Prevention and Treatment
Now that we know what causes this issue, let’s look at what you can do to help your little Shih Tzu.
1- Make sure that your Shih Tzu is drinking enough water.
It is not good enough just to leave out a bowl of water and assume that your puppy or dog will drink as needed. Here are some tips to follow (for all Tzu, not just constipated ones!)
A. Do not allow the water to become warm and stale. Dogs are much more apt to drink enough when they have nice, cold water.
B. Do not give your Tzu tap water. Please use a filter on your kitchen sink’s faucet. You would be shocked to know how many contaminants and even poisons are legally allowed to be in tap water! Obtaining a filter for the tap is relatively inexpensive and can go a long way in keeping your Shih Tzu healthy.
C. Only use a stainless steel or ceramic bowls. Brightly colored plastic bowls are horrible! The dyes can slowly leak out…and this can cause a gradual staining on the coat, most often noticeable around the mouth and facial hairs. You can find recommended bowls in the Shih Tzu Specialty Shoppe.
D. Have 2 or 3 bowls for food and water so that it is easy for you to swap them out in order to always offer a clean one. Bacteria and other nasty things can quickly accumulate in unwashed bowls.
E. Encourage your Shih Tzu to drink after exercising and/or on hotter than normal days. This alone can stop constipation from developing.
2- Routinely go over all of the flooring in your house
to pick up any small items that may have dropped. This type of ‘puppy proofing’ should be done for Shih Tzu of all ages…not just young ones! Small items swallowed can cause constipation; others can cause a VERY serious and sometimes fatal blockage.
3- Watch your Shih Tzu well, so that he or she does not ingest grass.
Do not believe that it is normal for a dog to eat grass. It is common, but it is not healthy. It can most certainly cause constipation. Additionally, it can cause other problems ranging from upset stomach to allergic reaction to poisoning. Some owners say, “What can I do to stop my dog from eating grass?” There are 2 answers. The 1st is easy: Don’t let him :) If you keep your Tzu on leash, do not allow him or her to eat away at the lawn like a miniature grazing cow :) Give the ‘no’ command and lead your dog away or distract with a toy and give reward for stopping. Additionally, when a dog’s body is craving certain nutrients that dog may then try to consume them. If your Tzu nibbles at greens, feed him or her some healthy ones! Sweet baby peas and steamed green beans are super healthy and can easily be added to meals.
4- If your Shih Tzu is constipated and is also taking an antihistamine; check with the vet to discuss lowering the dose if possible.
5- Make your Shih Tzu feel that going to the bathroom indoors, when home alone, is okay.
If you need to be gone for the day, you can’t expect your dog to hold his or her needs for longer than is normally expected. When a dog feels that going to the bathroom is ‘wrong’, he may hold in the urge…and this can lead to constipation. Everything is held in…it gets backed up...and then the dog has trouble pushing it out later.
The best setup is to create an enclosed area for your Shih Tzu when home alone. This can be done by blocking off a small room (like a bathroom – as long as it has heat in the winter and AC in the summer) or by using dog gates to section off an area. Indoor dog play pens are also a good alternative. In this area, there should be room for: Eating, drinking, playing, sleeping…and going number two. Place down pee pads as far away from the other areas as possible. Will your Tzu always hit the mark? No. But that is okay. Have the option there, so that he does not hold it in and become constipated.
6- If your Shih Tzu is eating only dry food, and this goes especially for senior Tzu age 8 and up, add some water to the food. There are a few ways to do this. 1- Mix wet & dry food together. 2- Make a gradual change to wet food. 3- Home cook for your Tzu (this is our top recommendation – it offers your Tzu a wholesome diet with zero fillers, additive or preservatives). 4- Soak dry kibble in water (15 to 20 mins.) before feeding.
7- If the above does not work and your Shih Tzu is still constipated, offer milk.
Normally if a dog drank milk each day, he or she could develop diarrhea. But, when a dog has constipation, the milk can work to relieve it. ¼ to ½ cup per day is a good goal…You can add it to the food or you can serve it separately for your Tzu to lap up. Don’t give too much!
If the above steps do not resolve the constipation,
it will be time to bring your Shih Tzu to the veterinarian. A mild laxative may be prescribed. PLEASE NOTE: Do not give your dog a laxative meant for humans! This can be fatal!
Your veterinarian should prescribe a laxative that contains lactulose; it is safe and effective when proper dosing instructions are followed.
If you are concerned that your Shih Tzu has some sort of obstruction that is not allowing fir a bowel movement, this is an emergency situation that warrants an immediate visit to the vet or closest animal hospital.