Shih tzus are small, hardy dogs that have a lion's mane and personality. These bright, expressive dogs are friendly and affectionate to families and children and are popular house pets. The dogs come with some restrictions, though, like a need for consistent grooming and some common health considerations, including seizures.
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Shih Tzu Basics
Shih tzus descend from Lhasa apsos and were originally bred in China as lapdogs. These dogs were so favored by people there at the time that no exports were allowed until 1930. Shih tzus stand up to 11 inches tall, with long, flowing hair that can be brown, red, black or white.
A shih tzu's folded ears and flat face bring a tendency for ear, eye and respiratory difficulties. The dogs are prone to weight gain and suffer if they aren't frequently bathed and groomed. They are also genetically inclined to become epileptic.
Seizures in a shih tzu can be caused by a variety of factors. They are, however, usually the product of the epilepsy to which shih tzus are prone. Epileptic seizures are sometimes mild, affecting only a part of the dog's body and passing quickly. Other seizures are disruptive and dramatic and can include the dog falling down, twitching and losing consciousness.
Epilepsy is caused by electrical misfiring in a shih tzu's brain. The brain's neurons shoot off too many "move" signals, which lead to seizing muscles. Epilepsy is considered to be hereditary in most cases, though it can also be caused by toxins or tumors.
According to the My Dog Breed website, epilepsy is treatable but not curable. Shih tzus that have epilepsy and the resulting seizures are put on lifelong schedules of management. Anti-seizure medications seek to control the strength and frequency of seizures, while owners learn to recognize and manage seizures when they come along.
By Carrie Terry
About the Author
Carrie Terry has worked in publishing for more than 15 years. In 2008, she opened a publishing house, acquiring and editing manuscripts, bringing books to market, running marketing campaigns and supervising cover/art direction. Terry holds a Bachelor of Science in English from UCLA.