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Yorkshire Terrier Summer Care


As the seasons change from one to the next, adjustments must be made in caring for your Yorkie. And summer, with its hot sunny weather, is certainly an important season to prepare for. 

In America, summer officially starts at the summer solstice (normally June 20 or 21) and ends at the autumn equinox (September 20), but try telling that to Mother Nature.
In certain parts of the U.S. hot days can sneak in well before June. And some of you may be living in a location in which the weather is generally always hot. 

While nice sunny weather and high temperatures may be a joy for many of us, it can take its toll on a dog, especially toy breeds dogs like the Yorkie. 

Everything from exercise to avoiding sun glare to dehydration to possible bug bites will come into play. 

So whether you will be dealing with hot weather for 4 or 5 months per year or all year round, understanding how the this will affect your Yorkshire Terrier, planning for the season, and making appropriate care changes will help keep your Yorkie happy and healthy. 

We'll cover the top 7 tips for summer care. 
Yorkshire outside in the summer
Bear, at 7 years old
Photo courtesy of Alexandra G.

Summer Care Tip #1 - Exercise Changes

One of the biggest challenges for owners is to keep up with a regular exercise routine for their dogs. Life can get in the way as we rush around for work and other responsibilities and weather can certainly get in the way as well. 

Routine exercise is very important, not just for a Yorkie’s physical health, but for his emotional health as well. Some of the benefits of daily exercise include:

• Conditioning of the body; it’s healthy for the heart and aids in maintaining muscle tone

• Energy release. When a dog does not have purposeful outdoor exercise and is not given the opportunity to release pent-up energy, this can cause the dog to feel antsy. 
This, in turn, can lead to unwanted behavior such as barking and destructive chewing.

• Emotional well-being. Two elements come into play. 

First, canines need to do canine things in order to feel content, this includes using their canine senses. When outside on their walks, able to make use of their incredible hearing and scent senses, as well as being able to see new things, this makes for a happy dog. 

The second part of this is that most dogs have incredible inner time clocks and know that a walk is ‘supposed’ to happen. If it does not, a dog can become restless.

There are several steps you can take to not let hot weather get in the way of keeping your Yorkie happy and healthy in regard to exercise:
  • Schedule two walks while avoiding the hottest part of the day, with one in the morning before 10 AM and one later in the evening about 1 hour before the sun sets; these are the coolest parts of the day. If your Yorkie normally is brought out for a walk mid-day, more tips are ahead. 
  • Reassess the walking route. If the route offers little shade, the walking surfaces may be too hot and the beating sun may prove to be too stressful. If possible, change to a route that offers more shade and/or stick to grassy areas. In addition, be sure to protect the paws (more ahead).
  • Bring along water. We recommend a canine water container in which the lid serves as a bowl. These are easy to bring along, and be sure to add an ice cube to keep the water cool. Plan for a break halfway through, for your Yorkie to rest in the shade and rehydrate. 
  • Know the signs of heat stress so that you can take immediate steps to help stop this from developing into heat stroke. We'll cover this next. 

Summer Care Tip #2 - Know the Signs of Heat Stress

Heat stroke can be a tricky thing, because this can really sneak up on dogs. Even if you take precautions and even if you yourself feel fine, your Yorkshire Terrier may be struggling. It all begins when a dog’s body has a hard time maintaining proper internal temperature.

Normally, a dog’s temperature is between 101 to 102.5 degrees F (38.3 to 39.2 degrees C). Heat stress is when that rises to 103 Fahrenheit (39.44 C) and left untreated it can easily spiral into heat stroke, at which time dog’s temperature will be 106 F (44.11 C) or more which is considered life threatening. 

During the summer, no matter where you are with your Yorkie, keep an eye out for the signs of this. 

Symptoms include heavy panting, drooling, red gums, vomiting, and/or decrease urination.
Yorkie with toy in mouth
Kahlua, photo courtesy of Dina
If the dog cannot cool down, this can progress to confused behavior, trouble walking and/or rapid heartbeat. Untreated, it can quickly spiral into coma and eventual death as the organs cannot properly function. 
What to do: If you suspect that your Yorkie is becoming overheated, immediately seek shelter in an air-conditioned home, gently covering his body with wet towels (do not use ice). Using fans to circulate the air can be helpful as well. 

If you are out and about and that is not possible, it is best to bring him to a cool, shaded area. You will want to wet the body down with water, and this is just another reason why you should always bring water with you when you take your Yorkshire Terrier outside. 

Most veterinarians recommend cooling a dog down to a body temperature of 103 F before trying to transport him to the clinic; so do make a phone call first. And for this reason, we do suggest making sure you have a canine thermometer both in your home’s first aid kit and in your carry bag when you and your Yorkie are on the go.

Preventing heat stroke – Much of the advice here regarding Yorkie summer care will prevent heat stroke, with the main elements being: Do not exercise your dog during the hottest parts of the day, have your Yorkie take activity breaks every 15 - 20 minutes with that time spent resting in the shade and having a cool drink, offer plenty of water at all times throughout the day, and use cooling elements to keep a dog from get too hot (next section). 

Summer Care Tip #3 - Help Your Yorkie Stay Cool and Comfortable

There are things you can do to keep your Yorkie more comfortable when it’s hot outside and some of these will certainly come in handy should your air conditioning break or if there is a power outage; this something every owner should prepare for. 
Yorkie puppy fresh breath
Misha, at 1 year old, Photo courtesy of Jeannine Klopocki
1 - Reassess the Indoor Area

During the summer, it’s important to reassess the areas in which your Yorkie generally spends his day. What may have been a perfectly fine location at other times of the year, may not work during the summer season. 

During the summer, the angle of the sun’s rays is much different than the winter; this affects how they hit your home and enter windows. 

Add to this the longer days during summertime, and you may find that the spot where your Yorkie rests and plays now has the sun beating down into it through windows. 

And it is important to take note of this, because if you are gone for work and your Yorkie is home alone, you won’t be there to see this. And most often, on weekends when owners are home, a puppy or dog is not put into his area as he would be during the week.  
Another element to keep in mind is the location of your air conditioning; while you certainly want your Yorkie to have AC in the house, if the cool air is blowing out directly onto your dog all day, this can make him extremely uncomfortable. 
2- Have a Canine Cooling Mat
One of the best summer care items to keep a Yorkie comfortable is a canine cooling mat.  
The ones that we highly recommend are self-cooling like the The Green Pet Shop Self Cooling Pet Pad in Size Small, (images below) which means that they do not need to be plugged in or put in the fridge first. These are pads that have a pressure activation gel; when a dog sits or lies down on it, the gel ‘turns on’.

Do note that these do not feel cool to the touch (when you place your hand on it, it will feel like a regular resting pad), however they work by drawing excess heat from a dog’s body.  

These are really great to use outside in the yard, are portable so that you can take them with you on picnics or out at the dog park and many owners also find that their Yorkie appreciates a break from the heat so much, that they use them indoors as well. 
In the case of a power outage during the summer, mats can be a life-saver.
3 - Set up a Kiddie Pool

One of the best ways to keep a dog cool when outdoors and certainly one of the methods Yorkies find to be the most fun is a kiddie pool. 

Whether your Yorkie jumps in and out or simply stands put, being in water can dramatically cool a dog down and prevent him from overheating. 

This, and the aforementioned cooling pad, are good choices if you want your puppy or dog outside with you while you're busy in the yard, but worry that it's too hot. 
4 - Use a Carry Method
If you're taking your Yorkie somewhere where there will be lots of walking in the sun or heat, consider allowing your Yorkie to ride. 

A pet stroller is great for this, since it also keeps a dog shaded. Another option is a carry sling or bag that allows your Yorkie to see what's going on, but keeps him up by your hip (recommendations below).
Maisy, 5 years old
Photo courtesy of Tonya VanScoyoc 
5- Give Cooling Summertime Treats

Summer is often celebrated with foods… barbecues, slices of watermelon, and ice cream treats. So, if we humans enjoy these seasonal delights, shouldn’t our dogs have something special too? 

Well, as it turns out, there are some treats that not only are safe and delicious for dogs, but are appreciated during hot weather. What are they? Frozen fruit.

Many fruits are super healthy snacks for dogs, they are water-packed, low in calories, packed with vitamin and anti-oxidants, and many contain fiber which counteracts the absorption of natural sugars. You can freeze many fruits including banana slices, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. 

Another great summertime option is favored ice cubes. While dogs should not be given full apples to chew on, as their cores are toxic, apple juice is perfectly safe for dogs to drink… you can mix apple juice and water to make sweet ice cube snacks. Do be sure to always use 100% pure fruit juice and not anything artificially flavored.  
Below are our recommendations for some of the summer care items that we've covered so far: A great travel water container, a quality cooling mat, a handy pet stroller, and a great carry sling. If you do not see the images, try a refresh and on mobile you may need to turn your screen horizontal to see all 4. 
Yorkshire Terrier outside summer heat
Lily and Nacho,
Photo courtesy of Pat Fratangelo - DeLand, Florida

Summer Care Tip #4 - Protect the Skin, Coat, Paws, and Nose

Even if a Yorkie is only outside twice per day for walks (though we hope you bring your dog out for lots of playtime), over the course of the summer, effects of the sun can really add up. 

The Skin and Coat: 

Long term sun exposure over the course of weeks and months can dry out the coat. Hair can become brittle. In some cases, hair can also become discolored; taking on a more reddish hue. 

And since this breed's hair offers very little protection from the sun's rays, skin can become overexposed. 
Dogs can suffer quite severe sunburn on the body; however, even a minor burn that keeps occurring all season long will lead to peeling (under the coat where you can't clearly see it) and accompanying itch. 

It may not be until autumn that you notice that the skin is itchy and the hair feels coarse. 

Finally, a dog's belly is vulnerable to the summer sun because rays reflect up from many types of surfaces. Even if your Yorkie is not exposing the belly up to the sky, that sensitive area is absorbing the sun's rays. This can lead to a burn, for one, which is very uncomfortable. 

This can also cause dark spots to develop on the stomach. While this is a purely atheistic issue, many owners do want to avoid this. 

What to do: 

1- Use a leave-in coat spritz that contains sunscreen. A leave-in is recommended at all times of the year to protect a Yorkshire Terrier’s coat from contact friction, static, split ends, and the effects of dry air, however in the summer it's wise to switch to one with a sunscreen like Chris Christensen Ice on Ice Conditioner with Sunscreen (image below). A bonus is that a quality spray will keep your Yorkie smelling fresh and clean.

For short coats, you can mist the coat and scrunch the product in with your hands. For long coats, spritz 1 inch from the roots, combing and distributing down to the roots. In either case, mist the coat every 3 days or so. 
2- Use a canine sunblock on the belly. Do NOT use human sunblock; most of those contain zinc which is toxic to dogs. We recommend Epi-Pet Sun Protector Spray for Pets, which is the only FDA compliant pet sunscreen (image below). It works really great; it is 30 to 40 SPF, non-oily, and smells nice. 

Any time you'll be out for more than 20 minutes, apply this only your Yorkie's belly 15 to 20 minutes before heading out.

Note: If your Yorkie has a very short coat, you may opt to use this sunscreen all over the body as an alternative to the leave-in coat spritz. 
The Paws:

Perhaps nothing is more important in the summer than being aware of what can happen to your Yorkie's paws.

A dog's pain threshold on the paws is 120 F and anything over 125 F will cause damage.

The air temperature is almost never a match for how hot the surfaces are that dog walks on; sidewalks and roadways can reach up to 125 F on a sunny day of just 77 F. On hot summer days of 87 F, that pavement can be 140 F. 
A test of walking surfaces in Florida during June shows that cement heated up to 125 F by noon, red brick reached 134 F by 2 PM, and asphalt reached 130 F by 2 PM and hit a max of a shocking 140 F at both 2 and 3 PM.   
If the sidewalks or roads do not cause immediate damage, there can be a cumulative injury. 

What do to:

Protect the paws. Shoes, though an option, present issues. Many Yorkies protest the idea, it's hard to find quality shoes that fit this tiny breed, and many are designed for the wintertime, making them clunky and hot in the summer.

The best method is to use a quality canine paw wax. A good one will add an important layer of protection while still allowing the paws to ‘breath’, as canines perspire through their paw pads.
summer Yorkie care
Princess Kiara, 8 years old
Photo courtesy of Teresa Lewis
An additional benefit is that the wax will also repel tiny pebbles that can get stuck between the pads, causing a dog lots of discomfort. 

The paw wax that we recommend is Musher's Secret Pet Paw Protection Wax (image below); this is a high-quality wax that absorbs very quickly; It is also great to heal cuts, drying, and peeling that may occur. 
The nose:

It is healthy for a dog’s nose to soak in some sunlight. In fact, if a Yorkie's nose does not receive enough sunlight, it can lose its black pigmentation. When this happens to dogs, it is often referred to as ‘winter nose’, since this most often occurs during winter months when a dog often receives less sunlight. 

However, at the same time, too much sun can easily dry out the skin on the nose. 

Unlike other parts of the body that consist of 5 layers of skin, a dog’s nose only has 3 layers. And for this reason, it is vulnerable to the effects of summer. 

Once that top layer becomes dry, it can peel and exposure to the summer sun at this time, will only make things worse.

What to do:

It is best to keep a close eye on the nose and if you notice that it is becoming dry, start to use a quality nose balm (see below) or butter. This can protect the nose and heal a dry one. 
Below are the recommended summer care items that we just covered: The leave-in spritz with sunscreen, canine sunblock, paw protection for hot walking surfaces, and nose balm. If you do not see the images, try a refresh and on mobile you may need to turn your screen horizontal to see all 4. 

Summer Care Tip #5 - Help Your Yorkie Stay Hydrated

It’s very important for a Yorkshire Terrier to drink enough water all year round for good health, however in the summer, this is more important than ever. In general, the amount of water that a Yorkie should drink is 1 to 1.5 ounces for each pound of body weight. In the summertime, this can increase to up to 2 ounces per pound of body weight. 

Just a 1 to 2% drop in proper water levels can affect a dog’s behavior (he can have a hard time focusing), cause headaches and weakness and of course, can lend to heat stress. So, making sure that your puppy or dog stays hydrated during hot weather is an important part of summer care. You can make sure your Yorkie drinks enough in the summer by:

1. Bringing water with you whenever you are outside with your dog for more than 20 minutes. Whether you are out on a walk, playing in the yard with your dog, or have your Yorkie with you to run errands, bring along water. The canine water container that we previously mentioned can help make this easy. 

2. Encourage your Yorkie to drink by cleaning the bowl frequently, making sure water is cool and if needed, use a canine water fountain (most dogs are attracted to the sound of the running water, which leads to them drinking more of it).  

3. Offer water-packed fruit, either frozen or fresh. Watermelon, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are all good choices. 
Yorkshire Terrier summer care
Hugo, at 4 months old
Photo courtesy of Stacey Abruña , Puerto Rico 

Summer Care Tip # 6 - Protection from Summertime Bugs and Insects

While summer is a beautiful season, it is also a prime time for bugs that can bite, sting and even cause disease. Let’s look at the concerns:

1. Mosquitoes. These are a top concern, since mosquitoes can spread heartworm disease. Less commonly, but still possible is West Nile virus (1923 cases last year). 

Aside from this, many dogs are allergic to mosquito bites, just 1 or 2 can cause quite a bit swelling and intense itching, much more so than a 'regular' bite.

2. Fleas. These are much more prevalent during warm weather, though a dog should be protected year-round. Since a flea can jump up to 6 feet, thereby transferring from one dog to another very easily, it is during the summer when your Yorkie may be outside socializing more often, that this increases the risk. 

3. Ticks. Ticks stay dormant during the winter (though some become active on winter days when there is no snow cover), but as soon as spring comes around, they are ready to latch onto a dog and in the summer, they are in full force. 
Ticks carry disease including Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Anaplasmosis and Babesiosis.

What to do:

1. Check the heartworm protection that you are using. Many are formulated to also protect from fleas. If so, you will only need to be focused on the tick and mosquito problem. Though many flea and mosquito products also cover fleas, your Yorkie will be 'double protected' and this is not an issue at all if you stick with a no-chemical product. 

2. If you live in an area with low tick populations or consider your Yorkie low-risk, consider opting for an all-natural product. 

There are 2 effective choices that we recommend:
One is Dr. GreenPet's All Natural Flea and Tick Spray; which is a spray that repels ticks and fleas (though not mosquitoes). This is 100% all natural and works via cedar oil, clove oil, peppermint oil, and cinnamon oil. You spritz your puppy or dog every 1 to 2 weeks.
Another great option is Curealia's Pure All Natural Insect Repellent for Dogs; this is a fantastic 100% no-chemical balm that works to repel fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. This is all natural and works via organic extra virgin olive oil, organic bees wax, shea butter, lavender, cedarwood, rosewood, and patchouli (which is a type of mint leaf).

With this, you apply a small amount every every week or so (when the smell dissipates). You just take a small pea-sized amount of balm, rub it between your palms to warm it so that it melts, and apply it to your Yorkie's neck and upper back. 
3. If you live in an area with a high tick population, or otherwise consider your Yorkie to be at high risk, a stronger flea and tick solution may be needed. It is tricky to recommend one, since any of the top brands have the potential for adverse side effects due to their strong medications.

This said, Merial Frontline Plus Flea and Tick Control for Dogs up to 22 lbs seems to be better tolerated than many of the others and is for dogs at least 5 lbs.

If you opt for this, we recommend a 1/2 dose and keep an eye out for any side effects (including difficulty breathing, shaking, behavioral changes). 

Summer Care Tip #7 - Make the Car Safe and Comfortable

It’s not uncommon for owners to find that their Yorkie has trouble tolerating travel in the car in the summer, even with the AC on. Here are some tips to help make things easier.

1) Prep the car. It’s best to make time in your schedule to turn the car on about 15 minutes before leaving, opening the windows first to let hot air escape and then allowing the AC to run. 
This is because if a dog gets overly hot, even for just those first 10 minutes or so, this can trigger car sickness that then cannot be rectified with cool air.
2) Run the AC and open a window at the same time. While this may not be the most fuel efficient method of driving, it is what will be most comfortable for your Yorkshire Terrier in the summer. The cool air will keep him from overheating and the fresh air will help with motion sickness.

3) Use a canine car seat. We can never overstate how important it is to have your Yorkie in a safe canine car seat; doing so can prevent serious injury and save his life. Remember, you may be a great driver, but you have no control over who is out on the road with you. To keep your Yorkie on your lap or have him free on a seat is poor pet ownership and can be considered neglect, as this puts a dog at high risk. 

Death by trauma is the 2nd leading cause of death for Yorkshire Terrier puppies and the 3rd leading cause of death for adult Yorkshire Terriers.  In addition, a booster seat will keep the tiny Yorkie up high, where he can see outside of the window; this is a major prevention trick for stopping a dog from getting sick in the car. 

4) Use automobile sun shades. Often used for babies that are defenseless to the glaring rays of the sun, car shades that cling to side windows are fantastic in keeping dogs comfortable. We recommend mesh shades that block the light, heat and glare, while still allowing a dog to see through them.

Look for adjustable ones that stay on via suction cups. If you need to place it on the window closest to your Yorkie, roll that window down 1 to 2 inches and additionally roll down the one on the other side. 
Below are some the recommended products covered in this last section: Great no-chemical choices for fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes, a stronger one (if needed), and a terrific booster seat perfect for Yorkies, if you do not have one yet. If you do not see the images, try a refresh. And on mobile, you may need to turn your screen horizontal to see all 4. 
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