When my Yorkie died suddenly, I was devastated.
I was also confused.
I had no idea anything was wrong.
And I had no idea what could have caused my Yorkie’s sudden death.
It was my first ever Yorkshire terrier and I vowed that would never happen again.
I made it a point to learn all the common reasons Yorkie’s might die suddenly and how to recognize them early.
Keep reading to learn what I wish I had known. I will cover all the main reasons a Yorkshire terrier might die suddenly and unexpectedly, along with a few other things you will want to know.
- 1 My Yorkie Died Suddenly
- 1.1 Causes Of Sudden Death In Yorkshire Terriers
- 1.2 What Is The Most Common Cause Of Death In Yorkies?
- 1.3 What Is Poisonous To Yorkies?
- 1.4 What Happens When A Yorkie Is Dying?
- 1.5 What Age Is Considered Old For Yorkies?
- 1.6 How To Know If A Yorkie Is Sad?
- 2 Yorkie Sudden Death: Final Thoughts
My Yorkie Died Suddenly
A Yorkie without any history of disease could die suddenly due to cardiac issues, internal bleeding from unseen trauma, gastrointestinal diseases or infections, poisoning, and more. Respiratory failures and cancer are some other common causes of sudden death in dogs.
We’re going to take a close looker at the most common reasons for a Yorkie suddenly dying. After that, we’ll cover a few other related things you’re going to want to know.
Causes Of Sudden Death In Yorkshire Terriers
The following are the most probable causes of sudden or unexpected death in small dog breeds like the Yorkshire Terrier.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, almost 24% of sudden dog deaths can be attributed to cardiac issues. Ventricular arrhythmias, including ventricular tachycardia, are often responsible for sudden deaths in dogs.
The condition can result in an increased heart rate, or V-fib. If the affected Yorkie does not receive prompt defibrillation using an external machine, the blood flow to its organs is impacted, resulting in multiple organ failure, shock, and death.
Another common cause of Yorkies dying suddenly without any history of illness is neoplasia, or tumors. Cancers like hemangiosarcoma often present no clinical signs (or have very subtle signs). The cancer grows and spreads rapidly, often causing massive internal bleeding that results in sudden death.
Many Yorkies that die suddenly may have respiratory issues like pneumonia, pyothorax, or infiltrative diseases. These conditions often have very subtle symptoms, so you do not even realize your pup is sick until it is too late.
Nearly 9% of sudden deaths in dogs are attributed to unseen trauma. The dog may have fallen from a height or received a blow from a car, another animal, or humans. Internal bleeding, broken bones, and shock can impact blood flow and result in organ failure and eventual death.
Severe bleeding, shock, and sudden death can also occur as a result of irreparable damage to, or rupture of, the stomach, spleen, or intestines. Certain gastrointestinal infections with few initial signs can also be a cause of sudden death in dogs.
Inflammatory conditions like pancreatitis, hemolytic anemia, autoimmune conditions like lupus, and vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels) can also result in sudden death in Yorkies. These conditions usually result in decreased blood flow (and with it oxygen) to the organs.
Yorkies that eat something toxic could also die suddenly, if they do not receive prompt medical treatment. If your Yorkie starts vomiting or has acute diarrhea with abdominal pain, please see your vet right away.
What Is The Most Common Cause Of Death In Yorkies?
The most common cause of death in Yorkies is heart failure. Death occurs because the dog’s heart is unable to pump adequate blood to the organs.
Common causes of heart failure in dogs include congenital heart disease, heartworms, tumors, high blood pressure, obesity, or infections.
Yorkies that are diagnosed with heart-related issues tend to have a persistent cough, labored breathing, weakness, lack of appetite, weight loss, bluish or pale gums, an irregular heartbeat, and fluid accumulation in the lungs.
Thankfully, if the condition is caught early, there are several ways to improve your dog’s quality of life and increase its life span. Your vet might recommend dietary changes, medication, light exercise, and oxygen therapy. Some Yorkies also do well with surgery to replace damaged valves or remove tumors.
What Is Poisonous To Yorkies?
Yorkies are tiny dogs, and even a tiny amount of venom or a toxic substance can cause debilitating symptoms or death. Here are some items you should keep away from your Yorkshire terrier.
Grapes, Raisins, And Sultanas
The tartaric acid and potassium bitartrate in grapes and dried grapes (raisins/sultanas) are toxic to Yorkies. These ingredients are known to cause kidney failure in Yorkies, and even a single grape or raisin can be fatal to this small dog.
Chocolate contains both caffeine and theobromine. Dogs cannot metabolize these ingredients, resulting in vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and possibly death. Learn what to do if your Yorkie eats chocolate here.
Other Human Foods And Drugs
Human foods containing xylitol, salt, sugar, fats, onions, garlic, macadamia nuts, and alcohol are extremely toxic to Yorkies. It is important to keep your pet away from these foods.
Medications, such as human vitamins with iron, certain antibiotics, and drugs such as ibuprofen, can also harm Yorkshire terriers.
Plants that are toxic to dogs are azaleas, daffodils, foxglove, lilies, oleander, and tulips. Please keep your garden free of these plants if you have pets.
- Toads: the Colorado Rim Toad, Marine Toad, and other toad varieties found in the US are known to be highly toxic to pets. If you suspect your Yorkie has come into contact with these toads, please take it to the vet or a nearby emergency clinic.
- Spiders and Scorpions: The Southwestern United States has many toxic spider varieties, especially brown spiders and the black widow spider. Unfortunately, for many of these spiders, there is no antivenom available in case of bites.
- Snakes: several varieties of snakes are highly venomous to our pets. If you live in an area known for venomous snakes, please keep your Yorkie out of the yard. Learn about the most venomous snakes in the US here: https://mysnakepet.com/most-poisonous-snake-in-the-us/
Household Cleaners, Pesticides, And Weed-Killers
If accidentally ingested, chemical household cleaners, garden insecticides, pesticides, and weed killers can all cause debilitating symptoms, and even death, in Yorkies.
What Happens When A Yorkie Is Dying?
It can be extremely distressing to see your beloved Yorkie in pain and distress. However, it is also important that you recognize the signs of impending death in dogs. These include:
- Refusal to eat or exercise
- Lack of interest in favorite activities
- Weight loss
- Labored breathing or wheezing
- Loss of control over the bowels or bladder
- Irregular heartbeat
- Bluish gums
- Cold skin
- Body odor
- Dull eyes
- Dull, unkempt coat
- Pain, leading to whimpering and crying.
If you see these signs, please see your vet right away.
What Age Is Considered Old For Yorkies?
A Yorkie is considered old by the time it is 7 years old. That said, for some Yorkies, it may only be the halfway mark in their lives.
As your dog ages, you might notice changes in its physical stature, activity levels, and behavior.
Your buddy might sleep more. Its appetite might also diminish. It could develop problems with defecation and urination. Its coat may become thinner. Your pet could develop warts, skin growths, etc.
Some Yorkies also develop health issues like arthritis, hearing loss, or vision loss in their golden years. Some even become senile. Note that Yorkies develop periodontal disease and dental issues faster than most dog breeds.
Here are some ways to keep your old Yorkie more comfortable:
- Give it a comfortable bed to rest on.
- Take it out for short walks outdoors.
- Carry it when it gets tired.
- Feed it a diet appropriate for its activity levels, age, and overall health. Your vet can guide you.
- Schedule a physical exam every 6 months to detect age-related issues early.
- If your pet’s hearing or vision is failing, try to rearrange the furniture to make it easier for your pet to move around without bumping into things.
How To Know If A Yorkie Is Sad?
Depression in dogs could occur due to health issues, dietary insufficiency, the passing of a companion dog or human, changes in routine (humans going away to work, or the arrival of a new pet or a baby), prolonged isolation or crating, and/or a lack of physical and mental stimulation.
Here are some signs that your Yorkie may be depressed:
- Lack of interest in playing or activities
- Sleeping more than usual
- Lethargy and reluctance to move
- Being clingy with owners
- Crying or whining all the time
- Inappropriate peeing indoors
- Increased aggression or destructive behaviors
- Frequenting areas where its companion dog/human spent the most time
Yorkie Sudden Death: Final Thoughts
When my Yorkie died suddenly, I felt like the worst dog owner in history. I figured it had to have been my fault. I missed something. I should have known something was wrong.
But sometimes, there is nothing you can do. That said, many times there is. Many sudden deaths can be prevented, if you know what can cause Yorkie sudden death and what signs to look for that your Yorkie is suffering from some issue.