Common Eye Problems in Shih Tzus

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Having a Shih Tzu as part of your family can require a lot of maintenance. The breed is susceptible to eye problems, and it is very important to keep their eyes clean. There are several common eye problems in the Shih Tzu breed due to their large, sensitive eyes.


Cataracts, which are usually genetic, will not develop until the dog is 8 years old, though they also can occur due to an eye injury. Cataracts can be recognized by a cloudy look over the dog's eye. Cataracts do affect the Shih Tzu's vision and can make your dog become blind if the condition goes untreated. Cataracts are removed by surgery, though scarring can occur from the surgery and could lead to decreased vision.

Corneal Ulcers

A corneal ulcer can result from a Shih Tzu scratching his or her eye. A tear on the eye is usually not visible, but signs of an ulcer include your dog keeping his eye only half open, the dog closing his eye more often than usual, or the Shih Tzu having more tears than usual. The veterinarian will be able to diagnose the corneal ulcer and the treatment will likely consist of daily eye drops that will reduce the swelling and pain.


The symptoms of an eye infection include swelling, more discharge than usual, redness and sensitivity to light. If the eye infection in your Shih Tzu's eye(s) is not treated, the condition could cause sight problems. A veterinarian will distinguish if your pet has an bacterial/viral eye infection or allergies. If the condition is an eye infection, it is treated with an antibacterial eye drop.

Eyelash Issues

Distichiasis is a condition where an eyelash grows on the inner surface or the edge of the Shih Tzu's eyelid . If the eye lash is not noticeable, signs that there is a problem include your Shih Tzu rubbing her face on pillows, carpet or anything she can to relieve the discomfort. The most common treatment is for a veterinarian to permanently remove the eyelash by electrolysis.


Symptoms for conjunctivitis, or pink eye, include discharge from the eye(s), swelling, noticeable discomfort and a red or pink appearance of the eye. This common eye problem in your Shih Tzu can be caused by several factors, including allergies or objects in the eye. Pink eye can be spread by contact—which is the bacterial form—dog to dog. It can also be airborne—the viral form—which usually occurs in the colder months with humidity. Treatment for this eye infection usually includes a medication to reduce the swelling and fight off the bacteria.

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