Yikes, Yorkies! Common Yorkie Health Disorders

Yorkies are susceptible to several disorders any serious buyer must consider. Although many Yorkies with disorders live long and healthy lives, some can be costly. It is best to be fully aware of the major disorders of the breed.

Hypoglycemia is common among small breed puppies. It is one of the most unsettling for new owners. Sometimes misdiagnosed, it is important to recognize the symptoms of hypoglycemia and know how to treat it. Hypoglycemia is easily treatable in the early stages, but can be fatal if allowed to progress into seizures. It is important to understand that just because a puppy has an episode of hypoglycemia; it may not be a chronic problem. Yorkies can have an isolated hypoglycemic incident in reaction to almost any trigger. Some examples of common stresses include booster shots, housebreaking, and over-handling. Many puppies simply play too hard at times. Symptoms generally include, but are not limited to, listlessness, wobbly gait, drooling, and pale grey gums. Puppies’ gums should always be bright pink. If you notice symptoms, call a veterinarian immediately. It is always a very good idea for owners of a Yorkie puppy or tiny adult to have a supply of Vet-cal, generally available at your vet’s office. This is a high calorie, high nutrient paste. A pea size rubbed into the gums or under the tongue can generally head off a real issue. We recommend puppies be given Vet-Cal or a similar substitute each night before bed. If the puppy responds to the supplement, make sure she/he is warm. Make sure to feed a high quality food as Yorkies need the biggest band for the buck. Monitor the puppy to be sure that the condition does not recur. More advanced stages require treatment by your veterinarian and /or your breeder. This is another reason to carefully select your breeder. You should have complete confidence that your breeder will help you any time day or night in a situation such as this.

Patellar Luxation is certainly not life threatening for the most part, but it can cause some mild to serious pain. Basically, this condition occurs if the knee cap has slipped out of the groove. A luxating Patella can be caused from malformation of the knee and considered a genetic defect or it can be caused from injury sustained from just jumping off the couch. Generally, puppies prior to 15 weeks old will have some normal slippage. However, your vet can determine if the problem warrants attention.

Porto-Systemic Shunt, aka Liver Shunt, is also one of the disorders that new Yorkie owners fear. The short of it is abnormal blood flow in the liver. Blood should flow from the digestive tract to the liver via the portal system into the blood vessels of the liver, and then to the caudal vena cava which is the large blood vessel carrying blood back to the heart. In a Porto systemic shunt, as the name implies, portal blood by-passes the liver and goes directly to the systemic venous circulation. With PSS toxins are not cleared by the liver, and circulate in the body. This causes neurological issues most often. Hepatic Encephalopathy is a term you may hear associated with behavioral manifestations of liver dysfunction. Porto systemic shunts may be acquired over time or at birth. Most animals with congenital Porto systemic shunts show clinical signs between 8 and 15 weeks of age. Where signs are subtle, the condition may not be diagnosed until much later. Yorkies should not be brought home prior to 15 weeks old so that your breeder had an opportunity to watch for signs of PSS.

Retinal Dysphasia is the abnormal development of the retina and is generally present at birth. The disorder can be inherited, or it can be acquired as a result of a viral infection or some other event before the Yorkie was born.

Tracheal Collapse is a narrowing of the inner diameter of the trachea which fluctuates depending on the stage of the respiratory cycle. A nice demonstration is sucking wind through a straw too quickly. This will collapse the straw. It is generally not fatal, but does cause a “reverse sneeze” so to speak. It can be an inherited trait, although many other factors can contribute such as obesity and age.

There are specific signs of a healthy Yorkie, puppy or adult of which owners should be aware. Yorkie temperature should range between 100.5 and 102.5 F. To take your Yorkie’s temperature, use a clean well lubricated rectal pediatric thermometer marked specifically for your dog. Many believe temperature can be judged by a wet nose. It is essential to check temperature accurately using a thermometer. Normal respiratory rate for Yorkies, both puppies and adults is 15 to 40 breaths / minute. Most Yorkie’s heart rate should be between 70 and 220 beats/minute. Ask your vet about your puppies’ heart rate each time you visit, since it can vary so much. Bright healthy pick gums indicate proper oxygenation and circulation. Grey cloudy gums can often be the first sign of hypoglycemia. If your Yorkie has had more than one episode of vomiting or diarrhea, see attention for dehydration. Dehydration can be very dangerous for Yorkies.

This article is not intended to replace veterinarian care. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you are concerned about your Yorkie’s health.

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