The Shih Tzu is a dog that is known to suffer from allergies more than other breeds. The causes of these allergies can be varied. While food is one potential cause of allergic reactions in Shih Tzu, many other types of allergic reactions are due to external causes. If your dog suddenly starts displaying signs of allergies, it is important to identify the cause as soon as possible.
Signs of allergies
Allergic reactions can come in many forms. If you see your Shih Tzu scratching much more than usual, sneezing constantly, or displaying a runny nose and eyes, then he may have allergies. The same goes for coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, excessive head shaking, and difficulty breathing. I always advise a healthy dose of common sense when observing your Shih Tzu; all dogs display these symptoms at some point or another. One sneeze or cough doesn’t mean your dog has allergies. On the other hand, if these signs persist for a day or two, and you’re not sure what you’re dealing with, you can always consult your vet for an opinion or diagnosis.
Causes of allergies
Pollens are a common cause of allergies in Shih Tzu. If your dog is suffering in spring or summer, and if your dog sneezes or continuously rubs his face with his paws, pollen could be the reason since concentrations are highest during the spring and summer months. Washing your dog’s bed often, cleaning his eyes, and using HEPA filters when cleaning the house can all help reduce pollen allergies. Your vet can prescribe antihistamines to relieve the symptoms. If this doesn’t work, steroids may be prescribed, but be very careful with the use of steroids, since these can cause many other health issues.
Like pollens, house dust can also cause a Shih Tzu to suffer. All houses have some dust, but moving your Shih Tzu’s bed into a room with bare floors and without carpets or heavy drapes (all dust collectors) can make a huge difference.
Flea bites can cause reactions in every breed of dog, so you must check your Shih Tzu for fleas regularly. Fleas are more than just a nuisance; flea bites can lead to serious, even life-threatening health problems. Look for rashes or irritated skin, and ask your vet about the best treatments.
Contact allergies result from something that is applied to a Shih Tzu’s body from the outside. Some examples are shampoos, ointments, and flea medicine, but can also include things like furniture polish and deodorant powders if your Shih Tzu comes into contact with areas that contain them. I recommend you use the same strategies as with food allergies; start eliminating potential culprits until the allergy goes away. Then you will know what the cause really was.
Some dogs are even known to have allergic reactions to vaccinations, and since your Shih Tzu will receive yearly shots, it’s important to pay attention to when allergies start. Did they happen immediately after the last set of shots? If so, I recommend informing the vet so he can take action. Remember: just because your dog had the same shot last year and was fine doesn’t mean he will be fine this time around.
If the allergy persists
If there is no obvious pattern to your Shih Tzu’s allergies, and if you’ve looked high and low to try and isolate the cause and can’t find anything in the house or immediate area that could be causing the problem, it is possible that your dog’s allergies are being caused by something else, such as their diet. When in doubt, check with your vet for advice, but above all, be mindful of your pet’s behavior so that you can act as quickly as possible to help them feel better.
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