After conditioning the coat, use one cap of apple cider vinegar to one quart warm water.
A vinegar rinse removes shampoo, conditioner and deodorizes the coat. If the coat seems
to be dry or brittle, put a leave-in conditioner on the coat AFTER the vinegar rinse.
However, a leave-in rinse will attract dirt, so you will need to shampoo in four or five
days. Squeeze any excess moisture out of the coat, then wrap the dog in a couple of thick bath towels for 10 - 15 minutes to lessen the amount of time he will spend under the
dryer. Use a corner of the towel to wipe the face and blot the ears. This is a good time to
cut toenails -- your pet is more or less captive while swaddled in towels, and the nails are softer when wet. Cut the nails to where they hook over, be careful not to cut into the red streak (quick) that can be seen in any translucent nails. If you accidentally cut too deep
and the nail bleeds, use styptic powder to stop the bleeding. Pay attention to dewclaws, since the do not touch the ground, they will not wear down naturally like other nails.
A Shih Tzu should be dried with a blow dryer; one with a stand will free both hands to
work on the dog. Brush the dog gently while the coat dries to separate the hair and speed up the drying process. Once the coat is thoroughly dry, part the hair down them back and put in the topknot. Give your clean dog a kiss, then put your dog down onto the floor.
Your Shih Tzu will royally prance around, knowing how good he looks.
Between baths, if you notice your dog sitting down or rubbing his rear along the floor, check his behind, it may be caked with fecal matter, particularly if you dog is still a puppy. Hold the affected area under warm running water, wash out the softened matter, wipe with paper toweling and blow dry. It is not necessary to cut the hair. As your puppy's hair grows longer, it will fall naturally to either side of the anus rather than across the opening.
Shih Tzu have eyes that can be easily injured. Check them daily, and any time you see the dog squinting or rubbing his eye. If your dog's eye is bloodshot, partially closed, has what appears to be a white dot in the pupil, take the animal to the vet immediately. Eye injuries can be very serious--the sooner treatment begins, the more likely healing will be rapid and uneventful.
Keep a sharp eye out for parasites such as fleas and ticks. Fleas cause the dog to scratch and could tear out the coat you just spent months growing. There are several very good products on the market, currently. Speak to your vet for a recommendation.
Lyme ticks are in many areas of the U.S. Lyme disease caused by the Lyme tick is harmful to dogs and humans as well. In areas where ticks are abundant, it is a good idea to have your dog immunized once a year, against Lyme Disease. In any event, check your pet for ticks and remove them immediately.
Ask your vet how to express your Shih Tzu's anal glands. When full, they will feel like two hard peas on either side of the anus, just below the root of the tail. To clean them--a foul smelling job and definitely to be done just before a bath...cover the anus with a tissue, squeeze gently upward and outward until all fluid is extracted. Do not put your face near the glands. You may decide to pay a groomer or your vet to do it for you. It is not a pleasant task and if done incorrectly, you could injure your Shih Tzu.
Finally...the infamous and very dangerous wild oats, better known as foxtails are everywhere in CA and some other states as well. Foxtails are airborne and search for somewhere to plant themselves. They are not selective. Once they find any spot that is soft and a bit damp, the foxtail immediately softens and begins to burrow into the skin, swelling from the animal's body fluid. It will continue to move or burrow until it lodges into something solid like bone. A foxtail can enter a dog's foot pad, work its way up the foot into the leg and require surgery to remove it from the knee joint or even pass the knee joint, continuing up the leg into the shoulder.
During the summer and fall, foxtails are the most prevalent. Daily, check your dog's eyes, ears and ear leather, legs, sides, paws, and belly. If you catch a foxtail early, even if it has started to burrow, you can usually remove it yourself with a pair of tweezers without assistance from a vet. If you notice any swellings, weepy or runny eyes or nose, or an oozing break in the skin anywhere on your dog, go to the vet immediately. Every summer and fall in CA. veterinarians remove hundreds of foxtails from dogs' eyes, ears, noses, throats, sides, legs, foot pads, tails, penis sheaves, and vaginas. If the foxtail is visible, your veterinarian often can remove it without surgery. Foxtails that have burrowed deep into the skin or paw pad or have been swallowed and are lodged in throats, stomachs, and intestines must be surgically removed.--Editorial comment.