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How Common Are Shih Tzu Eye Problems? Everything You Need To Know!

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Shih tzu puppy dog eyes

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Dr. Lauren Demos

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Any time you get a purebred dog, they’re prone to very specific health problems. One such health problem with the Shih Tzu involves their eyes. Shih Tzus have very small faces, and this leads to a wide range of potential eye problems. Shih Tzus therefore have a higher likelihood of developing eye problems, compared to other breeds.

But just how common are Shih Tzu eye problems, what are the most common eye problems, and is there anything you can do about it? We’ve answered all those questions and more for you here.

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How Common Are Shih Tzu Eye Problems?

It is extremely common for a Shih Tzu to develop an eye problem. The reason for this all comes down to the shape of their head and the way it affects their eye tissues.

Shih Tzus have very short heads, which compress and shift the area where their eyes and surrounding tissue can go. While genetics certainly play a role, no matter how many precautions you take, there’s a higher likelihood that a Shih Tzu will experience eye problems than with dogs of another breed.

Chocolate Brown Shih Tzu
Image Credit: David Soanes Photography, Shutterstock

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The 5 Most Common Shih Tzu Eye Problems

If you have a Shih Tzu, you need to be ready for potential eye problems. But what are some common eye problems you should keep an eye out for, how serious are they, and what are some symptoms? We’ve highlighted all that for five of the most common Shih Tzu eye problems for you here.

1. Eye Infections

Veterinarian conducting a review with your dog Shih Tzu
Image Credit: 135pixels, Shutterstock

Cleaning the area below a Shih Tzu’s eyes frequently will significantly reduce the number of eye infections they experience, but they’re still more likely to experience an eye infection compared to other breeds.

Eye infections lead to plenty of discomfort and irritation for your dog, but if you take them to a vet and get them the proper medication, it’s usually treatable.

2. Cherry Eye

Cherry eye is the common name for a prolapse of a gland. Dogs have multiple eyelids, and cherry eye occurs when the third gland near the bottom of their eye starts to swell. It’s an uncomfortable feeling for the Shih Tzu, and unfortunately, the only solution is a surgical repositioning of the gland to get it back in place.

If your Shih Tzu develops cherry eye, it’s typically very easy to spot and you should take them to a vet right away.

3. Cataracts

A Shih Tzu dog with cataracts in one eye
Image Credit: Mary Swift, Shutterstock

Cataracts are an extremely common eye problem for older Shih Tzus. It typically starts occurring as the dog reaches 7–8 years old. Cataracts are a genetic condition, and while it might be possible to slow its development, it’s currently not possible to prevent it from occurring in the first place.

Cataracts are a slow-developing disease that can lead to total blindness if you don’t treat it. Shih Tzus can undergo surgery to remove cataracts though, and usually, the surgeries are successful.

4. Corneal Ulcers

Corneal ulcers are difficult to spot on a Shih Tzu, but you’ll likely notice some symptoms of discomfort or pain if they develop one. They’ll start to rub at their eye, hesitate to blink, excessively squint, or frequently close their eyes.

If your dog is suffering from a corneal ulcer, you should take them to a vet and they can prescribe drops that will treat most corneal ulcers.

5. Dry Eye

Veterinarian hands applying medical eye drops to Shih Tzu dog's eyes for treatment and prevention eyes disease
Image Credit: Orawan Pattarawimonchai, Shutterstock

Dry eye is a typically pretty mild condition that can produce irritation in your dog. It refers to a condition where the Shih Tzus cornea dries out, and it often results in a mucus discharge around the eye.

Treatment of dry eye typically consists of ointments or drops, but if the condition is severe enough surgery might be necessary.

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If you’re getting a Shih Tzu, you need to pay attention to their eyes. There’s a lot you can do to keep problems from cropping up and treating any potential issues while they’re still small. But if you don’t take the time to care for them or treat the small issues, they can quickly turn into something far more severe.

But with a bit of preparation, knowledge, and work you can keep your Shih Tzu healthier and their eyes clear!

Featured Image Credit: Angel Sallade, Shutterstock

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