One of the saddest moments in any dog owner’s life is when they lose their pet. Because of this, it’s natural for pet parents to worry about the lifespan of their fur baby and dread the moment that he’d pass away.
Fortunately, if you own a Shih Tzu, there’s a high chance that you’ll spend many years together. This comes from the fact that small dogs generally have longer lifespans than bigger ones. A recent study has found out that dogs weighing below 20 pounds can live around 11 years, while medium-sized dogs weighing 20 to 90 pounds have a similar lifespan. Dogs that weigh more than 90 pounds have a lifespan of around 8 years.
Shih Tzus, specifically, have an average lifespan of 13 years. Since this is only an average figure, some Shih Tzus pass away before they reach their 13th birthday, while others grow older than 13 years old. One Shih Tzu named Smokey, who lived with his owners in Florida, even beat the odds when he turned 23 years old in 2009. Because of this, he was recognized as one of the oldest dogs in the world.
Diseases and Causes of Death
Like many other dog breeds, Shih Tzus can develop various illnesses. Their large eyes make them more likely to get ocular problems (such as cataracts, glaucoma, and corneal ulcer), while their sensitive skin exposes them to dermatitis and other dermatological issues. They’re also prone to developing dental diseases and deformities as well as arthritis and stiff joints.
The conditions listed above are rarely fatal, though. According to a report done by The Kennel Club in the UK, the number one cause of death among Shih Tzus is old age and complications associated with advanced age. The second most common cause of death is cardiac problems, which include heart attacks and heart failure. Urologic issues (involving both acute and chronic kidney failure) come in next, followed by various types of cancer.
Extending Your Shih Tzu’s Lifespan
Just like with humans, the specific genetics of a dog greatly contribute to his lifespan. But environmental factors play a role, too, and this is great news for pet owners since they can take some steps to extend the life of their four-legged friend.
If you own a Shih Tzu, one of the best things you can do is to bring your pet to the veterinarian on a regular basis. This way, the vet can monitor his health, spot any problems as early as possible, and provide him with the appropriate treatments before things get worse. You should also feed him nutritious food and follow your vet’s instructions when it comes to giving vitamin and mineral supplements to your pet.
Don’t forget to give your Shih Tzu the chance to exercise! Shih Tzus are incredibly active dogs despite their small size, and your pet needs an avenue to release all his pent-up energy. Take him for a walk every day to give his muscles a good workout and prevent heart problems, but keep your walk short to avoid overexerting his cardiovascular system.