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How to Clean Shih Tzu Eyes – 5 Vet-Approved Tips and FAQs

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 23, 2024 by Dogster Team

shih tzu eyes close up

How to Clean Shih Tzu Eyes – 5 Vet-Approved Tips and FAQs


Dr. Amanda Charles Photo


Dr. Amanda Charles

BVSc MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Shih Tzus are one of many small breed dogs that are prone to tear stains, which are the result of excess tear production. Caring for your Shih Tzu’s eyes is an important part of grooming and overall health and can also play a role in removing and preventing tear stains. While it can seem daunting, with the right knowledge and technique, you can keep your Shih Tzu’s eyes healthy and bright! Read on to learn more about why eye area grooming is so important for Shih Tzus as well as our expert tips to help you get started.

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Importance of Eye Area Care

Shih Tzus are prone to eye-related issues partly because of their flat faces and protruding eyes. One way you can help keep their eyes healthy is to keep them clean and free from dirt and debris, and the hair around the eye area groomed and not matted.  Regularly checking their eyes will also allow you to recognize signs of a problem, before it develops into a serious issue. It’s an essential part of keeping any Shih Tzu happy and healthy.

More About Tear Staining in Shih Tzus

Tear staining is when the fur around a dog’s eyes becomes discolored due to an accumulation of tears and a buildup of porphyrin on the fur around their eyes. Porphyrins are iron-containing compounds derived from the breakdown of red blood cells in the body and are naturally  part of tears, saliva and urine. This reddish-brown staining is more obvious in light-colored dogs such as Shih Tzus. Special cleaners that reduce tear staining on Shih Tzus are available and can be used to help maintain the area around their eyes. To reduce tear staining, make sure you are regularly cleaning your Shih Tzu’s eye area with the tips below!

shih tzu dog with tear stains
Image By: ChunjaiDreams, Shutterstock

Dogster_Website dividers_v1_Jan 18 2024-03 The 5 Tips for Cleaning Your Shih Tzu’s Eyes

Now that you know why eye area grooming is so important, let’s get into the specifics of how to do it. Here are our five tips for cleaning your Shih Tzu’s eyes.

1. Use the Right Products

You’ll want to avoid using any harsh products or ingredients near the eyes, as this can cause unnecessary irritation and discomfort for your Shih Tzu. Make sure to use specially formulated eye cleansers that are specifically designed for dogs in order to clean away any dirt and debris without causing harm.

The following items may come in handy when cleaning your Shih Tzu’s eyes.

Pet Eye Wipes

Pet eye wipes are the perfect way to keep your dog’s eyes clean and free of dirt, dust, or debris. They are designed specifically with dogs in mind and come in resealable packages so they are always fresh and ready to use. To use them, you just carefully wipe around your dog’s eyes.

Tear Stain Remover

Tear stain removers can be used once a week to help remove the staining from tears sitting on the hair. They are specifically formulated for dogs and come in a variety of formulas depending on your pup’s needs. They can be used once a week as part of your regular grooming routine.

Eye Wash Solution

Eye wash solutions are specifically formulated to soothe the eyes. They can be used as a part of your regular grooming routine or when your pup has any signs of eye irritation.

Eye Drops

Eye drops may be needed to provide relief for your pup’s eyes if they are red, irritated, or itchy. They come in a variety of formulas depending on the severity of the issue and can help reduce any discomfort. It is important that you have your Shih Tzu checked by your vet if they are showing any of these signs as your dog may have an eye infection that needs prescription medication.

Tear Stain Supplements

Tear stain supplements can also help to keep tear stains at bay. They contain natural ingredients that help reduce inflammation and staining caused by excess tear production.

Veterinarian hands applying medical eye drops to Shih Tzu dog's eyes for treatment and prevention eyes disease
Image by: Orawan Pattarawimonchai, Shutterstock

2. Wipe the Eyes Daily

Use a cotton ball soaked in lukewarm water or eye cleaning solution to clean the area around the eyes every day. This will help remove any dirt, dust, debris, or discharge that is stuck on their fur. You can also use eye wipes to do this. Gently work from the inside to the outside of the eyes and always use a clean cloth or cotton swab when cleaning each eye so as not to spread any bacteria or germs from one eye to the other.

3. Use a Tear Stain Remover

If your dog has noticeable tear stains, these may be harder to remove. Use a tear stain remover to do this. Soak a cotton ball with the solution and gently wipe your dog’s eyes in a downward motion. Rinse the area with warm water afterward. It’s generally recommended to do this weekly, but you may have to use this solution daily until the tear stains are gone, then you can regularly wipe your dog’s eyes after the tear stains are gone to cut down on tear staining in the future.

cotton balls in a container
Image by: Kelly Sikkema, Unsplash

4. Groom Fur Around the Eyes

Shih Tzus tend to have longer fur, even on the facial area. Carefully trim away any long fur around the eyes, as fur can accumulate dirt and become a breeding ground for bacteria or ask your groomer to keep this area short. Invest in a groomer’s brush and comb to help keep the area around the eyes well-maintained and free of gunk. This will also help prevent any mats or tangles from forming that are difficult to remove.

5. Check the Eyes Before and After Cleaning

Make sure to check for any signs of eye irritation such as redness or swelling. If you notice this, contact your vet for advice. Finally, don’t forget to give your pup lots of love and attention when cleaning their eyes! This will help keep them still while you work and make the process much more enjoyable for both of you.

shih tzu at the vet
Image Credit: Usoltsev Kirill, Shutterstock

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FAQs About Cleaning a Shih Tzu’s Eyes

How often should I clean my Shih Tzu’s eyes?

It’s recommended that you clean your Shih Tzu’s eyes at least once a week. This will help keep their eyes free of any dirt or debris and reduce the risk of infection.

What should I use to clean my Shih Tzu’s eyes?

It’s best to use lukewarm water and specially formulated products for dogs. You can also use hypoallergenic eye wipes or eye drops if your pup has allergies. Speak to your vet for advice.

What is the discoloration around my dog’s eyes?

This is likely tear staining, which is caused by excess tearing and can happen in many breeds. The best way to reduce tear staining is to keep the eyes clean and free of any dirt or debris.

What if my Shih Tzu’s eyes are gunky?

If you notice any gunk coming from your pup’s eyes and the eyes appear swollen and your dog is having trouble opening his or her eyes, contact your vet, as this could be signs of an eye infection.

What if there is matted hair around the eyes?

It’s important to carefully trim away any long fur around the eyes. This is a very delicate area so ask your groomer or vet for help.

white shih tzu dog lying on the bed
Image Credit: The Creative Circle, Pixabay

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Caring for a Shih Tzu’s eyes doesn’t have to be a daunting task! With the right products and a bit of love and attention, you can keep their eyes healthy and free of any dirt or debris. Regular grooming will help ensure your dog’s eyes stay in tip-top shape throughout their lifetime. So don’t forget to pay close attention to their eye area – it might just save them from an uncomfortable eye problem in the future!


Featured Image Credit: Anne Kitzman, Shutterstock

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