Like all breeds of dogs, Shih Tzus have their own share of unique and hereditary health conditions. Before you delve into the wonderful world of the shih tzu it is important that you understand common health problems so that you know what to look for should your dog fall ill. The cute squashed face look that we love about the shih tzu is actually a result of them being “Brachycephalic” (their skulls are very broad and short), unfortunately this gives them a sensitivity to high temperatures and also makes them prone to a few different respiratory conditions.
Before I go any further with this article on shih tzu health problems it is important to take your dog to a qualified vet if you suspect he or she is sick! Don’t take your dogs health for granted and don’t rely on feedback from the internet, have a vet examine your shih tzu to ensure everything is ok.
Shih Tzus are prone to heat stroke and overheating
If you are planning to take a long journey or car trip with your pet by your side ensure that your shih tzu doesn’t get over heated. Because of their short brachycephalic skulls they may not be able to get enough air through their nose and this can lead to overheating if your dog is kept outside or exercised too long in hot temperatures.
Narrow Nasal Passageways – Stenotic nares
Shih Tzus are also susceptible to a genetic health problem where the nasal passages are very narrow and small, known as stenotic nares. With narrow nasal passages it makes it very difficult for the dog to breathe which puts the lungs and heart under a lot more strain. In extreme cases of stenotic nares surgery is actually needed to properly open the nostrils to allow the dog to breathe.
Shih Tzu Cleft/Elongated soft palate problems
Much like humans a shih tzu may suffer from an elongated soft palate or a cleft palate whilst they are still in an embryonic state. A cleft palate is caused when the tissue that separates the nasal passage from the oral and throat areas is not fused properly. Generally this is not a big health concern but it can cause some respiratory issues that require surgery to fix.
Don’t let this list of shih tzu health problems scare you away from pet ownership! Every animal is susceptible to some health problems so it is always best to know what you may be up against rather than being left in the dark. Hopefully this brief list of common shih tzu problems has helped you understand your dog that little bit better and has helped you become a more aware owner. If you suspect that your shih tzu may have any of these health conditions be sure to contact your local vet as soon as possible.