With their sweet, expressive faces and lush coats, Shih Tzus have charmed their way into the hearts of dog lovers across the world. However, as with any breed, these little dogs come with their own set of potential health issues. Many caring Shih Tzu owners prefer to take a holistic approach and treat these concerns with natural remedies when possible. In this guide, we’ll explore natural solutions for some of the most common health problems seen in Shih Tzus. Our goal is to provide Shih Tzu parents with safe, gentle ways to support their fur baby’s wellbeing.
Overview of Common Shih Tzu Health Concerns
Shih Tzus are prone to certain health issues, many of which can be mitigated with quality care and nutrition. Here’s a quick look at some of the most prevalent concerns:
- Skin problems – Allergies, dry skin, infections and parasites can all cause irritating skin conditions.
- Digestive issues – Sensitive stomachs make vomiting, diarrhea and flatulence a problem.
- Dental disease – Overcrowded mouths leave them prone to early decay.
- Breathing issues – Brachycephalic airways and elongated soft palates cause wheezing and snoring.
- Ear infections – Floppy ears trap moisture, wax and debris leading to infection.
- Joint issues – Patellar luxation and hip dysplasia are common in the breed.
- Eye injuries – Prominent eyes are easily scratched and infected.
- Obesity – Weight gain comes easily to these couch potatoes.
With diligent care and early intervention, many of these issues can be avoided or managed at home with natural treatments. Let’s look at remedies for some of the most prevalent concerns.
Natural Remedies for Skin Conditions
Itchy, irritated skin is one of the most common complaints in Shih Tzus. Allergies to foods or environmental factors often play a role, but dry skin, infections and parasites can also be culprits. Here are some natural ways to soothe your pup’s sensitive skin:
- Oatmeal baths – Colloidal oatmeal creates a soothing barrier on the skin and relieves itchiness. Make a paste with warm water and let your dog soak for 10 minutes. Rinse thoroughly.
- Coconut oil – Its fatty acids help moisturize dry skin. Rub a small amount into your dog’s coat and paws daily. Introduce slowly to watch for allergies.
- Aloe vera gel – The cooling, antibacterial gel helps heal hot spots, rashes and skin inflammations. Apply liberally to affected areas 2-3 times a day.
- Apple cider vinegar rinse – This balances pH and deters yeast overgrowth. Add 1 tablespoon ACV to 1 cup water and rinse your dog’s coat after bathing. avoids eyes.
- Essential oils – Chamomile, lavender, tea tree and basil oils help heal skin infections and bug bites when diluted in a carrier oil or shampoo.
If symptoms persist, see your vet to pinpoint the underlying cause. Medicated shampoos or antibiotics may be needed for persistent infections.
Natural Remedies for Digestive Upset
Shih Tzus’ sensitive stomachs make diarrhea, constipation, gas and vomiting common woes. When diet changes don’t help, try these natural remedies:
- Slippery elm – This herb’s mucilage coats and soothes intestinal membranes. Mix powdered bark into food or give 1/4 tsp per 10 lbs body weight mixed in broth.
- Ginger – Settles nausea and aids digestion. Sprinkle ground ginger onto bland food or brew into tea. Give in moderation as large amounts may cause gas.
- Pumpkin – Both the fiber and nutrients help regulate bowel movements. Give 1-4 tablespoons pure canned pumpkin based on your dog’s size.
- Probiotics – Help balance gut flora. Look for canine-specific ones and give as directed. Can boost immunity too. Introduce slowly.
- Chamomile tea – Soothes stomach upsets. Brew strongly, chill and add 1 tablespoon per 10 lbs body weight to your dog’s water bowl.
For acute vomiting or diarrhea, withhold food briefly and focus on hydration. Call your vet if symptoms don’t improve within 24 hours.
Natural Solutions for Hair Loss
Hair loss and thinning coats plague many Shih Tzus. Allergies often play a role but other culprits include hormonal imbalances, Cushing’s disease and hypothyroidism. Some remedies to try:
- Fish oil – Omega-3s reduce inflammation that can inhibit hair growth. Look for quality supplements and give 1 softgel per 10 lbs daily.
- Coconut oil – Lauric acid nourishes hair follicles. Give 1/4 tsp per 10 lbs daily and apply topically too. Introduce slowly.
- Melatonin – Can help hair regrow in alopecia spots. Give 3-6 mg 30 minutes before bedtime. Consult your vet first.
- Brewer’s yeast – B-vitamins support skin and coat health. Sprinkle unflavored powder onto food. Give 1/4 tsp per 30 lbs daily.
Persisting hair loss warrants vet exams and testing to diagnose the underlying problem. Treatment may include medications, supplements or allergy shots.
Natural Ear Cleaners
Floppy ears and hairy ear canals make ear infections a common problem. Regular gentle cleaning helps prevent infection. Avoid using cotton swabs which can damage the canal. Instead try:
- Apple cider vinegar – Acidity helps prevent yeast and bacteria overgrowth. Mix half ACV and half purified water. Dip cotton ball and swab just inside ears.
- Olive oil – Softens wax for safer removal. Apply several drops then gently massage the base of the ears before wiping clean with cotton balls.
- Witch hazel – A natural astringent and cleansing toner with soothing properties. Use cotton pads dipped in diluted witch hazel to wipe outer ear areas.
- Tea tree oil – Antifungal, antibacterial oil that helps prevent infection when used topically around ears. Always dilute before use as it can irritate skin.
Schedule regular vet cleanings under anesthesia to remove built up debris and examine inner ear health.
As a brachycephalic breed, Shih Tzus are prone to joint issues and arthritis which cause chronic inflammation and pain. Some natural supplements to discuss with your vet include:
- Turmeric – Curcumin has anti-inflammatory effects similar to OTC medications. Give dogs 1/8 to 1/4 tsp per 10 lbs daily in food. Start with low doses.
- CBD oil – May help relieve chronic pain. Look for high quality, veterinary-approved products. Follow dosage on packaging.
- Glucosamine – Supports cartilage and joint health. Give puppies and young adults 250 mg per 25 lbs daily to help prevent future issues.
- Fish oil – Omega-3s reduce inflammation. Choose quality supplements and give 1 soft gel per 15 lbs body weight.
Note natural anti-inflammatories work best alongside prescription meds for dogs with moderate to severe arthritis. Weight management, physiotherapy and acupuncture can also help.
Natural Anxiety Remedies
Shih Tzus are companion dogs who hate to be left alone. Separation anxiety is common, as are fears of loud noises, strangers and new environments. Try these natural calming aids:
- Lavender – This soothing scent reduces stress and anxiety. Use lavender spray, diffuser or antianxiety collar in your dog’s main resting areas.
- Chamomile – Has a mild sedative effect. Brew strong tea, chill and add to food. Give 1 tablespoon per 25 lbs body weight.
- Calming treats – Contain relaxing herbs and supplements like ginger, valerian, melatonin and L-tryptophan. Follow package dosing.
- Pheromone diffusers and sprays – Release artificial dog appeasing pheromones that provide comfort. Use in rooms your dog spends the most relaxed time.
For moderate to severe anxiety, your vet may prescribe anti-anxiety or antidepressant medications alongside behavior modification training.
Natural Dental Care
Overcrowded mouths, weakened immune systems and diets packed with carbs and proteins put Shih Tzus at risk for rapid dental decay, gum disease and tooth loss. Here are some natural preventatives:
- Coconut oil – Has antibacterial properties that help reduce plaque when rubbed on teeth and gums. Use a soft brush or cloth to apply.
- Green tea – Natural source of fluoride which strengthens enamel. Brew strongly, chill and use as a mouth rinse. Wipe teeth and gums afterwards.
- Raw bones – Gnawing cleans teeth naturally but supervise to ensure bones are safe for your dog’s size. Stick to softer bones like chicken wings or feet.
- Dental treats – Look for natural treats made specifically for cleaning dogs’ teeth. Give as directed.
Professional cleanings and extractions are still vital for good dental health. Schedule your Shih Tzu for vet dentals at least yearly. Alert them to any oral concerns in between visits.
Daily Care for Holistic Wellness
While natural remedies can provide relief for many issues, nothing is more vital than your daily care and attention to your dog’s needs. Be sure to:
- Brush and comb coats thoroughly to prevent matting and skin irritations.
- Check ears weekly for redness or odor indicating infection. Clean gently as needed.
- Brush teeth regularly with a soft finger brush and doggie toothpaste.
- Express anal glands when needed to avoid impaction and infection.
- Trim nails monthly to prevent cracking and ingrown nails.
- Weigh monthly to catch weight fluctuations signaling illness.
- Examine eyes for discharge or redness indicating injury or infection.
- Feel for new lumps and lesions when petting or grooming.
Focusing on prevention through high quality nutrition, regular exercise and loving attention is the most natural way to support your Shih Tzu’s health. Partner with a trusted holistic vet for guidance. Together you can ensure your furry friend lives their healthiest, happiest life.
FAQ: Natural Remedies for Shih Tzus
Q: Can I give my Shih Tzu human supplements like Glucosamine and Chondroitin?
A: While the compounds glucosamine and chondroitin are beneficial for both humans and dogs, it’s essential to ensure the dosage is appropriate for your Shih Tzu’s weight. Always consult with a veterinarian before giving any human supplements to your pet.
Q: How often should I give my Shih Tzu a chamomile tea treatment for their eyes?
A: If you’re using chamomile tea to soothe your Shih Tzu’s eyes, you can apply it once daily. However, if the irritation persists or worsens, seek veterinary care.
Q: Is it safe to give cranberry juice regularly for urinary health?
A: Small amounts of unsweetened cranberry juice can be beneficial, but it’s essential not to overdo it. Introduce it slowly into their diet and monitor for any adverse reactions. It’s also crucial to ensure the juice doesn’t contain added sugars or artificial sweeteners.
Q: Can I use any fish oil supplement for my Shih Tzu’s heart health?
A: When selecting a fish oil supplement for your Shih Tzu, opt for one specifically formulated for dogs. This ensures the right balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids and an appropriate dosage.
Q: How do I introduce natural remedies into my Shih Tzu’s diet without causing digestive issues?
A: Start by introducing any new remedy or supplement in small amounts. Monitor your Shih Tzu for any signs of digestive upset or allergies. If there are no adverse reactions after a few days, you can gradually increase the amount.
Q: My Shih Tzu has a pre-existing condition. Can I still use natural remedies?
A: While many natural remedies are safe, it’s essential to consult with your veterinarian if your Shih Tzu has a pre-existing condition. Some natural remedies can interact with medications or exacerbate certain conditions.
Q: Are there any side effects to these natural remedies?
A: Just like any treatment, natural remedies can have side effects. While they are generally minimal and rare, it’s essential to observe your dog after introducing a new remedy and consult a veterinarian if you notice any adverse reactions.
Q: Can natural remedies replace veterinary care for serious health issues?
A: No. While natural remedies can support and complement veterinary care, they should not replace professional medical treatments for serious health concerns. Always prioritize consulting with a veterinarian for any significant health issue.
Q: How long will it take to see improvements in my Shih Tzu’s health with these natural remedies?
A: The time it takes to see improvements can vary based on the remedy and the specific health issue. Some remedies might offer immediate relief, while others might take weeks or even months to show noticeable benefits. Consistency and patience are key.
Q: Can I use multiple natural remedies simultaneously for my Shih Tzu?
A: While many natural remedies can be used in conjunction, it’s essential to introduce one remedy at a time to monitor for any adverse reactions. If you plan to use multiple remedies together, consulting with a veterinarian is advisable to ensure they don’t interact negatively.
Remember, while natural remedies offer many benefits, they should be used judiciously and in conjunction with regular veterinary check-ups. Your Shih Tzu’s health and well-being should always be the top priority.