Shih tzus can live for up to 10 to 18 years but the range can vary depending on their health condition, activities and how they are being cared for. Some factors that can contribute to their health’s deterioration are health issues. These health issues include:
Stenotic Nares. This diease is common among dogs considered to be brachycephalic such as Shih Tzus. Brachycephalic dogs, also called snub-nosed dogs are dogs with short wide head and narrow nostrils. This physical attribute causes increased resistance to airflow through the mouth, nose and larynx and can later lead to respiratory difficulty and enlargement of the heart. Stenotic nares are present at birth to brachycephalic dogs but clinical signs of the disease usually begin until the pet is several years old.
Luxating Patella. Smaller breed of dogs such as shih tzus are at risk of having this health problem. Luxating patella occurs when the kneecap, which is usually located at the center of the knee point, slides out of its grove. Although luxating patella is a congenital disease, the disease is sometimes acquired through trauma. Signs of this disease include lameness in the affected legs (rear), walking on three legs, holding affected leg up or extending it backward.
Cleft Palate. Cleft palate is an opening or division in the middle of the palate (roof of the mouth). This health issue can be either a genetic disease or due to something that occured during the development of the embryo. Dogs with cleft palate cannot nurse and are at risk of getting sinusitis or pneumonia. Cleft puppies are often fed with bottle or tube since the can only mouth the nipple. Surgical procedure is needed to treat this problem.
Umbilical Hernia. Umbilical hernias is characterized by protrusion at the navel. Small hernias are usually not a problem however, large ones should be repaired through surgical correction to prevent the risk of intestinal loop strangulation. This problem is said to be inherited but sometimes occurs when the umbilical rings fail to close fully after mating. The hernia appears as a soft abdominal mass at the area of the umbilicus. Intestinal strangulation exists when your dog is vomiting, depressed, anorexic, suffering from abdominal discomfort and the larger hernia sac are warm to the touch.
Hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid stops producing and secreting thyroid hormones responsible for proper metabolism. Signs to watch for include lethargy, hair loss, weight gain, cold intolerance, slow heart rate, high blood cholesterol and anemia.