If you have had your Shih Tzu from the very beginning you will notice him getting older and as he slows down you must adjust his food and normal routine to suit his needs. You do not need to be a veterinarian to know that older pets need different nutrition and cannot bound along for hours on end. The advantage that Shih Tzu’s have is that smaller dogs tend to live longer than large breeds so signs of aging will not manifest themselves until your pet is at least ten years old, assuming that he has been properly cared for.
It is hard to set exact stages for ages and just like human beings the activity level and health of an older Shih Tzu will vary from dog to dog. Some may still be bounding around at thirteen while others can only walk a few yards at eleven.
Let your Shih Tzu tell you what pace he wants to set. If you know your pet you will know when he gets tired. As dogs get older they develop joint problems and other age issues just like humans. You would not expect a seventy year old man to jog up the road every day, so do not expect it from your pet. It is however vital to keep up some form of exercise but keep this to a gentle walk. Perhaps two or three short strolls to replace the single long run of his youth.
When your faithful companion gets too weak to walk for more than a couple of minutes, carry him or get some sort of carry cot. He might not be getting exercise but just like a human, old dogs need a change of scenery and stimulation for their minds as well as their bodies.
There are so many excellent food products available that are specially balanced to take care of an older dog’s needs. Normal adult dog foods are no longer suitable. Your older pet needs different vitamins and minerals from his diet. Remember that he is using less energy so you must resist the temptation to over feed. Shih Tzu’s are so small that even the smallest lapses in this rule can lead to obesity and that will make your old friend prone to a whole host of problems. Look at supplements especially glucosamine for stiff joints. Either reduce his feeding to once a day or give him very small amounts regularly. If he does not finish his food try a little gentle coaxing, but do not bully him.
Make sure older dogs have access to plenty of clean drinking water and avoid any rich foods. Old digestions cannot cope with rich food and the weaker a dog is the more distressful an upset tummy will be. If you have trained your dog properly he will not beg for scraps and you will already know the dangers of feeding him from your table.
3. Keep older dogs snug and warm
If you notice him shivering or the temperature drops, invest in a coat or even boots. Make sure his mattress or under pad is soft and fluffy. Not only will this help to keep your Shih Tzu warm but it will help ease his old joints. Make sure his bed is in an area that is quiet and peaceful, but has plenty of human activity.
4. Check old dogs regularly for ticks and fleas
A Shih Tzu’s long hair makes these parasites harder to spot and older dogs are more susceptible to infestation.
5. Above all shower love on your old pal
Make sure your pet knows that they are highly thought of and how much their companionship means to you even though they no longer have the energy to bound to the door in greeting every time you enter the room.