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Yorkie Allergies

Yorkshire Terrier Allergies

Many dogs suffer from allergies. The Yorkie is no exception. Over 20% of dogs have some type of allergy. There are 3 types of triggers that a canine can have:
  • Contact
  • Inhaled
  • Ingested
Without treatment, a dog can have an array of symptoms which can cause great discomfort. Sometimes, the treatment is as easy as making a small change in the environment.

However, in some cases, allergies can become so severe that it limits the dog’s ability to function. Physically symptoms can be very painful. 
It if for this reason, that one must be aware of the symptoms, causes, prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
Contact Triggers

The first step is to find out if the trigger for the symptoms is contact.
Contact Yorkie allergies will be something that your puppy or dog is touching..something that touches their skin or coat.. It does not matter how long contact occurs for...It can vary from a few seconds of exposure to an hour.

Some of the more common things that a toy breed dog can be allergic to in this regard are:
  • Laundry detergents
  • Carpet cleaning solutions
  • The carpet itself
  • Certain fabrics and materials (think bedding, pillow cases, etc.)
  • Dog shampoo, conditioner and any other substance that is applied to their coat (it does not matter if it is later rinsed out) during grooming.
Yorkie contact allergies
Maximus, 10 months old
Photo courtesy of Angel Y.
  • A common allergy is to fleas. While fleas cause itching, a dog that is allergic will actually be allergic to the saliva of the fleas. For this reason, it is very important to always use free protection for your Yorkie. If you can actually see fleas, you will want to clean all sheets, blankets, dog beds and such in hot water and dry them on a hot cycle. The house must be treated for fleas with a fogger. Your Yorkie must be cleansed with a flea shampoo. 

Yorkshire Terrier allergies can sometimes be caused by something that the puppy or dog is inhaling. It may be something that they are breathing in all day...or only at certain times of the day. Symptoms may be ongoing, even if they are only exposed to the element for short periods.

Some of the most common inhalants that a toy breed dog such as the Yorkie can be sensitive to are:
  • Weeds, pollen and grasses - Commonly referred to as seasonal allergies or hay fever. Dogs can be allergic to any of the hundreds of elements in nature that, depending on where you live, often pop up at various times of the year. For example in early springtime when flowers are beginning to bloom.
  • Smoke - Yes, your dog can be allergic to cigarette or cigar second hand smoke
  • Less common but possible are scented air freshener sprays and the like
small Yorkie being held

Just like some people cannot eat shellfish, some dogs can be allergic to certain foods...They can also commonly have reactions to elements that are put into manufactured foods such as coloring, preservatives and the like. Some owners do not understand that symptoms such as a rash or trouble breathing can be caused by foods ingested.


Any of the following symptoms can occur from any of the above listed sources:
  • Itching – Sometimes severe. It can get to the point that what started as a "hot spot" of pink irritated skin is chewed on and nibbled at so much that it breaks open. Then, infection can set in rather quickly.
  • Hair loss – A dog who is constantly exposed to an element which the dog is allergic to may have patches of fur loss or areas in which the fur is dry and thin
  • Congestion - The dog may have a stuffed nose, in some cases it may be runny nose.
  • Coughing
  • A discharge of mucus from the Yorkie’s mouth or nose
  • Sneezing
  • A shortness of breath
  • Wheezing noises
  • Snoring
  • Vomiting – a sign that the allergy is a food related one
  • Diarrhea – another sign that your dog is allergic to his or her dog food (normally one particular ingredient in it)

One of the 1st steps is to find the trigger. In many cases, by eliminating it, the allergies will clear up, never to return..

For contact allergies, most often (but not always) the symptoms will be a rash, itching, and possibly sores on the paws or other parts of the body due to this. There can also be hair loss.

Steps to Eliminate Causes
  • The carpeting in your home - Since it is not feasible for most owners to remove carpeting in exchange for hardwood floors, you can help your Yorkie by laying down blankets for him or her to sit, lay and play upon.
  • The carpet cleaner that is used – Try to use a cleaner that is hypoallergenic and odor free
  • Laundry detergent, which leaves remnants on clothing, sheets and more – There are many hypoallergenic laundry detergents available
  • Dog shampoo, this is actually quite common. It is highly recommended to use a high quality, hypoallergenic dog shampoo and conditioner.
  • Smoke – Not only can a dog be allergic to 2nd hand smoke, a dog just as a human can develop cancer because of it. It is recommended to have any smokers do so outside or in a room that is completely separate from where your Yorkie wanders. Windows should be opened to air out that room. Air fresheners will only mask the odor and not eliminate the allergy cause.
  • A certain fabric blanket, stuffed animal toy or other.
Hay Season Help
  • Keep your Yorkie inside when the lawn is mowed
  • Keep your dog inside during days of high pollen counts, this information is often displayed during weather reports
  • Just as with humans, running the air conditioner, having a clean air purifier in the home or running a dehumidifier can greatly help.
  • Pollens and other triggers can easily be picked up when outside; any time that you've had your Yorkie outdoors with you, wipe him down with canine body wipes and rinse paws under the kitchen sink as soon as you enter back inside. 
  • Vacuum the house using a vacuum with a HEPA filter; this will not only remove triggers from flooring, but also the air as it circulates through the machine. 
Food Allergies

If your Yorkshire Terrier is vomiting and/or having diarrhea this should be checked out by the veterinarian to rule out any other medical causes. In many cases, a dog is not allergic to a food (only about 5 to 10% truly are); he is actually allergic to the chemicals found in some brands: the artificial coloring, flavoring and/or preservatives. These are nasty chemicals that can cause a range of issues including upset stomach, terrible itchy skin, watery eyes, etc. Switching to a higher quality food that is free from these allergy causing elements often resolves the issue. 

For the small number of dogs that are allergic to an actual food, it is not always the suspected 'wheat'. Though it very well may be, some dogs are sensitive to certain meats. it can take some experimenting, a change from chicken to fish or fish to lamb may do the trick. 

Some owners choose to home cook as a method to avoid any and all triggers. If you decide to home cook for your Yorkie, you will want to begin with very simple dinners, with limited ingredients. Every 2 weeks, you can add a new ingredient and this should help you identify the culprit. In many cases, owners find that their Yorkie handles all foods well; And it turns out that the triggers was a chemical in commercial food: artificial coloring and flavors of heavy chemical preservatives.
Begin with plain, white, boneless, boiled chicken and plain, white rice. Do include a full & complete dog food supplement. Adding a 2nd supplement of an Omega 3 fatty acid dog supplement is known to help calm down allergy symptoms. Every 2 weeks, add another ingredient: peas, green beans, carrots, blueberries, raspberries, potato. If you suspect an issue with chicken, switch to lamb or lamb and fish. 

Healthy Home Cooking for the Yorkie includes some fantastic recipes for the beginning meal to identify allergens and recipes for wheat free dinners.

Professional Treatment

While you are going through the process of eliminating possible triggers, you will want to seek veterinarian care for any symptoms that are moderate to severe. ELISA testing should be done. This is an intradermal skin testing that is more accurate than blood tests. This will test for all of the common allergens that most dogs are allergic to and it has a success rate of about 75%. 

Once the triggers are known, certain ones can be avoided and if needed, antihistamines may be prescribed. 
Yorkshire Terrier on chair
Georgie, at 7 months (4 lbs)
Photo courtesy of Jamie
Treatment via antihistamines is effective for many dogs and these may work even better when used in conjunction with Omega 3 fatty acid supplements.  

Immunotherapy is used in some cases in which the avoidance of the allergy trigger is impossible, if the dog has shown symptoms for approximately 5 months and if other treatments of Omega 3 and antihistamines do not work.

The dog then will be given skin tests to check for hypersensitivity. Once a trigger is found, the dog will be injected with altered antigens on a slow and steady basis. These are given either weeks or months apart, depending on the type. This helps the dog become desensitized to the allergic cause and can work well. Up to 80% of dogs show improvement.

In very serious cases where quality of life is being affected, steroid based medications may be given. This is given to the dog via injections or by oral form. Injections are usually given to a Yorkie with anywhere from a 1 week to a 6 month wait between shots. Oral steroids is sometimes preferred because if side effects appears, the oral does can be discontinued and the dog will stop having side effects rather quickly; once an injection is done, it can not be reversed. Oral steroids for Yorkies suffering from allergies are usually given for 3 to 5 days in a row and then evened out, usually every other day.

Steroid treatment is generally only given in severe cases in which all other efforts have failed. Why? Because of side effects. Each dog will react differently; however the most common side effects are weight gain, excessive drinking, increased urination, hyperactivity, panting, diarrhea and/or depression. Long term effects can be a drastic change to the coat, resulting in very dry coarse hairs. There may be skin issues and liver problems.
Tip: Never use plastic bowls; not only can a dog be allergic to the plastic, the heavy dyes can slowly discolor a coat and the material easily scratches which allows more of a chance for bacteria to grow.

Always use stainless steel dishes for both food and water. And clean them thoroughly once a day with hot water and dish soap.
Extra Information

Don't forget to have a look at what's inside the new YorkieInfoCenter Book, now in both print & eBook: Learn more.
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