Shih Tzu is a brachycephalic breed of dogs (with very short faces) & suffer from the abnormalities as below:
- Stenotic Nares
- (BAOS) Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome
- Cleft palate
It is an inherited characteristic; it is a condition in which the nostrils are narrow & pinched. Shih Tzu having a short nose with pinched nostrils, is counted among the breeds suffering from brachycephalic syndrome. This built-in feature makes it difficult to breathe & bases snorting, snoring, sniffing, sneezing & nasal discharge that can reason to heart enlargement. The dog gets tired soon while playing for a short time & needs break to rest.
Treatment: A simple surgery is performed by the Veterinarians to help widen the nares (nostrils), that involves cutting & removing a small piece of the cartilage separating both the nostrils.
Post-surgery, a close monitoring of the dog will be required for 24 -36 hours. As bleeding or inflammation can block the nostrils, creating difficulty in breathing. The dog’s exercise will also have to be limited for 2-3 weeks.
(BAOS) Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome:
Mostly shih Tzu suffer from Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome (BAOS) to some degree or the other, related to their shortened facial appearance (short nose). The dog is forced to difficult breathing due to the permanent narrowing & hindrance of the upper airways. The air passage is further narrowed & larynx collapses due to the continuous increased respiratory effort (compromised breathing)
Snoring, rapid breathing, mouth breathing, respiratory distress & struggling for breath are all factors of BAOS which can lead to death. Dogs with BAOS are incapable of taking even small exercise and have always disturbed sleep.
BAOS develops gradually & is a lifelong disorder & can affect small dogs below 6 months of age. The timely diagnosis & controlling of the major factors is necessary to limit the progress to the next possible deadly disorders. To remove, repair or bypass areas of obstruction the surgical procedures are executed. The corrective surgery improves breathing, but it does not fully normalize the airway.
This birth defect the cleft palate is often a congenital disorder in short-nosed breeds such as shih Tzu. Cleft palate is an unusual opening between the mouth and the nasal passage. when the tissues splitting the two cavities do not develop together correctly. This defect can be either (primary cleft palate) in the lip or (secondary cleft palate) in the roof of the mouth.
Signs of Cleft palate:
- Teeth & gums are possibly visible.
- One imperfectly formed nostril.
- Sneezing & snorting
- Runny nose after eating
- Coughing and gagging
- Difficulty in sucking
- Slow growth
- Weight loss
- Lack of appetite
- Breathing and exercising trouble
Diagnosis of Cleft Palate:
The diagnosis for the primary cleft is very open based on the look of the dog’s nose and mouth, with teeth possibly showing, or an unusually shaped nostril. In order to properly observe the soft palate deep into the oral cavity, the veterinarian will put the dog under anesthesia & may also do Thoracic x-rays.
Treatment of Cleft Palate:
More than one surgical procedure of cleft palate closure may be required.