Teething Issues

by Jo Ann White

When your Shih Tzu puppy is teething, he will sometimes go temporarily off his food. At other times, he will want to chew on everything in sight. Ice cubes or special toys that can be frozen will help to relieve the pain of swollen gums, as will Nylabones and quality kibble. It is not a good idea to give your Shih Tzu puppy rawhide, greenies, bones or antlers. Rawhide can soften and stick to the fur or become a choking hazard. Greenies and bones can splinter into sharp pieces small enough to swallow, and antlers have been known to break teeth. You can use Bitter Apple to protect woodwork, chair legs, and other items you would prefer not be adorned with toothmarks…or remove things you do not want chewed from the puppy’s area. Wicker wastebaskets, for example, belong up on counters when a teething puppy is around!

Teething puppies will also produce more tears, which can lead to wet faces and stained facial hair. Wiping the face twice daily with a slightly damp wash cloth to dilute and wash out the tears will help to keep the face clean and prevent staining.

Pinched nostrils on and off are not uncommon among Shih Tzu puppies before their permanent teeth come in, which is normally at about 10 months of age. This problem generally resolves itself, especially if the nostrils are not so pinched as to interfere with the puppy’s ability to eat and breathe at the same time. If the puppy is active and gaining weight, do not be too concerned about a clear, watery, bubbly discharge from the nose, especially if his gums are swollen. A few dogs are so severely affected that they may need surgery later on, but this is a situation in which “wait and see” rather than surgery should be the normal response.

Meanwhile, there are some things you can do to ease the discomfort of temporarily pinched nostrils. Try to keep your puppy from becoming excessively stressed or overly excited. Heat and humidity can also aggravate breathing problems. Use a kindness collar or a harness when lead training to avoid pressure on the puppy’s throat. Little Noses (saline nose drops made to ease stuffy noses in human infants and available at most pharmacies) can be used to help a puppy breathe more easily when its nostrils are particularly pinched. If he is having severe problems, you can ask your veterinarian to make a special nose drop solution that some breeders have found to be very effective in dealing with pinched nostrils. To a bottle of Gentocin eye drops, add one cc of DMSO, one cc of Gentocin 50 mg/cc injectable, and one cc of 2 mg/cc Dexamethazone. Under no circumstances should this solution be used in the eyes! Be sure to mark the bottle “for nose only.”

Given these tips, your puppy should pass through the teething stage uneventfully. Because puppy teeth are sharp, however, you may get a few punctures. Using the command “no bite,” halting rough play until the puppy calms down, and substituting acceptable chew toys for your toes and fingers will help.

CREDIT: This article first appeared in the June 2014 issue of the AKC Gazette, and has been reprinted with permission. To read the Gazette in digital format, go to www.akc.org/pubs