Most Shih Tzu owners will readily tell you they became enamored of Shih Tzu’s simply because of their appearance but once they brought their puppy home quickly realized what a chore it can be keeping them groomed. Believe it or not, all that hair you see floating around your puppy’s body isn’t all there is to be concerned with. Shih Tzu’s, because of that long hair, also need to have their ears periodically groomed to avoid potential ear infections. Two areas which many Shih Tzu owners often overlook, unless having their pet professionally groomed are the ears and feet/nails.
Cleaning Your Shih Tzu’s Ears – Assembling the Tools
Although it sounds like a major task, it is really quite easy to keep the ears of your Shih Tzu cleaned once you get the hang of it. The first things you will need are some tools to get the job done right. Most of the time, a pair of tweezers will do the trick but some people find that a hemostat works better for them. Also, a pair of scissors may be needed and if so it is recommended that you use round tipped shears as pointed tips may cause injury to the inner ear canal as you work with the hairs inside the ears. Cotton balls or cotton swabs should be on hand as well as alcohol and ear powder. You may also want to have a bottle of ear cleaning solution on hand, but this isn’t always necessary.
What You Should Know About Cleaning Your Shih Tzu’s Ears
It is quite common for the hair inside a Shih Tzu’s ears to mat up which also enables those tangled hairs to trap dirt which can build up causing ear infections. This, in fact, is the main reason why those adorable little dogs are so prone to ear infections. While some dog groomers use ear powder to stiffen the hair inside the dog’s ears making it easier to remove, others prefer just to pluck it after the dog’s bath. In either case, make sure that you use extreme caution so as not to pinch the dog’s skin. With the ear powder many people find that they don’t need the hemostat or tweezers because they can simply grasp it and pull it out. Others prefer to use the instrument of choice with or without using ear powder. It is suggested that you only grasp a few hairs at a time to reduce unnecessary discomfort.
How to Clean Your Shih Tzu’s Ears
The process begins with the Shih Tzu lying on its side. At this point you would either apply the ear powder to stiffen those hairs for easier removal or you can work without it if you prefer. Use a quick, firm plucking motion to get the hairs out of the ears but again, be careful not to pinch the dog’s ears. If there are any short hairs that are too short to grasp you may want to clip them as close to the ears as possible with your shears and then apply some ear cleansing solution. Gently massage the cleanser into the dog’s ears and then let it shake it out a bit. Take the cotton balls or cotton swabs and carefully clean the inside of the ears until there is no more dirt coming out. At this point you can wrap it up and call it a job well done or you can take one more step and shake a little ear canker powder in the dog’s ears to prevent cankers or infestation with ear mites.
Trimming Your Shih Tzu’s Nails
This is perhaps the easiest part of grooming a Shih Tzu as you will usually need nothing more than a doggie nail clipper and a pair of round tipped shears. With your Shih Tzu on its side push the hair away from the toes and gently spread them apart with your thumb. Make certain that you don’t trim down too close to the quick (the pink part of the toenail that contains nerves and blood vessels) but keep them trimmed close enough so that the footpad takes the shock of walking and not the nails. Once you have all the nails trimmed nice and even you should check the bottom of the dog’s foot and then trim those long hairs growing from between the pads so that they are not long and scraggly.
Tips for Trimming a Shih Tzu’s Nails
It is a good idea to do the toenails every week so to keep them short enough so that undue pressure doesn’t lead to splaying of the feet which is can cause significant discomfort. As a word of caution, in case you do cut too close to the quick you can immediately put some pressure on it to stop the bleeding and apply styptic powder to continue drying it up. There is no reason to worry about whether you are hurting your dog because the small amount of pain only lasts a few moments. Little girl Shih Tzu’s can wear nail polish when you are finished trimming the nails but it is important to remember that this is a long-haired dog that tends to be a little feisty. If so, be careful not to paint the entire foot as nail polish isn’t as easy to remove from the dog’s hair as it is its toenails!
Shih Tzu’s are one of the loveliest breeds of dogs when groomed regularly but when they are left without proper care can be some of the funniest looking pets on earth. (Not to mention how painful it will be when you finally get around to untangling all those knots and globs of matted hair!) However, bear in mind that cleaning a Shih Tzu’s ears is so much more than mere grooming. You will be helping to reduce the likelihood that your dog will develop an ear infection or infestation with mites. Even if you can’t bring your dog to the groomer a couple times a month you can still learn to keep its ears groomed and its nails trimmed for hygiene and health as opposed to cosmetic appeal. Still, isn’t that well groomed Shih Tzu just the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?