Shih tzus may love the snow, but they don’t always love the cold, dry weather. My shih tzu Osi loves running through the snow and playing with his other friends, but he can never stay in the snow for long because of the clumps that form in his fur. One time, he was running all around the park, but stopped after 10 minutes and began to limp, holding his small paw up in order to avoid the chilly snow. I had to give him a warm bath to get rid of the snow stuck in his paws and comb him to get rid of the knots. The whole ordeal took longer than I wanted, which is why I rely on several products to keep Osi warm, clean and healthy.
Boots: Shih tzus can potentially be injured by salt and other chemicals that are thrown onto driveways, roads and sidewalks to melt ice. These deicers can lead to chemical burns, cuts or leave your shih tzu limping. The best way to combat this is with dog boots designed to keep your dog’s feet dry and clean. The first time I gave Osi boots, he walked funny and hated them, but the boots kept my shih tzu’s feet clean and warm. He no longer brought back sticks or stones that were caught in his paws after a walk and he was able to walk for longer periods. Source drfostersmith.com.
Paw Wax: If your shih tzu hates boots or you can’t find a good pair, a good substitute is paw wax. Paw wax protects your shih tzu’s paws from salt and chemicals, ice build-up and snowballing. The product can also prevent your shih tzu from slipping on ice or slippery terrain. I use paw wax every time I can’t find my shih tzu’s boots (he likes to hide them) or if I’m in a rush. The result is clean, shiny and soft paws. Source dogwise.com.
Coat: Though shih tzus keep warm with their double coats, they can never keep dry during the winter. With the snowy and sometimes rainy weather in Toronto, Osi gets wet and dirty quickly. When I walked him the other day, we both got caught in the snowy weather. Every few minutes, Osi would shake off the melted snow from his fur and whine because he hates being wet. A dog coat is vital because it keeps your shih tzu dry and protected from windy and wet weather; the coat also cuts your dog’s bath time by 50 percent. Source dogsuppliesstore.com
Medicated Cream: Though boots and paw wax will protect your shih tzu’s paws, there are times when you’re shih tzu can get injured. Bag Balm is a medicated cream that helps prevent dry, chapped and irritated skin during cold weather. The yellow mixture also helps relieve cuts, scratches and abrasions that your shih tzu may get. The first time I applied it on Osi, I was happy with the result. He didn’t try to lick it off and the product didn’t leave any redness. The best part was his paws were smooth and a healthy colour. Source bagbalm.ca
Slicker brush: Because I let my shih tzu’s hair grow long during the winter, his thick coat becomes a knotted mess. Whenever I run my hand through Osi’s fur, it gets caught in small knots and big knots. Though the knots don’t bother Osi, they do bother our groomer who has to work harder to cut his fur. A simple solution is a slicker brush, which is designed to remove mats and dead hair while stimulating the skin. The brush is made up of thin metal wires that act as more of a scratching sensation. Osi enjoys the brush because it feels like a massage while I enjoy the brush because it combs his hair. Source carryoncanine.com.
Mat comb: If a slicker brush does not work for your shih tzu or if you have tougher knots to get through, a mat comb is designed to split up big knots. The metal comb carefully slices the large knot into smaller narrower pieces that are easier to comb through. When it comes to Osi, I isolate the knot and go slowly so I’m not tugging his skin. The key is to try and unknot the mat without taking out any of his hair. Source petco.com.
De-matting spray: Because de-matting knots with combs can take a long time and you may be in a rush, a de-matting dog spray can help you get the job done faster. Also, if your shih tzu is very sensitive to brushing then a de-matting spray is a less invasive way to get the knots out. With the de-matting spray, I usually spray it a few times on Osi then use the slicker comb to run through it. Osi prefers the de-matting spray since it’s less painful and quick. Choose a de-matting spray that contains natural oils and natural ingredients. Look for ingredients such as sunflower oil, aloe or oat protein, which gives your shih tzu a shiny coat. Source espree.com.
Tear stain remover: During the winter, my shih tzu’s eyes excessively tear up causing his white and beige fur to turn dark. The area around his eyes becomes moist and also gives off a foul odour. The reason is because tearing excessively can cause bacteria and yeast to form. The best way to combat this is with tear stain remover. With a cloth, I can use the liquid to wipe out the dirt and bacteria around Osi’s eyes and have the area smelling fresh. When it comes to tear stain removers, avoid Tylosin since it can be potentially dangerous to your shih tzu. Source petco.com.
Nail trimmers: Throughout the year, I trim Osi’s nails in order to avoid them from dragging on the ground. During the winter, it’s important to keep his nails trim and tidy since there are harmful materials on sidewalks and driveways that you can’t see sometimes with the snow. I trim Osi’s nails once every two weeks and trim only a bit. Though Osi moves and squirms, I hold him down in a still position without hurting him. You want to avoid cutting any nerves or blood vessels that are close to the nail and cut the excess of the nail only. Source pooch.ca.
Oil skin care products: Just like humans, shih tzus can suffer from itchy, dry skin during the winter. My shih tzu tends to scratch a lot during the winter and prefers to stay underneath the blankets. With the dry winter air, a lot of shih tzus are susceptible to skin problems, which is why it’s important to use oil skin care products. A popular skin care product for dogs is jojoba oil, which moisturizes your shih tzu’s skin. The oil is a natural fungicide that kills off any fungal infections that your shih tzu may have. It’s best to apply it once every day on the areas that are itchy for your dog. Source tumblr.com
Source 1: Sewing and Craft Alliance, Paw Protectors and Winter Dog Boots, http://www.sewing.org/html/paw_protectors_boots.html
Source 2: Chilly Dogs Inc., Trail Blazer, http://www.chillydogs.ca/index.php/product/index/44
Source 3: BagBalm.ca, Usage, http://www.bagbalm.ca/bagbalm.ca/english/usage.asp
Source 4: Vetinfo, Paw Wax for Dogs, http://www.vetinfo.com/paw-wax-for-dogs.html
Source 5: Treadwell Pet Products 2012, Musher’s Secret, http://musherssecret.net/products.html
Source 6: tearstaincenter.com, Shih Tzu Tear Stains, http://www.tearstaincenter.com/tear-stain-remover/shih-tzu-tear-stains/
Source 7: WiseGeek, What is a slicker brush?, http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-slicker-brush.htm
Source 8: Susan Paretts, The Best Dematting Spray for dogs, http://www.ehow.com/info_12245861_dematting-spray-dogs.html
Source 9: Laurie Semple, Clipping your shih tzu nails, http://americanshihtzuclub.org/clipping_nails
Source 10: Admin, Dog Skin Problems Treating, http://www.evolutionsupply.com/blog/dog-skin-problems-treating/