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10 Common Health Issues in Shih Tzus and How to Address Them

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Hey there, fellow Shih Tzu enthusiast! If you’re a proud owner of one of these adorable little furballs, you know just how special they are. With their charming personalities and affectionate nature, Shih Tzus bring so much joy into our lives. However, like any other breed, they can face certain health issues. But fear not! In this article, we’ll explore the 10 most common health issues that Shih Tzus encounter and discuss how you can address them to ensure your furry friend stays happy and healthy.

Understanding Shih Tzu Health

Shih Tzus are generally robust little dogs, but they are prone to certain health problems due to their unique physiology and genetic makeup. It’s essential for Shih Tzu owners to be aware of these issues so they can provide the best care possible for their beloved pets.

Dental Problems

One of the most prevalent health issues in Shih Tzus is dental problems. Their small mouths and crowded teeth make them susceptible to tartar buildup, gum disease, and tooth decay. Regular dental care, including brushing your Shih Tzu’s teeth and providing dental chews, can help prevent these issues.

Respiratory Issues

Due to their short snouts and flat faces, Shih Tzus can suffer from respiratory problems such as brachycephalic airway syndrome. This condition can lead to difficulty breathing, especially in hot or humid weather. Keeping your Shih Tzu cool and avoiding strenuous exercise during hot periods can help alleviate respiratory distress.

Eye Conditions

Shih Tzus are prone to various eye conditions, including cataracts, corneal ulcers, and cherry eye. Regular eye exams by a veterinarian can help detect these issues early, and prompt treatment is essential to prevent further complications and preserve your Shih Tzu’s vision.

Skin Allergies

Many Shih Tzus suffer from skin allergies, which can manifest as itching, redness, and hair loss. Allergies can be caused by various factors, including food, pollen, and environmental allergens. Identifying and eliminating the allergen, along with regular bathing and grooming, can help manage skin allergies in Shih Tzus.

Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation, or kneecap dislocation, is another common health issue in Shih Tzus. This condition can cause lameness and discomfort, especially in older dogs. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to correct the problem and alleviate pain.

Intervertebral Disc Disease

Shih Tzus are prone to intervertebral disc disease, a spinal condition that can cause pain, weakness, and paralysis. Keeping your Shih Tzu at a healthy weight and avoiding activities that put strain on the spine can help reduce the risk of this debilitating condition.

Ear Infections

Due to their floppy ears and narrow ear canals, Shih Tzus are susceptible to ear infections. Regular cleaning and inspection of your Shih Tzu’s ears can help prevent infections, and prompt treatment with ear drops prescribed by your veterinarian can alleviate discomfort and prevent complications.


Hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones, is relatively common in Shih Tzus. Symptoms include weight gain, lethargy, and hair loss. Treatment typically involves lifelong medication to supplement thyroid hormone levels.

Heart Problems

Shih Tzus are prone to various heart conditions, including mitral valve disease and congestive heart failure. Regular check-ups with your veterinarian, along with medication and dietary management as needed, can help manage these conditions and improve your Shih Tzu’s quality of life.


In conclusion, while Shih Tzus may be prone to certain health issues, with proper care and attention, many of these problems can be prevented or managed effectively. As a responsible pet owner, it’s essential to stay informed about potential health concerns and work closely with your veterinarian to ensure your Shih Tzu leads a long, happy, and healthy life.


How often should I take my Shih Tzu to the veterinarian?

Ideally, your Shih Tzu should have an annual check-up with the veterinarian to monitor their health and detect any potential issues early.

Are Shih Tzus prone to obesity?

Yes, Shih Tzus can easily gain weight if overfed or under-exercised. It’s crucial to monitor their diet and ensure they get regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight.

Can Shih Tzus live in hot climates?

While Shih Tzus can adapt to various climates, they are more comfortable in cooler environments due to their brachycephalic (flat-faced) features. Extra precautions should be taken to keep them cool in hot weather.

Are there any specific dietary requirements for Shih Tzus?

 Shih Tzus may benefit from a diet formulated for small breeds, with high-quality protein and essential nutrients. Your veterinarian can provide personalized dietary recommendations based on your Shih Tzu’s age, weight, and health status.

How can I help my Shih Tzu live a longer life?

Providing proper nutrition, regular exercise, preventive healthcare, and lots of love and attention can help ensure your Shih Tzu enjoys a long and fulfilling life by your side.

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