Last Updated on May 15, 2023 by The Puppy Mag
As the warmer months come around it becomes increasingly important to monitor your Shih Tzu and keep them cool when temperatures rise.
These little dogs can be vulernable to high temperatures so it’s crucial for owners to be ready and proactive to keep them safe and comfortable.
In this guide I’ll cover everything owners need to know from a Shih Tzus heat tolerance, to ways to keep them cool, and the signs that your Shih Tzu is already too hot.
Let’s get into it!
How Hot Is Too Hot for a Shih Tzu?
Shih Tzus, with their long, thick coats and short noses, have a lower tolerance for heat than many other breeds.
According to PetMD, their heavy coat acts as an insulator, trapping heat and making it harder for them to stay cool. Meanwhile, their brachycephalic (short-nosed) features mean they can’t pant as effectively to dissipate heat.
➡️ Veterinary professionals generally agree that temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius) can start to pose risks for Shih Tzus.
While all dogs can suffer heatstroke, Shih Tzus are particularly at risk due to these traits.
Recognizing signs of heatstroke, such as excessive panting, difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, drooling, and weakness, is vital for all Shih Tzu owners. If you notice these signs, it’s crucial to cool down your dog and seek veterinary attention immediately.
Related: Shaving Shih Tzus: Is It Okay? (Pros & Cons)
8 Ways to Keep Your Shih Tzu Cool In Hot Weather
Thankfully, there are numerous ways to help your Shih Tzu stay cool and safe during the hotter months. Here are some strategies you can follow:
- Provide plent of fresh water
- Provide a cool environment (AC)
- Avoid exercising during midday heat
- Consider a light trim with scissors (not shave!)
- Cooling treats
- Cooling vests
- Cooling beds
- Paddling pool!
1. Provide Plenty of Fresh Water
Keeping your Shih Tzu hydrated is one of the most straightforward and essential ways to prevent heat-related illnesses. Make sure your pup always has access to fresh, cool water, both indoors and outdoors. You might even consider adding ice cubes to their water dish on particularly hot days.
2. Offer a Cool Environment
Ensure your Shih Tzu has access to a cool, shaded area at all times. If they’re outside, a shaded patio or under a tree can work well. Indoors, air conditioning or fans can help keep the environment cool. Cooling mats, available at most pet stores, can also be a lifesaver.
3. Limit Exercise During Peak Heat
Avoid taking your Shih Tzu for a walk or playing vigorous games during the hottest part of the day. Instead, plan these activities for early morning or late evening when the temperature is cooler. The AVMA recommends this strategy for all brachycephalic breeds.
4. Consider a Summer Trim
While it might seem logical to shave a Shih Tzu’s coat in the summer, experts from the RSPCA advise against it. The coat not only provides insulation against the cold, but it also protects against sunburn. Instead, consider a summer trim to reduce the thickness of the coat while still providing some protection.
5. Cooling Treats
Who doesn’t love a cool treat on a hot day? Your Shih Tzu is no different. Frozen dog-friendly treats like dog-safe ice cream or frozen peanut butter can be an excellent way for your dog to cool down.
6. Cooling Vests
Cooling vests, which use evaporative cooling to lower body temperature, can be especially useful for Shih Tzus. These vests are soaked in water, wrung out, and then put on the dog. As the water evaporates, it pulls heat away from the dog’s body, helping them to stay cool. Just ensure the vest fits properly and isn’t causing your pup any discomfort.
7. Cooling Beds
Elevated cooling beds are perhaps my own personal favorite. These a raised beds that use a perforated trampoline-like material that’s breathable. This allows your Shih Tzu to rest and expel body heat as a breeze whisps underneath them. These beds are usually several inches off the ground so it shouldn’t be too hard for a Shih Tzu to jump up onto one.
8. Paddling Pools
Setting up a small, shallow pool can provide your Shih Tzu with a fun and effective way to cool down. Just make sure the water is shallow enough for them to stand in safely, and never leave them unattended.
➡️ Full Shih Tzu Swimming & Water Guide
Recognizing and Responding to Heat-Related Illnesses
While it’s important for owners to be proactive and ensure their Shih Tzu remains cool, sometimes things don’t always go to plan!
This makes it important for owners to recognize the basic symptoms of dehydration, exhaustion, and heat stroke. While heat stroke is the most serious, owners should act quickly whenever they see any of the following.
Recognizing the signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke is critical. According to VCA Hospitals, symptoms can include:
- Excessive panting
- Reddened gums
- Unsteady movements
If you suspect your Shih Tzu is suffering from a heat-related illness, take the following steps:
- Move them to a cooler environment immediately.
- Offer small amounts of water to drink.
- Apply cool (not cold) water to their body.
- Contact your veterinarian right away.
Remember, heatstroke is a medical emergency. It can have serious consequences if not treated promptly, so always err on the side of caution and seek professional help.
Grooming: Shih Tzu Brushing Guide (Everything Owners Should Know)
While Shih Tzus are more vulnerable to heat than some other breeds, with some foresight and care, they can still enjoy the summer safely.
By providing plenty of water, a cool environment, limiting exercise during peak heat, and keeping an eye out for signs of heat-related illness, you can ensure your Shih Tzu stays cool, happy, and healthy throughout the summer.
Summer is a wonderful time to create memories with your furry friend. With these tips, you can enjoy the season together while keeping your Shih Tzu safe.
As always, if you have any concerns about your Shih Tzu’s health, don’t hesitate to reach out to your vet. They can provide specific guidance tailored to your pet’s needs.
Enjoy your summer together, and stay cool!