Dogs are the ultimate companions that provide constant love and loyalty that are unparalleled by humans. People don’t treat them simply as animals, but they welcome them into their family and provide utmost care and attention in different ways.
When choosing which pets to have, it can be kind of overwhelming to choose from the different dog breeds out there. One of the cutest and sweet-natured pals, if you prefer those types, are Shih Tzus.
This small, toy dog breed, with origins tracing from China, exhibits trust and friendliness towards its owners and other people. If you’re planning to get one, or you already have one, you should read a lot about this particular breed from websites like shihtzucenter.com, and follow this ultimate guide in taking care of your bestfriend Shih Tzu:
1. Attend to their basic needs
Similar to other dog breeds, your Shih Tzu should always have access to high-quality dog food and clean water. Aside from dog food, Shih Tzus can consume human food, as long as they’re human grade and kept fresh, such as:
- Peanut butter
- Green beans
One unique characteristic that sets them apart from other dog breeds is having fringed, furry beard and ears, so you might want to feed them with dry kibbles rather than wet or moist food, to avoid getting their fur dirty. For hydration, hanging a bottle for them to reach out to is much better than providing a water bowl so their fringes are always dry and clean.
2. Go to regular check-ups
Humans regularly receive medical attention and services from their doctor, and your Shih Tzu will also need the same from a licensed veterinarian. Shih Tzus belong to the oldest lineages, adapting the traits and characteristics from their predecessors. But overall, they’re a fairly healthy breed.
However, these toy dogs are prone to particular health conditions associated with these traits, and you should regularly visit your veterinarian to have them checked from time to time. Some common health issues in Shih Tzus that you should watch out for are:
- Hip dysplasia
- Collapsing trachea
- Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
- Patellar luxation
- Ear infections
- Intervertebral disk disease
3. Maintain physical activity regularly
When indoors, Shih Tzus lack physical activity and prefer to lie around, that’s why you should encourage them to be more active. Regular exercise can impact their overall health positively, both indoors and outdoors.
A typical way of encouraging physical activity is walking them outdoors for 20 to 30 minutes twice daily, with a brisking pace manageable for the dog. Since Shih Tzus are intelligent and energetic dogs, you can train them lightly and positively through obedience training or potty training.
If your Shih Tzu doesn’t receive daily exercise and lives a sedentary lifestyle, it can affect their behavior by letting out their suppressed energy into frustration, destructive chewing and biting, and excessive barking.
4. Dental care is a must
Because of their small sizes, Shih Tzus are more prone to dental issues mainly arising from the overcrowding of their teeth, so you should never turn a blind eye on their oral and dental care. While your Shih Tzu is still a puppy, take them immediately to a dental veterinarian and have them checked, so you can build an at-home dental care plan that you can strictly follow even without their dentist.
The most common dental problems that Shih Tzus encounter are plaque build-up and tooth infections that when neglected, could worsen to tooth decay and loss, causing extreme discomfort. In another way, unchecked tooth infections can travel up to their sinuses leading to a life-threatening condition called sepsis.
For improved dental care, always use a toothbrush with right sizes and a canine paste with no fluoride and foaming agents. Giving them dog treats from time to time will also help in increasing their saliva production and keep their teeth away from tartar as much as possible.
5. Groom your Shih Tzu frequently
A wide selection of grooming tasks should be performed on a regular basis to keep your Shih Tzu away from dirt, smell, infections, and parasites. Here’s a quick guide on their grooming requirements:
- Baths: Bathing your Shih Tzu should be done every 3 weeks. But if they have coat and skin issues, more frequent baths are needed.
- Brushing: Long coats should be brushed everyday, moderate coats every two days, and short coats every three days.
- Nails: Nails should be trimmed every six weeks.
- Nose and Paw Care: Depending on the situation, you should always keep your Shih Tzu’s nose and paws from being too dry, so reapply a moisturizing cream as much as needed, especially in cold weather.
- Eye and Face Wiping: Clean and wipe your Shih Tzu’s eyes and face daily.
Along with these grooming tasks, make sure that you’re using the right grooming products and tools advised by your veterinarian to avoid health issues from occurring.
Pet ownership is full of responsibilities so you should make sure to do your best in attending to your Shih Tzu. Whether these are basic or special needs, medical attention, physical activity, dental care, and grooming of your Shih Tzu, stay on top of these so you can keep them happy and in perfect health for their entire lifetime.