In the year and a half since we’ve adopted Twilight, he has had two separate incidents with his eyes! Shih Tzu are notorious for eye problems and diseases due to their short noses, long hair, and large eyes. A responsible Shih Tzu owner should be caring for the eyes on a daily basis and able to recognize symptoms of many different eye diseases.
Common Shih Tzu Eye Problems:
1. Corneal Ulcers
Corneal ulcers are caused by an injury to the eye, usually a scratch. This problem has brought Twilight and me to the vet twice! Your Shih Tzu may paw at his eyes, keep the affected eye closed, and/or have excess tears. With Twilight, we could generally see the corneal ulcer as a thin scratch line on his eye. You will have to go to the vet, who will prescribe antibiotics and eye drops to decrease the pain and heal your dog’s eye
2. Eyelash Issues
There are two major types of eyelash problems that Shih Tzu can develop: distichiasis (growth of an eyelash in an abnormal spot) and trichiasis (an ingrown eyelash). You can usually see the eyelash affecting your dog. As many readers probably know, a plucked eyelash will only grow back. The vet will have to treat the eyelash to remove it.
Cataracts usually occurs in dogs that are 8 years and older. It “clouds” the lens and decreases your dog’s ability to see. Like in people, cataracts can lead to blindness and requires surgery.
4. Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
Like humans, dogs can also get pink eye! Symptoms include a pink or red eye, discharge and excess tears, keeping one eye closed, swelling around the eye, and pawing of the affected region. Pink eye can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or allergies and must be analyzed by a vet before treatment can be prescribed. A cautionary note: pink eye can be transmitted between humans and dogs, so be careful!
5. Tear Ducts
There are a few problems that can occur with tear ducts. Excessive tearing (epiphora) and possibly bad drainage lead to constant discharge of tears onto your dog’s hair. Your Shih Tzu’s facial hair may start to get a bad smell as the discharge collects on his/her hair and skin. This smell is caused by an overgrowth of the Shih Tzu’s normal bacteria. Many things, such as hair, swelling, or injury, can block tear ducts. If your vet suspects your dog to have blocked tear ducts, he or she will add a harmless dye called fluorescein to your dog’s eye. The dye will reveal any corneal ulcers and how the tears are flowing from the eye. Alternatively, the vet may use a Schirmer Tear Test: a strip that runs a dye as the dog’s tears travel along the paper. This test reveals whether your dog has excessive tear production.
Although this list gives you a start on what symptoms and diseases to look out for, you should always consult your vet if you suspect something is wrong with your Shih Tzu’s eyes. Always take care of Shih Tzu eye problems as soon as possible.