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Eye Care

Shih Tzu Eye Care


Shih Tzu eye care is a very important element of keeping your dog happy and healthy.

The large eyes of the Shih Tzu make this dog breed more susceptible to certain eye issues.

We will discuss:
  • Daily Needed Eye Care
  • Common Shih Tzu Eye Problems
  • Symptoms of Issues
  • Diagnosis and Treatment
  • Prevention Techniques
Shih tzu with big eyes
Shiny, clear eyes a good sign that a Shih Tzu is happy and healthy

Daily Needed Eye Care for the Shih Tzu Dog

If you own a Shih Tzu, you should set aside a specific time each day to tend to your dog's eyes. This will be for:
  • Cleaning - You'll want to wipe the eye area - whether it appears dirty or not - to remove tiny food particles, normal eye discharge and to properly clean the hairs that will have gotten wet from your Shih Tzu drinking water.  This daily care - that only takes a few moments - will stop many problems before they begin. 
  • Looking for signs of any eye health issues to catch anything while it is in the early stage

To perform this daily cleaning, you will want to use a soft wash cloth, moist with warm water. Alternatively, canine eye wipes work great since they are formulated to be gentle yet effective in swiping off 'eye gook' and work to take care of any staining that is in the early stage. 

Gently wipe around each eye and be sure to dry each eye area afterward. If not, bacteria can quickly grow...leading into a yeast or fungi infection.

Tear staining is a common problem and we have a section dedicated just to that topic. See: Tear Staining

Red Flags

As you go about your daily eye cleaning with your dog, you will want to look for any signs of an eye issue. Details will be discussed below with the most common Shih Tzu eye issues, however keep a look out for:
  • Your dog avoiding bright lights
  • A cloudiness to the eye
  • An excessive discharge
  • Any swelling of the eye or around the dog's eye
  • Redness
  • Your Shih Tzu "pawing" at his eyes

The Most Common Shih Tzu Eye Problems

There are 5 common eye problems which may occur with the Shih Tzu. Early detection is a must to help your dog recover as quickly as possible.


This is usually a genetic health issue for dogs. When genetic, this most commonly occurs with Shih Tzu from the age of 8 years. However, a dog may also develop a cataract from an eye injury. When this develops, there is a "clouding" of the dog's eye lens. This does affect vision and without treatment, a dog can become blind.
and on. 

Surgery is usually performed to remove the dog's cataract and is most often very successful. The operation eliminates the possibility of the dog becoming blind; however some scarring may form...and lead to a slight decrease in clear vision. 

Corneal Ulcers

As the name implies, this is a canine eye condition in which the cornea of the dog's eye will develop an ulcer. This is most often caused by some type of injury to the eye of the Shih Tzu. This can happen if the Tzu's eye is scratched by a foreign object. Many times, the tear that happens is not visible. You will suspect that your Shih Tzu has this if they close their eyes often, keep an eye half open, or has excessive tear drops.

Once taken to the veterinarian to have this diagnosed, most often treatment will be daily eye drops to lubricate the eye, decrease swelling and reduce pain until the tear is repaired naturally by the dog's body.


An eye infection can happen to any Shih Tzu, at any time due to the many environmental factors and bacteria that can touch the slightly protruding eyes throughout the day. If not treated, an infection may keep coming back and will usually eventually interfere with sight.

The most common symptoms of this is a redness or swelling around the Shih Tzu dog's eye or eyes, excess discharge and/or an aversion to bright lights. Only an experienced veterinarian will be able to tell you if the symptoms point to allergies, a bacterial or a virus infection. An antibacterial eye drop solution is usually the best course of action, if infection is found in your dog's eye/s.

Eyelash Issues

A Distichia is an eyelash that grows from an abnormal spot on the eyelid of a dog & Trichiasis is the term for ingrown eyelash on a dog. Both can cause great discomfort for a dog until treatment is given. How will you know if your Shih Tzu has this eye problem? In many cases, you will actually be able to see the offending lash. If not, you will notice that your dog tries to "scratch" his eye or rubs his face against pillows, carpets, etc in an attempt to sooth the discomfort. Because a lash can regrow, the most common treatment with the best results is electrolysis to remove the lash permanently.
Dog pink eye or Dog Conjunctivitis

The symptoms of this are usually easy to spot. The eye of the Shih Tzu will literally become red or pink. Discharge is usually apparent, swelling and signs of general discomfort.

Pink Eye in the Shih Tzu can be caused by several factors:
  • The bacterial form is spread by contact. This can occur from human to dog, dog to dog, etc.
  • The viral form is airborne and most commonly occurs during colder months with low humidity
  • Allergies
  • Foreign objects in the dog's eye 
Because these symptoms can also be signs of other eye issues with the Shih Tzu, it is very important to have your dog's veterinarian make the final diagnosis. Treatment will vary, but will often include medication to reduce swelling and medication to fight off the bacteria infection.

Shih Tzu Eye Care Prevention

In some cases, you cannot prevent eye issues; but you can however notice signs early to help your dog receive care right away and thus begin treatment early. Take note of any of the above symptoms as you perform the daily cleaning.

There are some theories that adding leafy green vegetables, parsley and/or carrots can help to keep a dog's eyes healthy. In addition, some studies have shown promising results by adding the supplements of Vitamin A, C and D to the dog's diet.

Bringing your Tzu for regular veterinarian checkups and at the first signs of any issues, will be the best way to ensure healthy eyes for your dog.
Note: To have all information regarding Shih Tzu behavior, health, grooming, training, pregnancy, colors, and more... learn about the new-edition AllShihTzu Book. Now in both print & eBook.
Other helpful sections:

Shih Tzu vomiting - It's never easy when a puppy or dog has an upset stomach. Treatment for both acute and chronic issues.
I'm Allergic to my Shih Tzu - There is a long-standing myth that people cannot be allergic to dogs that have hair opposed to fur, so finding out that you're allergic to your Shih Tzu can take you off guard. Read why this is so and steps you can take to resolve the issue.
Fruits a Shih Tzu can Safely Eat - Adding fruit to meals or giving some as snacks can be a great way to offer vitamin packed treats that are low in calories and delicious. Learn which ones are safe.
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