Shih Tzus are a generally healthy, hardy breed of dog despite their show-dog looks. However, they are susceptible to certain diseases. Skin diseases are not one of the more common problems affecting a Shih Tzu's health, but they do happen. Quick diagnosis and proper treatment is necessary if you think your Shih Tzu may have a skin disease.
Fleas, mites, ear mites, lice and ticks are parasites that can cause skin problems for your Shih Tzu. Shih Tzu's that are allergic to fleas may suffer with flea dermatitis, which causes tender, irritated skin and hair loss. Mites can cause sarcoptic or demodectic mange, both of which can cause itching, reddened, scaly or crusted skin.
Shih Tzus can be allergic to foods, flea saliva, dust, moulds, pollen or household chemicals present in cleaners, carpets, clothing or furniture. The American Shih Tzu Club states that itching is the most common sign of allergic skin diseases in your dog.
Bacterial Skin Infections
The most common bacteria found to cause skin diseases in Shih Tzus is the staphylococci bacteria. Signs of a bacterial skin infections are itching, yellow pustules that become dry and crusty, skin that appears red, hair loss and unpleasant odour.
Fungal Skin Infections
Microsporum and trichophyton are the two primary species of fungi that cause skin infections in a Shih Tzu. The more widely known name for the disease that results from these fungi is ringworm. The head and legs of the Shih Tzu are most commonly affected. Patchy hair loss, itching and crusty skin are indications of ringworm.
Hormonal Skin Disease
Imbalances in the thyroid, adrenal or pituitary glands, or the testicles or ovaries can cause changes in the skin and coat of a Shih Tzu. Typically, hormonal skin diseases do not cause itching, but changes in the colour or thickness of the skin may occur along with evenly distributed hair loss.