The normal temperature of a Shih Tzu is between 38 and 39 ºC, so when their body temperature exceeds 39 ºC, it might be a sign that they have a fever. Of course, this may not always be the case for puppies and pregnant Shih Tzus whose average temperature is higher than that of the normal range. But if your Shih Tzu really does have a fever, it might be a sign that something is wrong with their body.

Should you be concerned if your Shih Tzu has a fever? It depends on the rise in temperature, what the causes are and the symptoms associated with it. Therefore, it is important to make an adequate assessment to distinguish the situations that require quick action from those that do not.


Thermoregulation is in charge of keeping your Shih Tzu’s body temperature within a constant range and in balance. When the temperature exceeds the normal range, your Shih Tzu would be facing the so-called “feverish syndrome”.

There are many causes of fever in a Shih Tzu because it’s one of the things that the body does in order to protect itself. That is, the body increases its temperature as an effective measure of the immune system to protect itself from a pathogen. Fever can also be caused by a failure of the body itself, so a visit to the vet is required in order to assess all the aspects that might be the cause of the fever.

However, for your knowledge, here are the most common causes of fever:

  • An infection (bacterial or viral)
  • Heatstroke
  • Reaction to a vaccine
  • Ingestion of a toxic product
  • Infections
  • Inflammations
  • Internal and external parasites
  • Poisoning
  • Heatstroke



Many Shih Tzus experience fever without showing any other symptoms. Others, however, can show signs such as intense tremors and vomiting. Other common fever symptoms include the following:

  • Dry and very hot nose
  • Increased heart and respiratory rate
  • Loss of appetite and thirst
  • Seizures or shock
  • Cough, vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding
  • Lack of appetite
  • Depressed and apathetic behavior
  • Sleeping more sleep than usual


The best way to measure your Shih Tzu’s temperature is by using a special rectal thermometer. Make sure you lubricate it first so that it goes in easily and that your Shih Tzu is as still as possible throughout the process. Since most rectal thermometers today are digital and relatively flexible, they pose no danger to your Shih Tzu; however, the mercury and rigid ones can break. So, never, ever, use a conventional thermometer to measure the temperature of your Shih Tzu’s rectum if it is not designed for that purpose.

The minimum time that the thermometer must be in their rectum is two minutes, but if you use a digital thermometer, you will have to wait for it to sound indicating that it has finished measuring the temperature.

Step by step guide of taking the temperature of your Shih Tzu

  1. Relax your Shih Tzu with calming touches and voice to prevent them from moving around and hurting themselves. If it is not possible, ask someone else for help and hold them.
  2. Smear the thermometer with lubricant or petroleum jelly, to make it less uncomfortable for your Shih Tzu.
  3. Insert the thermometer at least 2 centimetres inside the rectum.
  4. Wait for a few minutes as indicated by the thermometer.
  5. Once the temperature is taken, remove the thermometer and wash it with ethyl alcohol to disinfect it properly.



If your Shih Tzu has between 39 and 41 degrees of body temperature, you should take them to the vet as soon as possible. If it exceeds 41 ºC, then you are facing an emergency situation. The only qualified person to determine how to treat your Shih Tzu’s fever is the vet because a fever is not a disease, but a symptom that requires deep analysis to find out the causes and treatment.

Throughout the whole duration, it is not advisable to try to reduce your Shih Tzu’s temperature drastically because it can worsen the disease. However, it can be useful to apply a cloth moistened with warm water in areas such as the groin, armpits or abdomen. On the other hand, it is important to distinguish a fever with the so-called “non-feverish hyperthermia”. Elevated body temperature is present in both, but the causes and symptoms are different.

When the body temperature of your Shih Tzu is above 41.6 degrees, they are facing hyperthermia and it is an extremely urgent situation because such high temperatures can cause irreversible damage to cellular structures and functions. This can compromise the life of your Shih Tzu.

For non-feverish hyperthermia, you need to do heat transfer with rapid and effective cooling methods. You can give your Shih Tzu cold water baths with a hose, in a pool or in the bathtub. However, it is important that you take them to the vet as soon as possible.


To combat fever in Shih Tzus, there are medical treatments and home remedies.

Medical Treatments

Paracetamol may be prescribed, but in doses more limited than that of humans, because an overdose can be lethal to them. According to experts, the minimum dose of paracetamol indicated for Shih Tzus is 15mg per kg.

Acetaminophen, in human dosage, can damage the liver and red blood cells of your Shih Tzu. Although this medicine can be administered, the best thing to do is to let the vet decide the best treatment possible. The most common treatment is based on fluid therapy to avoid dehydration, as well as antibiotics to avoid any infection.

Sometimes, and in more serious cases in which there are symptoms of infection by bacteria or viruses, the vet can advise your Shih Tzu to undergo surgery to eliminate the root of the infection that is causing the fever.

Home Remedies

There are a number of home remedies that can help you prevent and cure episodes of fever in your Shih Tzu. They might need to rest more than usual in order to recover, which is totally normal especially when your Shih Tzu is sick.

In addition to that, they will need a high-calorie diet to supply all the nutrients that their body needs. Although Shih Tzus don’t usually feel hungry when they’re sick, their appetite will increase the more they feel better. If they don’t want to eat solid food, then you should do your best to make them drink as much water as possible and give them some broth with chicken and vegetables.

If your Shih Tzu suffers from tremors, you can cover them with a light blanket to improve their thermal sensation. Another thing that you can do to lower down their fever is to run a damp cloth with warm water on their abdomen and the pads of their legs, although it is not something that they will like too much. With this, you will gradually reduce the high body temperature of your Shih Tzu.



Although it is not always possible to prevent your Shih Tzu from getting a fever, there are some basic things that you can do to prevent it such as:

  • Veterinary check-ups every 6-12 months: Many diseases could be prevented and treated more effectively if detected early. Preventive medicine can save us a great deal of money and time by detecting diseases early on.
  • Vaccination: It is important to follow your Shih Tzu’s vaccination schedule. Without them, your Shih Tzu could be susceptible to any life-threatening illness, such as distemper or parvovirus.
  • Deworming: There are many external and internal parasites that can cause disease in your Shih Tzu. To avoid this, you must deworm them on a regular basis, as directed by the vet. There is a wide variety of products on the market and many are quite inexpensive.
  • Avoid toxic foods: Identifying which foods are toxic to your Shih Tzu is essential to avoid possible food poisoning. Find out all about them and if you’re not sure, give your Shih Tzu dog food only.