BY MOLLY | EVERYTHINGSHIHTZU.COM
One of the first things you notice about Shih Tzu's is their large, expressive eyes.
Unfortunately, because the Shih Tzu has such big eyes, it is especially prone to dirt and debris, becoming overgrown with mucous and bacteria leading to an infection.
Regular cleaning not only keeps his eyes free from dirt and bacteria, but also helps keep you on top of any changes that may need medical attention.
The first place to start cleaning is the area around your dogs eyes.
The area around a Shih Tzus eyes can get dirty pretty quickly, yet it isn't always obvious to us, so take a few seconds to clean that area daily.
Use a soft damp cloth, or eye wipes made for dogs if you prefer, and gently wipe from the top lid area near the nose towards the outer area of the eye, then do the same below the eye area.
Just doing this quick cleaning daily will cut way down on any eye gunk and infections.
And will keep those big, beautiful soulful eyes in excellent condition for years to come.
I get it, we all get busy, and we just simply forget about things we need to do every so often. But, unfortunately, it happens to all of us.
So, when life gets in the way, you may not realize that you have overlooked cleaning your Shih Tzus eyes just a little too long.
Usually, it's when you see the slight eye crusts have formed in the corner of your dogs eyes and are sticking to the hair beneath them that you realize how long it's been.
And no matter how much you try to wipe them away, you just cannot get them out.
This is where you need to break out the big guns and get to work tackling this hardened mucous mass before an infection gets its roots in.
Don't worry, it really isn't going to be all that difficult. It will just take a little more time and a couple extra items.
So, to start with, you’re going to need a few supplies.
You can use a cotton swab instead of the cloth to get closer to the inside corner.
Just be sure that you do not poke his eye with the swab.
The tip of the cotton swab is soft and rounded, making it a safe alternative to using your finger or cloth in getting eye boogers that are just inside the inner corner of your Shih Tzus eyes.
Do not jam the swab in the corner, but rather gently swipe the swap toward the nose so as not to drag it into the main eye area.
If your finding that that crud is just too thick and you can get it out with your fingernail or a cotton swab, a flea comb can be used to scrape the crud from the outside corners.
I got this method from our veterinarian, who used a flea comb to detach the crud from my dog's eye area. (This was long before I knew what that buildup sticking to the hair in the corner of his eye area was.)
Be mindful that the pins on the comb can cause injury if you are not extremely careful.
When using a flea comb, always loosen the crud first as described above.
Once you've loosened the gunk, using a 45-degree angle, place the comb in the corner of the eye area, just below the rim of the eyelid.
Gently press the comb to the hair and run the comb in a downward motion.
Wipe the accumulated crud from the comb, and comb the area again until it is all removed.
Do not dig the comb into the face.
You should only be applying light pressure to comb and gentle scraping motion.
Be very careful not to put the comb pins into the eye, as this will cause an injury and could also create fear in your dog.
I often get asked how I keep my Shih Tzus eyes from getting tear stains.
My usual response is...with quality nutritional food, spring water, and a lot of eye care maintenance.
So what exactly are tear stains?
Tear stains are those streaks of discolored hairs around the Shih Tzus eyes, nose, and mouth and are usually a rusty or brown color, like in the photo below.
If this discharge is not cleaned, the hairs around the eye will become wet, and if not given some attention, it will remain moist.
Keep in mind that a moist environment is basically a welcome mat for a bacterial infection and creates these long runny streaks down his face.
So if your Shih Tzu does have watery eyes, it's imperative to keep ahead of the stains by drying his face regularly.
If it seems that his eyes always have tear stains even though you are drying them daily, you need to first figure out why his eyes are watering so much.
Some dogs just seem to naturally have watery eyes due to hereditary.
But in a Shih Tzu, that isn't very likely. So there is usually a reason behind all those tears.
Once you understand what’s causing your Shih Tzus eyes to water so much, the next step is clearing it up.
To clean the tear stains, you can use the steps above, but if that doesn’t do the trick, you’ll have to find a product specifically for this task.
Try looking for products that don’t contain chemicals like bleach or contain anti-biotics unless approved by your vet first.
To me, a natural product is far superior for the health of a Shih Tzu, but even home remedies like vinegar can cause injury when used in their eyes.
Instead, save the vinegar for his water bowl if you must use it.
In most circumstances, simply cleaning the eye area several times a day will be all that is needed.
But keep in mind it will take a couple weeks of doing this before you begin to see improvements.
And may take several more weeks before the stains are gone completely.
During this time, it is vital to keep the eye area dry, or bacterial will take over, and staining will be the result.
When doing the daily cleaning of your Shih Tzus eyes, be sure you check for any indications of any eye issues.
Catching these issues early can make all the difference in the health of your dogs' eyes.
In most cases, the treatment for eye problems is far more effective when the condition is caught early.
Just by doing these 4 quick steps daily, your Shih Tzu's eyes will stay in great shape for many years.
Keep a vigilant watch for any abnormalities in his eyes. This is especially true if they played with other dogs, swimming, or walking in the woods.
Shih Tzu's eyes are naturally sensitive to the environment and can get dirty fairly easily.
As mentioned above, daily cleaning will undoubtedly be the best option in keeping your Shih Tzus eye clear and will cut down on any tear stains or infections.
Shih Tzus have large eyes which are set in shallow sockets and are especially prone to proptosis.
It is imperative that you monitor their playtime with other dogs, where ruff housing can cause this severe eye injury.
Daily cleaning allows you to see if any changes are going on in your Shih Tzus eyes.
If you notice any changes when doing your daily home eye exam, you may want to consider scheduling an appointment with the vet.