If a Shih Tzu is dry heaving or making motions that indicate that he or she is attempting to throw up but nothing is coming out, this can point to an obstruction.
Many dog owners ask if a dog is capable of developing a hairball, like
cats can. And the answer is, Yes. If a Shih Tzu licks its coat quite a bit and if daily grooming is not done to brush out stray, loose hairs, it is possible for a hair ball to develop and consequently, obstruct the airway.
Other types of blockage can be an issue if a Shih Tzu mouths a non-food item and this is quite common with dogs. Anything that is on the floor is a potential choking hazard… This includes hair ties, keys, coins, etc. Puppies love to mouth just about everything in order to understand what it is - food or not, and adult dogs may mouth objects due to boredom or simply curiosity.
The object may then become trapped in the throat and this can cause a Shih Tzu to make retching motions, gag and/or dry heave.
With a partial blockage, a dog will be able to breath, but will act as if he needs to vomit. If it is a hairball, it may or may not come out. Retching in this way for more than 4 or 5 hours should be brought to the attention of the veterinarian. The hair may be able to be removed or laxatives may be given to help it pass through the body.
With a blockage that is causing breathing problems, immediate aid must be given. In many states, 911 services do not respond to calls that regard animals; they may divert the call to animal control, however they are not prepared to help with this type of matter and most people will not be able to find help in this way.
Therefore, your quick actions will be needed. All Shih Tzu owners should know how to perform the canine Heimlich maneuver. You will first want to see if you can remove the object, by opening your Shih Tzu's mouth and pulling the tongue forward to see if you can spy it. If you cannot and your Tzu is in distress and choking, you will want to hold your dog in your arms, with his back against your chest.
Carefully place one fist against your dog's abdomen (about 1 inch under your Tzu's armpits) and make 4 rapid thrusts inward and upward. ONLY do this if the situation calls for it, since injury can occur by thrusting too forcefully.