Obviously, something is wrong.
When my Yorkie is walking weird, I know it is suffering somehow.
The good news is that it’s probably nothing serious.
Most of the time it’s simply a light leg injury that will soon heal.
But a Yorkie wobbling or walking with a strange gait can also have serious causes.
Causes for which you need to see a vet immediately.
Keep reading to learn the 9 most common causes of a Yorkshire terrier walking in an unusual way, along with additional symptoms to help you identify the issue.
My Yorkie Is Walking Weird
Yorkies might walk weirdly or with a wobbling gait due to ataxia or vestibular dysfunction. But those are not the only possible causes. Many reasons can cause a Yorkie to wobble or walk with a drunken gait.
These include pain, ear-related issues, stroke, neurological issues, musculoskeletal issues, injuries or trauma, cancer or tumors, bacterial or fungal infections, orthopedic issues, dysplasia, arthritis, and more. Let us take a closer look at the most common causes of wobbling in Yorkies.
9 Reasons Your Yorkie Might Be Walking Weird
Yorkies often trot, skip, run, gallop, and use a range of different motions while moving. But sometimes they may also show abnormal gaits, such as preferring one side, wobbling, limping, staggering, etc. Here are some of the common causes behind gait abnormalities in Yorkies.
Pain is one of the main reasons your Yorkie might walk weirdly. It might move slowly and even stop often while moving.
You may also notice other symptoms, such as hiding, refusing food and exercise, or walking with the tail between the legs in addition to pain. Pain along with changes in gait can occur due to degeneration of the joints stemming from old age, trauma, ingrown nails, injuries to the paw pad, torn ligaments, arthritis, or more.
If the weird gait is combined with other symptoms such as vomiting, limping, unsteadiness, or arching of the back, please see your vet right away.
Cerebellar Or Spinal Ataxia
Ataxia can cause a Yorkie to walk with an exaggerated gait or with a wide-based stance in the rear legs. Your pup might also show head and body tremors.
Dogs with spinal ataxia may wobble, swing their limbs out, or cross them while walking. In advanced stages, the dog might be completely unable to move the affected limbs. Please see your vet immediately if you notice these signs.
Orthopedic issues like patellar luxation can also cause a weird walking gait in Yorkies. Your little dog might have an abnormal stance and difficulty rising. It might lower its neck and back while walking.
Additionally, there could be intermittent lameness. Affected Yorkies often have misshapen limbs. They may refuse food, avoid exercise, and show lethargy.
Signs of musculoskeletal conditions in Yorkies include reluctance to stand up and exercise, excessive vocalization, restlessness, pacing, swollen joints, and changes in gait. It is best to see your vet if you see these signs, so your Yorkie can get the right medical treatment immediately.
Arthritis Or Other Joint Issues
Joint-related issues, like arthritis, are the most common causes behind Yorkies walking with a weird gait. Yorkies are small dogs that tend to pack on the pounds easily. Excess weight or obesity could result in such joint issues. Genetics is also a factor in canine joint issues.
Affected dogs may show difficulty getting up and may have lameness in one or more legs. Your Yorkie might hide or try to protect its affected paw or leg. It might avoid activities like jumping, climbing the stairs, etc.
Injuries like cruciate ligament ruptures can also cause a Yorkie to limp, or favor one side, while walking. Common causes of ligament rupture include trauma (twisting injury to the knee joint, falling from a height, vehicular accident, blow from another animal or human) and age-related deterioration of the ligament.
Your Yorkie might be running, but suddenly stop and cry out in pain. It might avoid putting weight on the affected leg.
Your vet will diagnose ligament rupture with radiographs or X-rays. The good news is that this condition is treatable. Some dogs do well with cage rest for about 6 weeks. However, others may need surgery to heal the ligament.
Viral, bacterial, fungal, or parasitic infections affecting the Yorkie’s central nervous system or ears may also result in ataxia and gait changes in dogs.
The infections typically impact the middle ear, causing a loss of balance. In addition to the weakness of their limbs, affected dogs may tilt their heads to one side. They may also have hearing loss.
Other signs of ataxia or vestibular diseases in Yorkies include behavioral changes, excessive drowsiness, stumbling, tipping over, swaying, abnormal eye movements, and a lack of appetite due to nausea. Please see your vet right away if you notice these signs.
Cancers And Growths
Cancerous growths or tumors can also result in sudden and unexplained gait changes or lameness in Yorkies. The tumors may press against the bone or nerves and result in pain. This can restrict the affected dog’s movement.
Certain drugs like antibiotics, poisons or toxins, hypothyroidism, inflammation, and nerve degeneration can also result in Yorkies walking weirdly.
Why Is My Yorkie Wobbling And What Can I Do About It?
A Yorkie might wobble due to the following health issues:
- Ear infections: these could be bacterial or fungal. An ear infection may also occur due to trauma, foreign bodies, or bloodborne infections from other locations.
- Cerebellar ataxia or spinal ataxia
- Brain conditions or central vestibular disease
- Tick-borne diseases
- Strokes (check out the signs of a Yorkie stroke, later in this guide).
- Spinal cord conditions.
If you notice your Yorkie wobbling, please see your vet immediately.
Do Yorkies Have Problems With Their Legs?
Yes. Yorkies often have leg-related issues. Studies have shown that the breed is especially susceptible to Legg-Calve-Perthes disease – a condition that affects the legs.
Of the 182 Yorkies studied in the test, nearly 2.2% showed the possibility of developing Legg-Calve-Perthes disease.
LCPD causes a lack of blood flow in certain areas. This results in the formation of blood clots within the blood vessels. Affected Yorkies suffer from lameness, muscle atrophy, and severe limping and pain.
What Does A Yorkie Stroke Look Like?
According to the AAHA, signs of a stroke in Yorkies can include:
- Crying in pain
- Dragging the hind legs
- Difficulty rising and walking
- Behavioral changes
- Staggering/falling on one side
- Abnormal eye movements
What Are The Signs Of Pain In Yorkies?
The following are some signs your Yorkie is in pain:
- Shaking or trembling
- Flattened ears
- Licking a particular area
- Reluctance to play, walk, run, or exercise
- Lameness or limping
- Avoiding touch
- Warmth or redness in the affected area
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of appetite
Why Are My Yorkie’s Back Legs Weak?
Several factors can cause hind leg weakness in the Yorkshire terrier breed:
- Heart-related ailments
- Myasthenia gravis
- Addison’s disease
- Fibrocartilaginous Stenosis/FCE, or spinal stroke
- Lumbosacral Stenosis
- Degenerative myelopathy
- Patellar luxation
- Canine arthritis
- Certain cancers
My Yorkie Is Walking Weird: Final Thoughts
If your Yorkie is walking weird, it is probably nothing serious. But because there are also a number of deadly serious health issues that can cause an unusual gait, it is better to be safe than sorry.
If you suspect your Yorkie is walking weirdly due to a serious issue, or if you are simply not sure what is causing your pup to walk strangely, you should make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.