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Dr. Schillig
Dr. Schillig, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 640
Experience:  Dr. Schillig has been practicing veterinary medicine for over 10 years.
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My 10 year old Shih Tzu seems to have constant labored breathing.

Resolved Question:

My 10 year old Shih Tzu seems to have constant labored breathing. It has gotten slowly worse over the years, so that now he snorts and snores even when awake. He was diagnosed with an enlarged heart a year ago, and takes medication for that daily.
Re the surgery for Stenotic Nares, is my dog too old for the procedure? Is it a complicated surgery? Would he recover well? He is in good health otherwise. And just the best dog!
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Schillig replied 7 years ago.

Hello Wendi,


I am sorry to hear that your boy is having those problems.


Some of your concerns can't be answered without looking a little further. I don't think that 10 is too old for surgery, but the question becomes, is his heart healthy enough?


If the only thing that has been done are X-rays, I think that pursuing an echocardiogram would be a good plan. This will allow function to be assessed. (X-rays can be misleading especially in little dogs like Shih Tzus.) After that is done, a much better answer can be given to the question about how safe anesthesia and surgery are for him.


The other problem that I frequently see in the brachycephalic (squished face) breeds as they age is tracheal collapse. Here is a link to an article on tracheal collapse:


Additionally, assessing his weight may be a concern. Obviously, I haven't seen him, and he could be very lean, but many of these guys get a little heavy. Weight loss makes major changes in many cases!


I hope this helps!

As always, if you have further questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to ask them using the "reply" function.

Thank you,

Dr. Schillig

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