Does My Shih Tzu have a Cold?

by No Name

I have 3 shihtzu puppies which are 2 months old. They seem to have a cold. Their nose is dripping with transparent liquid. They seem to have trouble breathing. They breath through their mouth. Make a strange noise like if they are congested.

It is cold here where we live so I imagine they can have a cold. I have read that sometimes this is normal.

Anonymous Answers

I would bring them to the vet. Puppies are delicate and I wouldn't take any chances.

Our Answer:

By now, concerns about your puppies’ health will have been resolved. But your question gives us the perfect opportunity to write about a common misunderstanding and hopefully help a few new pet parents and their puppies.

When babies teethe, it’s normal for them to experience a low-grade fever, to produce an over-abundance of mucus or to act generally cranky as though they have a cold. But a puppy’s teething symptoms are different from a human’s and include:

  • Swollen or bleeding gums
  • Missing teeth
  • Drooling
  • Excessive chewing

Healthy Shih Tzu puppies shouldn’t exhibit sneezing, congestion or other signs of respiratory distress while teething.

Upper Respiratory Infection

Technically, our furbabies don’t get “colds.” They get upper respiratory infections. A mild URI presents much like a human cold. The dog may sneeze, cough, run a fever, be lethargic and have congestion in the upper bronchi, throat and nose. The most common cause of an upper respiratory infection is Kennel Cough (from the bacterium Bordetella), a condition that spreads when dogs are housed very close to one another such as in a kennel or breeding facility.

Not knowing how long you had your puppies before they got sick, this makes us wonder if they’d been exposed to Bordetella by their breeder—a question which raises red flags about the cleanliness and professionalism of the breeder’s facility. Exposing puppies to dog parks, kennels or other places were dogs congregate before they’ve received all of their shots can also put them at risk for Bordetella and other more serious risks like Parvovirus.

Other causes of upper respiratory infection are:

  • Parainfluenxa
  • Nasal mites
  • Pneumonia
  • Canine Influenza Virus
  • Adenovirus type-2

Fortunately, if caught early all of these complications can be treated successfully. However, as our anonymous contributor mentioned, Shih Tzu puppies are delicate and require veterinary treatment quickly if something goes wrong. If ignored, mild cases of URI can quickly develop into life-threatening and expensive health problems.

All of the potential causes of a URI are spread by virus or bacteria; they are not caused by cold temperatures. Puppies exposed to cold temperatures for too long may exhibit signs of hypothermia, but assuming they’re living indoors (as puppies of this breed should be) normal winter temperatures should not affect their health.

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