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New Years

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The Shih Tzu New Year's Resolution Challenge

Overview

Happy New Year to you and your Shih Tzu! All around the world, people are starting off with a fresh, clean slate. It is a time of reflection to see what mistakes we have previously made and a time of renewal to see what we can improve over the next 365 days.
From the bonfires in the Netherlands set to purge the old and welcome the new to the tradition in Spain of eating 12 grapes at midnight to symbolize 12 happy months ahead, this is a great time to think about improvement - and not just for ourselves, but for our canine family members.

This is the perfect time to choose a New Year's resolution regarding your Shih Tzu. There are always care elements that we can improve on.

There may be some things that you should be doing, but time does just not seem to allow it… Or maybe with all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, you've let a few things slide by.

Either way, the beginning of the new year is the perfect time to look over what you can be doing to keep your Shih Tzu as happy and healthy as possible.

Which resolution will you choose?

If you're not sure where to begin and what changes you could be making for your Shih Tzu puppy or dog, we've selected 6 possible resolutions for you to choose from.   

Ideally, you will want to be doing all of these and if you can already put a big check mark next to all of them, it might be a good idea to read over the details to see if there is any room for improvement.

So, our challenge to you is to choose one resolution and stick to it starting now. By making sure you do these following 6 care elements, your Shih Tzu will undoubtedly be happier, healthier for years to come. 

#1 I will walk my Shih Tzu
every day

When it comes to providing exercise for your Shih Tzu, the only type of things that should stop you is if you are glued to the bed with the flu or if there is a raging blizzard outside.

Why is this so important?

1- It is proven to increase the lifespan of dogs

2- It keeps the lungs and heart healthy

3- It helps a Shih Tzu maintain muscle mass

4- It aids in keeping adult and senior dogs from gaining excess weight

5- It allows the puppy or dog the opportunity to release pent up energy - this is proven to decrease negative behaviors such as destructive chewing and excessive barking

Your goal:

Ideally, a Shih Tzu should be taken for two, 20 minute walks per day. This can be adjusted. For example, if you know that bad weather will be moving in in the afternoon, you may want to take one longer walk in the morning.

Taking your puppy outside for bathroom needs does not count as 'walking'. This will be purposeful walking from point A to point B and back home again. It should be at a pace that is brisk for your Shih Tzu.

Too many owners do great during 'perfect' weather months, but this type of important care falls to the wayside during other months. This sort of on-and-off again exercise simply will not keep a Shih Tzu healthy and as active as he should be.

If this is your New Year's resolution, don't let some rain, snow or cold get in your way. With proper winterization of your Shih Tzu (and be sure to bundle up yourself so that YOU don't feel like running back inside), this breed can do quite well in regard to just about any temperature or precipitation. The exceptions will be if it is below freezing (and keep wind chill in mind) or if there are dangerous storm conditions.

#2 I will take better care
of my Shih Tzu's teeth

This is so important and whether you rarely pay attention to your Tzu's teeth or if you are just prone to missing a day or two here and there, make your goal be to brush your Tzu's teeth and offer 1 effective dental chew each day. This holds for puppies as well!

Why is this so important?

1- Good dental care is proven to extend both the quality of life and the lifespan of dogs.

2- Puppies need good at-home care to keep gums healthy to prevent decay that can travel to imbedded adult teeth that have not yet erupted.

3- Dental decay can cause terrible infections in the mouth and in the sinus cavities.
 
4- Infection can spread though the body, reaching the heart, lungs or even the brain.

5- Dogs that do not have their teeth properly brushed most often have loose or missing teeth as older adults

Your Goal:

Ideally, you will want to brush your Shih Tzu's teeth for a good, solid 2 minutes each day. It will be important to use the correct brush and a quality paste. If you don't use the right products, this can be done in vain.

If your Shih Tzu has previously rebutted this idea, it's not too late to try again. Most dogs will squirm at first - and the wrong paste often is part of that if it does not taste good. In most cases, all it takes is 2 weeks of daily brushing for a dog to become accustomed to this grooming element.

You'll also want to offer a dental treat, we highly recommend Greenies Teenies. And you may want to consider a plaque removal water supplement (AKC 'canine mouthwash') that can play a role in dental hygiene as well

If this is your New Year's Resolution for your Shih Tzu, you may wish to read more about choosing the best toothpaste and toothbrush for a Shih Tzu. Or look below for our recommended dental care products:

#3 I will not allow my Shih Tzu
to drink straight, unfiltered tap water

Many people are in denial about what is actually in tap water. Why? Well, the truth is scary and it's easier to pretend that we trust that the water that comes out of the kitchen sink is perfectly fine. But the reality is that the water that flows out of your tap is not safe by a long shot.

City water - in just about every US town and city- legally contains a slew of horrible chemicals, toxins and bacteria. These things are allowed to be in our 'drinking' water because they are 'safe' when ingested in small qualities. 

But if you let your Shih Tzu drink tap water day after day, for weeks, months and years this can be very dangerous to his/her health. Additionally, high mineral content can cause staining to the hairs.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency and Health Canada's Water Quality and Health Bureau tell the public exactly what we can expect our tap water to contain:

Fluoride - This is highly toxic to dogs (and not safe for humans either). Studies have shown it to cause tooth disease, bone loss and bone deformities, kidney disease, hormone problems and cognitive damage. In addition, it is shown to cause Osteosarcoma which is the #1 cause of bone tumors in canines, developing in over 8000 dogs each year in the US.

Chlorite - Potential long-term health effects are anemia and central nervous problems. This is a by-product of water disinfectant.

Haloacetic acids - With years of ingestion, this can cause some cancers. It too is a by-product of water disinfectant.

Chloramines- Over time this can cause Eye and nose irritation; stomach discomfort and anemia. It is a chemical purposefully added to control microbes.

Antimony - This can increase bad cholesterol and decrease healthy levels of blood sugar. It comes from the discharge of petroleum refineries; fire retardants and electronics that cannot be fully filtered out.

1,1,2-Trichloroethane - Over time, this can cause liver, kidney, or immune system problems. It is a contaminant from the discharge of industrial chemical factories.

Note: These are just a few of the things your Shih Tzu ingests if you give him tap water. There are more than 80 "regulated" contaminants and many more unregulated toxins in any given sample of water deemed safe for human consumption.

Your Goal:

Never allow your Shih Tzu to drink un-filtered tap water. 

If this is your New Year's resolution for your Shih Tzu, there are several good alternatives:
1) A filtering device that attaches to the tap on your kitchen sink. If you are a bit handy, these are not that hard to install. This offers you automatically filtered water. 

2) A filtered water pitcher. These are great. You fill the pitcher with tap water. A filter cleans the water as you pour it out. There are options from small pitchers to large dispensers. Very easy and economical. 

If you're looking for a great one, consider the Aquagear Water Filter Pitcher. This is an amazing pitcher that is 2000% more effective than Brita. It traps fluoride, lead, chlorine, mercury, and even the scary chromium 6. And, it's a good size (half gallon); you may find that you'll use it for both your Shih Tzu and your whole family.

3) Gallons of bottled, spring water. Depending on your Shih Tzu's age and activity level, and therefore how much water he drinks per day, this may be an option. 

#4 I will make sure my Shih Tzu's
bowls are correct & properly cleaned

You may not think about your puppy or dog's food and drinking bowls that much… However, the wrong bowl can cause problems ranging from ingestion of bacteria to staining of the facial hairs to even injury to the head.

You'll want to make sure that your Tzu's bowls are the correct material, size and height.

Additionally, it is important to clean the bowls on a regular basis. Some owners find their dog is a bit possessive of the bowl and will tend to 'leave it be' rather than disturb their dog. For other owners, it is an afterthought and does not get done as often as it should.

Ideally, you'll want to hand wash both bowls each evening with warm water and dish soap. Since tiny food particles will be transferred from the food bowl to the water bowl, you'll want to clean both the same way.

A good time to do this is after the last meal has been served and your dog is ready to go to sleep. Be sure to scrub the sides and bottom as well as the inside.

*** If this is your New Year's Resolution for your Shih Tzu, you may wish to read more about choosing the best food and water bowls for a Shih Tzu.

#5 I will stay on track with my
Shih Tzu's wellness checks

Vet checkups are not just for when your Shih Tzu is already ill or injured. Wellness checks are also very important. How often should you take your Shih Tzu to the vet? For those under the age of 10, the vet should see him once a year. For those over the age of 9, there should be a wellness check every 6 months.

Many owners equate vet visits with either vaccinations or treatment for illness; however a major role of your dog's vet is to prevent disease and catch any conditions early for the best chance at a fast and successful treatment. 

Far too many owners assume that their dog is just fine…and one year goes by…and then two…and before you know it, your Shih Tzu hasn't has a physical in far too long.

What will be checked?

These once a year visits will help your Shih Tzu stay healthy and be able to reach his or her full life expectancy. Here is what is typically done:
  • Vital signs will be taken - This includes taking the dog's temperature, pulse, respiration rate and taking his/her weight.
  • Physical exam - The vet will do a full-body examination looking for any signs of painful areas or swollen areas. The eyes, ears and paws will be checked.
  • Oral exam - The teeth, gums and tissues of the mouth will be checked.  
  • Health screenings - Depending on the age of your Shih Tzu, it may be prudent to have some blood testing and/or urinalysis.

#6 I will always protect
my Shih Tzu from neck injury

It might seem completely normal to attach the leash to your Shih Tzu's collar. Doesn't everyone do that? The answer is no! And for very good reason. Putting your Shih Tzu on leash and collar can be a mistake that has lifelong consequences.

Why is this so important?
For both toy breed dogs like the Shih Tzu... and for brachycephalic breeds like the Shih Tzu, pressure on the neck can cause or worsen breathing issues. 

When there is tension on the neck and windpipe, this can cause two types of injury:

1) Acute injury. Most common is collapsed trachea. This is a terribly painful condition in which the rings of cartilage surrounding the windpipe fall inward. Dogs can have terrible wheezing, coughing and pain. 

In some cases, it can heal over time; in some instances the dog will suffer indefinitely. Expensive surgery may be needed. Life will never be the same again. 

2) Wear over time. Pressure, tension, stress compounds over time. Each session on leash and collar wears the neck area for this breed. At some point, there will be a breaking point of damage. 

Your Goal:

Never again walk your Shih Tzu on leash and collar. Choose a comfortable, easy to put on harness. 

There's some great options. We love the Puppia line and many of our Members choose this option. They are very easy to place onto a puppy or dog with adjustable areas including velcro. And they are super comfortable. 

If this is your New Year's Resolution for your Shih Tzu, you may wish to read more (and see some happy Shih Tzu wearing their harnesses) in the Shih Tzu Harnesses and Collars section, or look below for our top choices. 

Summary

Did you find some care elements that you want to start doing? Or did you see some that could use a bit of improvement? If so, do not feel bad that you haven't been following these guidelines until now. The important thing is that if you have vowed to follow them from this day forward, you're moving in the right direction.

The time we have with our canine family members is so short in comparison to our own lives… We must do all we can to keep our Shih Tzu as happy and healthy as possible. Let's make this the best year ever.
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