Shih Tzu Skin Disorders

Updated November 21, 2016

A common trait of Shih Tzus is their tendency toward allergies, particularly when it comes to food. Your veterinarian will probably take a skin scraping for viewing under a microscope to determine the cause of your dog's itching. Often, a change in diet, therapeutic shampoos and baths, and sometimes medication can ease a dog's discomfort.


There are numerous factors that can have a negative impact on a Shih Tzu's delicate skin. While skin conditions are often inherited, healthy dogs are still vulnerable to parasites. Hormones and the immune system also play a role. Since nutrition plays a large part in the condition of a dog's skin, a nutritionally balanced diet will help keep your Shih Tzu's coat and skin healthy. Daily supplements and Omega-3 fatty acids have been helpful in many cases. Every dog's dietary needs are different, and professional advice can help. Trial and error often determine what works best for individual dogs.


When a Shih Tzu scratches and licks its fur or shakes its head, it is usually due to allergies. These dogs can develop serious allergies to bacteria and are especially susceptible to food allergies. Their systems can be upset by soy products, wheat, beef, pork, fish, eggs, milk, corn, chemical preservatives in their food and artificial sweeteners. With such a long list, Shih Tzus often do better with store-bought food than homemade. Because they also develop allergies to fleas through flea saliva, flea-preventive medication is recommended for the breed.


Shih Tzus are prone to atopic dermatitis. An inflammation of the skin, the condition is brought on by a sensitivity in the immune system to environmental factors like mould or dust mites. Chewing or licking the back feet or abdomen are indications the disorder is present. The owner might notice a discolouration of the fur in the dog's armpits and groin and between his toes. Your veterinarian might recommend a dietary change or suggest ways to control mould and pollen in the home environment.

Sebaceous Adenitis

This skin disease can appear in Shih Tzus of any age. Dry, scaly patches; dark spots; hair loss; and an unpleasant odour are signs that indicate your dog has SA. The condition is brought on by an inflammation of the sebaceous glands. Usually, the most severe result is hair loss. Frequent bathing with medicated shampoos can remove some of the scale and moisten the skin. While the disease is cyclical, owners should consult their veterinarian regarding treatment.


Seeing that Shih Tzus are up to date on flea medication and ensuring they have a nutritionally adequate diet play a huge role in keeping their skin healthy. Herbs and natural remedies often relieve excessive itching, and vitamins and antioxidants will benefit them. In difficult cases, your vet might recommend a specialist. While Shih Tzus' coats might need more attention than those of other breeds, the result is worth the time.

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