Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome
What is this? This is the term given to breeds such as the Shih Tzu that have breathing issues related to their body structure. It is a general term that includes at least one of the 4 issues of stenotic nares, elongated soft palate, collapsed larynx (voice box) and trachea issues (abnormally small or collapsed trachea). The 3 most common issues seen with the Shih Tzu breed are collapsed trachea, elongated palate and stenotic nares. With 50% of Shih Tzu that do have airway syndrome, both elongated palate and stenotic nares are present.
What happens? Each on its own can cause breathing problems and if a dog has 2 or all 3, breathing can be severely impeded. Wtih stentic nares, the openings of the nostrils are 'pinched' and too narrow. With elongated palate, there is abnormal growth of the soft tissue in the back of the throat. With collapsed trachea, the rings of cartilage in the neck are weakened and/or collapse inward.
What is the average age when this can occur with a Shih Tzu? Dogs are born with this, but symptoms may not occur until later, anywhere from age 1 to age 6.
What are the symptoms? Coughing, noisy breathing, trouble breathing, these may be worse during or right after exercise. In severe cases, due to lack of oxygen, the dog's lips or gums may turn blue and/or the dog may become unconscious.
How is this treated?
Changes in life style such as using a collar and not a leash, limiting/timing exercise, and the use of certain medications may work to lessen symptoms. Though, surgery is often recommended, particularly if a Shih Tzu has more than one of these health issues.
What is this?
IVD stands for Intervertebral Disk Disease. This type of illness is seen more in certain types of breeds; usually those with shorter legs and a longer back such as the Shih Tzu, Beagle and Basset Hound.
A disk slips in the back and presses on the spinal cord.
What is the average age when this can occur with a Shih Tzu?
This can happen as young as 2 years old.
What are the symptoms?
Muscle spasms, pain, and weakness in the limbs.
What can this progress to?
Sadly, this can lead to complete paralysis.
How is this treated?
Medicine is used that will include muscle relaxants and anti-swelling drugs. Rest is recommended. Surgery may be performed if rest and medicine is not effective.