Many Shih Tzu allergies are mistakenly diagnosed with an illness, such as a respiratory infection. Why are so many pets given the wrong treatment? It is because the the symptoms of an allergic reaction may be very similar to an illness…
Here, we look at both internal and external symptoms that can help you to recognise if your Shih Tzu has an allergy. It is important if your Shih Tzu shows signs of a possible allergic reaction, that you get your dog the proper treatment. Once the allergy has been identified, most allergies can be easily managed to keep you and your Shih Tzu happy.


The symptoms your Shih Tzu will show regarding an allergy will depend if your dog is allergic to an outside element or an internal element. Outside elements will be a substance that the Shih Tzu touches or breaths in. Internal elements will be something that your dog actually ingests. 

In most cases, this will be your Shih Tzu’s food. In rare cases, it could also be a supplement you are giving your dog. Once the type of allergy that is affecting your Shih Tzu has been identified, you will have a better idea of narrowing down what the suspect is. The goal is to relieve your Shih Tzu’s suffering, which can be achieved with a bit of patience.

Diagnosing Shih Tzu Allergies

Depending on the type of allergy your Shih Tzu is experiencing, the symptoms as well as the treatments can vary greatly. Once you have determined what is causing your Shih Tzu’s discomfort, steps can be taken to eliminate the culprit to help your Shih Tzu to get to feeling back to normal again.

External Shih Tzu Allergies

Here are a few symptoms which could indicate that the Shih Tzu allergy your dog is experiencing are external:

  • Any type of rash on their tummy or skin when their hair is lifted
  • Uncontrollable scratching
  • Sores, lesions or bumps
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Redness on any part of their body
  • Watery eyes

If left untreated, the symptoms could develop into:

  • Infection in the areas the Shih Tzu was scratching
  • An unpleasant odour from an untreated infection
  • Hair Loss

If your Shih Tzu is displaying any of the above symptoms, they may be allergic to any of many elements such as:

  • Dog Shampoo – this is actually the number one cause of an external allergic reaction
  • Detergent –  when your Shih Tzu’s clothes, bed blankets etc. are washed, there may be traces of the detergent that stay on these items
  • Rug Cleaner – keeping your carpet clean is nice, however, it is only your shoes or feet will be exposed to the carpet. It is your entire Shih Tzu that will be exposed to the carpet and the chemicals from the cleaner used, which can cause the reaction
  • Flea bites


It is quite simple to treat these symptoms, although full recovery for your Shih Tzu may take a little while longer. The first thing that must be done of course, is to get rid of the substance that has caused the reaction.

Begin with any bathing products, including dog shampoo that you may use. Switch to a different brand, preferably to a product which is allergy free.

If the cause is fleas, you should treat your Shih Tzu immediately as well as start a preventative maintenance routine which you stick to. You should also treat any areas in your home your Shih Tzu has access too and your dog’s bedding.

If a rash has become infected, it will need to be treated with antibiotics. Once your Shih Tzu has been seen by the vet, redness or rashes can be treated with aloe or baby powder. Once the element causing the allergy has been removed, it may take a few months before your dog is fully recovered. As Shih Tzu’s have such a wonderful coat of hair, if there has been any hair loss, it may take up to six months before a significant recovery is seen.

Shih Tzu Allergies

Seasonal Allergies

Just like humans, [easyazon_link identifier=”B0030IS43O” locale=”UK” tag=”hynl-21″]seasonal allergies[/easyazon_link] can also affect Shih Tzu’s. These are most often related to pollen, weeds and trees. Depending on where you live, these could occur during spring, summer or fall, and even in all three of these seasons. The signs are similar to those of contact allergies including nasal discharge, breathing issues, coughing, watery eyes as well as skin and coat reactions.

Tests may be conducted by your Vet to determine what exactly is triggering the reaction. Most Shih Tzu’s react well with a combination of both prescribed antihistamines environmental changes.

If allergies do seem to be a problem, here are a few steps you can take:

  • Find out which days are high pollen days and on those days, keep your Shih Tzu inside
  • Remove any pollen as well as other tiny allergens from your curtains, furniture and floors with the use of a vacuum containing a certified HEPA filter. These vacuums not only clean surfaces, they also clean the air
  • Any time your Shih Tzu has been outside and is coming back into the house, use a canine quality wipe and clean off their paws. Another option is to carry your pet to the sink and rinsing their paws off
  • All humans entering the house should be removing their shoes and leaving them by the door
  • If you have a central air or A/C unit, run this with quality HEPA filters with a MERV rating of 8 or higher. These are usually labeled ‘for allergies’
  • Wash your  Shih Tzu’s bedding or washable stuffed toys frequently

Internal Shih Tzu Allergies

It is a bit easier to diagnose an internal allergy, it could however take a bit of time to determine the exact cause. Some of the main symptoms are:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If left untreated, the symptoms could develop into:

  • Severe weight loss
  • Dizziness
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of muscle tissue
  • Unconsciousness
  • Fainting

The first thing you should do if your Shih Tzu vomits is to make sure they have not ingested any poison. If that is not a possibility, this may be due to an intolerance to a certain food. Although dogs can be allergic to certain foods such as wheat, corn, dairy or soy, many more are actually allergic to the chemical components that manufactured brands contain such as artificial flavouring, artificial colouring and preservatives. Although the amounts may vary in almost all manufactured brands of kibbles and treats, typically brightly coloured food is the worst culprit.

If your Shih Tzu is intolerant to additives or a certain food, the choices are to change to a brand which is hypoallergenic – typically for toy breeds or to home cook their food. This will eliminate the possibility of any allergic triggers and give you the full control over what your Shih Tzu is eating.

When the trigger has been removed, it will generally take about two weeks for the symptoms to subside. If the allergic reaction brought on a lot of upset stomach problems, it is best to offer your Shih Tzu a very bland diet for a few weeks to give their body a rest.

Most Shih Tzu’s do very well with lamb and some sweet potato (be sure to not season this or add anything such as butter).  After 2 weeks, other ingredients can then be added. One new item should be introduced every couple of weeks; it can take this long for an allergic reaction to manifest, especially if it involves skin and coat issues. This can include healthy foods that most dogs tolerate very well such as baby carrots, sweet peas, green beans, rice, blueberries, raspberries, a touch of banana and a dollop of whole white yogurt. As you add new foods, you will be able to determine if one of them is causing the problem.
Any moderate to severe symptoms including skin sores, thinning coat, etc. should be looked at by the vet. Medications may need to be prescribed to help resolve these even if food changes are underway. If vomiting and other signs of intestinal distress continues, this is also a reason for a Veterinarian visit.
Our Shih Tzu’s love to roll on carpets – take a quick look at this video!