4) Plastic bowls.
There are many reasons why the use of plastic bowls is discouraged. Dogs can have an allergic reaction to the material itself and this is a common cause of chronic dry nose. As the Shih Tzu dips his nose into the bowl over and over for days, weeks and months, this contact allergy can cause the nose to become exceedingly dry. Even if you use a product to heal the nose, you're fighting a losing battle since the Tzu is being exposed to the trigger continually.
Other reasons to avoid plastic are that the heavy dyes used for coloring it can slowly leak out and lead to straining of facial hairs, it scratches easily which can lead to bacteria finding a nice little home to grow and they are normally very lightweight which makes them slide around too much.
For these reasons, a stainless steel (first choice) or ceramic (second choice) bowl is recommended for both food and water.
5) Sun exposure.
Hopefully you are taking your Shih Tzu for a daily walk, if not two. One thing to keep in mind is that each season brings its own elements that a dog needs a bit of protection from. In the summer, daily exposure to strong sun can cause a slight case of sunburn on a Shih Tzu's nose which then leads to drying issues. A strong case of sunburn would lead to actual peeling or cracking problems. If a nose is dry due to the sun and treatment is not provided, more sun damage will occur on the existing problem and as the days goes on, that dry nose can develop into a cracked and/or peeling.
The best treatment for this type of dry nose is to use a quality nose balm or butter. Many owners will first try to use a bit of petroleum jelly, see that it does not work well and then graduate to a proper nose balm. Petroleum jelly can be licked off much too easily and is not formulated to protect and heal a dry nose.
For minor dry nose issues, you'll want to use a daily canine nose chapstick; for moderate to severe dry nose problems that include some peeling and/or cracking a thicker product that soothes, moisturizes and heals will be needed. A good snout product will penetrate in order to regenerate the nose leather.
6) Chapping due to dry, cold air.
A Shih Tzu's nose is so exposed in the winter. When you follow winter care tips, you'll be protecting the paws and offering a layer of warmth for the body, but this also should include protecting the nose from the very damaging effects of cold, dry winter air. We always suggest keeping up with your normal walking routine unless there is a severe weather event; however you'll want to take a few easy steps to prevent that arctic air from causing issues ranging from a chapped nose to full body dry skin.
When dogs are outside in the cold, they tend to lick their nose even more than usual. Then, a cold breeze or wind will very quickly chap the nose. Owners may not notice at first, however a nose will at first have a more sandpaper texture. This often leads to slight cracking. Still without protection or healing, that will develop into a much more serious cracking issues often with crusting (and the nose tries to heal) and/or peeling (as damaged layers of the nose flake off and expose sensitive pink skin underneath).
To prevent these issues, make it a habit to use a daily nose protection balm. Since you'll want to protect against sun exposure in the summer as mentioned above and also from dry cold air in the winter as discussed here, falling into a daily routine of dabbing a Shih Tzu's nose with a quality nose stick or light balm will prevent these issues from occurring.
If damage has already occurred and there is more of a cracking, crusting or peeling issue, a thicker more penetrating product should be used. Chapsticks offer a layer of protection on the nose from sun, wind and cold. But healing butters and balms actually penetrate the nose leather to add moisture and heal.
Dry Nose Red flags
While many case of dry nose on a Shih Tzu can be treated at home by avoiding the trigger or using the right product, there will be times of a more serious issue that should be professionally treated by a reputable veterinarian. It is suggested to have your Tzu looked at if:
- A dry nose does not heal or becomes worse despite removing triggers and using quality balms and butters.
- There is severe peeling that exposes a lot of pink skin from under the dark outer layer.
- Any discharge, puss or fluid is secreting from the leather itself or from the nasal passages.
- There are any other clinical signs including but not limited to decreased appetite, fever, chills, eye discharge, mood changes, weakness, restlessness, itching, vomiting, dry heaving and/or changes to the stools.