Assign modules on offcanvas module position to make them visible in the sidebar.

What are some of the health issues in Yorkshire Terriers

Your Yorkshire Terrier will probably stay pretty healthy most of his/her life, but every dog can have health problems. Get to know common and not so common Yorkshire Terrier health issues.  When addressed promptly, most conditions can be treated successfully.

As a breed, Yorkshire Terriers are predisposed to certain conditions, but that doesn't mean that every Yorkie will get sick. Most never have one of these illnesses, but if you recognize any of these symptoms, call your veterinarian immediately.      

Portosystemic Liver Shunt

Some Yorkies are born with this congenital condition in which the blood bypasses the liver. When this happens the toxins never get cleaned out of the blood. Two healthy Yorkie parents can produce a Liver Shunt puppy.  The genetics of how a liver shunt are produced are purely speculative at this point.  There is absolutely no proven methodology for a breeder to determine a genetic predisposition for this condition.  Research is being conducted to attempt to find a DNA marker.  If your Yorkie is diagnosed with a liver shunt, confirmed by CT Scan or Scintigraphy, please notify your breeder immediately.  Remember Ultra-sounds are NOT conclusive for Liver Shunts.

Detecting and Ruling out a Shunt

First, a determination needs to be made as to whether there are clinical signs/symptoms consistent with liver shunt. There are many clinical signs that may be seen in animals with Portosystemic shunts. All of these symptoms may also be seen with various other disease processes. Therefore, a diagnosis cannot be made on symptoms alone! The liver plays an important role in the metabolism of drugs.  This is also one of the most commonly misdiagnosed conditions based upon blood testing alone.

Clinical Signs of Portosystemic Shunts

Drooling, vomiting, pacing, circling, inability to sit still, drinking lots of water, a stuporous look, head pressing, failure to grow, staggering, listlessness, runny nose, blank look, stare and or lethargy.

In many animals the signs are seen 1-3 hours after eating meat. Proteins in the food are broken down by intestinal bacteria to ammonia and other toxins which are absorbed and, instead of being filtered by the liver, are allowed to reach the brain.


A Blood panel is obtained to look for poor liver function, such as low protein, albumin, and blood urea nitrogen, which are chemicals produced by the liver.  Urine sediment is examined for ammonium biurate crystals, which look like starfish or spiky balls.

Even more accurate are bile acid concentrations.  A blood sample is taken after a 12 hour fast, and then the puppy is fed a normal meal. Two hours later another blood sample is taken. Bile acid concentrations are high in most types of liver disease, including shunts.  Bile acid concentrations are altered by hemolysis (breakage of the blood cells) and lipemia (fat in the blood)  Samples drawn incorrectly will result in a false reading and should be rechecked.

To be 100% sure that a shunt is present it must be differentiated by the use of scintigraphy and/or CT Scan.  Please call if you suspect a shunt for additional information.

Bile acids and blood ammonia levels cannot be used alone to diagnose a Portosystemic shunt. In addition, blood draw methodology, and lab errors are common. Unfortunately, these tests can have false positive results, and no puppy should be labeled as having a PSS based solely on the results of a blood test. The testing of any dog should be done after the age of at least 16 weeks, and after 30 days have passed from any immunizations, worming medications, other medications, and heartworm preventatives.

Legg-Perthes Disease

A degeneration of the dog's hip joint (also called avascular necrosis of the femoral head and neck).  Symptoms of the disease start appearing when the dog is 4 to 11 months old, and they include lameness in the affected leg, pain, ranging from mild to severe, and wasting away of the muscle.

The prognosis for dogs treated surgically for Legg-Perthes disease is very good to excellent, as long as owners are diligent about post-operative physical rehabilitation and supportive care.  After treatment and rehabilitation, most dogs regain pain-free function of the affected hind leg and hip and are able to enjoy normal canine activities such as running, jumping, walking and playing throughout the course of a normal life span.   

Luxating Patellae

It is not uncommon in this small breed for a puppy to have a loose knee and usually with proper diet and joint supplements, it will tighten up by the time the puppy reaches 4 - 6 months of age.   It is said that approximately 75% of all Yorkie puppies will have a loose knee.

Symptoms can include kneecaps slipping when the vet handles it (Grade I); kneecap slips out of place when walking or running (Grade II); kneecap slips out of place frequently enough to cause lameness (Grade III), and kneecap slips and stays out of place (Grade IV).  This is surgically corrected if necessary.  This can also be caused by jumping down off furniture, falling, etc.  It is not abnormal for a puppy of 8 weeks to have a loose knee joint.  A great diet, lots of calcium and glucosamine treats will help a great deal to tighten them up.


Hypoglycemia - See Hypoglycemia Handout *Important*

Collapsing trachea

Tracheal collapse is a common cause of airway obstruction in dogs. The trachea, or “windpipe,” is a tube made up of sturdy rings of cartilage through which air is transported to and from the lungs. Sometimes, however, the tracheal rings begin to collapse, and as air is squeezed through, a characteristic honking cough results.

What Are the Signs of Tracheal Collapse?

In addition to a honking cough, other signs that may be seen include exercise intolerance, labored breathing and a bluish tinge to the gums. The cough and other signs may be provoked by excitement, eating, drinking, tracheal irritants (smoke or dust), obesity, exercise and hot and humid weather.

How Is Tracheal Collapse Diagnosed?

A honking cough in a toy-breed dog is highly suggestive of collapsing trachea, but a definitive diagnosis may require additional tests. Radiographs may reveal an obviously collapsed trachea, although not always. Fluoroscopy, which allows visualization of the trachea as the dog inhales and exhales, may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis. Fluoroscopy is available only at universities and referral centers.

How Is Tracheal Collapse Treated?

Most cases of tracheal collapse are treated with cough suppressants, bronchodilators, corticosteroids (to control inflammation), and/or antibiotics. In obese patients, weight loss helps decrease respiratory effort. Although treatment is not curative, a study released in 1994 showed that 71 percent of dogs treated medically showed a good long-term response.

If medical management produces no response in two weeks, or if severe signs compromise the pet’s functionality, surgery is recommended. Various surgical techniques have been described, but the application of prosthetic polypropylene rings to the outside of the trachea is the current treatment of choice, with an overall success rate reported to be in the 75- to 85-percent range. In general, the outcome of surgery is poorer for dogs older than six years. It is a tricky, specialized surgery that is best performed by a skilled surgeon, usually at a referral center.  Yorkies should NEVER EVER wear a collar including a lightweight one.

Retained puppy teeth

Yorkie's often don't lose their baby teeth on their own. When your Yorkie's around 9 or 12 months old, have your vet check to make sure all her baby teeth are gone. If they're not, they need to be pulled.


Reverse Sneezing/  Pharyngeal Gag Reflex)

Pharyngeal Gag Reflex is a dramatic, rapid inhalation and exhalation of air through the nasopharynx.  Dogs may do this when they have a mild irritation at the back of their throat. Often confused with seizures or gasping for air, it is usually a harmless event.

Reverse sneezing is not really a health problem but it is very common in Toy breeds and owners should be aware of it. Characterized by honking, hacking, or snorting sounds, it usually happens when a dog is excited or after drinking, eating, running around, or pulling on a leash.  The dog will usually extend his neck while gasping inwards with a distinctive snorting sound.  Usually, gently rubbing the throat of the affected dog will help stop the spasms or pinching the dogs nostrils gently together.     

Ear Infections

You notice your dog scratching his ear, shaking his head, whining, and generally being less frisky than usual. The ear may appear red, warm to the touch, and seem swollen. If discharge and a really foul odor are also present, it's a pretty good guess that the dog has an ear infection of some type. The problem could originate from bacteria, mites, fungus, matted hair, yeast infection or a foreign object lodged in the ear. 

Prevention of yeast infections:  Clean ears with 50/50 white vinegar solution (cotton ball and careful Q-tip) and every time you bathe your dog be sure and thoroughly blow dry his ears.  

Download Word Document Version


Gator Garden Yorkies  © 2018 All Rights Reserved.

Joomla Templates by