Hip dysplasia in Shih Tzus is not as common as it is in larger breed dogs. However, the sad fact is that all sizes of dogs and many breeds are susceptible to this debilitating disease.
Shih Tzus are lively and energetic little companions, but are low-keyed and easily satisfied. They like nothing better than to be held, petted, and pampered by their owners, and are perfectly happy sitting on the couch with their owner for hours.
Their personality ranges from arrogance and haughtiness at times, to courageousness and politeness at other times.
A Shih Tzu makes a good family dog and adapts well to both children and adults, but they’re not particularly good with very young children as they can’t be handled roughly or awkwardly and they tend to get snappy when their patience wears thin.
They adapt well to apartment living, and while they don’t require as much exercise as large active dogs, daily walks are necessary.
They do make alert and reliable watchdogs, barking vigorously when anyone comes close to their house.
Shih Tzus require more care than other breeds if their hair is kept long. They need daily brushing and regular haircuts but they shed very little, making them a perfect pet choice for anyone who suffers from allergies.
The Shih Tzu is one of the world’s oldest dog breeds. Chinese paintings from the 6th century A.D. show Shi Tzu-like dogs, and historical records note that they were kept as house pets during the Ming Dynasty.
Shih Tzus have long flowing hair, including a tuft of hair above the nose that gives them their characteristic “chrysanthemum” face.
Their rounded heads have a long beard and moustache, a short muzzle and a black nose. Most Shih Tzus have round, dark, wide-set eyes with hanging ears covered with hair. They are longer than they are tall, and their tail curls over the back.
A healthy Shih Tzu can live as long as 15 years. Common health issues include ear and kidney infections, eye problems, and hip dysplasia.
Hip Dysplasia in Shih Tzus
Hip dysplasia is a genetic disease that primarily affects large and giant breeds of dogs but can also affect medium-sized breeds and occasionally small breeds. It is primarily a disease of purebreds, although it can also occur in mixed breeds.
To understand hip dysplasia in Shih Tzus and the resulting arthritis, you need a basic understanding of how the dog’s hip joint is affected.
The hip joint is comprised of a ball and socket that forms the attachment of the hind leg to the body. The ball portion is the head of the femur and the socket is located on the pelvis.
In a normal hip joint the ball rotates freely within the socket. The bones are shaped to perfectly match each other with the socket surrounding the ball. To strengthen the joint, the two bones are held together by a strong ligament.
The joint capsule, a strong band of connective tissue, circles the two bones to provide added stability.
What a normal hip joint looks like:
Hip dysplasia is linked to abnormal joint structure and a laxity of the muscles, connective tissue, and ligaments that would normally support the dog’s hip joints.
As the disease progresses, the articular surfaces of the two bones lose contact with each other. This separation of the two bones within the joint causes a drastic change in the size and shape of the articular surfaces.
What an abnormal hip joint looks like:
Most Shih Tzus who eventually develop hip dysplasia are born with normal hips, but due to their genetic make-up the soft tissues surrounding the joint develop abnormally. This leads to the symptoms associated with hip dysplasia. The disease may affect both hips, or only the right or left hip.
Hip dysplasia in Shih Tzus will cause afflicted dogs to walk or run with an altered gait, similar to a bunny-hop. The dog begins to resist any movement that requires full extension or flexion of the rear legs. It will experience stiffness and pain in the rear legs after exercising and on first rising in the morning. Climbing stairs becomes difficult if not impossible. Some dogs will limp and are less willing to participate in normal daily activities, including walks they formerly enjoyed.
It appears that the amount of calories a dog consumes, especially during its fast-growth period from three to ten months, has the biggest impact on whether or not a dog genetically prone to hip dysplasia will develop the disease.
Obesity can increase the severity of the disease in dogs that are genetically susceptible and the extra weight will intensify the degeneration of a dog’s joints and hips. Dogs who are genetically prone to hip dysplasia and also are overweight, are at a much higher risk of developing hip dysplasia and eventually arthritis.
Exercise can be another risk factor. Dogs genetically susceptible to hip dysplasia may have an increased incidence of the disease if they are over-exercised at a young age. Moderate exercise like running and swimming is best for exercising young dogs.
Because hip dysplasia is primarily an inherited condition, there are no products that can prevent its development.
Through proper diet, exercise, and a daily regimen of Winston’s Joint System, you can slow, and sometimes halt, the progression of this degenerative joint disease while providing your dog with relief from its pain. Winston’s provides many of the raw materials essential for the synthesis of the joint-lubricating synovial fluid as well as the repair of articular cartilage and connective tissue.
You might also want to consider providing your dog with an orthopedic bed which distributes the dog’s weight evenly and reduces pressure on its joints. It’s perfect for dogs with hip dysplasia or arthritis.
If owners insisted on only purchasing an animal whose parents and grandparents were certified to have good or excellent hips, and if breeders only bred these first-rate animals, then the majority of the problems caused by hip dysplasia would be eliminated.
If you are looking to purchase a Shih Tzu now or in the future, the best way to lessen the possibility of getting a dog that will develop hip dysplasia is to examine the incidence of the disease in the dog’s lineage. If at all possible, try to examine the parents and grandparents as far back as three or four generations.
There are different assumptions on how to prevent the progression of hip dysplasia in Shih Tzus.
Poor nutrition, inadequate or improper exercise, and increased body weight may all contribute to the severity of osteoarthritis after the hip dysplasia has developed. Watching the calories your puppy or young dog consumes and preventing obesity in your dog, allowing only non-stressful types of exercise, and a daily regimen of Winston’s Joint System, are the best things you can do for your dog.
Since 1990, Winston’s Joint System and Winston’s Pain Formula have helped heal over twenty thousand dogs from all over the world. Our staff specializes in hip dysplasia, arthritis and all joint, pain and mobility issues.
There is an excellent chance we can help your dog, so please contact us at: dogshealth.com or call our toll free number at 888-901-5557.