Extending the Life Expectancy of Your Yorkshire Terrier
There are many things that you can do to help your Yorkie live as long as possible. Care that you give from the day you bring home your puppy, through adulthood and into the senior years will have a great impact on your dog's health and his or her life span.
1) Vaccinations -
With infection being a top cause of death for Yorkie puppies and a concern for older dogs as well, keeping up with vaccinations is important. Puppies should not be taken outside beyond the boundaries of the home's property until 2 weeks after all puppy shots have been given. If other animals have access to the yard, the pup should be closely watched and not allowed to sniff at urine or feces of other pets or animals.
Speak to your vet regarding the possible need for the Leptospirosis if you live in a high risk area.
2) Preventing Trauma -
With trauma being such a huge reason for the death of so many Yorkshire Terriers (2nd leading cause for puppies and 3rd leading cause- 10.7%- for those over 1 year old) attention must be put on creating a safe environment for this breed.
- Everyone in the household and anyone who visits must be keenly aware that this is an 'under-the-foot' dog. Attention must be put on knowing that this little toy breed can quietly appear under your feet without warning. Household members must always look before walking, take care when walking in darkened rooms, look before taking a step backward and always look before sitting down. When a Yorkie sleeps
, this should be in a safe, secure area so that if people wake up at night, in the dark, the dog cannot be under foot.
- Being dropped and receiving fatal injuries is such as sad death statistic, yet it happens to this breed quite often. This can happen if a child is not taught proper handling techniques or if an owner is trying to multi-task and the Yorkie wiggles out from her arms. A Yorkie can also be harmed by being swung around or bounced and slipping free from your hands. Great care must be taken to securely pick up and hold a Yorkie. When you are holding this dog all attention should be focused on this without any distractions.
- At no time when outside should a Yorkshire Terrier be off leash unless in a safe, enclosed yard. The biggest risk of being off leash is being hit by a car when running out into the street, as trauma via automobile impact is among the top causes of fatal trauma.
- Never leave your puppy or dog outside alone, even if the yard in enclosed, since this breed is quite capable of digging
under a fence or finding a weak spot. Un-spayed female and intact males will have a tendency to escape more often than those that are fixed.
- Be careful when you or others open a door; an unsecure Yorkie can squeak right passed you and out onto the road in the blink of an eye. If your puppy or dog tends to run for the exit when the door opens, it can help to have a rule in placed that everyone will knock first - even if the door is unlocked - to allow someone to secure the dog to prevent him from darting out.
- Teach your Yorkshire Terrier all basic commands including "Sit" and "Come". If the dog is running into danger and one of these commands is shouted in an authoritative tone, it may just save his or her life.
3) Provide proper dental care.
When a tooth becomes infected and there is decay in the mouth, infection can travel into the body reaching the heart and/or brain. Dogs with decayed teeth suffer in pain which puts stress on the entire body and older, senior Yorkies with missing teeth have trouble eating. For all these reason, proper cleaning of the teeth
is so important and can be a step that you can take to increase the life span of your Yorkshire Terrier.
A good 4 to 5 minute brushing each day along with once a year professional checkups can keep a Yorkie's teeth healthy and strong. Use a quality paste and supplement this with dental treats that promote good oral hygiene.
4) Spay/neuter -
For both males and females
, while there is some conflicting studies, in general most vets agree that spaying and neutering
does increase life span. Males that are neutered before the age of 6 months old live 20% longer than their unfixed counterparts. Females that are spayed before the age of 6 months old (it should be done before her first heat cycle
) live 25% longer lives than their un-spayed counterparts.
When a female is correctly spayed, it eliminates the odds of developing ovarian cancer. This type of canine cancer is fatal in 50% of all cases. Spaying also reduces her risks of mammary cancer. With males, it eliminates the chances of having testicular cancer (when done before the 6 month mark) and decreases the odds of developing prostate cancer.
5) Keep your Yorkie on a healthy diet -
What your dog eats day after day, month after month and year after year has a huge impact on his/her overall health
and therefore their lifespan. Only offer high quality commercial brands or home cooked food. Avoid brightly colored manufactured treats. Use a filtering device on your kitchen tap to avoid giving straight tap water to your puppy or dog and be sure that your dog is meeting water requirements
to stay properly hydrated.
6) Be diligent about exercise-
In conjunction with a healthy diet, regular exercise throughout your Yorkie's life will help to extend his or her life expectancy. It keeps the heart healthy, keeps muscles toned and contributes to the emotional health of a dog.
Many owners find themselves doing well during the spring and summer; however exercise
is cutback in the colder autumn and winter months. It is important to allow your Yorkie to receive the benefits of activity all year round. While you can take a day off during blizzard or sub-zero days, if you properly clothe your Yorkshire Terrier (and yourself so that you don't want to run right back inside) your dog will do just find in the cold and snow if kept to 20 minutes twice per day.
7) Do not delay Vet visits -
Many serious conditions have favorable prognosis if caught early. This is particularly relevant in regard to both liver shunts and cancer.
Be sure to budget for unexpected medical issues; it is such a shame when owners hesitate to bring their dog to the vet due to the financial burden of a visit. The expense would be factored into an owner's monthly budget. You may also want to consider pet insurance; though most do not cover congenital defects and pre-existing conditions.
Many plans do cover: infections, eye problems, allergies
, stomach ailments, ulcers, arthritis, skin problems
including skin cancer, bladder problems, nail issues, abrasions, thyroid conditions, kidney disease, tooth removal, trauma care, lung infections, diabetes and more.
The bottom line is if you have to wonder if your Yorkie needs to see a vet, chances are that he does. Catching problems early is important for successful recovery and receiving proper treatment can stop small issues from turning into larger, more serious issues that can be life threatening.
8) Accept the age of your dog.
Time slips by quickly and many owners do not want to admit that their Yorkie is becoming a senior and is in his or her last stage of life. However being keenly aware of this breed's typical life span and making changes to care as the Yorkie ages will aid in quality of life.
Older dogs should be given proper orthopedic beds for age related arthritis. Exercise and food
may need to be adjusted. Supplements for the coat and more focused grooming techniques can help with problems of aging such as dry coat and skin. Seniors are often seen by the veterinarian twice per year as opposed to once for regular checkups.