Dogs can face a variety of serious ailments and injuries over their lifetimes, just as children can. Due to the nature of an emergency, you won't be expecting these problems, but you can be prepared to deal with them to the best of your abilities. Your task when facing an emergency is to keep your Yorkie alive and to avoid further injury while seeking professional help.
Because of the Yorkshire terrier's size, dogs of this breed risk breaking bones when jumping or falling off even seemingly small heights. Decks, balconies, stairway landings, tables, and sofa backs are inappropriate launching sites. Yorkies are also frequently underfoot, and they're difficult to see if you're carrying packages. They can be injured by being tripped over or having something dropped on them. They can also be hard for drivers to see, and obviously aren't going to fare well in a collision with a vehicle.
If your Yorkie suffers an accident and you see bone sticking out through broken skin, your Yorkie won't put weight on a leg, or appears to be paralyzed, suspect a possible broken bone. You need to do as little damage as possible while moving the dog, and get to a veterinarian as quickly as possible.
The only canine body parts you can effectively splint are legs. Take the time to splint only if you're far from your car and will have to carry your Yorkie a considerable distance. Branches and an Ace bandage or rolled-up newspaper and adhesive tape are effective splint-making materials.
Bleeding is nearly always a serious problem for a Yorkshire terrier, unless it's just a scratch. A small dog can bleed to death rather quickly. Arterial bleeding, where the blood is bright red and spurts in time with the heartbeat, is the most serious situation. To staunch bleeding, place a gauze pad or a clean piece of material over the wound and apply direct pressure. Do not lift the material to check on how things are going because you may reopen the wound. If the material soaks through with blood, add more material on top of it.
If arterial bleeding is from a leg and you can't stop the flow with direct pressure, you may want to try using a tourniquet above the wound. This is somewhat risky, as you can cut off all blood flow to the leg. Tourniquets need to be relaxed at least every five minutes to allow blood to flow to the extremity. Tighten one only enough to stop arterial blood from spurting or to slow the flow of venous blood. Because of its complications, use a tourniquet only in an absolute emergency, and get to a veterinarian as quickly as possible.
Bleeding can also occur internally, due to trauma or poisoning. The dog might cough up blood, or blood may ooze from the nose or mouth. There could be blood in the urine as well. It's also possible that there will be no signs of internal bleeding — the dog will just collapse. Pale gums are a sure sign of internal bleeding and necessitate an emergency trip to the vet's office.
Dogs tend to gulp their food in large chunks, and they can get pieces of rawhide or other hard chews caught in their throats. A dog with food caught in her throat may paw at her muzzle, will probably cough and gag, and could have difficulty breathing. As long as your Yorkie is breathing, get to a veterinarian to have the object removed.
If your Yorkie loses consciousness, try to remove the object yourself. See if you can reach it with your fingers, but be careful not to push it farther in. If you can't pull it free, try the canine version of the Heimlich maneuver. Hold your Yorkie with her back against your chest. Make one hand into a fist and position it just beneath the Yorkie's last rib. Place your other hand over the fist and thrust the fist in and up, directing the force under the rib cage, sending a burst of air up through the larynx. Thrust a half-dozen times at most. If this hasn't worked by then, it isn't likely to. Just get your Yorkie to a veterinarian right away.
Remember, Yorkshire terriers can be prone to hypothermia. Cold temperatures can be hazardous to their health, especially if they're also wet. Frostbite happens most often to the extremities, such as ears or toes, when tissue becomes frozen. Older Yorkies are particularly prone to problems with low temperatures.
Avoid the problem by keeping your Yorkie indoors in exceptionally cold weather. If you must go out, dress your Yorkie accordingly, and don't stay out longer than necessary. Play indoor games for exercise and entertainment.
If you've been out in the cold and your dog seems lethargic, or starts to shiver, take his temperature. A reading of 95° or lower indicates hypothermia. Wrap your Yorkie in blankets to warm him up. If he's wet, dry him thoroughly. (Still use only a low-heat setting on a regular hair dryer — burning him with high heat won't help.) Call your veterinarian for further advice.
Suspect frostbite if skin appears pale or blue, especially on the extremities. Do not rub such areas in an attempt to warm them up — that can cause additional damage. If your hands are warm, cup them around the affected area, or apply warm compresses. Get to a veterinarian for further treatment.
How can a Yorkie get cold so easily with all that hair?
The Yorkie has a large surface area compared to body mass, and loses body heat through radiation. Yorkies kept appropriately lean don't have a lot of body fat as insulation. Also, the Yorkie's coat is akin to human hair and lacks the fluffy heat-conserving undercoat of other dogs.
Yorkshire terriers are not prone to problems with warmer temperatures, but extreme heat or heavy exercise in heat can result in heatstroke. Leaving your Yorkie in a car in hot weather is certainly risky behavior. Signs of heatstroke are mostly opposite those of hypothermia — temperature rises, often above 104° The gums and tongue are bright red. Your Yorkie may drool or vomit.
Heatstroke is a dire emergency, leading quickly to death if untreated. Do not plunge the dog into cold water — the shock could be too great. Instead, spray the dog with cool water, or place cool wet towels over him. Take him into an air-conditioned location if one is available nearby. Keep taking his temperature so that you know when it's fallen below 103° At that point, you can transport your Yorkie to your veterinarian. Transporting him when his temperature is too high could cause him additional stress. Even if all seems well, secondary problems can develop after your dog's temperature has returned to normal.
Insect Stings and Bites
Minor reactions to insect stings, such as a rash or moderate swelling, aren't a true emergency. Scrape away the stinger, if you see one, apply a cold compress, and give the dog the appropriate dose of an antihistamine. But multiple stings, or stings on the face or neck, can create severe swelling that blocks off the airway. Dogs with a hypersensitivity to the sting can go into anaphylactic shock, with difficulty breathing or even loss of consciousness. This requires a speedy trip to the veterinarian.
Many substances can poison your Yorkie. Snail bait and antifreeze are two of the more common poisons, but animal carcasses, garbage, rat poison, toxic plants, herbicides or insecticides, and human medications are also possibilities. Of course, you should remove all potential problems, but antifreeze drops in the street or slug bait in someone else's front yard could fall within your Yorkie's reach.
Pet-friendly alternatives to toxic snail bait and antifreeze have been available for years. You can certainly use them in your home, but you can't yet depend on others to use them. So always be cautious when taking your dog out of the safety zone you have prepared.
If you see your Yorkie eat some toxic material, and your veterinarian is more than a few minutes' drive away, call the National Animal Poison Control Center (see Appendix C). If you can tell them what your Yorkie has ingested, they can advise you on what course of action to take. They may tell you to force the dog to vomit with a hydrogen peroxide solution, or to give a dose of compressed activated charcoal, and then hurry to your own veterinarian.
The most common cause of electrocution is a dog biting into an electrical cord. You may find your dog unconscious, lying near the cord. In case there is still current flowing through your dog, throw the circuit breaker for that outlet, or throw the main breaker if it will take too long to find the correct one. Then check your dog for breathing and a heartbeat, and perform CPR as necessary.
Some dogs may get shocked without losing consciousness. But they will appear stunned, may cough and drool, and exhibit difficulty breathing. You may smell a strange electrical fire odor around the dog's mouth as well. In either case, take your dog to the veterinarian for further treatment.