Common Shih Tzu & Toy Breed Issues

Understanding Stenotic Nares in Shih Tzu Dogs

In the Shih Tzu breed, it is not uncommon for tight nostrils to occur occasionally. However, it’s important to differentiate between tight nostrils due to teething and stenotic nares, as they are not the same condition.

Tight nostrils typically occur when a puppy is teething and may persist until the adult teeth have fully come in. The tightness in the nostrils can fluctuate as the puppy’s gums swell during the teething process. While some puppies may experience difficulty breathing through their noses during this time, as long as they remain active and maintain normal eating and drinking habits, it is usually of little concern. Swelling in the bronchial tubes, gums, ear canals, and nostrils is common during teething, which may result in snoring, snorting, sniffing, or unusual breathing noises. Puppies typically outgrow these symptoms once their adult teeth have fully emerged. It is advisable not to allow an overly eager veterinarian to persuade you into unnecessary surgery for a teething puppy.

On the other hand, stenotic nares are a congenital condition present at birth. Sometimes, stenotic nares may go unnoticed initially. This condition occurs when there is a malformation of the cartilage, which can obstruct the dog’s upper respiratory tract, leading to a disruption in the airflow. The cartilage malformation can cause the nostrils to collapse as the puppy breathes. This collapse results in the obstruction of the dog’s airways. In severe cases, the nostrils may be extremely tight and the nasal openings narrow, almost closing off the nose. Severe stenotic nares can lead to other health concerns over time. If a puppy’s stenotic nares are so severe that they cannot breathe through their nose or if it is causing lethargy or other health issues, surgery may be necessary to enlarge the nasal openings and improve the dog’s breathing and overall respiratory function.

Open Fontanel: A Common Feature in Tiny Dogs

It is not uncommon for tiny dogs to have an open fontanel that remains open for a longer period compared to larger shih tzus. Typically, these fontanels close between 6 and 9 months of age. It’s important to note that open fontanels are not life-threatening. In fact, they serve an essential purpose in young puppies, similar to the soft spot on a human baby’s head.

The open fontanels allow the puppy’s head to mold, enabling them to fit through the birth canal. Additionally, they facilitate the growth of the brain within the skull without exerting any pressure on it.

Open Fontanel vs. Hydrocephalic Puppies

It’s crucial to understand that an open fontanel is different from a hydrocephalic condition in puppies. Unfortunately, some veterinarians may not be familiar with open fontanels, which can lead to unnecessary alarm among puppy parents.

Irrespective of their size; These hernias manifest as a small bulge in the area around the belly button. When touched, they feel squishy and can be easily pushed in. The hernia occurs due to a weak spot in the abdominal wall near the umbilicus, which allows a small amount of fatty tissue to protrude into a pocket beneath the skin, resulting in the bulge.It’s important to note that umbilical hernias are generally not a cause for concern and do not impact the dog’s quality of life. In some cases, these hernias may close naturally as the dog matures. However, if you choose to have the hernia repaired, it is recommended to do so during the spay or neuter procedure. It’s worth considering that anesthesia always carries some level of risk, so it is advisable to ensure that your veterinarian has experience working with toy dogs.

Understanding Stenotic Nares in Shih Tzu Dogs

In the Shih Tzu breed, it is not uncommon for tight nostrils to occur occasionally . However, it’s important to differentiate between tight nostrils due to teething and stenotic nares, as they are not the same condition. Tight nostrils typically occur when a puppy is teething and may persist until the adult teeth have fully come in. The tightness in the nostrils can fluctuate as the puppy’s gums swell during the teething process. While some puppies may experience difficulty breathing through their noses during this time, as long as they remain active and maintain normal eating and drinking habits, it is usually of little concern. Swelling in the bronchial tubes, gums, ear canals, and nostrils is common during teething, which may result in snoring, snorting, sniffing, or unusual breathing noises. Puppies typically outgrow these symptoms once their adult teeth have fully emerged. It is advisable not to allow an overly eager veterinarian to persuade you into unnecessary surgery for a teething puppy. On the other hand, stenotic nares are a congenital condition present at birth. Sometimes, stenotic nares may go unnoticed initially. This condition occurs when there is a malformation of the cartilage, which can obstruct the dog’s upper respiratory tract, leading to a disruption in the airflow. The cartilage malformation can cause the nostrils to collapse as the puppy breathes. This collapse results in the obstruction of the dog’s airways. In severe cases, the nostrils may be extremely tight and the nasal openings narrow, almost closing off the nose. Severe stenotic nares can lead to other health concerns over time. If a puppy’s stenotic nares are so severe that they cannot breathe through their nose or if it is causing lethargy or other health issues, surgery may be necessary to enlarge the nasal openings and improve the dog’s breathing and overall respiratory function.

Retained Baby Teeth in Shih Tzu Dogs: Dental Care and Recommendations

Retaining baby teeth is a common occurrence in Shih Tzu dogs, not just limited to the smaller ones. This happens when the adult teeth start growing in, but the baby teeth have not fallen out. If your puppy still has retained baby teeth, it is recommended to have them extracted while the puppy is under anesthesia for spay/neuter surgery. It’s important to note that anesthesia always carries some level of risk, so it is crucial to ensure that your veterinarian has experience performing surgeries on toy and teacup-sized puppies.

Regular tooth brushing should begin as soon as your puppy is settled in, to get them accustomed to the process early on. Ideally, daily brushing is recommended, but at the very least, a few times a week. You can use a soft infant toothbrush or a small puppy toothbrush along with a suitable doggie toothpaste. Shih Tzu dogs have the same number of teeth as larger breeds. By the age of 3 to 5 months, they typically have all 28 of their puppy teeth. Between 4 to 7 months of age, their adult teeth start to emerge, totaling 42 teeth. With all these teeth crammed into their tiny mouths, they are more prone to dental issues. Regular brushing can help prevent the need for anesthetic dental cleanings and contribute to the overall longevity and health of your Shih Tzu.

Taking care of your Shih Tzu’s dental hygiene is an essential part of their overall well-being and can help them lead a longer, healthier life.

Giardia & Coccidia

As part of routine care, every puppy undergoes regular treatment for parasites. The treatment process begins by administering preventive treatment to the mother around day 55 of her pregnancy to minimize the risk of transmission to the puppies.

At 2 weeks old, puppies are wormed with Pyrantel to address potential roundworm infestations. They are treated again at 4 weeks with Pyrantel and Toltrazuril to prevent coccidia. When puppies reach 6 weeks of age, they undergo a 5-day treatment with Safeguard, which provides coverage against both roundworms and Giardia. Additionally, Toltrazuril is administered again for coccidia prevention. This treatment cycle is repeated every 2 weeks until the puppy is ready to go to their new home.

It’s important to be aware that giardia, a particular protozoan parasite, can be quite challenging to manage. Stool samples can test negative and show no symptoms on one day, but certain stressors such as a car ride or a change in environment during travel can trigger the dormant giardia cysts in the intestines to hatch and cause giardiasis. It’s worth noting that treatment cannot eliminate dormant giardia cysts, and therefore, it is not possible to guarantee that a puppy will not develop giardiasis once they are in their new home.

If your puppy does develop giardiasis, it is crucial to initiate treatment promptly to address the infection. Swift action can help manage the condition effectively.