Help! Vet Butchered My Poor Girl's Face

by Elly
(Murfreesboro, TN )

I have a year old shih tzu, Kami. She is 5 lbs.

(yes- I know about Imperials, no- I didn't shop for one to be super small, yes- I absolutely still love her the same) and her hair is very fine and straight on her head and legs.

It also gets pretty greasy quickly, all over her body it will kind of clump into separate little 'plugs' if that makes sense. She also has dandruff all over (not too many flakes) and dry skin on her belly. She scratches constantly, poor thing, and that's why I've taken her to the vet twice within 2 months about it.

Anyway, no significant help there...$48 vet bill while she had to stay in some kennel for 6 hrs. b/c he didn't have any open appt. times except a "drop off" type.

Well he gave me this:
1- refer to a dermatologist vet. (very pricey but may be needed and we'll do it if needed)
2- try an elimination diet although he bets against food being the culprit but we should do it before going to the derm vet so they know we have already tried it
3- bathe her in anti-fungal/anti-bacterial shampoo to treat only secondary yeast issues (slight odor, not really sure the details on that)
4- use a topical cortical-steroid rinse (potential for side effects if used long term, since a steroid)

Anyway, I know I should have known better and left a note saying "Please don't touch her hair!" but I didn't and now it is soooo uneven. They cut all around her eyes, halfway up in between them (went higher on 1 side), cut into her "mustache" hair that I had been trying so hard to grow out and keep out of her was almost laying down flat!!! :'((( They took way more off of one side of her nose than the other and it pokes you when you snuggle with her now.

I cried 4 times and I am not a crier. I've never cried over my own haircuts!!

My question is: How long will it take to grow back?

I didn't say anything because I didn't want to be dramatic and make it awkward in the office, but they should have told me they messed it up and apologized. It is not like I was letting her eyes get irritated or anything. I groom her myself and work from home. I was constantly checking and sweeping the hair out of her eyes.

Should I try and use my thinning shears to even up the mustache? Or leave it alone? I just cannot believe I paid $50 for no real answers and a hack job.

*Not to mention, I bathed her 2 nights ago with expensive anti-bacterial/anti-fungal shampoo and it gave her more dandruff and irritation! What gives?!?! She is already eating Blue Buffalo food and filtered water. We also use free & clear laundry detergent. She scratches throughout the day, no particular thing is setting it off as I can tell.

Thanks for reading this long post and responses are even more appreciated!!

xo- Elly

Ed Answers:
OK I know your quite upset but the hair will grow back and in about 8 weeks you will be able to have her corrected easy. Until then brush her as often as you can so she don't knot. I would not go running to a specialest just yet.

Why your doc would rule out food I have no idea but that is where to start. Make changes slow so you know the effect of each change. After food go to treats. After ruling out eatables I would think about any changes that may have been made recently which might have lead to a high stress level for her.

You would be surprised how environmental changes can raise hell with a dog. Last would be depression, my dogs heart beat slowed down when he was upset with a move to a new home.

Good luck but many times the specialist will find it must be an allergic reaction and you will be left to find it yourself so why not do the work first.

Wenda Answers:
Do you have your dog on Basics Blue Buffalo. That product is chicken, egg and dairy free. 95% of skin problems are due to something in the food.
I am a Blue Buffalo food rep.

Our Answer

Hello Elly. We’re sorry to hear you had such a negative experience at the vet’s office and a frustrating time having your furbaby’s skin problems solved.

When we love our Shih Tzus it’s easy to get upset when they’re not taken care of as well as think they should be. This breed is known for having problems with sensitive skin and allergy problems. You can learn more about dermatitis and food allergies by reading some of the blog entries here.

But this seems like a good opportunity to discuss the importance of having a great veterinarian and how to choose the best one for your Shih Tzu.

Even the best animal doctor in the world can’t fix every health problem a pet has on the first try. Complex issues like allergies do take time and investigation to correctly diagnose and treat. The fact that your vet, or any vet, gave you some rather generic advice doesn’t mean he or she isn’t skilled at their job. But I wonder if part of your frustration with Kami’s bad haircut isn’t at least in part because it feels like the vet didn’t take your dog’s problems seriously and the staff acted unprofessionally when no one bothered to apologize for the lopsided chop job. A lack of communication or a feeling your pet isn’t well cared for at the vet’s can certainly lead to a break down in the trust and respect needed for any healthy doctor-patient relationship.

When we first became pet guardians most of us probably looked in the phone book and found the veterinarian’s office that was closest to our home, or maybe we took the recommendation of a friend who’s been taking his cat to Dr. Soandso forever.

There is a better way.

Start by searching Healthy Pet and find the American Animal Hospital Association’s ratings for accredited vets in your town. Once you’ve selected a few good candidates make interview appointments. Call the office and let the receptionist know you’re looking for a new veterinarian and want to meet and talk with the doctor for 10 to 15 minutes. If they say that’s not possible or want to charge you a fee for the time, scratch that office off your list. When you do meet with a vet consider these factors:

  • Your first impression of the office. Is it clean, organized and is the front-office staff accommodating?

  • Is the vet friendly and glad to meet you? Does she appear interested in hearing about your Shih Tzu and other pets?

  • Do you feel a good connection with the vet?

  • Does the vet have any specialties and is he specifically experienced with Shih Tzus?

  • Are the technicians licensed?

  • What is the procedure in case overnight stays are needed?

If you feel confident after an interview make an appointment for a general checkup, don’t wait until your dog is sick or in crisis to bring her in. After seeing the doctor in action with your furbaby you’ll have a better idea whether or not this is the right vet for you and your Shih Tzu. And of course you are always free to change veterinarian offices if needed.

By now beautiful Kami’s hair has already grown back and she’s just as adorable as ever. We also hope her allergy problems have improved! If you feel she’s not getting the care she deserves from that vet office please keep looking. Best of luck!

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