Stenotic Nares is a congenital disorder that tends to affect flat-faced breeds, such as the Shih Tzu. These dogs have narrow (stenotic) nostril openings (nares), which can make breathing through the nose very difficult. Over time, this can put a strain on the dog's system and can lead other respiratory problems.
Know the Symptoms
The most common sign of Stenotic Nares is difficulty breathing through the nostrils. You may notice that your Shih Tzu tends to breathe through his mouth, and may make wheezing sounds when breathing with his mouth closed.
Other symptoms include labored and constant open-mouthed breathing, snorting, excessive snoring, gagging, intolerance to exercise and/or heat, general lack of energy, and pale or bluish tongue and gums due to a lack of oxygen. Stenotic Nares is easily diagnosed by your veterinarian with a visual examination.
There are two different treatment options for Stenotic Nares: medical supervision and surgical therapy. If your dog has only mild signs of the condition, he may be able to manage without surgery, as long as he stays slim and avoids stressful situations, such as exercising on hot, humid days. Surgery involves widening the opening through the nostrils by removing a small piece of the wall of each nostril.
Following surgery, your Shih Tzu will need to be monitored closely for the first 24 hours. This is because inflammation or bleeding can obstruct the nostrils, making breathing difficult. His exercise will likely be strictly limited for a few weeks. But after that, your happy Shih Tzu should be ready to resume his everyday activities—and that will help everyone breathe easier.