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Diabetes in Yorkie Dogs

| Updated September 26, 2017

Diabetes is the most common endocrine disease affecting dogs. Canine diabetes can develop due to several factors including age, injury, health conditions or genetic predisposition. One of the breeds that may be genetically predisposed to diabetes is the Yorkshire terrier. Certain precautions should be taken when owning a Yorkshire terrier to help minimize her chances of developing diabetes.

Breed Information

Yorkshire terriers are commonly referred to as Yorkies. They are a popular breed of dog known for their small stature and big personality. They range in size from 4 to 7 pounds. Certain medical conditions are more likely in specific breeds. Yorkshire terriers are one of several breeds of dogs that have a higher risk of developing diabetes.


Canine diabetes can develop due to several factors including age, sex and lifestyle. It is more prevalent in middle age or older dogs. Female dogs have twice the risk of developing diabetes. One of the biggest risk factors for developing diabetes is genetics. There are genetic markers that can indicate which breeds are more likely to develop diabetes. Yorkshire terriers are at “moderate risk” of developing diabetes.


Diabetes is a chronic endocrine disease caused by the autoimmune destruction of pancreatic cells that impairs the dog’s ability to produce insulin. Insulin is necessary to metabolize sugar. Signs of diabetes in a Yorkshire terrier may include extreme thirst, frequent urination, weight loss and sudden blindness. The Yorkie may be lethargic and appear in poor health. Loss of consciousness may be a sign of severe diabetes and requires immediate medical attention.


Treatment for diabetes in Yorkshire terriers almost always requires insulin injections. Daily shots are required to control blood glucose levels since the dog is unable to regulate this on his own. Depending on the type of insulin used, shots are given either once or twice a day. The injection is given with a small needle underneath the skin. Blood work is necessary to monitor the Yorkshire terrier's blood glucose levels. Your veterinarian may ask you to monitor glucose levels at home. Your vet may recommend that you test the urine for glucose and ketones, and will advise you when to contact them regarding the results.


Just because Yorkshire terriers are at a higher risk of developing diabetes does not mean they will. Precautions should be taken with Yorkshire terriers so that the chances of developing this chronic disease are minimized. Your Yorkshire terrier should maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight will add extra stress on the organs, including the pancreas. She should eat a well-balanced diet. Diets high and fat can cause pancreatitis, a medical condition that causes further destruction of the pancreas. Yorkshire terriers should be given plenty of exercise to help maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.