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Allergies can manifest themselves in many ways. Constant itching, skin infections, chewing and licking, eye and nose discharge, vomiting and diarrhea, coughing, sneezing, wheezing, ear infections and paw chewing. Dogs can develop allergies at any age and can be allergic to more than one thing at a time. Types of allergies they can have are contact, inhalant, food, flea and bacterial.

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is an allergic skin disease of dogs which is caused by immunological hypersensitivity to common substances in the environment such as house dust mites.

Usually, a Shih Tzu is said to be suffering from atopic dermatitis when the Shih Tzu begins to excessively lick and chew its paws, licking the abdomen and its rear feet.

Atopic dermatitis can be seen as a saliva staining found in the armpits, between the toes of the paws, and in the groin. In light-colored canines, atopic dermatitis can be seen as a red-brown stain found on the same parts that were mentioned.

A variety of drugs are now available for treatment. Generally they are used in combination rather than alone

Essential fatty acids are now widely used for skin conditions. They are known to have few side effects and will help about 25% of allergic dogs significantly. Antihistamines increase the power of essential fatty acids (synergy) and so combination therapy would appear to be valuable. I have seen many dogs get relief just from this method. (fish oil capsules and benadryl tablets)

Hyposensitizing Vaccines ( also known as desensitizing vaccines) are prepared from the allergens identified as important at skin test. By administering these allergens subcutaneously over a long period the immune response to them is modified and itching is reduced. They are seen to be beneficial in about 60% of dogs, and take up to nine months to have effect.



There are few non-harmful bacteria on the body of a Shih Tzu. Most of these bacteria come from Staphylococcus family. However, only a few harmful bacteria may affect Shih Tzu leading to a bacterial allergy. If you find your Shih Tzu is lacking hair unusually and some ringworm type of markings appear all over its body, it is quite possible that the Shih Tzu may have developed a bacterial allergy on the skin.



It only take 1 flea that you may never see on your dog to drive it bonkers if it has a sensitivity to flea bites. Just because you do not see them does not mean they are not feeding on your baby.

If your dog currently has fleas you need to address the fleas on the skin immediately. Frontline and Advantix can only be used 24 hours before or after a bath. I suggest giving your Shih Tzu a bath with a really good flea shampoo. If you live in a no freeze state it is better to give flea prevention orally.  I personally use Bravecto but there are many more oral flea meds that work great. I buy the 10 - 22 lb dosage and cut it in half. This is not reccomended by the manufacterer. A half of a Bravecto lasts for approx 5 - 6 months with no fleas in site.

There is also a product on the market called Capstar. It kills all the fleas on your Shih Tzu within 24 hours. This is safe to give as much as needed.

Once the fleas are under control you can begin using a shampoo to help your Shih Tzu skin recuperate. A very good shampoo for this is Micro-Tek shampoo by Eqyss. See my grooming page for more suggestions. If you are having problems with lesions and large patches of sores you can use Chris Christensen Peace and Kindness Skin Spray. 

Many vets will recommend a Benydryl once a day. Please see my Over The Counter Meds Page


Low quality brands of dog foods are loaded with allergy causing ingredients, the oats, corn, wheat, soy. They're cheap ingredients, filers/fiber that go right through a dog and they serve little if any nutritional value. If you're buying your dogs food at the grocery store or discount store, it's a low quality brand and that includes Science Diet formulas sold from Vets.. It can be as simple as switching to high quality brand of food to stop the itching.  I have a whole page dedicated to dog food. 

Limited ingredint foods are best. Use a protien source you have never used before. Only give kibble. No snacks of any other kind. Use kibble for a trea. After a couple month syou can slowly start adding atreats if you like. One at a time, giving weeks in between to ensure no reaction. 


Any dog can get allergies, just like humans. Outside issues such as pollens, grasses, and weeds. They can be allergic to things in the home, cigarette smoke, cleaners, dust mites, molds, mildews, insect spray, etc.

At different times of the year you may notice your Shih Tzu has runny eyes and maybe a little runny nose, he or she may be scratching more than usual. If you notice this to be around the same time allergy season is high in your area, it is very likely your Shih Tzu is suffering from the same type of allergy symptoms we do. Try treating the symptoms to make your dog more comfortable just as humans do. It should go away once the pollens and molds go down. If this is not seasonal you may need to see your vet to have your dog tested to see what is triggering his or her symptoms.

Allergy testing by far is the best way to find the allergens. There's 2 types, skin testing and serum testing. The serum testing which is the less expensive of the 2 tests for 40+ known allergens. Finding the allergen and totally eliminating it from their diet or environment is the best way to combat allergies. It's not an uncommon practice for a vet to only treat the symptoms of allergies by prescribing antihistamines and steroids shots which only last a short time, and prolonged use of steroids can be damaging to a dogs organs plus make their bones brittle and should only be used on a brief and intermittent basis. Plus over the dogs life time, you'll spend hundreds of dollars in vet visits and medications with that type of treatment so allergy testing is more cost effective in the long run.

Any and all advice on this page is only my opinion. Please see your veterinarian for a diagnosis and treatment. 




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Bailley's Blog - Bailley was diagnosed with Cushing's in November of 2014. We lost Bailley 8/15/17

This is a record of our journey and how I chose to treat her. It is my hope others will find comfort and answers.



Tian Mi Shih Tzu uses Pet Oasis Water Stands with Lixit bottles 





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