Even while paying close attention to your Shih Tzu’s diet, your dog can wander around and eat something it shouldn’t have in its body and end up with loose stools. This can be incredibly stressful as the Shih Tzu is a small dog breed, and any minor disturbances in its bowel movements can pose the risk of dehydration and weight loss.
Luckily, we’re here to prepare you beforehand to handle the situation. We’ll walk you through the most common causes of pet diarrhea to keep an eye on, in addition to how to use some simple home remedies to make your dog feel better.
Furthermore, there are some crucial signs to keep in mind that necessitate a visit to your veterinarian when things get out of your own hands. It’s important that you can identify such signs and take the best course of action. We’ve got you covered with all that you need to know concerning your Shih Tzu diarrhea, so let’s dive right in.
How Does Your Shih Tzu Get Diarrhea?
Dogs are indiscriminate eaters, which means they’re more susceptible to having stomach problems compared to cats, for example. Cats are pickier, and whenever they eat something funny, they tend to throw up right away to get it out of their systems.
This isn’t the case with dogs; that’s why their lower gastrointestinal (GI tract) tends to respond more vigorously to foreign bodies and produce copious amounts of watery stools. Let’s explore how your Shih Tzu can end up with diarrhea.
Rapid Transition to a New Diet
Having a new puppy can be overwhelming at first when you don’t know what to do and what not to do, so many owners tend to be overprotective and just stick to the same bland diet over and over again. However, such dietary practices aren’t healthy for your Shih Tzu in the long run. You need to diversify your dog’s diet and ensure it’s getting all the nutrients it needs.
That said, it comes as no surprise that any sudden changes in your Shih Tzu’s main meals can cause an upset stomach. The new snacks or dog food you’ve introduced might come with different levels of fats, coloring additives, or unusual ingredients that your Shih Tzu isn’t used to, so your poor puppy can experience food intolerance and present with severe diarrhea symptoms as a result.
That’s why the introduction of new foods should be a gradual process over the course of 4 weeks. Add one new dietary ingredient at a time, so whenever your Shih Tzu experiences any stomach problems, you can easily pinpoint the cause and cease giving it to your puppy. For the most part, by just removing the offending agent from the diet, your Shih Tzu can get better within 12 hours.
Intestinal parasites are another critical cause of an upset stomach. If the diarrhea symptoms coincide with you recently taking your Shih Tzu out, you have to consider parasites like Giardia to have a role in it. Giardia is a resilient parasite that exists in nature in a cyst form. Such cysts can be found all over the place, whether in contaminated water or dirt.
You’ve probably lost track of the times when your Shih Tzu tried to eat grass while walking in the park or jumped into a puddle of murky water. The Giardia cysts might be waiting in such spots, ready to make a move and get into your dog’s intestinal tract.
Once the cysts are inside, they transform into Giardia’s feeding form called trophozoites, which stick to your Shih Tzu’s intestinal walls and start causing damage. Giardiasis, the disease caused by Giardia, has some unique signs like bloody diarrhea and the presence of the parasite’s cysts in the stool. Also, it takes about 5-12 days from the day of ingesting the cysts before your Shih Tzu can present with such symptoms.
It’s worth mentioning that if you perform an incidental stool test for your Shih Tzu, Giardia cysts might be present in its feces. As long as your dog doesn’t have any symptoms, there’s no reason for you to worry. Giardia won’t pose any problems in healthy dogs. It will only be an issue in small puppies or a Shih Tzu with a weak immune system.
Eating Too Fast
It might not be obvious at first, but the cause for your Shih Tzu’s stomach problems might be simply because your puppy is eating way too fast. This will lead to having big chunks of improperly chewed food, causing an upset stomach, alongside gulping down air with the food that causes bloating and flatulence.
This isn’t an issue you will commonly experience with adult dogs; however, puppies might not be able to contain their excitement once their favorite treats are up. So, using a portion spacer or slow-feeding dog bowls can be a simple yet effective solution to your Shih Tzu’s diarrhea.
Furthermore, spreading out meals across the day is another viable option to protect your Shih Tzu with a sensitive stomach. Instead of opting for 2 chunky meals, you can divide the same portions into 3 separate meals throughout the day.
Home Care for Shih Tzu Diarrhea
In most cases, simple home treatment can be enough for your Shih Tzu to get better. While sticking to your home remedies, it’s important to monitor the condition of your dog closely.
If the condition is getting worse or it’s not responding to the treatment, you need to pay your veterinarian a visit and get a professional opinion.
Withhold Food for 24 Hours
Whenever your Shih Tzu has diarrhea, you need to implement a fasting period, during which the stomach and intestines have the time to recover. During the first 24 hours of the symptoms, refrain from offering your Shih Tzu any solid foods; however, water is important during this period to avoid dehydration.
Furthermore, Shih Tzus are small dogs, and going for hours without eating can lead to a severe drop in their blood sugar levels. In order to mitigate such hypoglycemia, you should give your pet half a spoon of honey every 2 hours. If your dog can’t tolerate reaching out and licking the honey on its own, you can gently rub it against its gums.
It’s also worth noting that any conditions that lead to loss of large amounts of fluids come with the risk of electrolyte disturbances under the hood. You can add Pedialyte, an unflavored children’s electrolyte replenishment solution, to an equal amount of distilled water to balance out the micronutrients lost in your Shih Tzu’s watery stools.
We’ve already touched on how proper hydration is key during the first 24 hours of the diarrhea symptoms. You can also boost the nutritional value by dissolving a low-salt chicken botulin cube in your Shih Tzu’s water as a way to supplement for the lack of solid food. Moreover, if drinking from a bowl isn’t tolerated, give your Shih Tzu some ice cubes as an alternative.
Continue on a Bland Diet for 3 Days
Once your Shih Tzu is in the clear and its stool starts to restore its normal consistency, you can gradually reintroduce solid foods into its diet. You need to stick to bland diets at first that are easy on the stomach. For instance, your Shih Tzu shouldn’t eat anything that has seasoning on it. A bit of sodium table salt is much needed, though. Remember how restoring the lost electrolytes is always a top priority.
Furthermore, you can start with a well-tolerated mash of sweet potatoes and white rice. This is one of the best foods that are easily chewable and comes with a high nutritional value. Give your Shih Tzu small amounts at a time to ensure its stomach doesn’t get overwhelmed by the reintroduction of food after the initial period of fasting.
An additional tip that makes the bland diet more palatable is serving a warm mash. You can heat the white rice and sweet potatoes for a couple of minutes in the microwave before mashing them together, and your dog won’t have anything to complain about.
Once your Shih Tzu gets noticeably better, you can add white chicken breast to the diet. Make sure you peel off the skin to make the job of your pet’s digestive system easier. Finally, canned pumpkin is another welcome addition to add more fibers to your dog’s diet.
Add 1-4 tablespoons of canned pumpkin to your Shih Tzu’s meals, and you will notice that your dog’s stool is becoming more uniform with a firm consistency. However, take care that adding too many fibers can cause constipation. Be mindful as you don’t want your pet’s bowel movements to switch from one end of the spectrum to the opposite one.
Give Anti-diarrheal Drugs
After consulting your veterinarian, an over the counter (OTC) drug that goes by the name Pepto Bismol can be an effective treatment for your Shih Tzu’s diarrhea. The drug is useful against gastrointestinal bacterial infections and can stabilize your Shih Tzu’s stomach oversensitivity and control the diarrhea symptoms.
You need to follow accurate dosage regimens to ensure your pet doesn’t experience any of the drug’s side effects. The weight of your Shih Tzu is the key determinant factor in calculating the Pepto Bismol’s dose, so you need to get accurate, up-to-date measurements before proceeding.
The recommended dosage is 15 ml of the drug per 5 pounds of body weight, and it can be repeated every 2 hours and up to 4 times. If, after repeating the treatment, your Shih Tzu is still not responding, you need to book a vet visit as soon as possible.
Furthermore, make sure you inform your veterinarian that your Shih Tzu received Pepto Bismol as the drug can alter the results of x-rays and lead to a less accurate diagnosis. The drug’s possible side effects include black discoloration of the stool, constipation, and darkened tongue. If you stick to the proper dosage, your Shih Tzu shouldn’t get any of these signs.
When to Seek Medical Attention
We figured that the ineffective Pepto Bismol treatment is the perfect segue to dive deeper into more signs that warrant immediate medical attention. You need to be able to identify such red flags as early as possible and fill your veterinarian in whenever you notice any of these serious signs.
Any changes in the color of the stool can give important clues to the causes of your Shih Tzu’s illness. For example, black feces can raise suspicion of internal bleeding. Any digestive tract bleeding above the level of the stomach can present with black tarry stools, so it’s important to identify such a sign early for your Shih Tzu to receive the proper medical care.
Moreover, you can see frank red blood mixed with your dog’s feces, which is another red flag for any dog owner to keep an eye on. Such red discoloration can indicate massive internal bleeding or, worse: organ failures. You don’t want to take any chances, so reaching out to your vet is the right thing to do.
Hookworms in the Stool
Remember the Giardia cysts that we brought up earlier? Those are microscopic and can’t be seen by the naked eye. Nevertheless, there are many parasites that can be easily visualized, especially in a loose, watery stool like hookworms. Whenever your Shih Tzu has diarrhea associated with parasites, you don’t want to spare any time, as many of these infections can be life-threatening.
Diarrhea Lasting for More than 48 hours
If your pet continues to give out watery stools for 2 days straight and refuses to drink enough fluids as a means to replenish all the lost water in the stools, it’s time to pay your vet a visit. Dehydration can be lethal, especially to toy breed dogs like the Shih Tzu that have limited body surface area.
An important sign of dehydration to be on the lookout for is lethargy. In other words, your dog won’t be as playful as it used to be, and its level of activity will be significantly impacted by the loss of body water.
Diarrhea and Vomiting Combo
Diarrhea alone might not be a big deal if the symptoms are controlled early. However, when slipping in another cause of fluid loss to the mix in the form of vomiting, your Shih Tzu might not be able to tolerate the overwhelming water loss.
These are some of the key signs of parvovirus infection, and your vet will have such a viral infection high on his or her differential diagnosis list, especially if you’ve just got your Shih Tzu puppy recently and aren’t sure whether it got all its vaccinations or not.
Whenever you decide to get a new dog, make sure you only deal with reputable pet shops that provide you with authentic vaccination certificates. Though dog breeders might sound like an enticing option, don’t just settle for an anonymous dog farm and take their word for it.
Once again, if your Shih Tzu has diarrhea without any other symptoms, the condition can be easily managed. The real problem presents when other symptoms quickly add up and worsen your dog’s general health. For example, abdominal pain is one of the alarming signs that grants immediate vet advice.
Your Shih Tzu won’t come to you complaining about pain, of course, but you can easily tell if it keeps panting and gives distinct cries once you touch its stomach.
Dogs are prone to many illnesses, and not all of them are treatable at home. So, now that you know some of the serious signs to watch out for, you’ll make the right call and head right to your vet whenever the condition requires medical attention.
There are tons of conditions that can cause diarrhea in your Shih Tzu. Symptomatic treatment should be enough in the majority of the cases, so let’s sum up all that you need to do to control a bout of diarrhea.
You need to withhold all solid foods for the first 24 hours of the symptoms while keeping your Shih Tzu hydrated. The initial fasting period might make many dog owners puzzled with plenty of questions about what’s right for their Shih Tzu. It all boils down to buying enough time for your dog’s digestive tract to recover while replenishing electrolytes and blood glucose.
Moving forward, your Shih Tzu can now start eating simple mashed foods for another 3 days, and you can always consult your vet whenever you notice any alarming signs or your dog shows worsening symptoms.
The whole experience can be stressful for you and your poor little Shih Tzu; however, if you’re well-prepared and ready to take proper action, a bit of dog diarrhea won’t throw you off guard.