tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)TOA PAYOH VETS

Date:   18 March, 2009

 Small animals - dogs, cats, hamsters & rabbits

*10 a.m - 5 p.m (Mon - Sun, except Sat). Dr Sing Kong Yuen. By Appointment Only.

*6 p.m - 10 p.m (Mon - Fri). 10am - 5pm (Sat). Dr Jason Teo. House-calls available.

Appointment preferred.
Tel: 6254-3326, 9668-6469
11 p.m to 6 a.m
Dr Teo
9668-6469, 6254-3326
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Be Kind To Pets
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Toilet training your puppy in Singapore  Dr Sing's research book to be published

Toa Payoh Vets Clinical Research
Making veterinary surgery alive
to a veterinary student studying in Australia
using real case studies and pictures

First written in Dec 20, 2006.
Case update: Mar 18, 2009
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS.

1. Health Concerns in the Shih Tzu
Source: Dog World January 2001

The Shih Tzu is a hardy dog living as long as 18 years. Health problems include juvenile renal dysplasia, often resulting in death), eye problems, hypothyroidism, joint disorders and heat stress.

1.  Renal dysplasia (hereditary disease in which the kidney does not develop normally, often resulting in death).

2.  Hereditary eye diseases commonly seen are proptosed globes, distichiasis, ectopic cilia, juvenile cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA).

2.1 Proptosed globes - eyeballs come out of the socket.  As the Shih Tzus have large eyes in shallow orbits, a head injury of brushing too hard on the top knot can cause the eye to come out of its orbit. If veterinary attention is not obtained within 15 minutes or less, the eye may become blind.

2.2 Distichiasis and ectopic cilia - eye lashes rub and irritate the eye, may cause scarring of the cornea or corneal ulcers if not surgically corrected.

2.3 Juvenile cataracts and PRA are hereditary diseases that can cause blindness. Buyers will need to ensure that both parents have been tested and cleared of these diseases through the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (in the U.S) but there is no such body in Singapore.

2.4 Hypothyroidism - chronic disease in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones - hair loss, lethargy, weight gain. Can be treated but needs medication for the rest of the life. Breeding stock should be tested for hypothyroidism.

3. Hip dysplasia. Ensure that parents and several generations, if possible have been certified as having hips suitable for breeding by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, PennHIP or the Institute for Genetic Disease Control in the U.S. No such body exists in Singapore.

4. Luxating patellas or knee caps that slip out of position can either be hereditary or caused by an injury. Condition can be corrected by surgery. A dog with the hereditary form should never be bred.

5.  Heat stroke.  Like all brachycephalic (short nose) breeds, Shih Tzus cannot efficiently cool themselves.

6.  "Pinched" Noses. Nasal discharge or snuffling, bubbling and snorting from the nose. Condition seems to appear during teething time. If the puppy is eating well, generally it will outgrow this condition. However, if the puppy can breathe only out of its mouth, the nostril may need to be opened surgically. 

The reputable breeder is most likely a member of a local club that tests for hereditary health conditions and certifies that his or her dogs as being clear of juvenile renal dysplasia, hip dysplasia, eye diseases and thyroid disorders. Health guarantees are standard in some parts of the U.S.A

Reputable breeders take back or place a puppy or adult that has not worked out for any reason, at any time. This may be too much to expect from Singapore breeders.

Puppies from good breeders will be sold only at 12 weeks or older as the Shih Tzu develops more slowly than larger breeds and is weaned later.  However, Singaporeans prefer to buy puppies as young as 8 weeks and the demand is great for young ones.

The temperament, health and conformation are important factors in the selection of a Shih Tzu puppy.  Purchase from reputable breeders will be best. In Singapore, pure-bred Shih Tzus sell from S$800. 

Miniaturized Shih Tzu that weigh as little as 3 lbs (the weight of a normal one at 3 weeks of age) command as US$1,500 or more in the U.S. 


The American Shih Tzu Club (ASTC) standard:
Ideal weight: 10 - 16 lbs
8 - 11 inches tall
Toy breed
All colours

2 most distinctive characteristics are its coat and head piece.
Double coat is thick and luxurious with long, sometimes wavy (not curly) outer hair and a woolly undercoat.

The head is broad and round with a square short muzzle that is roughly 1 inch from the stop - where the muzzle meets the forehead -to the tip of the nose. The body is solid with a broad deep chest, sturdy , short, straight and muscular legs.

Friendly and outgoing temperament makes the Shih Tzu a very popular pet in Singapore.

2.  Hernias in the Shih Tzu

First-time Breeders in Singapore may not be aware that large umbilical hernias in Shih Tzus can be repaired by the veterinarian as early as 6 weeks of age.  Consult your veterinarian regarding the anaesthetic risks and the veterinarian's comfort level in performing such surgeries.

3. Tips for first-time Dog Owners

Shih Tzu - The head is broad and round with a square short muzzle that is roughly 1 inch from the stop - where the muzzle meets the forehead -to the tip of the nose.  The Lhasa Apso has a longer and narrower muzzle.

4. Case studies
4.1  Eye ulcer in a Shih Tzu

4.2  Hernias in the Shih Tzu --- The big belly-button Shih Tzu puppy has a few days to live.

4.3  The Shih Tzu has itchy ears
Shih Tzu with thick ear canal hairs
"Consulting the vet is much more expensive than seeing the general practitioner," Mr Lam complained.  "The human doctor charged me twenty dollars when I went to him for a flu diagnosis.  You charge fifty dollars to pull a few ear hairs out of my Shih Tzu".

it was the third time his pet had come for treatment of itchy ears.  He had tried over the counter ear powder, olive oil and his groomer had also treated the ear itchiness.  Nothing worked for long.  Over a period of time, the bills added up to a significant amount.

The fifty dollars included consultation, examination, tranquilisation and  irrigation of the ear canals of this Shih Tzu to get the oil and powder out. I used forceps to pull out the long ear canal hairs which reduced ventilation. Poor ventilation of the ear canals encouraged bacterial growth, fungal growth and inflammation. The inflamed ear canal became infected and itchy.

It was inexpensive as much time was spent on the ear irrigation compared to a 10-minute sit-down consultation at the general practitioner for flu. 
Still, fifty dollars might mean a lot of money for any wage earner with a baby to feed. 

To lower the cost of ear problems in the Shih Tzu with long ear hairs over the life-span of the dog, I said:
 "There is a surgical procedure called  LATERAL EAR CANAL RESECTION.

" The ear canal in the dog is L-shaped. There is a vertical and a horizontal ear canal. The vet surgeon cuts open the side wall of the vertical ear canal so that the Shih Tzu. In this way, the canal is open and will  not have ear ventilation problems and infections.

"Infections lead to continuous head shaking and scratching." I explained.

"The hole you see presently is the top end of the vertical ear canal.  Further down, the vertical canal curved inwards to become a horizontal canal. The L-shaped canal structure traps and leads to infections of damp ear skin."

Mr Lam peeked at the opening of the vertical canal and could only see turfs of hair obstructing the entrance.

The cost of general anesthesia and surgery called Lateral Ear Canal Resection was $300 per ear. 

Mr Lam would rather not operate. It was difficult for him to visualise the long term savings of not having to bring his companion for further veterinary treatment of the ears. Maybe it was the cost of the surgery.

5.  Pictures of Lateral Ear Canal Resection Surgery:

Chronic Otitis Externa - Excessive Ear Hairs. Shih Tzu. Toa Payoh Vets

Above is a picture of chronic ear infections in the older Shih Tzu in 2009. More info is at:
Ear Problems and Ear Surgery in the Dog. 

6.  Tips for first-time Shih Tzu Breeders
There is a very low demand for black and white Shih Tzus in Singapore.  Therefore, your selling prices have to be lower than the gold and white ones which seem to be in great demand by the local Chinese Singaporeans.


Shih Tzu dam had difficulty in giving birth. First born naturally but dead.
Dr Sing's 2004 Caesarean section for a
professional dog breeder. All black and whites
Large expanding umbilical hernia - Shih Tzu puppy 6 weeks old, Singapore
Case study. The big belly-button Shih Tzu puppy has a few days to live.
Do you want to take a risk and not repair a huge umbilical hernia when the puppy is healthy?  Toa Payoh Vets
tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)115. Large umbilical hernias need to be repaired as the intestines may get twisted later, killing the dog. To operate or not to?
7 cases of umbilical hernias in puppies.

tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)Toa Payoh Vets
Clinical Research
Be Kind To Pets

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