Shih Tzu dogs typically make great pets and often live long, healthy lives. With proper care and nutrition, most shih tzus live to about 15 years, according to MyDogBreed.com. However, there are certain health issues that seem to plague Shih Tzu dogs.
GoPetsAmerica.com states that Shih Tzu dogs, like many other small-breed dogs, are affected by a variety of different ailments. Many of these issues are quite serious and require long-term veterinary care. As some of these conditions are passed onto the Shih Tzu puppy from its parents, it is important to obtain your puppy from a qualified breeder that uses healthy dogs.
Shih Tzu dogs can suffer from the same issues as any other breed of dog does; however, there are certain conditions that occur commonly among this popular breed. Patellar luxation, in which the kneecap slides out of the knee, is often seen among shih tzus, according to GoPetsAmerica.com. Stenotic nares occurs when the nostrils are too small and is common among Shih Tzu dogs. Cleft palate, thyroid issues and bleeding disorders seem to plague Shih Tzu dogs quite often.
MyDogBreed.com suggests that many of the issues that occur among Shih Tzu dogs, including renal dysplasia, are due to genetics. In addition, some of the conditions that are present in the eyes, ears and nose, such as stenotic nares, are related to the physical composition of the dog. Cleft palate occurs when the two sides of the dog's palate fail to fuse together during the embryonic stage of development. Thyroid problems and bleeding disorders are often due to genetics, as well.
Each issue that affects shih tzus comes with its own set of symptoms. Hypothyroidism, for instance, causes shih tzus to gain weight, have decreased energy and hair loss. Bleeding disorders, such as Von Willebrand disease, are commonly diagnosed when prolonged bleeding occurs during surgery or injury, states GoPetsAmerica.com. In addition, shih tzus with bleeding problems often bleed from the gums, nose, intestine and urinary system. Stenotic nares is usually suspected when the Shih Tzu has difficulty breathing through its nose. Patellar luxation will often cause a Shih Tzu to limp while walking or running.
Treatment for Shih Tzu health problems vary, depending upon the issue. For instance, hypothyroidism is often treated with medication. Stenotic nares, patellar luxation and a cleft palate can usually be corrected with surgery. Kidney issues are typically managed with special diets and fluids.