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Yikes, Yorkies! Common Yorkie Health Disorders
Yorkies are susceptible to several disorders that any serious buyer must consider. Although many Yorkies with disorders live long and healthy lives, some can be expensive. It is best to be fully aware of the main disorders of the breed.
Hypoglycemia is a common occurrence in small breed puppies. It is one of the most troublesome for new owners. Sometimes it is misdiagnosed, it is important to recognize the symptoms of hypoglycemia and know how to treat it. Hypoglycemia is easily treated in the early stages, but can be fatal if allowed to progress to 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 isolated hypoglycemia in response to almost any trigger. Some examples of common stressors include increased injections, housebreaking, and excessive handling. Many dogs sometimes just play too much. Symptoms generally include, but are not limited to, lethargy, unsteady gait, drooling, and pale gray gums. Puppies’ gums should always be bright pink. If you notice symptoms, call your veterinarian immediately. It’s always a good idea for owners of a Yorkie puppy or small adult to have a supply of Vet-cal, generally available at a vet’s office. This is a high-calorie paste with a high nutrient content. A pea size rubbed into the gums or under the tongue can generally prevent a real problem. We recommend giving puppies Vet-Cal or a similar supplement every night before bed. If the puppy reacts to the supplement, make sure it is warm. Make sure you feed them high quality food as Yorkies need the biggest bang for their buck. Monitor the puppy to make sure the condition does not reoccur. More advanced stages require treatment by your veterinarian and/or your breeder. This is another reason to choose your breeder carefully. You should have complete confidence that your breeder will help you at any time of the day or night in a situation like this.
Patella luxation is certainly not life-threatening for the most part, but it can cause mild to severe pain. Basically, this condition occurs if the knee cap has slipped out of its socket. A luxating patella can be caused by a malformation of the knee and is considered a genetic defect, or it can be caused by an injury sustained from jumping off a couch. Generally, puppies before 15 weeks of age will have a normal slip. However, your veterinarian can determine if the problem requires attention.
Porto-Systemic Shunt, also known as Liver Shunt, is also one of the disorders that new Yorkie owners fear. In short, it is abnormal blood flow in the liver. Blood should flow from the digestive tract to the liver through the portal system into the blood vessels of the liver and then into the caudal vena cava, which is a large blood vessel that carries blood back to the heart. In the Porto systemic shunt, as the name implies, the portal blood bypasses the liver and goes directly into the systemic venous circulation. With PSS, toxins are not cleared in the liver and circulate throughout the body. This most often causes neurological problems. Hepatic encephalopathy is a term you may hear associated with behavioral manifestations of liver dysfunction. Porto systemic shunts can be acquired over time or at birth. Most animals with a congenital Porto systemic shunt show clinical signs between 8 and 15 weeks of age. Where the signs are subtle, the condition may not be diagnosed until much later. Yorkies should not be brought home before 15 weeks of age so that your breeder has the opportunity to watch for signs of PSS.
Retinal dysphasia is an abnormal development of the retina and is generally present at birth. The disorder can be hereditary, 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 that varies depending on the phase of the respiratory cycle. A nice demonstration is sucking wind too quickly through a straw. This will knock down the straw. It’s generally not fatal, but it does cause a “reverse sneeze,” so to speak. It can be a hereditary trait, although many other factors can contribute, such as obesity and age.
There are specific signs of a healthy Yorkie, puppy or adult, that owners should be aware of. A Yorkie’s temperature should range between 100.5 and 102.5 F. To take your Yorkie’s temperature, use a clean, well-lubricated rectal pediatric thermometer labeled specifically for your dog. Many believe that the temperature can be measured by a wet nose. It is important to measure the temperature accurately with a thermometer. The normal breathing rate for Yorkies, both puppies and adults, is 15 to 40 breaths/minute. The heart rate of most Yorkies should be between 70 and 220 beats per minute. Ask your vet about your puppies’ heart rates each time you visit them, as they can vary greatly. Bright, healthy gums indicate proper oxygenation and circulation. Gray cloudy gums can often be the first sign of hypoglycemia. If your Yorkie has had more than one episode of vomiting or diarrhea, watch for dehydration. Dehydration can be very dangerous for Yorkies.
This article is not intended to replace veterinary care. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you are concerned about your Yorkie’s health.
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