Shih Tzu Care

Shih Tzu CareReally caring for your Shih Tzu means giving your pet the food they need, the exercise they love and the grooming their coat requires. You also need to be aware of the common health conditions that can affect the breed, so you know what to look out for.

Luckily for owners of this toy breed, maintenance is relatively simple and the dog doesn’t require too much exercise (at least, compared to large dogs). Take a look at these simple ways you can maintain good care of your beloved pet and ensure he or she enjoys a long, healthy life.

Feeding Your Shih Tzu

The toy breed should be fed three times a day as a puppy, serving an ounce of food per pound that your dog weighs. Puppies need lots more calories per pound of their body weight than an adult dog.

Once your Shih Tzu is over three months of age, you should stop free feeding. This means that outside of meals, the amount of treats you give your pet should be limited, and all meals should be scheduled. This keeps their digestive system regular, and helps keep their blood sugar levels steady throughout the day. Some Shih Tzus will be fine eating just once per day, but most do best with two meals per day – one in the morning and one at night. Two regular meals a day can help avoid any stomach problems and sickness.

When giving your Shih Tzu treats – which should be reserved for good behavior – it’s important to use dog treats as opposed to human food. It can be nice to treat your pet to morsels of your own food, but you should remember that many human treats are simply too rich, or dangerous, for dogs. Foods you need to avoid include chocolate, which can kill toy breeds like Shih Tzu, as well as onions, coffee, salt and grapes. These foods can cause kidney damage, kill red blood cells and trigger seizures and comas.

Your Shih Tzu’s long coat will need weekly grooming in order to stay clean and to avoid knots. You won’t have to worry about your dog getting too dirty, though – the Shih Tzu is a clean dog because they are happier sat at your feet than rolling around in the mud.

Your Shih Tzu’s Exercise Needs

As for exercise, owners of Shih Tzus can relax knowing they’re not exactly the most energetic dogs. You won’t need to go on multiple daily walks – just one walk per day is good enough for the average Shih Tzu. Smaller Shih Tzus can be satisfied with just a little indoor play from time to time, too, meaning they’re a great option for people with mobility issues.

Even with a dog that doesn’t need too much exercise, however, you need to ensure that your pet stays healthy. Daily walks are great, but make sure you’re not skipping any more than one day. Your dog needs to exert some energy, burn some calories and keep fit. Enough exercise will ensure that your Shih Tzu’s heart and bones stay healthy. Even playing catch can do wonders for your pet.

Be Aware of Common Health Problems

Finally, you need to be aware of common health problems that afflict Shih Tzus, and the symptoms that accompany them. Shih Tzus are incredibly healthy dogs, but because of their short faces and their long coats, it does mean that they can struggle in the heat. During the summer, be sure to keep you Shih Tzu in the shade as much as possible – and be careful letting your dog swim. The breed is not naturally very good at swimming.

Puppies also have a tendency to snort when they are teething, and this generally isn’t a problem but you should speak to your vet if it continues as they get older. If this problem continues, the dog will find itself struggling for air.

Take all this into consideration, and you’ll be able to raise a happy, friendly and healthy dog that will live on average between 10 and 16 years.