If your Yorkshire terrier has suddenly developed a cough, it may be because of a viral or bacterial infection, allergies, a serious worm infestation or trachea problems that are common to the breed. Proper treatment depends on the cause of your Yorkie's cough.
Treatment for Allergies
Yorshire terriers are prone to allergies just like humans. Irritants such as dust, pollen, mold, insect bites and even human dander can create an exaggerated immune response in your Yorkie, who may react by sneezing, coughing or scratching and chewing the skin around his paws. If you suspect that your dog is suffering from allergies, take him to the veterinarian to be evaluated. Treatment for allergies includes cortisone or allergy shots and antihistamines, as well as avoidance of the irritant.
Treatment for Trachea Collaspe
If your Yorkie has developed a chronic, dry or hacking cough that seems to worsen when she is excited, she may be suffering from a collapsed trachea--not an uncommon occurrence in small dog breeds, including Yorkshire terriers. The trachea of an affected dog is prone to collapse because it is soft and malleable instead of rigid. (Picture a drinking straw that becomes soft and bent after use.) If you suspect that your Yorkie may have the beginnings of a collapsed trachea, take her to the veterinarian right away because the condition can worsen and may lead to a complete cutting off of her air supply. Your vet may need to perform surgery to correct the problem.
Treatment for Reverse Sneezing
Reverse sneezing is a common form of coughing in Yorkies and other small dog breeds. If your pet snorts, coughs and seems unable to inhale normally when she gets very excited, she may have a temporary blockage inside her nasal passage or swollen nasal membranes. Pick her up and pet her to calm her down. Once calm, she should be able to clear her nose normally and resume regular breathing.
Treatment for Kennel Cough
If your coughing Yorkie has recently been to the groomer, vet or an off-leash dog park, or if he has been exposed to a sick dog in some other setting, he may have "kennel cough," another name for tracheobronchitis. You need to isolate him from other dogs, as the malady is highly contagious, then monitor his temperature and provide him with plenty of rest and fluids until his cough is better. He may require a visit to the vet if his cough does not improve within 10 days. If your Yorkie puppy contracts kennel cough, take him to the vet right away because the condition could quickly lead to pneumonia if left untreated.
Treatment for Parasites
Internal parasites can cause coughing when roundworm larvae travel from the intestines to the lungs, then crawl into the windpipe. Heartworms can also cause a Yorkie to cough when larvae invade the lungs and bloodstream of the infected dog. Treatment for parasites involves accurate diagnosis through blood tests, then de-worming medication and maintenance that must be administered by your veterinarian. In the case of heartworms, treatment could take months.
Treatment for Canine Distemper
Canine distemper is a devastating illness that has no medical cure. In the initial stages of the disease, a dog may cough colorful mucous or appear to have problems breathing. Treatment of distemper involves isolation, symptomatic relief and careful monitoring by a veterinarian. Roughly 50 percent of dogs with canine distemper will succumb to the disease, and because its symptoms can last for months and cause the dog great distress, euthanasia of affected dogs is not uncommon.