A common question we get is what are the common diseases found in the Yorkshire Terrier. The Yorkie is a relatively healthy breed. However, like all other breeds, Yorkies are susceptible to several diseases. Some of the more common Yorkie health problems include:
- Patellar Luxation
- Liver Shunt
- Tracheal Collapse
- Retinal Dysplasia
- Dry Eye
- Legg-Calves-Perthes Disease
- Hypoglycemia (See our Page on Hypoglycemia)
I n addition to the above, Yorkies tend to have sensitive skin. The most common type of skin conditions that Yorkies have include skin allergies caused by seasonal pollen, pollution, and food. Their coats may get very dry due to scratching and biting and eventually leading to massive hair loss. We often use Salmon oil which has Omega acids to prevent dry skin.
A lso, Yorkies tend to have a sensitive stomach and eating foods outside of a regular diet may cause vomiting or diarrhea. It is important, therefore, to feed Yorkies a regular diet. We feed Royal Canin as a staple, but we also feed certain appropriate human food as well to enhance the diet. If you need to switch to another type of food, be sure to make the switch gradually.
P atellar luxation is a condition in which the knee cap slips out of its groove. The dog will show signs of this condition only when the knee cap is sliding out of place. You will see the dog limping or running with the affected leg held off the ground, and he will often stretch it out behind him in an effort to click the cartilage back into place. Sometimes the kneecap will slip back into place on itís own; while other times a veterinarian may need to put it back in place. Patellar Luxation is rated on a scale of 0-4. Dogs with milder degrees can cope just fine with no intervention necessary, only skipping the occasional step every once in a while. More severe cases require surgery. It is also likely to be painful particularly if the kneecap is constantly out of joint. If severe cases are not corrected through surgery, then osteoarthritis may result.
L iver Shunt or "Portosystemic shunting" (PSS) is a condition in which there is abnormal blood flow between the liver and the body. Specifically, liver shunt causes blood to flow around the liver, not through it, resulting in blood bypassing the liver.
If a dog is suffering from liver shunt, he lacks the necessary materials (particularly protein) to give him a ready source of energy and to help him grow. This causes the dog to be smaller and weaker than normal. Also, the liver is unable to properly get rid of all the toxins, causing toxin buildup in the bloodstream or kidneys. Toxin buildup often causes seizures in dogs. Most cases of Shunt will be diagnosed when the pup is weaned from mom, as this is when the demand on the liver increases and signs of liver disease will often present. Dog liver shunt can cause other symptoms and either requires surgery, or the dog will die. Most of our breeding dogs have had their Bile acids tested, meaning their offspring are NOT likely to suffer from this disease.
T racheal collapse is a narrowing of the windpipe due to the weakening of the cartilage, which forms and supports the trachea. This condition is rather common in Yorkies. Symptoms include a dry, honking cough, harsh breathing and gagging. The cough is worsened by exercise, heat, excitement, and humidity. Obese dogs are particularly vulnerable to this condition. Treatment consists of managing the cough and using supplements to strengthen cartilage. In particular, use a supplement with glucosamine to help keep the lining of the airway in a healthy, moist state. To protect your Yorkie's throat and keep pressure off the airway, use a harness instead of a collar.
R etinal dysplasia is characterized by an abnormal development of the retina. This can be inherited, or it can be acquired as a result of a fetal viral infection.
There are three forms of retinal dysplasia:
- Folding of one or more area(s) of the retina (the mildest form).
- Geographic (large areas of thinning, folding and disorganization of the retina).
- Detached (separation of the retina).
M ild forms of retinal folds usually do not cause any problem in dogs. Sometimes, the abnormal folds may disappear with age. However, the geographic and detached forms can cause visual impairment, or even blindness. There is no treatment for retinal dysplasia. Since dogs have acute senses of smell and hearing, they can compensate very well for visual difficulties. If your Yorkie has retinal dysplasia, you can help him by developing regular routes for exercise, maintaining his surroundings as constant as possible, and introducing any necessary changes gradually.
D ry eye, medically known as Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS), occurs when there is insufficient tear production to keep the eye lubricated. There is a predisposition to the development of KCS in Yorkies. Common symptoms include redness and obvious irritation, a yellowish discharge. and recurrent eye infections. Avoid medications such as sulfa antibiotics that may predispose dogs to develop dry eyes.
E ntropion is a condition where the bottom eyelid rolls inward and causes the eye lashes to rub against the cornea, resulting in pain, tearing, and inflammation. It can be present in both eyes. Entropion can be treated by eyelid surgeries.
L egg-Calve-Perthes disease (LCP) is a problem of the hip joints of young (4 to 12 months), small-breed dogs such as the Yorkies. With LCP, the head of the femur begins to degenerate and disintegrate causing limping, pain, and eventually, arthritis. Treatment of the condition is dependent on the severity of the symptoms. If diagnosed early and the symptoms are mild, enforced rest (such as putting the hind leg in a sling for a period of time) may be sufficient to allow healing. In more severe cases, surgical removal of the damaged head of the femur is the only treatment. This procedure effectively eliminates the source of the pain, and the affected dog should have a good quality of life thereafter.