Allergies can wreak havoc on a Tzu…and is a leading cause of Shih Tzu skin problems. It causes the skin to become itchy and the pup or dog, in turn, will then scratch, lick or bite at the irritated areas.
Many manufactured foods can cause allergies….chemical preservatives, coloring and artificial sweeteners are the biggest culprits. For this reason, we recommend home cooking.
However, it should be noted that in rare cases a Tzu can be allergic to foods that one may never think of… some are allergic to beef! If an owner has no idea what their dog may be allergic to, food-wise, it is best to begin the dog on a very simple diet of plain, de-boned white chicken meat that is boiled until well cooked, mixed with plain un-salted and un-seasoned white rice…small green peas can be mixed in as well. Every 2 weeks a new ingredient can be added….It is important to do this every 2 weeks since it may take that long for the ingredient to show up as a Shih Tzu skin problem. This process of elimination diet can pinpoint the cause. Healthy Home Cooking for the Shih Tzu
has a recipe that will help owners follow this method.
Tzu can be allergic to things that their body touches. Most often it will be the carpeting in the home… or bed sheets…Elements that touch the skin and cause a reaction. If this is the case, it is best to stop using chemicals on the carpets and to change to a hypo-allergenic laundry detergent (perfume free as well) for ALL that is washed whether the dog touches it or not. Do not dry anything with dryer sheets. Baby blankets that have first been washed in this way can be laid out so that the Tzu can lie down on them…It provides a soft base for them that will cushion the skin problem areas.
Fleas - Allergies
to fleas is many times the reason for a Shih Tzu skin problem….Many owners are in denial about this…some people think that fleas = a dirty home. This is not true. A flea can jump up to SIX feet off of another dog onto your dog. All it takes is ONE flea to cause major skin problems with the Shih Tzu. This is because the dog can be allergic to the saliva of the flea and there can be a major reaction from just 1 bite.
Also, it is important to note that a flea(s) can be there even if you do not see them.
When given the same preventative flea mediation for over a year, a Shih Tzu may build up a tolerance to that particular product and thus it will be less effective. For this reason, we recommend that owners change brands every year and then back again. While there are a great many different products that are effective, we have found success & like those that do not contain Pyrethrins or other chemicals (why end one problem only to possibly begin another one?) The complete list of what we recommend can be found under 'Fleas & Tick - No Chemical' in the Shih Tzu Specialty Shoppe. Depending on the area in which you live, you may only need to use a product during flea season. Be sure to use a variety that contains tick repellent as well.
Prevention is vital, however if fleas are already on your dog, this must be dealt with right away. To treat a dog that already has these pests, a product such as Capstar works well…it will kill all fleas within 24 hours. Carpets, beds, blankets, etc. MUST be cleaned as well. It will do you no good to get the ones on your Shih Tzu, but have an army of these terrible creatures hiding on your carpeting, furniture and/or beds only to re-invade again!
Once all are gone, you have treated your Tzu and you are protecting him or her, it is time to pay attention to bath time. Irritated skin should be bathed in hypo-allergenic canine shampoo; an oatmeal base will help with itching. Choose your produce wisely, opting for a high quality shampoo
that is effective yet not harsh. Shih Tzu skin problems caused by a reaction to a flea bite can last a couple of weeks…and during this time the spot should be babied…No exposure to extreme hot or cold. Baths should be with luke warm water. No clothes should be put on your dog if they would touch the area. Go EASY with brushing and combing.
During this time of recuperation, Benydryl can be given one time per day; HOWEVER check with your veterinarian for proper dosing and to make sure that it would not produce a reaction with any other medication that your dog may be taking.
If an owner cannot pinpoint what is causing an allergy that produces Shih Tzu skin problems, testing can be done…A serum test will test for over 40 possible allergens. Skin testing will cover a larger range of possible culprits but is more expensive. However, with either type of testing, an owner can know exactly which element is causing the skin problem and then be able to immediately remove it from the dog’s environment.