Although Yorkshire Terrier and other toy dog breeds have a considerably longer lifespan than larger breeds, aging is inevitable. And like humans and other animals, older Yorkie health problems are part of their old life.
Notably, the biggest challenge lies in knowing if your Yorkie is aging or not. They are pretty tiny and will remain that way for the rest of their lives. With a lifespan of about 17 years, you can consider eight years or older old enough to be a senior. At this stage, they tend to lose their attention-seeking and lively traits.
Worse still, health problems begin to show. We highlight the most common health problems you should look out for to ensure your dog remains healthier as they age.
Top 5 Common Older Yorkie Health Problems
Regardless of your Yorkie’s maintenance levels and daily activities, these five health problems are hard to ignore when they hit old age. The problems include;
Hypoglycemia in dogs, like in humans, is a condition whereby the body’s glucose or blood sugar is constantly lower than average. Older Yorkie breeds and hypoglycemia are inseparable. And since blood sugar is the primary source of energy, a drop in blood sugar levels affects your dog’s neurological function.
Common signs of hypoglycemia in old dogs include trembling, seizures, lack of coordination, dilated pupils, and stupors. Other signs include general weakness, muscular twitching, extreme lethargy, and any other unusual behavior.
The results of hypoglycemia often include tremors, disorientation, or a coma. Even more, dogs can succumb to severe hypoglycemia if not treated in time. You can help prevent this problem by feeding your aging Yorkie at closer intervals and reducing physical activity. However, you should contact your vet if the signs persist.
Sight and Hearing Difficulty
Loss of vision as dogs grow older is a significant problem for many pet owners. Seeing your longtime friend lose sight can be traumatizing. Degenerative changes occur as your Yorkie friend ages, which often leads to eye diseases such as cataracts. Cataracts are untreatable, though a few vets can remove them surgically.
Likewise, older dogs will gradually lose their hearing, which results from degenerative changes, and you cannot do much about this. Dogs will show confusion from time to time as they develop hearing difficulty, and you should not mistake it for dementia.
Both you and your Yorkie must change considerably to continue living a near-normal life. Notably, dogs have incredible instincts and will adapt to life without vision. However, you will need to take them slowly. And since dogs lose their hearing senses pretty gradually, you two will have sufficient time to adjust to the new life and ways of doing things
Loss of Cognition
Dementia or cognitive dysfunction is another major older Yorkie health problem. And like in humans, loss of cognition in dogs will lead to low quality of life. This condition is pretty subtle from the onset. However, it gets more severe as your toy dog continues to age.
Common cognitive dysfunction signs and symptoms include confusion that worsens with time, disorientation, wandering or pacing around, and attempting to exit or enter a door from the wrong side. Other signs are withdrawal from the rest of the family members, vocalization, fecal and urinary accidents, and changes in sleeping patterns.
The fact that these problems also cut across other diseases can be confusing to make the correct diagnosis. And we know of several Yorkie owners who wrongly thought that their dogs had dementia when they saw a few of the mentioned signs.
The best way out of this is to contact your vet for a correct diagnosis. Besides, a vet will also provide you with supplements and medications to help you manage this condition.
Aging takes a toll on kidneys. And Yorkie breeds, like other dogs, will develop kidney disease when they get older. Kidney disease or renal disease is chronic. It is gradual and will often start as a renal inefficiency and progress to renal failure.
You need to be very keen when your Yorkie hits ten years as it could start after your dog’s 10th birthday or later. While renal failure is incurable, remarkable success lies in early detection and management. The aim of managing kidney disease is to slow its progression.
A more accurate way to detect kidney disease is through urinalysis. You can look out for signs such as lethargy, loss of appetite, increased urination, increased thirst, and nausea. You can effectively mitigate the progress by putting your dog on prescription kidney diets.
Arthritis and Bone Problems
Another problem that a senior Yorkie will most likely face is related to joints and bones. Bone and joint degeneration are synonymous with old people, and dogs are not an exemption. Joint problems could worsen and develop into arthritis.
Pay extra attention to how your dog runs or goes up and down the stairs to know whether there are any degenerative bone and joint changes. If your Yorkie takes stairs one at a time, that could be a warning sign.
Arthritis is generally the inflammation of joints. Notably, this condition often comes with a lot of pain and discomfort. Movements of joints will equally be a problem. While the situation is not reversible, it is manageable with calcium and iron supplements. Your vet may also consider analgesics to ease pain and discomfort.
Tips for Caring for Your Senior Yorkshire Terrier
Some of the above problems are inevitable. However, we feel that you can successfully improve your Yorkie’s quality of life and prolong its life with the following tips;
- Veterinarian Visits- You need the help of a professional to get the best for your older Yorkie. Ideally, most of the health problems highlighted may not be easy to detect until symptoms show. That can be too late. Geriatric checkups twice a year are ideal for Yorkie breeds over eight years. Checkups include urinalysis, a complete blood count, and a chemistry panel.
- Prescription Supplements- There are lots of nutritional supplements you can consider for your dog. However, this may often be unnecessary for old Yorkie breeds because each dog has specific needs. Talk to your vet about the necessary supplements after every visit.
- Long and More Sleeping Hours- Seniors will have more extended sleeping patterns than when they were younger. Add frequent naps to your dog’s schedule and allow them to sleep longer in the morning or retire to bed earlier in the evening.
- Change Your Dog’s Exercise Schedule- You are wrong if you think your dog does not need exercise because of age and the resulting health issues. It would help if you still took your old Yorkie out for exercise. However, you can modify the schedule by reducing the duration of each session and possibly increasing the number of sessions.
- Grooming Changes- The quality of life of your Yorkie goes down with more health challenges. You do not want your dog to look shabby despite the issues. Consider using grooming products that are friendlier to the skin as the skin gets more sensitive with time.
Always Keep an Eye for Your Older Yorkie Health and Behavioral Changes
We cannot stop our dogs from aging. However, knowing the common Yorkie health problems is an incredible start if you want to maintain its quality of life at old age. Look out for any changes and prioritize early identification of any potential health problems. Finally, always stay in touch with your vet.