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A Shih Tzu has big eyes and a shortened face. While these 2 things make a Shih Tzu puppy adorable, these are the same characteristics that can also lead to some health problems for Shih Tzus.
Their bulging eyes, in particular, are especially prone to several different diseases and infections, including:
- Corneal ulcers
- Eyelash issues
- Pink eye
- Bacterial infections
Proper eye care is essential to keeping your Shih Tzu’s eyes healthy.
Today, I’m going to show you how to care for Shih Tzu eyes…
Even if you cannot prevent a genetic eye condition, by regularly washing the area around your dog’s eyes and checking their eyes frequently, you will know your dog’s eyes well enough to notice the warning signs of potential eye problems.
In most cases, the treatment for Shih Tzu eye problems is far more effective when the condition is caught early.
How To Clean Shih Tzu Eyes
Cleaning around your dog’s eyes is the key to preventing Shih Tzu eye issues.
Even if it doesn’t look dirty, the area around the eye can collect food particles, wet hairs, dirt, and eye discharge — so you should clean the fur around the eyes every day.
You can use a soft washcloth, a wet cotton ball, or dog eye wipes to wash the area around your Shih Tzu’s eyes.
Start on the inner corner of the eye and wipe away from the eye. It’s best to wipe at least 3 times:
- Once on top of the eye
- Once underneath the eye
- Once going down the snout
Then, after you have wiped all around your dog’s eyes, it is imperative that you dry the area around the eyes with a soft, clean towel. If you just leave it to air-dry, the moist area will become a breeding ground for bacteria that could lead to infection.
Signs Of Shih Tzu Eye Problems
While you’re cleaning your dog’s eyes, you should take the opportunity to look for any signs or symptoms of potential eye problems.
If you notice any of the following symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian:
- Cloudiness in the eye
- Excessive discharge
- Swelling of the eye or the area around it
- Redness in the eye
- Excessive tear production
- Eyelashes growing from a weird area or at a strange angle
- Ingrown eyelashes
In addition to looking for physical symptoms, you should also pay attention to the following behaviors that your dog will exhibit if they are experiencing eye discomfort:
- Intentionally avoiding bright lights
- Rubbing their eyes or face on pillows, carpets, or other surfaces
- Scratching at their eyes
- Keeping one eye closed, or half-closed
Tear Staining Around Shih Tzu Eyes
Tear staining is one of the most common problems that Shih Tzus have.
Their eyes bulge out beyond their eyelids, so they often get debris and bacteria in their eyes. Their eyes automatically start watering to wash anything out — but the tears can stain the hair around the eyes.
Tear staining is not necessarily a health issue, but it can make it difficult to notice other symptoms and could be a sign of an underlying infection.
Reasons Shih Tzu Eyes Start Watering
Tear staining is caused by runny or watery eyes — so the best way to treat tear staining is to address whatever is causing your dog’s eyes to water.
Common causes of watery eyes in Shih Tzus include:
- If their hair is not groomed properly, the fur around their eyes could get wet when they drink and/or get food particles in it when they eat — then, once their hair gets in their eyes, those particles get transferred to the eyes
- Reactions to chemicals and preservatives in dog food
- Reactions to minerals found in tap water
- Second-hand smoke
- Reactions to cleaning products in your dog’s environment
You should try to remove the things that are possibly irritating your dog’s eyes. For example:
- Be sure that the hair around their face is adequately groomed or styled in a top-knot, away from their eyes.
- Make sure that your dog’s food and water dishes are shallow enough to prevent their face getting dirty or wet when they eat or drink.
- Consider changing your dog’s food or filtering their water, if you think they are having a reaction to either of those things.
If your Shih Tzu still has watery eyes after you’ve made all of those changes, then you may need to have your vet check for things like allergies or eye infections. (Be sure to make the vet aware of the adjustments you’ve already made and any other symptoms you may have noticed.)
How To Remove Tear Stains From Shih Tzu Eyes
- Use a specially formulated canine tear stain wipe to wipe the fur around your dog’s eyes 2 to 3 times each day.
- The staining should improve within a couple of weeks and disappear entirely after about 6 weeks of continuous use.
I use tear-stain wipes every day when I wash my Shih Tzu’s face, and he has not had an issue with tear staining since then. I also find that the hair around his eyes is not as tangled when I use wipes — which makes grooming a lot easier.
The Bottom Line…
You should be very careful about the products you use to clean your dog’s eyes and remove tear stains — because some may contain harmful ingredients.
Look for products that contain natural ingredients like coconut and juniper berry. Or check with your veterinarian for specific recommendations.
If the tear staining does not improve, or if it keeps coming back, you may need to get an antibiotic from your veterinarian.
See all of my other Shih Tzu grooming tips.
Adam’s first Shih Tzu was a gift he received while recuperating from an accident — he enjoyed the companionship and quickly fell in love with the breed! After researching everything there is to know about Shih Tzus, he became passionate about adopting more. At his website, The Shih Tzu Expert, Adam shares his personal tips and experiences raising Shih Tzus in order to assist others who are considering getting a Shih Tzu.
I like to help Dog Parents find unique ways to do things that will save time & money — so I write about "outside the box" Dog Tips and Dog Hacks that most wouldn't think of. I’m a lifelong dog owner — currently have 2 mixed breed Golden Aussies that we found abandoned on the side of the road as puppies. I've always trained my own dogs and help friends train theirs, as well. Professionally, I worked at a vet and have several friends who are veterinarians — whom I consult with regularly. (And just because I love animals so much, I also worked at a Zoo for awhile!) I've been sharing my best ideas with others by blogging full-time since 1998 (the same year that Google started… and before the days of Facebook and YouTube). My daily motivation is to help first-time dog owners be better prepared from the first day your new puppy enters your home. I like to help dog owners understand what's 'normal' and what you can expect in terms of living with and training your dog — how to get through the ups & downs of potty training, chewing, teaching commands, getting your dog to listen, and everything else that takes place during that hectic first year! When I'm not training, walking, grooming, or making homemade treats for my dogs, you will find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites). To date, I've written over 500 articles for dog owners on this site!