Yorkies, formally known as Yorkshire Terriers, are an adorable breed of small dogs. Originally bred to be hunters and watchdogs, they’re now highly sought after for their regal origin, beauty, and, most importantly, their compact size. Yorkies are toy dogs, weighing about 5-7 pounds at a height of around 7 inches.
Because of their petite size, you might think that toy dogs are too small and fragile to deliver pups. And while dystocia is more common with a small dog breed like a Yorkshire Terrier, they are capable of breeding normally like bigger dog breeds. As the owner or future owner of a female Yorkie, there are ways to ensure that your Yorkie is happy, healthy, and safe throughout their pregnancy process.
Yorkie Pregnancy FAQs for First-Timers
To start, here are a few questions to consider going forward:
How many Puppies Can a Yorkie Have?
A Yorkshire Terrier’s typical litter size falls between 5-7 puppies. This number can be as little as one and – in rare cases – as much as nine. If wanting to breed Yorkshires, know that a mature female Yorkie experiences heat cycles periodically that last 2-4 weeks, in which they’re open to mating with a male.
How Long Does a Yorkie Pregnancy Last?
Dog pregnancies last about 63 days, or 9 weeks. They are divided into trimesters, just like human pregnancies, and come with their own quirks. For instance, your Yorkie may become more irritable as her pregnancy progresses.
How to Tell If Your Yorkie is Pregnant: Yorkie Pregnancy Signs
Yorkies display nesting behaviors, as well as appetite changes, vomiting, weight gain, and an increase in nipple size when pregnant. If you have observed these yorkie pregnancy symptoms in your pet already, visit the vet to discover how far along she is.
To rule out the possibility of a more severe condition, it’s best for all Yorkie owners, in general, to schedule a checkup with a vet to be completely sure. Veterinarians can perform what’s called diagnostic testing, the most accurate tests to date for pregnancies depending on how far along the pet is. One of the tests – palpation – can only be performed during a certain period in the pregnancy. The others include x-rays, ultrasound, and hormone testing.
How To Care for Your Yorkie During the First Trimester
Feed Your Yorkie Her Regular Diet
Meals should be continued normally for the first half of a Yorkshire’s pregnancy. It’s recommended that she be fed high-quality food that’s AAFCO approved. If feeding your dog a natural diet, check with your vet about what foods your pet should and shouldn’t eat.
Take Her to the Vet for a Medical Checkup
The best way to quell your suspicions, you should take your pet to the vet immediately. This should be done no more than 3 weeks after mating. During these checkups, your vet can inform you of the future changes to expect in your newly labor Yorkie as well as how to accommodate them in their prenatal phase. If your Yorkie is confirmed to be pregnant, she should return to the vet periodically for checkups and prenatal/postpartum care. This includes necessary vaccinations and blood tests for any inheritable genetic disorders.
What About Drugs?
Generally, pregnant dogs should not be given drugs, but may be able to take certain meds like insulin while pregnant. However, it’s advised that you speak with a medical professional about drugs and the current meds your pet is taking. If necessary, ask questions about diet recommendations.
How To Care for Your Yorkie During the Second Trimester
Get an X-ray Scan
This is an important checkup to make time for even if you’re preparing for an at-home birth. Discovering the number of puppies in the litter beforehand will help you prepare enough space and supplies for their arrival.
During the second trimester, your female Yorkie’s pregnancy is more noticeable: her abdomen has enlarged, and her nipples may be darker and more pronounced. This signals that her body is preparing for lactation. And by the end of this trimester, your vet will be able to estimate the number of puppies forming in your Yorkie’s belly using an x-ray, palpation, or an ultrasound.
Continue Taking Your Yorkie Out on Walks
When a dog is pregnant, as with humans, they need some form of exercise to not only maintain their physical health but their mental health, too. Generally, walks should be shortened to a less strenuous routine according to how your dog responds. For example, do they seem to tire more quickly on walks? If unsure, talk to your vet about how and when to adjust her exercise routine as she gets farther along in her pregnancy.
Make the Switch to a More Nutritional Diet
Halfway into your Yorkie’s pregnancy, she should transition to a more nutritional diet but gradually. The amount of dog food consumed should be decreased by 25% each of the last 4 weeks of the gestation period, according to the University of California, Davis’ veterinary medicine blog. This increase in calories will give your dog a few extra pounds, as they will lose a bit of weight immediately after giving birth.
Be sure that your Yorkie is receiving the proper amount of calories beforehand to avoid overfeeding. The amount of food they should eat to maintain their weight and health depends on their age, weight, and level of exercise. Generally speaking, Yorkies eat between ¼ to ½ cups of food or 150-200 calories.
How To Care for Your Yorkie During the Third Trimester
Prepare a Birthing Area
At this point, your Yorkie is likely exercising less and sleeping more. This is common and would be a good time to provide a separate place for her to give birth that’s quiet and comfortable. The best areas to set one up would be a private room or corner, away from any high foot traffic areas or drafts.
Lay down several layers to absorb the afterbirth. Practically, this would be used towels or clothing, with newspapers underneath to catch any excess afterbirth. The birthing area should be established at least a week in advance, especially if your pet is used to sleeping in bed with you. Getting her used to a new place of rest as early as possible will make her feel more comfortable giving birth there.
Watch for Signs of Complications
If your female Yorkie’s pregnancy is verging on 68 days, take her to the vet immediately. Though things may be okay, dogs have a very slim whelping (birthing) period, and by that point, she is on the verge of having a late pregnancy.
PDSA advises to watch for signs of abnormal behavior before and during whelping and to call the vet or an emergency clinic immediately if:
- There are 20-30 minutes of straining with no results
- Green discharge is leaking from the vulva
- There’s excessive bleeding
- A puppy is stuck
- You or your Yorkie struggles to remove the amniotic sac
- There are any issues with the umbilical cord
- You suspect mastitis (mammary gland infection)
How Do You Know When a Yorkie is in Labor?
Pacing, whimpering, vomiting, and observed distress are all signs that she’s likely ready to give birth. Gently direct her to the birthing area, ensuring that there’s enough space for the puppies that are on the way. Another way to know is to take a rectal temperature daily. If it drops below 100 degrees Fahrenheit, she will likely give birth within the next 24 hours.
Birthing, or whelping, can be performed at home or at the vet. Ideally, first-time Yorkie owners, especially those who didn’t have time to plan or were previously unfamiliar with Yorkie pregnancies and deliveries, should choose the vet. If giving an at-home birth, perform the following steps to ensure that the pregnancy goes smoothly:
- Bring the necessary supplies A few things will be needed: clean towels, heating pads, newspaper, sterilized scissors, unwaxed dental floss, and iodine. You could also lay water close to the mother if you’re concerned about her hydration.
- Be aware of the signs Delivery can last for hours. During these hours, she may give birth multiple times. If she’s panting or shifting positions, it’s likely an additional pup on the way. Be sure you’re always close by to help with the birthing process. Because while the mother is in the heat of delivery, she may neglect or be unable to do certain things, in which case you will need to give a helping hand. Allow the mother to remove the sac and severe the umbilical cord herself before attempting to do so.
- Work with the mother Using your scissors, snip the cord one inch away from the belly and tie it off with the floss. Dab the puppy’s stomach with a bit of iodine to sanitize the area. Then, with a clean towel, gently clear away blockages in the nose and around the eyes. A crying puppy is a good sign. After hearing its cry, place the pup near the mother so it can begin nursing. Yorkie puppies must nurse upon arrival, so you may need to consider bottle feeding if there are any nursing complications.
- Cleanup Finally, dispose of and replace soaked fabrics with clean ones. Your new Yorkshire puppies will need to keep warm, so be sure to lay the heat pads underneath, careful to monitor the temperature so that it doesn’t harm them.
How To Care for Your Yorkie Post Pregnancy
At this point, your Yorkie is lactating. Drugs work their way into the mother’s milk and their effects can be transferred to the feeding litter. To protect your new Yorkie puppies, medication should be discontinued as your Yorkie is breastfeeding unless advised otherwise by a professional. Within the first few weeks, the puppies will need their initial health check and deworming. You can also find additional pet resources on numerous sites, typically an affiliate advertising program designed to drive sales.
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