Shih Tzu owners know that this breed is one of the greatest companions a dog owner can have! Shih Tzu are known for their adorable fluffy fur and poofy ears as well as their awesome personalities! Some Shih Tzu owners are overwhelmed when they realize just how fluffy these pups can become!
Because of their amount of fur, ear care is one of the most important steps in caring for your Shih Tzu. Without proper cleaning and grooming, there can be many unwanted consequences such as ear infections, wax buildup, or general discomfort for your dog.
If you are curious to know more about how to properly care for your Shih Tzu’s ears, then keep reading!
Shih Tzu ear grooming
The first step in ensuring that your Shih Tzu’s ears are healthy and clean is making sure that they are groomed consistently and in the right way.
A buildup of fur near the ear can cause unwanted consequences such as ear infections and wax buildup where the hair blocks the ear canal. It is important to groom your pup regularly to ensure this doesn’t happen.
Here are some tips on how to groom your Shih Tzu‘s ears at home:
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- Start by using a small comb to brush the hair on the underneath of your pups’ ears, then move to the outside. This helps rid the ear hair of any knots and tangles!
- Examine the ear for any skin problems, wax, mites, or signs of infection.
- Comb the undersides of the ear hair down and then slowly trim the long hair with grooming scissors to create the desired shape you would like your pup to have.
- Be careful not to brush too abruptly so you don’t risk injuring your pup’s eyes, nose, or mouth.
Pro Tip: Shih Tzu ears usually need to be fully groomed about every four weeks! If a Shih Tzu’s ear grooming is not maintained, they may develop matted ear fur.
Shih Tzu matted ears / how to detangle matted ear fur
Like some other dog breeds, Shih Tzu not only have a double coat but curly hair as well, especially around the ears. This means that matting is very common for Shih Tzu if they are not groomed properly.
Shih Tzu can develop matted ears from many causes. For example, if your pup tends to rub its head on the floor a lot, this will create friction and cause the hair to tangle and mat.
Matted hair can also be caused by not grooming your pup enough. If you see that their ears are getting matted quickly, you may want to consider brushing/grooming their ears more often.
Bathing your Shih Tzu regularly is also helpful in avoiding them getting mats in their fur. Shih Tzu owners tend to love using hypoallergenic shampoo since these pups are so prone to allergies!
TIP: If your pup’s ears are already matted, don’t bathe them! First, brush the tangles and mats out, water could cause the matting to become worse— don’t ever try to cut the matted hair out.
There are some treatments available for matted Shih Tzu ear fur such as dog detangler which can be sprayed onto the fur to loosen mats or tangles as well as detangler shampoos and conditioners!
Here are some other at-home remedies that Shih Tzu owners have used to remove mats from their pup’s ear fur:
- Use a metal matting comb — this is the best type of comb for getting those tricky mats out, while also not hurting your pup from pulling too hard or getting a different type of comb/brush stuck in the fur.
- Use coconut oil — this is a great natural solution to use for removing fur mats. If a pup has sensitive skin and reacts to dog detangler, this is a great option!
- Use cornstarch — You can rub some cornstarch on the matted area of fur and gently massage it in to get the tangle to loosen up. This is also great for dogs with allergies!
- Use olive oil — Not only does using this oil help detangle mats in the fur, but it is also good for your pup’s fur! Olive oil can make a dog’s coat more shiny and overall healthy!
Shih Tzu ear cleaning
Keeping your Shih Tzu’s ears in good condition is one of the best ways to avoid any issues or discomfort occurring within your pup’s ears, while also keeping them happy and healthy! If you don’t feel comfortable cleaning your Shih Tzu’s ears yourself, make sure to have them visit a groomer.
There are several important steps to take when cleaning your Shih Tzu‘s ears yourself:
- Brush out tangles from your pup’s ears
- Use hypoallergenic shampoo
- Trim the face and ears (a Shih Tzu should be trimmed about every 4 weeks)
- Gently clean the ears once a week to keep any debris or hair buildup from entering the ear canal.
- Do a more intense cleaning of the ears at least once a month (you can use a veterinarian-approved ear cleaning solution to fill the ear canal and massage gently to loosen debris, remove any wax buildup, and clean the ear thoroughly.)
TIP: It is important to never put any ear cleaning utensils deep into your pups’ ears! This could damage their ear more than help it, if you are concerned about wax buildup, consult a veterinarian first.
Shih Tzu ear wax
Shih Tzu are more prone to ear wax because of their deep ear canals. They will especially develop more buildup of wax, dirt, and other debris if their ears are not properly cared for.
If your pups wax buildup is concerning, it is normally best to get a veterinarian to remove the wax from your pups’ ears since oftentimes it requires going deeper into the ear canal; if you have never cleaned your pup’s ears before, you may damage their ear instead of helping it.
However, if your pup’s ear wax isn’t too bad and you would like to clean their ear(s) out yourself, there are many treatments that Shih Tzu owners will oftentimes use, here is a step-by-step on how to get rid of your dog’s ear wax:
- Step 1: Be gentle!
- Step 2: Use a veterinarian-approved ear cleaning solution or wax buildup solution.
- Step 3: Pour a small amount of the solution into your pup’s ear and slowly massage the base of the ear.
- Step 4: Once the solution sits, use cotton balls or swabs to gently wipe the ear and remove any wax that you can see.
Pro Tip: DON’T use Q-Tips (using Q-tips Is an easy way to accidentally damage your dog’s ear canal/eardrum from accidentally inserting it into the ear too far.)
If your pup’s ear wax is more than you feel comfortable cleaning yourself, a vet will be able to provide a more in-depth cleaning for your pup, while also easing any anxiety you may be feeling towards cleaning the ears yourself.
Some dog owners are not aware that their pup’s ear wax can indicate different issues. Here are some of the most common ear wax colors in Shih Tzu:
Inflammation or infection
Old ear wax
Pale or Yellow
Are Shih Tzu prone to ear infections?
Ear infections are a concern for many Shih Tzu owners as well as many dog owners in general. It is oftentimes easy for pups to get an ear infection simply because water gets trapped in the ear canal.
Shih Tzu are more prone to ear infections than other breeds not only because of their very hairy ears but also because they have dangling ears which are more likely to trap water, debris, etc.
It is more difficult to know if your pup has an ear infection if they are not showing any symptoms; although, they will experience about the same feeling that humans do when they have an ear infection — you can then imagine how much discomfort your pup might be in!
These symptoms can indicate your Shih Tzu may be experiencing an ear infection:
- Sudden weight loss
- Head tilting
- Discharge from the ear
- Inflammation and redness inside the ear
- Excessive urination
- Impatience and irritability
- Head shaking
- Sore or red ears
- Warm ears
- Ear sensitivity
- Scratching at ears or face
- Poor vision
- Increased appetite
Why does my Shih Tzu keep getting ear infections?
Shih Tzu owners are sometimes curious why their pup is more likely to get an ear infection than another dog breed is. If a Shih Tzu is consistently getting ear infections as well, this can be frustrating to know why.
There are several reasons why Shih Tzu are more likely than other breeds to develop ear infections. One of the most common reasons is caused by moisture that has gathered in the ear.
Because their ears hang, Shih Tzu do not have much air circulation going into their ear canal. The long ear blocks any passage that air has to get through, making it more likely for moisture to be held there, this can then cause infection.
Pro Tip: It is important to dry your pups’ ears completely if they have been swimming, taken a bath, been in the rain, etc.
Shih Tzu not only have adorable hanging ears, but furry ones! This is a cute characteristic of this breed but can also be a problem. A buildup of ear hair is one of the most common reasons why Shih Tzu will develop ear infections. Keeping their ears groomed properly is one of the most important steps in ensuring your pup doesn’t contract an ear infection.
Allergies are also a common reason for Shih Tzu to develop ear infections. Shih Tzu can develop a skin allergy called “atopy.” The symptoms of this allergy will typically start at a young age and can get worse as time goes on.
Some of the symptoms of atopy include paw licking, rubbing the face, and ear infections! Thankfully there are many treatments for curing allergies in Shih Tzu such as medicines, creams, etc. it is best to meet with your vet to see what option will be best for your pup in particular!
How to treat a Shih Tzu ear infection
If you have a Shih Tzu that develops an ear infection, there are many ways to treat your pup that will help clear the infection right up!
Most of the time, ear infections will not go away on their own and will require treatment. Veterinarians can prescribe certain medications, ear drops, creams, etc. that will heal your pup’s infection very quickly.
Pro Tip: If you are not able to get a hold of a vet near you, or you want to avoid an unnecessary ER trip, there are online resources that you can turn to. Here is our best recommendation!
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Some owners try their best to avoid their pup developing an ear infection at all. There are certain measures you can take to reduce the chances of your pup ever developing an ear infection in the first place!
Three key steps you can take to reduce the chance your pup will develop an ear infection include:
1. Cleaning their ears once a week
2. Keeping their ears groomed
3. Making sure to dry off their ears if exposed to water
Shih Tzu ear infection at-home remedies
A lot of Shih Tzu owners are curious if they can cure their pup’s ear infection at home.
While there are at-home remedies that will help your pup’s comfort level while they are experiencing an ear infection, it is important not to treat your pup’s ear infection completely by yourself.
A vet will need to examine the ear to make sure that there is not any damage to the eardrum that certain treatments could make worse.
If you think your Shih Tzu has an ear infection, the first step is to visit the vet so that they can have their ears examined. If an ear infection is left untreated, there could be serious consequences such as lasting damage, inflammation, and hearing loss.
If your pup has been seen by a vet and given any treatments the vet prescribes, there are then several at-home steps that can be taken to provide comfort to your pup. Here are some of the best remedies for treating a Shih Tzu ear infection at-home:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers (check with a vet to see what is best for your pup in particular.)
- Warm or cold compress
- Dog eardrops
- Try persuading your pup to sleep with their infected ear facing up (this can help eliminate some pain they may be feeling)
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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.