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.
As your dog ages, you’ll likely notice changes in your best pal’s energy levels, routine and even muzzle. Older pets may require adjustments to help them get around, exercise and live their best life as a senior. One important aspect of caring for a dog entering their golden years is diet.
When it comes to diet, every dog has unique, individual needs, regardless of age. So, there's no one easy answer to the question of soft food versus hard food. Both types of food can provide your dog with the nutrition they need — as long as you feed your dog a high-quality dog food that’s nutritionally balanced and complete.
Signs Your Senior Dog May Benefit from Wet Food
If your dog has very specific health concerns, such as aging joints or weight issues, consult with your vet for more information about what type of food best addresses your dog's needs. That being said, there are a few reasons why you may consider switching your senior dog to soft food.
As your dog gets older, their teeth may become more sensitive, which can make chewing kibble more difficult and even uncomfortable. Switching to a soft food can help to alleviate your pet’s oral discomfort when eating.
However, if your dog is experiencing serious pain at mealtime from a condition like tooth decay or gingivitis, switching to soft food won't remedy the problem. Make sure you talk to your vet about oral care and dental treatment.
Digestion begins in the mouth with saliva, so if your dog has a tendency to scarf down meals, they may not be adequately chewing the food or adding enough saliva to it. Soft food can aid with digestion because it's more easily chewed.
It’s no surprise that wet food has a higher moisture content when compared to dry kibble. If your senior pup is prone to urinary-tract issues or simply needs a little help staying hydrated, canned dog food may be a good choice.
Aging dogs tend to have a slower metabolic rate compared to their younger years, which puts them at a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese. Many nutritionally balanced wet dog foods offer high protein content with fewer carbs than dry food, which can benefit older dogs with slower metabolism. Always talk to your vet if you have concerns about your pup’s weight.
While wet food may be less than appetizing to humans, the opposite is true for dogs! If your aging best friend has started turning their snout up to dry food, wet food tends to be more appealing to picky eaters. Mixing wet food and kibble offers your pup a variety of flavors and textures; try adding wet food as a topper on dry food for a real treat!
Whether you choose dry food, soft food or a mix of both, ask your vet before making any transition. And when it's time to switch your dog's food, remember to do it slowly — even if it's the same brand and flavor — to help prevent stomach upset and allow your dog time to adjust.