Do not give your Yorkshire Terrier unfiltered tap water. There are hundreds of contaminants in tap water in the US and other countries including traces of prescription drugs (which contain particles too small for city water systems to filter out), high mineral counts including iron and lead, and a slew of known carcinogens. Offer spring water or use a filtering device like the Aquagear Water Filter Pitcher
3. Groom Your Yorkie on a Regular Basis
This is the most hands-on type of care that you’ll do for your Yorkshire Terrier and plays a huge role not only in how a Yorkie looks but also how healthy skin and coat will be. Let’s look at each of the elements that fall under this care aspect.
Baths: A central part of grooming a Yorkie is to give your little one a bath just about once every 3 weeks. This is typically the amount of time that it takes for natural body oils to accumulate enough that they should be washed off to start over with a clean slate. This is your opportunity to soak the coat and massage into a Yorkie’s skin a really exceptional shampoo that will help resolve any current issues (like itching or dry skin), help prevent future problems, and keep both skin and hairs healthy and moisturized.
A shampoo that has a pH between 6.5 and 7.5, plant-based cleansers, and no additives like Earthbath Shampoo
Short coats should be brushed two to three times per week and long coats may need to be brushed as often as every day. It is imperative to use brushes meant for small breeds
with coats of hair, not fur, since certain bristles or pins can be damaging to the coat.
When you brush, use a leave-in conditioner coat spray like Nootie Daily Spritz
that will help repel debris, lock in moisture, offer a fresh scent, and for those with medium to long length coats, work to prevent tangles.
Nails: Nails need to be trimmed or filed down approximately every 6 weeks. You can do this at home or have this done at the groomer’s which is especially convenient if you already take your Yorkie there for to have the coat trimmed.
At-home dental care: This breed is very prone to tooth decay so part of properly caring for a Yorkie is to ensure good dental hygiene. This includes cleaning the teeth with a toothbrush or spray and offering a daily dental treat. When your Yorkie has their wellness checks at the vet, the teeth should be examined. Dogs prone to plaque build-up or those lacking proper cleanings in the past may need a professional cleaning.
Snickers, at 2 years old, photo courtesy of Barb McLain
4. Exercise and Activity
For being such a small dog, this is a fairly active breed and the Yorkshire Terrier’s history as a working dog has a lot to do with that. Making sure that your Yorkie has daily exercise plays a big role in health both now and in the future. It’s good for the heart, lungs, and other major organs, helps regulate metabolism, stimulates the appetite, and can lower the chances for developing a wide range of illnesses and health conditions.
Getting outside for fresh air also helps a puppy or dog release pent-up energy that may otherwise be directed in less-than-ideal ways such as barking or destructive chewing. Long stints indoors can actually lead to depression since dogs can develop cabin fever and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) which is linked to shorter days in the winter and a lack of sunlight.
Even if your Yorkie seems to prefer being inside, put effort into keeping your dog active. Many lethargic dogs perk up once they are outside and especially once they get used to an activity schedule.
Aim to walk your Yorkie at least two times a day for a minimum of 20 minutes and at a pace that is brisk for your particular dog. If your Yorkie still seems restless, add on another 10 minutes or a third walk. Aside from walks, have outdoor play sessions where your Yorkie can run around (either on a long leash or off-leash in an enclosed area) playing fetch with you. It’s a great bonding activity. On days with harsh weather conditions, play fetch indoors with a toy like the Chuckit! Indoor Roller Toy for Small Dogs
or hide treats (or yourself) for a game of hide n’ seek.
5. Take precautions to keep your Yorkshire Terrier safe
There are a number of steps you’ll want to take to keep your Yorkie healthy and safe, some of which apply specifically to small toy breeds. Let’s take a look at the top ones:
1. Never connect a leash to a collar.
Toy breeds are prone to collapsed trachea, a devastating and painful condition in which the c-shaped rings surrounding the trachea (windpipe) collapse inward. While genetically weakened tracheal rings may eventually degrade at any rate, having your Yorkie wear a harness like the Puppia Soft B Vest Harness
can help prevent this and other neck-related injuries.
2. Puppy-proof the house, no matter your dog’s age. Dogs may mouth non-food objects because they find them pleasing to chew on; but, may simply latch onto something to answer the question of ‘what’s this?’. Anything within reach is up for grabs including dangerous objects like electrical cords and small items like pen caps, batteries, jewelry, and more that can be choking hazards or cause intestinal blockage. So, to keep your Yorkie safe, go through the house on a regular basis to remove temptations.
3. Do not let your Yorkie jump from heights. Though one wrong landing can always cause issues, repeatedly jumping down puts a tremendous amount of pressure on a dog’s joints. And, this is particularly relevant for breeds that are prone to patella luxation (the Yorkshire Terrier ranks at #2). A Yorkie should not routinely jump from any height two more more times higher than the dog’s own height. If needed, obtain pet steps or ramps to place against sofas and other favorite resting spots.
Harnesses come in all sizes, even xx-small for tiny dogs like Olive here;
having your Yorkie wear a harness is a vital step in providing good care.
Photo courtesy of Marlene London
6. Provide certain care elements based on your Yorkie’s exact needs
There are some care tasks that need to be done at varying intervals. Let’s take a look:
1. Paw protection. The paws are a body part that a lot of owners overlook; but, there are many things that can happen including burns from hot walking surfaces, snowballing in the winter (when snow melts and then refreezes in between the toes causing the skin to split), lacerations, loss of traction, and reactions to contact allergens and/or irritants.
While it will not make paws invincible, a good wax like Musher’s Secret Paw Protection
can offer a barrier to help prevent all of the listed issues. Many Yorkies can benefit from this year-round. This is normally applied once every two weeks but will vary depending on how much time your Yorkie spends outside. This can also be used to heal paw issues like drying and cracking.
2. Nose protection. Nose butters or balms are used for this, most often starting in late fall and throughout the winter to help prevent drying and chapping on the nose. Though, if a Yorkie spends a lot of time outside in the summer, this may also be used to prevent overexposure to UV rays.
As part of maintenance care, this dabbed on once a week. If there is damage to the nose such as drying, peeling, or cracking, this can be applied 3 to 4 times per day until the issue is resolved.
For this, Snout Soother Nose Balm
is a good choice; this is made with organic ingredients and has no fragrance (which dogs can find to be irritating).
3. Touch-ups. This involves touch-up cleaning to the body, the face, or both. And, some Yorkies can greatly benefit from this. Let’s look at what this can do:
- Wipe off airborne and contact allergens from the coat that would otherwise trigger allergic reactions and to prevent allergens from being carried into the house via the coat.
- Remove dirt, debris, urine splashes, and small bits of feces as an easy method to keep a dog clean in between baths.
- Keep the face free of bits of food and other find debris.
- Wipe the eye area to remove sleep (rheum) and other eye discharge.
- Remove odors and to help a dog smell nice and clean.
How often this needs to be done will depend on your Yorkshire Terrier’s exact needs, which may range from several times per day to several times per week.
For the body, a grooming wipe like Earthbath All Natural Grooming Wipes
works fantastically; these are extra thick and very soft. For a nice fragrance, the mango tango formula is excellent.
And, for the face and/or eye area), Arava Eye Wipes
is a good choice; these all-natural wipes designed for the sensitive area around the eyes are great for removing crusting and discharge and work well to prevent tear staining.
4. Flea, tick, heartworm, and other parasitic worm protection. Since owners want to protect their dogs while avoiding pesticides and chemicals that can cause sometimes severe adverse reactions, choosing products for this sort of care can seem overwhelming. Let’s look at some tips:
Heartworms are only spread one way, via mosquitoes. So, depending on where you live, a prevention medication may be needed year-round or it may be discontinued for anywhere from 1 to 3 months over the winter. Most heartworm meds also work for other worms such as whipworms, roundworms, and hookworms.
This is prescribed by the veterinarian. Every brand of heartworm prevention medication has a risk of side effects; but, one that toy breeds seem to tolerate much better than some others is Advantage Multi, given the smallest dose possible based on weight.
For fleas and ticks, this will depend on what is given for heartworm prevention and the extent to which these pests are prevalent where you live. Some heartworms meds work to kill adult fleas, but you may want to use something to repel them in the first place. The same goes for ticks.
This is one area where you may be able to completely skip pesticides and strong drugs that can cause adverse reactions. There are some all-natural flea and tick repellents that are very effective and will work well unless your area has an extremely high population of ticks.
For this, Curealia Pure Natural Insect Repellent for Dogs
is a terrific option. This is an organic balm that works to repel fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. You just take a small pea-sized amount, rub it between your palms to melt it, and then swipe it over your Yorkie’s back and neck. This should be applied once per week.
Max, at 1 year old, photo courtesy of Melissa Dufresne
7. Physical and emotional wellness
There are a few final care tips that fit under this category. Let’s dive in.
1. Budget for vet visits. Part of responsible pet ownership is budgeting for both wellness checks and unplanned sick visits to the veterinarian. Putting $20 or $30 a month aside for this can really help out when it the time comes to make an appointment. Adults should have a wellness check once per year and seniors (starting between age 8 to 10) need to be seen twice per year. These examinations will include everything from stool samples to blood tests to check for a wide range of possible issues in which early detection offers the best prognosis.
2. Address any separation anxiety. This refers to a severe emotional reaction to being left home alone and is common with all dogs, but especially with breeds like the Yorkshire Terrier that form very close attachments to their humans. A dog may have panic-filled episodes, though some withdraw into a state of depression. In all cases, it is both physically and mentally draining for a dog to experience this on a regular basis.
There are quite a few things you can do to help a Yorkshire Terrier when home alone including setting up a ‘den’ via a playpen, leaving on lights and relaxing background music, experimenting with window vs. non-window views, offering toys that are designed to keep dogs occupied, using a pet-cam to check in on your dog (and even remotely toss treats), offering a companion toy, and in some cases, giving calming supplements or prescribed anti-anxiety medications.
3. Work as a team.
Yorkshire Terriers have been working alongside their humans since their early development in England. Today’s Yorkie enjoys this just as much as his predecessors. Take time to talk to your little guy or gal, work on teaching your Yorkie basic commands, place your Yorkie in a carry-sling like the Bro’Bear i’Pet Sling for Small Dogs
to explore a new place, or reserve your Saturday mornings to play together. Choose anything that increases bonding and lets your Yorkie spread their wings a bit. Our time with our canine companions is never long enough, so make the most of each day.