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5 Reasons Why Your Shih Tzu Is Scratching & Itching

If you have a Shih Tzu, they are probably the center of your world. When they suddenly begin itching and scratching, you are probably going to worry until you figure out what the problem is.

There are many reasons why a Shih Tzu may scratch and itch. The reason for their discomfort could range from common skin issues such as allergies to more serious problems like ringworm or parasites.

If you are curious as to why your Shih Tzu is scratching and itching, keep reading to see a list of 5 reasons why this could be happening and some common solutions to these problems!

Why do Shih Tzu itch and scratch so much?

There are many different reasons why your Shih Tzu may be itching and scratching. However, there is no reason why your Shih Tzu should be itching and scratching all the time. This is not good and can be an indicator of many different issues.

The reason for their discomfort can range from minor to more serious issues. The best thing to do if your dog is itching and scratching a lot is to visit the vet to find out what may be causing this problem.

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Here is a list of 5 reasons why your Shih Tzu is itching and scratching:

1. Allergies

Allergies are a very common reason why Shih Tzu itch and scratch. Allergies can be caused by many factors and can result in your pup becoming very uncomfortable and even sometimes in pain.

There are several common reasons why your Shih Tzu may develop allergies:

Food — Food allergies are typically caused by certain grains and proteins within dog food which irritate their skin, breathing, or even inside their bodies. Food allergies can oftentimes result in worse symptoms than itching such as vomiting or diarrhea. One common indicator of a food allergy is if your Shih Tzu is consistently scratching at its mouth.

TIP: If your Shih Tzu is experiencing a food allergy, you may consider switching the current food they are eating. Shih Tzu in can be sensitive to food and an easy switch may be the cure for all of your Shih Tzu’s itching!

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A lot of Shih Tzu owners are curious whether their dog actually has a food allergy or not. Talking with your vet is always a good idea to see if switching their food should be the first step, or if there is another step that should be taken first to ensure your dog’s allergies are taken care of.

If you are giving your Shih Tzu different foods other than dog food, you should be careful, and pay close attention to if they are developing any allergies! Here is a Complete List of Fruit Shih Tzu can & Can’t Eat!

Shih Tzu are also known for eating all sorts of things they shouldn’t, this can play a huge part in them developing allergies or reactions to the certain things they eat or inhale when outside!

Inhaled allergies — Inhaling allergens is also very common for many dogs, especially Shih Tzu. These allergies are caused by exposure to dust, mold, grass, etc. You may notice your Shih Tzu sneezes more so than itches or scratches; this could indicate they have inhaled an allergen that is affecting them.

Seasonal allergies — Can affect the skin or cause a reaction from an inhaled allergy such as pollen. Seasonal allergies are worse for dogs in the spring and summer months when there is increased pollen, mold, etc.

TIP: Wiping down your Shih Tzu’s paws and face after being outside may help eliminate any itching of the paws, inhaling allergens, and spreading allergens to other parts of the body. This paw washer has been a game-changer for my dog.

2. Common skin issues

Shih Tzu are known for their sensitive skin. There are several skin issues that Shih Tzu will often face. Thankfully, a lot of these issues can be cured with the right treatment. Here are some of the most common skin issues that Shih Tzu have:

  • Hot spots — If your pup is scratching, biting, or licking at their skin consistently, they may develop hot spots which will affect certain areas of the body and can cause painful red areas and infected skin. It is a good idea to examine your pup often for blisters, redness, hotspots, and any other concerning-looking spots on their body.
  • Dry skin — Dry skin is very common in Shih Tzu and can be caused by several factors including weather change, allergies, parasites, skin reproduction rate, skin irritation, etc.
  • Dandruff — A side effect of dry skin, flakey bits of skin on the dog’s fur.
  • Eczema – Eczema is an inflammation of the dog’s skin, mostly caused by allergies or exposure to any irritating chemicals, plants, etc. that the dog is exposed to.

TIP: It is best to get your Shih Tzu to the vet if they have a skin issue so that they can be prescribed the necessary medications, creams, shampoos, etc. to help ease any discomfort they may be feeling.

3. Health issues / more serious problems

If you notice your Shih Tzu itching and scratching consistently but have ruled out the less serious issues above, your pup may have a more serious problem such as an ear infection, parasites, or an underlying health condition.

All serious health issues can typically be treated by your dog’s vet. However, sometimes itching and scratching is only one problem among many that Shih Tzu can experience as a symptom of a serious health problem. It is best to have them examined to see what the exact problem is.

Here are the more serious issues that may be causing your Shih Tzu to scratch and itch:

  • Ear infection — you may notice your Shih Tzu scratching their ears a lot in particular, this may be a sign of an ear infection, especially if they aren’t scratching anywhere else but their ears. Typically, an ear infection can be cured with medication or ear drops!
  • Parasites — Fleas, ticks, lice, etc. can cause your Shih Tzu to become very itchy and scratch obsessively. If your pup is specifically scratching or biting at their belly or paws, this is normally an indication they may have some type of parasite on their body.
  • Ringworm — Highly spreadable, contagious fungal skin issue that is easily spreadable — Make sure to isolate your dog from other dogs if they develop ringworm!
  • Yeast infection — When moisture and debris become trapped in areas such as the paws or ears, yeast spores can begin growing which will cause your pup to itch and scratch.
  • Folliculitis — Skin issue caused when the hair follicles become inflamed (this is very common in Shih Tzu with very sensitive skin.) Oftentimes when Shih Tzu develop this, their fur will either begin to thin or fall out.
  • Skin cancer, kidney problems, liver issues, etc. — All of these serious health conditions are typically accompanied by other symptoms than just itching and scratching.

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4. Boredom

If your Shih Tzu is itching and scratching even after all minor and serious issues have been ruled out, they may just be bored, anxious, or depressed. Shih Tzu are usually pretty chill but can occasionally be known to be stressed and anxious. There are several ways you can calm your dog such as calming treats and sprays.

Shih Tzu may also begin scratching when they have nothing better to do. This is oftentimes a problem with Shih Tzu who have to be left alone for long periods; they will begin scratching, biting, licking, etc. to entertain themselves.

This can become not only uncomfortable for the pup, but for the owner as well. If the dog has developed a habit of licking, biting, scratching, etc. It will normally become an obsessive habit, oftentimes causing issues to the dog’s skin, while also causing annoyance to the owner because of the obsessive behavior.

TIP: Playing with your Shih Tzu more often, taking them outside, and giving them entertainment can be critical in ensuring that they don’t develop an obsessive habit of licking, biting, etc.

Check out this article next to find out other reasons why your Shih Tzu is obsessively licking: Shih Tzu Obsessive Licking (Quick Solutions Guide)

5. Hormones

Hormones are a very common reason that Shih Tzu will begin itching and scratching.

Female Shih Tzus in particular have this issue. They will begin developing dry, itchy skin due to hormone imbalance. Thyroid hormones can also affect Shih Tzu, if they develop hypothyroidism, a Shih Tzu will oftentimes begin scratching and itching.

These abrupt changes in hormones that result in the skin becoming dry can also cause hot spots to occur, which become extremely uncomfortable for the dog.

If your Shih Tzu is uncomfortable with their hormone changes, they may just be scratching out of general discomfort and not because they are itching. Thankfully a veterinarian can check to see if your Shih Tzu’s hormones are out of balance and find a fix that will provide your pup more comfort.

How do I know if my Shih Tzu has fleas?

If your Shih Tzu suddenly begins to itch and scratch, fleas are oftentimes the reason.

It is normally very easy to see if your Shih Tzu has fleas on its body. You will be able to see black-colored spots throughout the fur — if their fur is darker, you may not be able to see the fleas as well.

If your Shih Tzu has darker fur, or longer fur and it is harder to check for fleas, try taking a comb and pulling the fur apart to look closer at their skin.

TIP: Running a damp, light-colored towel across your pup’s coat can also help you see any spots that indicate fleas!

Thankfully, there are many treatments available for Shih Tzu with fleas and parasites. Your vet may prescribe a medication, special shampoo, etc. to keep fleas from invading your pup’s fur!

How to cure my Shih Tzu’s itching

If your Shih Tzu is suffering from any of the issues above and has developed a habit of constantly scratching and itching, several solutions can help!

Some of the most common ways to cure a Shih Tzu that is scratching and itching badly is to bathe the pup with a special anti-itch shampoo, use certain medication(s), and make use of the many allergy prevention methods offered to itchy pups!

There are several unique shampoos available for Shih Tzu with dry, itchy skin that include:

  • Medicated shampoo — Hydrates the skin and prevents dryness, can also cure fungal infections and skin allergies.
  • Dry skin shampoo — One of the most popular is oatmeal and aloe shampoos. Both of these will hydrate the skin and provide comfort to the pup!
  • Allergy shampoo — These shampoos work great to cleanse the skin and fur by eliminating any allergens that have attached themselves to the pup.
  • Anti-parasite (anti-flea & tick) shampoo — This shampoo helps to prevent flea infestation on your dog. It kills larvae and flea eggs that have developed on your dog’s skin. There are a lot of flea & tick shampoos that are all-natural and can treat dandruff too!

There are also many other ways to treat your Shih Tzu’s itching, especially if they are dealing with allergies in particular! Here are some tips to help eliminate your pup’s allergy discomforts:

  • Use dog wipes to keep any debris off of their fur and skin.
  • Anti-itch lotions, creams, and paw balms — these can all help keep your pup’s skin and paw pads moisturized so that the itching is lessened! They are designed to keep the skin calm and eliminate pain and inflammation from allergies.
  • Benadryl is oftentimes used to treat allergies in Shih Tzu. It is best to consult with your vet first to see how much of the medication your pup, in particular, should be taking!
  • If your Shih Tzu is constantly licking its paws, consider using socks or booties on its feet. Not only are these booties adorable, but they will help eliminate any discomfort your pup may be feeling and prevent them from licking obsessively.

TIP: It is important to determine what the cause of your Shih Tzu’s itching is so that your pup won’t cause more damage to their skin by obsessively licking, biting, and scratching.

How to cure your Shih Tzu’s dry skin

Seeing as the Shih Tzu’s dry skin is one of the most common causes for their obsessive scratching and itching, many owners wonder what the best way is to help their pup’s skin become moisturized and overall healthier.

There are many products available (like some of the shampoos mentioned above) that can help with your Shih Tzu’s dry skin. Several other methods to use are special lotions, supplements, dietary changes, or even using a humidifier in your home!

Here are some of the most beneficial tips and tricks for reducing itching and maintaining your Shih Tzus healthy skin:

  • Supplements — One of the most popular supplements for Shih Tzu is omega-3 fatty acids. These help the dog’s skin and coat health, even preventing dandruff because of its moisturizing benefits.
  • Humidifier — Using a humidifier in your home can help moisturize the air and in return, keep your Shih Tzu’s skin from drying out. This method can not only benefit your pup but you and anyone else in the house as well!
  • Regular grooming — Regularly brushing and grooming your Shih Tzu can help lessen the amounts of dandruff on their skin and fur. By removing dandruff, your pup will be less likely to itch and scratch.

While we strive to give the most accurate and helpful information about your pet’s health that we can, this article is meant to be informational only and not medical advice. Never disregard, avoid or delay in obtaining medical advice from your veterinarian or other qualified veterinary health care provider regardless of what you have read on this site or elsewhere.

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