Oily and Itchy Coat in a Yorkie

An oily Yorkie, tends to be a smelly one.
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Despite their tough attitudes, Yorkshire terriers can be delicate, especially when it comes to their skin. Many Yorkie lovers are prepared to treat itchiness or flakiness on occasion, but when flakiness turns to oiliness that requires a different type of attention.

Oily Seborrhea

Oily seborrhea is caused by an over secretion of the sebaceous gland. This secretion not only causes an odor, but also greasy hair and dandruff flakes. Due to oiliness, these flakes stick to hair follicles, and can cause the follicles to become plugged and infected. Although dry seborrhea and oily seborrhea present differently, the treatments have their similarities, and the underlying causes tend to be the same.

Shampoos and Oral Medications

Benzoyl peroxide or chlorhexidine based shampoos are effective to help relieve oily and itchy skin. When bathing your Yorkie, be sure to follow your veterinarian’s instructions. Typically these shampoos are left on for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing. If your Yorkie has a mild case, homeopathic citrus based shampoos can be helpful. Depending on the severity of his skin, or if his hair follicles are infected, a course of antibiotics may be prescribed.


If his oiliness persists, your veterinarian will want to search for the secondary cause. If your Yorkie is a young healthy adult, an allergic reaction likely will be your vet’s first suspicion. Contact dermatitis has a long list of possibilities. The acids and alkalis in soaps, detergents and other cleaning products, especially carpet cleaning products, are often a culprit. Wools, synthetic fibers, insecticides and fleas are other irritants. Inhalant allergies also are possible, especially when certain pollens are peaking. Sensitivities to certain ingredients in his food are another common problem.

Allergy Testing

Allergy testing has improved greatly over the past years, and a simple blood draw can give your vet a long list of your Yorkie’s sensitivities. If his allergies are extreme, an allergy serum can be compounded to fit his specific needs. This serum is administered through subcutaneous injections over time, and builds his immunity to targeted allergens. These can be given by your vet, or you can be taught to give them at home.

Cushing's Syndrome and Hypothyroidism

If your Yorkie is an older fella, and his oiliness is a new problem, your vet will want to rule out Cushing’s syndrome or hypothyroidism. Symptoms of Cushing’s include increased thirst and a potbellied appearance. Hypothyroid includes signs of unusual sluggishness and weight gain. These, too, can be tested with a simple blood draw.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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