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Top 5 Yorkie Health Risks

fluffy yorkie sitting in the grass

Smart, lively, and inquisitive, Yorkshire Terriers are lovable companions. But like all breeds, they have their vulnerabilities. Knowing the health risks that affect your Yorkie can facilitate prevention and early detection and, ultimately, help keep him feeling like top dog.

Collapsing Trachea: A dog's trachea can collapse if the cartilage in his tracheal rings is malformed and begins to weaken. As the cartilage weakens, airflow into a dog's lungs becomes more difficult, which can result in a chronic dry cough, shortness of breath, difficulty exercising, and even fainting.

Canine pancreatitis: Pancreatitis refers to the inflammation of the pancreas and is caused by activation of the digestive enzymes within the pancreas due to pancreatic damage or blockage of its outflow duct. This results in pancreatic auto-digestion, whereby the enzymes destroy the pancreatic tissue. Consult your vet about canine pancreatitis treatment.

Luxating Patellas: This congenital condition (birth defect) affects a dog's knees. A Yorkie may experience difficulty walking because his kneecap pops out of place. This condition can affect both legs and can leave a dog debilitated if he is overweight because of the extra pressure on his knee joints. It also puts additional stress on other ligaments in a dog's knees.

Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE): Put simply, HGE is a form of diarrhea. This condition is life threatening for a Yorkie because small dogs dehydrate more quickly than large dogs. If you notice that your Yorkie has bloody or mucous covered stools, severe diarrhea, vomiting, and/or loss of appetite, call your vet immediately.

Liver Shunt: Medically, this ailment is referred to as Portosystemic Shunt. This condition is characterized by abnormal blood flow from the intestine that effectively bypasses the liver. This is a congenital defect that is a result of abnormal vein development. If blood doesn't pass through the liver, toxins make their way through the body and can result in stunted growth, severe weight loss, behavioral and personality changes, and seizures.

Remember, diet and exercise can go a long way toward keeping your dog healthy. You can also talk to your vet about a Yorkie-specific preventive health plan to help minimize illnesses and ailments that affect your favorite dog.

  • The Serious Benefits of Play

    dog carrying a frisbee in its mouth

    Playing and having fun helps to eliminate stress from your life—and the same holds true for your dog. In fact, incorporating various forms of play into your dog's daily routine is vital to helping him develop a healthy, loving personality.

    The benefits of play

    Here are some of the ways that playing and having fun is important:

    • Physical health. Active play helps keep your dog's heart healthy, keeps the joints lubricated, and improves his overall balance and coordination.
    • Mental health. Games with rules force your dog to use his brain, not just his body. This can help keep his mind sharp and focused.
    • Social skills. When your dog plays with other dogs and other people, it helps improve his overall social skills. He learns basic rules and how to play by them.
    • Bonding. Even if it's only for a few minutes a day, playing with your dog helps strengthen the bond between you.
    • Your health. What better way to alleviate the stress of a busy workday and get a bit of exercise than to come home and play with your dog? It's a win-win for both of you.

    How to play with your dog

    There are right ways—and wrong ways—to play. The most important thing to remember is that you're the boss. You decide what games should be played and you set the rules. This helps establish your credibility as the pack leader. It also helps keep your dog from getting overly excited and out of control while you play. If your dog does become difficult to manage, simply put a stop to the game until he calms down again.

    When you're teaching your dog a new game, reward him when he does well. Remember, rewards don't have to be just treats. You can also reward him with his favorite toys or lots of hugs and praise.

    When you start out teaching your dog a new game, keep it simple and go through the game slowly, until your dog fully grasps the rules. Also, wait until he fully understands one game before you teach him a new one, otherwise it will end up confusing him.

    Playtime tips

    • Avoid games like keep away, wrestling, or tug-of-war. Those games encourage biting or dominant, aggressive behavior.
    • Stay in control of the game at all times. Show your dog that you're the pack leader, not just another member of the pack. Retrieval games are good at teaching control.
    • Don't include your body or clothing as part of any game.
    • Incorporate the SIT or DOWN and STAY commands in every game.
    • You decide when it's time to end the game, not your dog. The best time to stop the game is when your dog is still eager to play.
    • If, for some reason, your dog doesn't seem to understand the game at some point, go back to the beginning, or simply leave it and try again a few days later. Don't get angry if you're dog isn't "getting it" right away. Remember it's supposed to be a fun experience for both of you!

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