How To Clean Shih Tzu’s Eyes?

How To Clean Shih Tzu’s Eyes? Everything You Need To Know

Like many other brachycephalics (short-nosed) and long-haired breeds, Shih Tzus are prone to eye discharge and tear staining. It is because their facial structure and the hair around their eyes can irritate, leading to excessive tearing and potential buildup. Regular cleaning is essential to prevent infections and discomfort and to maintain their overall eye health.

What Are The Types Of Equipment Needed For Cleaning Shih Tzu’s Eyes?

For cleaning a Shih Tzu’s eyes specifically, you’ll need the following supplies:

Soft, Clean Cloth or Cotton Balls

These should be gentle to ensure they don’t scratch or irritate the eyes.

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Warm Water

Damping the cloth or cotton ball makes it easier to wipe away discharge.

Dog-Specific Eye Wipes

These are pre-moistened wipes designed for cleaning the area around a dog’s eyes. They can be particularly useful for on-the-go cleaning or if you want a product specifically formulated for this purpose.

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Tear Stain Remover

If your Shih Tzu has persistent tear staining (those reddish-brown streaks under the eyes), a dog-specific tear stain remover can help. Always follow the product’s instructions.

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Saline Solution

For rinsing or cleaning out debris. However, only use this if recommended by your vet.

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Fine-toothed Comb

Useful for combing the hair around the eyes to prevent it from irritating the eye area.

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Blunt-tipped Scissors

If you’re comfortable, trim the hair around the eyes to reduce irritation. Exercise extreme caution if you decide to do this, or consider having a professional groomer handle it.

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It’s a good idea to have some treats on hand to reward your Shih Tzu after cleaning, making it a positive experience for them.

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Calm Environment

While not a “material,” a quiet, calm environment can make cleaning smoother. It’s easier to clean a relaxed dog’s eyes than a fidgety one.

Remember, when dealing with the eye area, it’s crucial to be gentle and avoid using products not specifically designed for dogs. If you need clarification on a product or method, it’s always a good idea to consult a veterinarian or professional groomer.

How to Clean Shih Tzu’s Eyes?

Cleaning a Shih Tzu’s eyes is crucial to their grooming routine because this breed is prone to tear staining and eye discharge. Regularly cleaning their eyes can prevent potential infections and discomfort. Here’s a step-by-step guide to cleaning a Shih Tzu’s eyes:

Gather the Necessary Supplies

  • Soft, clean cloth or cotton balls
  • Warm water
  • Dog-specific eye wipes or tear stain removers (available at pet stores)
  • Saline solution (for rinsing if necessary and if recommended by your vet)
  • A comb


  • Make sure your Shih Tzu is calm. Do this after some playtime or a walk when they are more relaxed.
  • Place your Shih Tzu on a grooming table, lap, or comfortable location.

Cleaning Process

Step 1

Dip the cloth or cotton ball in warm water, ensuring it’s damp but not soaking wet.

Step 2

Gently approach your Shih Tzu and speak to them softly to keep them calm.

Step 3

Carefully wipe away any discharge or crust from the corner of the eyes, moving outwards. Use a different cloth part or a new cotton ball for each eye to prevent cross-contamination.

Step 4 (if using)

You can use a dog-specific tear stain remover or eye wipes for stubborn stains or excessive tearing. Always follow the product’s instructions and ensure it’s safe for use around the eyes.

Step 5 (if needed)

If there’s any irritation or a foreign substance in the eye, use saline solution to rinse it. However, if you’re unsure, consult your vet before using any solution on your dog’s eyes.

Combing the Hair Around the Eyes

Use a fine-toothed comb to gently comb the hair around the eyes, ensuring it doesn’t poke or irritate them. This helps keep the area clean and prevents hair from causing further tearing or irritation.

After Cleaning

  • Reward your Shih Tzu with praise and a treat. Associating eye cleaning with positive reinforcement can make the process smoother in the future.
  • Regularly inspect their eyes for signs of infections, such as redness, swelling, or unusual discharge. If you notice any of these symptoms or your dog seems bothered by their eyes, consult a veterinarian.

Preventative Care

  • Consider trimming the hair around their eyes to reduce irritation. Use blunt-tipped scissors and exercise caution. If you need more confidence about doing this yourself, seek help from a professional groomer.
  • Feed your Shih Tzu a high-quality diet, as sometimes food can contribute to tear staining. Some pet owners give their dogs filtered or bottled water to reduce tear stains.

Always be gentle when cleaning your dog’s eyes, and avoid using products not intended for dogs. With regular care and monitoring, you can keep your Shih Tzu’s eyes clean and healthy.

Why Should I Clean My Shih Tzu’s Eyes?

Cleaning your Shih Tzu’s eyes is an essential aspect of maintaining their overall health and well-being for several reasons:

Tear Staining

Shih Tzus are prone to tear staining, a reddish-brown discoloration around the eyes. Various factors, including genetics, allergies, water quality, and more, can cause this. Regular cleaning can help reduce these stains and prevent them from becoming prominent.

Prevent Infections

Dirt, debris, and discharge can accumulate around Shih Tzu’s eyes, providing an ideal environment for bacterial growth, which can lead to infections. Cleaning can help reduce this risk.


Matted hair, crusty discharge, or foreign particles can cause discomfort or even pain to your dog. Cleaning can help ensure they are comfortable.

Clear Vision

Over time, excessive tearing or discharge can accumulate and affect your dog’s ability to see clearly.

Detect Health Issues

Regularly cleaning and inspecting your Shih Tzu’s eyes can help you spot potential health issues early on. If you notice abnormal discharge, swelling, redness, or any other signs of irritation, it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian.

Maintain Aesthetic Appeal

While health is the primary concern, Shih Tzus are known for their cute and appealing appearance. Clean eyes can help maintain their beautiful looks.

Bonding Time

Regular grooming routines allow bonding time between you and your Shih Tzu. It helps them get accustomed to being handled, and they might find the process comforting.

Remember, if you notice any signs of an eye infection or other issues (like excessive tearing, redness, swelling, or a change in the type or amount of discharge), consult a veterinarian for a proper assessment.

How Long Does Cleaning Shih Tzu’s Eyes Take?

Cleaning Shih Tzu’s eyes is a relatively quick process when done regularly, as the task mainly involves wiping away tear stains and any accumulated eye discharge. I

For Daily Cleaning

It can take as little as 2-5 minutes. This includes gently wiping away any discharge or crust from the corners of the eyes and checking for signs of irritation or infection.

For More Thorough Cleaning (like dealing with tear stains)

This can take a bit longer, around 5-10 minutes, especially if you’re using specialized products or if the tear stains are particularly stubborn.

It’s essential to approach the task with patience. If the dog is not used to having its eyes cleaned or feels uncomfortable, it might take longer because you’ll need to calm your pet and ensure they are at ease.

Remember, frequent and regular cleaning makes the process faster and more comfortable for you and your Shih Tzu. If tear staining or discharge is persistent, or if there are signs of infection, it’s crucial to consult a veterinarian.

Pro Tips

Cleaning Shih Tzu’s eyes is crucial, given their susceptibility to tear staining and eye discharge. Here are some tips to effectively and safely clean your Shih Tzu’s eyes:

Gentle Approach

Start by speaking softly and gently to your Shih Tzu. This can help calm them and make the cleaning process easier.

Use the Right Materials

Soft, clean clothes or cotton balls are ideal. They should be damp but not dripping wet.

Regular Cleaning

Cleaning your Shih Tzu’s eyes should be a daily routine. Regular cleaning can prevent excessive buildup and staining.

Tear Stain Removers

Dog-specific tear stain removers are available in pet stores that can be effective for stubborn stains. Always follow the instructions and ensure they’re suitable for your dog.

Avoid Human Products

Never use human skincare or eye care products on your Shih Tzu. They can be harmful or irritating.

Work from Inside Out

When cleaning, start from the inner corner of the eye (nearest the nose) and move outwards. This method helps prevent spreading any discharge into the eye.

One Cloth Per Eye

If you’re dealing with an infection or significant discharge, use a separate cloth or cotton ball for each eye to avoid cross-contamination.

Check for Abnormalities

While cleaning, it’s a good opportunity to check for any signs of infections or abnormalities, like redness, swelling, or unusual discharge. If you notice any of these, consult with a veterinarian.

Hair Maintenance

Trimming hair around the eyes can help reduce irritation and tear staining. If you are doubtful, consider visiting a professional groomer.

Positive Reinforcement

Reward your Shih Tzu with a treat and praise after cleaning. This can help make the experience more positive and easier over time.

Natural Solutions

Some owners use a weak chamomile tea solution (cooled down) to wipe the area, as chamomile has natural soothing properties. However, always consult with a veterinarian before trying home remedies.

Consult a Vet

If tear staining is persistent or there are signs of infection, it’s essential to consult a veterinarian. There might be underlying issues that need to be addressed.

Remember, always approach the cleaning process with patience and gentleness. Your Shih Tzu’s comfort and safety are paramount.

What To Do If The Tips Do Not Work?

If the tips for cleaning your Shih Tzu’s eyes don’t work or if you notice persistent issues, here are the steps you should consider:

Consult a Veterinarian

Always prioritize seeking professional advice. Persistent tear staining, excessive discharge, or signs of discomfort could indicate underlying health problems such as eye infections, blocked tear ducts, allergies, or other issues.

Seek a Specialist

Some veterinary ophthalmologists specialize in eye care for animals. If your primary veterinarian suggests it, or if you want a second opinion, consider seeing a specialist.

Professional Grooming

Visit a reputable groomer who has experience with Shih Tzus. They might have specific techniques or products that can help. They can also safely trim the hair around the eyes to reduce irritation.

Review Diet

Sometimes, the quality of a dog’s diet can impact tear staining. A veterinarian recommends changing your dog’s diet or adding certain supplements.

Water Quality

Some owners find that changing their dog’s water (e.g., giving filtered or bottled water instead of tap water) can reduce tear staining. This is because certain minerals or additives in tap water might contribute to the problem.

Avoid Irritants

Ensure nothing in your dog’s environment irritates their eyes. This includes strong chemicals, smoke, or even certain plants.

Adjust Cleaning Frequency

If you’ve been cleaning the pet’s eyes daily and haven’t seen improvement, you might need to adjust the frequency or try a different product. Sometimes, finding what works best for your dog is a matter.

Research and Ask Around

Join Shih Tzu forums or online communities. Other Shih Tzu owners might have experienced similar issues and could provide insights or solutions that worked for them.

Be Patient

Sometimes, it can take time to see improvements, especially with issues like tear staining. If your dog isn’t in discomfort or pain, try different solutions while seeking professional advice.

Remember, the well-being and comfort of your Shih Tzu should always be the top priority. If any product or method seems to be causing discomfort or worsening the issue, stop using it and consult with a veterinarian.

Home Remedies To Clean Shih Tzu’s Eyes

If you’re interested in home remedies to clean your Shih Tzu’s eyes, always remember that while some methods are generally safe, others can be harmful. It’s essential to be cautious and gentle during the cleaning process. Here are some home remedies to consider:

Saline Solution

  • You can create a saline solution at home by dissolving one teaspoon of salt in a pint (about 500 ml) of boiled, then cooled water.
  • Dip a cotton ball in the solution, wring it out, and gently wipe around the eyes to remove any discharge.

Chamomile Tea

  • Brew a weak chamomile tea, and allow it to cool completely.
  • Using a soft cloth or cotton ball moistened with the tea, gently wipe the area around the eyes. Chamomile is known for its soothing properties.
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  • Some pet owners use a bit of cornstarch to deal with tear stains.
  • Lightly apply cornstarch to the stained area using a soft makeup brush. Let it sit for a few hours, then gently brush it off. It can help to dry the area and lighten the stain.
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Filtered or Bottled Water

Using filtered or bottled water instead of tap water can reduce the minerals causing some tear stains.

Dietary Adjustments

  • A high-quality, grain-free diet can help reduce eye discharge and tear staining in dogs.
  • Always consult your vet before making significant changes to your dog’s diet.

Regularly Groomed Face

Keeping the fur around your Shih Tzu’s eyes trimmed can prevent hair from irritating the eyes, reducing tearing and the associated staining.


  • Never use human eye drops, medications, or other chemicals unless directed by a veterinarian.
  • Avoid vinegar, peroxide, and other harsh ingredients that can irritate the eyes.
  • Ensure any solution is cool to room temperature to avoid shocking or burning your pet.
  • Consult your veterinarian if you’re unsure about a remedy or notice any adverse reactions.

Finally, remember that routine eye cleaning can serve as a preventative measure. If you observe excessive tearing, changes in discharge, or any signs of irritation or infection, it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian to ensure the best care for your Shih Tzu.


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