If you’ve had your Shih Tzu from the beginning, you will notice that he gets older, and as you slow down, you should adjust his diet and normal routine to suit his needs. You don’t have to be a vet to know that older pets need different nutrition and can’t go by for hours and hours. The advantage Shih Tzu have is that smaller dogs tend to live longer than large breeds, so signs of aging won’t show up until your pet is at least ten years old, assuming he’s been cared for properly.
It is difficult to establish exact stages for ages and, like humans, the activity level and health of an older Shih Tzu will vary from dog to dog. Some may still be circling at thirteen, while others can only walk a few feet at eleven.
Let your Shih Tzu tell you what pace he wants to beat. If you know your pet, you will know when it gets tired. As dogs age, they develop joint problems and other age problems just like humans. You wouldn’t expect a seventy-year-old man to run down the street every day, so don’t expect it from your pet. However, it is vital to maintain some form of exercise, but keep it on a gentle walk. Maybe two or three short walks to replace the only long run of his youth.
When your faithful companion becomes too weak to walk for more than a couple of minutes, carry him or get some kind of carrycot. He may not be exercising, but just like a human, old dogs need a change of scenery and stimulation for their minds and bodies.
There are so many great food products available that are specially balanced to meet the needs of an older dog. Normal adult dog foods are no longer suitable. Your older pet needs different vitamins and minerals from his diet. Remember that you are using less energy, so you must resist the urge to overeat. Shih Tzu are so small that even the smallest lapses in this rule can lead to obesity and that will make your old friend prone to a host of problems. Look for supplements, especially glucosamine for stiff joints. Reduce his diet to once a day or feed him very small amounts regularly. If he doesn’t finish his meal, try to coax him gently, but don’t intimidate him.
Make sure older dogs have access to plenty of clean drinking water and avoid any rich foods. Old digestions cannot cope with a rich meal and the weaker a dog is, the more distressing an upset stomach will be. If you have trained your dog correctly, you will not ask for leftovers and you will already know the dangers of feeding him from your table.
3. Keep older dogs warm and cozy
If you notice that the temperature is shaking or dropping, invest in a coat or even boots. Make sure your mattress or the pad underneath is soft and fluffy. Not only will this help keep your Shih Tzu warm, it will also help soothe his old joints. Make sure your bed is in an area that is quiet and peaceful, but has a lot of human activity.
4. Check old dogs regularly for ticks and fleas.
The long hair of a Shih Tzu makes these parasites more difficult to detect and older dogs are more susceptible to infestation.
5. Above all, give love to your old friend
Make sure your pet knows that she is appreciated and how much her company means to you, even if she no longer has the energy to jump up to the door to say hello every time she walks into the room.