spayed.
There is no evidence of this. But waiting to spay can lessen the protective effect that spaying has on your female dog and because spaying reduces the risk of mammary tumors, it is important to spay as soon as your veterinarian suggests.

Fiction: Spaying and neutering makes dogs fat.
Spaying or neutering does NOT make a dog fat. However, the procedure can reduce the amount of energy a dog needs, so should monitor your pets body condition after the procedure and reduce your feeding amount as needed.

Fiction: Spaying or neutering makes dogs lazy and/or changes their personality.
Neutering a male dog can make him less aggressive, but as a rule that is a benefit. In terms of playfulness or activity, these patterns change as a dog gets older whether or not it is spayed or neutered. Don’t mistake maturing for a change in personality.

Fiction: Spaying and neutering are dangerous procedures.
While this is a surgical procedure and carries some small degree of risk, it is also a very common, well-practiced procedure. Your veterinarian can tell you what risks are present. You will almost always find that the benefits greatly outweigh the