Shih Tzu Care Tips

Shih tzu’s are good-natured and easy to train, making them great family pets. But caring for a Shih tzu can be time consuming because they require a lot of grooming.

A major part of Shih tzu care is proper grooming which will begin as soon as you bring your new dog home. Their thick, double-coated hair can be grown long, or for easier care, kept in a short cut.

As soon as you bring your Shih tzu home it’s a good idea to start desensitizing your pet to brushing since it will need to be brushed daily. Start with a quick brushing, being careful not to get too forceful with the first few brushings.

During grooming sessions you’ll need to lift the top coat of its hair and brush the undercoat thoroughly. Be sure to brush its stomach, under the ears and between its legs where hair mats are particularly likely to collect.

Good Shih tzu care includes keeping the hair trimmed from their eyes, or in lieu of trimming you can use a special dog rubber band to place the hair in a ponytail on top of the dog’s head. These ribbons are available from almost every pet store.

Since shih tzus have floppy ears, you will need to clean their ears regularly using a special ear cleaner or mild soap. Use a cotton ball or something equally as soft to clean the ear flaps; then use a Q-Tip to clean the part of its ear canal that you can easily see. Take special care not to clean too far inside the ear canal or you can easily damage its ear drum.

Because they have flat faces, Shih tzus often have difficulty eating and drinking. It’s a good idea to supervise your dog when it’s eating or drinking water from its bowls. It helps if you put their food and water in wide, flat pans to make it easier for them to get their whole face in the bowl. Some owners prefer to hand feed their pet to make it easier for the dog to eat.

Shih tzus need regular exercise but usually can’t handle long walks. Shorter exercise periods once or twice a day is better for these little dogs. In the summer you should keep the walks shorter as Shih tzus don’t tolerate heat very well.

Shih tzus are very playful dogs and they enjoy short stretches of play. If you teach your Shih tzu to fetch a toy or play hide and seek, it will provide enough exercise for your pet and also allow it to rest when tired.

Although Shih tzu care can involve high maintenance, these dogs make a great addition to a family as long as you’re prepared for the effort it takes to keep them safe and well-groomed.

How to Choose a Dog Groomer

When you need to find a dog groomer to keep your pet looking its very best, a good place to start is with your regular vet. A lot of veterinarians, especially those with larger facilities or animal hospitals, also offer dog grooming. The groomers employed in facilities like these are professional dog groomers, trained in the correct methods of grooming all breeds of dogs. While keeping your dog looking its best, you’ll also feel safe knowing your pet is receiving the best care available while getting its “haircut.”

There are some important questions you should ask a prospective groomer before committing your pet to the scissors.

(1) What breed or breeds of dogs do they personally own?
(2) Did the groomer go to school to learn dog grooming or did they learn it ‘on the job?’
3) How long have they been grooming dogs?
(4) What breeds do they feel comfortable with and which breeds are they best at grooming?
(5) Do they have more than one style of grooming for different breeds?

Questions to ask the staff at the facility:

(A) What hours does the groomer work?
(B) How are dogs checked in and will they call you when it’s time to pick up your pet?
(C) How far in advance do you need to make an appointment?
(D) What is the fee for grooming and what does the fee include?
(E) What type of shampoos and conditioners are used?
(F) Is the ear hair plucked from breeds with hair in their ear canals?
(G) If your dog refuses to willfully submit to a grooming and needs to be sedated during the grooming, what safeguards does the facility have in place for sedating a dog and is there someone who will monitor your pet during the process?

The relationship you will want to develop with your dog’s groomer should be professional yet friendly. The answers you receive to these questions should help in choosing the best groomer for your pet.

Professional Dog Grooming

Some dog owners enjoy grooming their pets at home, while other owners don’t want to go through the hassle and work involved in keeping their dog looking its best at all times. Long haired dogs are the most difficult to groom at home and for these owners a professional dog grooming service is a good alternative.

The grooming needs of a dog vary according to factors such as the breed of the dog, the type of coat, how many layers the coat has, the hair length, and whether the dog spends more time indoors or outdoors.

Some grooming activities like brushing the hair and the cleaning the teeth and ears, can easily be done at home, while professional dog grooming services may be desired for nail trimming and haircutting.

Most dogs will need the following grooming tasks, but at different intervals, depending on how many of the factors listed above apply to your dog :

* Brushing the dog’s coat and removing any matted hair
* Teeth cleaning
* Nail trimming
* Ear cleaning
* Haircuts (necessary only for certain dog breeds that have continually growing hair)

    There are several grooming tasks that should be performed by a professional dog groomer:

* Nail Trimming. The nails of a dog are very sensitive. They have abundant nerve endings and can easily bleed if they’re cut too short. This can be a difficult and stressful task for a dog owner unless they have adequate experience in trimming a dog’s nails. The procedure also requires special tools to cut the nails and grind them smooth using a power nail grinder. Professional dog groomers are trained in the best methods of trimming and styling a dog’s nails and provide assurance that your dog’s health and well-being are the primary concern.

* Cutting a dog’s hair should always be done by a professional dog grooming service because it takes special training to know exactly how a dog’s hair should be cut.

* A professional teeth cleaning appointment should be scheduled once a year, the same as you would schedule with your own dentist. A thorough teeth cleaning can only be done by a professional dog groomer. It cannot and should not, be performed at home.

Professional dog groomers are trained in correct and painless methods of dog grooming with your dog’s safety in mind. Unfortunately, many dog owners have discovered that when they attempt to perform some dog grooming techniques at home, they end up hurting their dog.

The next time you take your dog to a professional groomer take the time to ask them for tips on how to best take care of the simple pet grooming jobs at home in between your appointments with the groomer.

Why Should You Brush Your Dog’s Coat?

Why should you brush your dog’s coat when it’s much easier just to visit the dog groomer once a month?

Regular brushing of your dog’s coat has many benefits besides having a good looking, sweet-smelling companion. Giving your dog regular baths and keeping him or her well groomed, will prevent flea and tick infestations which can cause health problems for both you and your dog. Regular use of the Pet Bath Ultra – Flea Blast brush will leave your pet with a lush coat that smells fresh and clean without the use of products containing chemicals.

Regular brushing removes excess hair from your dog’s coat and cuts down significantly on the amount of hair you need to brush off your furniture, car seats, and clothing. It also helps distribute the natural oils in your dog’s fur and skin. For a truly healthy and shiny coat, use Omega Glo-Coat. Your dog will benefit from this product which is rich in essential fatty acids. Dogs lack the ability to produce needed essential fatty acids on their own and a high quality EFA supplement like Omega Glo-Coat 3/6/9 is essential for superior coat health.

Brushing is also a great way to check your dog’s health. While you brush, look at the condition of its coat. Is the hair matted or tangled? Is it dry or oily? Check for lumps, ticks, fleas, hair mats, cuts, and anything that looks unusual. As your dog ages, you’ll discover a few more bumps and lumps on its body. If you notice that any of these bumps are suddenly growing in size, a trip to your vet for an examination may end up saving your dog’s life.

Depending on your dog’s coat, you’ll need a specific type of brush or a flea comb, available at most pet supply stores. Although dogs are generally capable of keeping their coats neat and clean, they still need your help with brushing which necessitates having opposable thumbs.

Brushing basics
The basics of brushing your dog’s coat depends upon the type of coat your dog has. This will determine how often you need to brush its coat and what type of brush you should use.

• Short-haired breeds, such as Labrador Retrievers and Greyhounds, don’t need frequent brushing because their hair doesn’t easily mat or become tangled. You should still brush them every couple of weeks to remove loose hairs. With these breeds it’s best to use a rubber brush which will help remove loose hair. If you prefer to use a conventional brush, dogs with short coats can handle a stiff natural-bristle brush which has little bent-metal pins. Finish by using a soft-bristle brush, which helps distribute the hair’s natural oils.

• Short, wiry breeds, such as Dachshunds and Terriers, need a slicker brush, followed by a once-over with a metal comb. A stripping knife, used by dog handlers and dog show exhibitors, is a good choice to remove any dead hair in the undercoat. Be sure to carefully read the instructions before using one for the first time.

• Long-haired breeds, such as Collies and Golden Retrievers, need to be brushed weekly and sometimes more often if the coat becomes tangled. A pin brush works well for breeds with long hair because the bent-wire bristles grip the undercoat of the dog’s hair and remove loose hairs without causing pain to the animal. Start close to the skin and brush away from it. Finish up with a comb to untangle any remaining matted hair.

How to brush your dog
• Brush down and out, away from the dog’s skin. Always brush in the direction the coat grows; dogs don’t like to be brushed backwards.

• When you groom your dog be gentle while brushing or you may damage your dog’s coat by pulling and stretching hairs until they tangle and break. Take the time to untangle any snarls just as you would if your comb got stuck in your own hair.

• If you encounter matted hair, apply a coat conditioner and leave it on for several minutes. Then use a wide-toothed comb to get through the tangle. Be especially careful with matted hairs that are close to a dog’s skin. Removing them can be painful, so proceed carefully. You can cut out matted hair with scissors, but be careful you don’t get too close and cut your dog’s skin. If your dog’s hair is so matted that you cannot remove the tangles or mats, take your dog to a groomer, who will probably shave the area. Some level of skill is called for if your dog’s coat tends to get matted. And if your dog really doesn’t enjoy having you bathe and brush it, experienced groomers are good at sweet-talking almost any dog into relaxing long enough to be bathed and groomed.

Bottom line: Brushing is an essential part of a good grooming routine. Set up a regular schedule to brush your dog’s coat and your pet will stay healthy and look good.