You wanted a small lapdog that was cute and enjoyed snuggling, but she was feisty and a good watchdog too. You looked at other breeds, but you decided you want to bring home a Yorkie. Yorkies are known to be great companion dogs, awesome watchdogs, perfect for those who live in an apartment, a little bossy, but ever so affectionate. Now that you have your perfect dog at home, what should you feed her? Let’s look at what your furbaby needs, check out several popular foods on the market and determine the best dog food for Yorkies.
Why Do You Need to Pay Attention to your Yorkie’s diet?
To understand why you need to pay attention to what you feed your precious pup, let’s first look at what a Yorkie requires from its food. Yorkshire Terriers are one of the smallest breeds of dog. At full growth, your Yorkie will most likely stand around seven inches tall. At most, she will weigh between five and seven pounds.
As a puppy, because your Yorkie is a small breed dog and is also one of the smallest of small breeds, your Yorkie will need three or four small meals every day in order to prevent hypoglycemia. This can can cause weakness, muscle tremors, and even seizures. This need will follow your furbaby into adulthood, so frequency of meals is a concern throughout the life of your Yorkie. Another surprising idea is that since small breeds have a tiny stomach, they require a higher calorie food (look for the term “calorie dense”).
Yorkies can live between twelve and fifteen years. Because of this, Yorkies and other small breeds require a specially formulated food which is rich in antioxidants in order to prevent or lessen free radical damage. So, things to consider when choosing the best food for your Yorkie:
- calorie dense food
- rich in antioxidants
- frequency of feeding (to prevent hypoglycemia)
How Often Should You Feed Your Yorkshire Terrier?
Simply put, how often you feed your furbaby is based on her age and health history. Puppies over eight weeks of age should be fed four times a day. As previously stated, small breeds tend to get hypoglycemia if not fed often enough with calorie dense food. As Yorkies grow older, it is a good idea to continue feeding them three times a day so that their blood sugar stays relatively constant. If your adult dog has a history of hypoglycemia, your vet may recommend a fourth daily meal. Again, remember to choose a dog food specially formulated for small breeds rich in antioxidants that are also calorie dense.
How much should You Feed Your Yorkie?
You know that several small meals are best for your Yorkie, but do you know how much you should feed your pup at each meal? The amount should be proportional to the dog. Follow food manufacturer’s guidelines for serving amounts based on your dog’s weight. Now, keep in mind that the number on the feed bag is not per meal, but a total of calories for the entire daily intake of food; so, divide the total number of calories into three or four meals based on your dog’s age (older dogs = divide the total by three; puppies = divide the total number by four). A small dog needs around forty calories per pound; again, make sure that your dog’s food is calorie dense. Small dogs cannot eat a lot at one time, but they need what they eat to sustain them for three or four hours until the next meal. Again, choosing a brand specially formulated for small dogs is of the utmost importance.
What Should You Consider Before Buying?
So many things bear consideration when choosing the best dog food for Yorkies. There are also things to consider as far as they type of food, its ingredients, calorie density, etc.
Wet vs Dry
First, consider whether to choose wet food or dry food. Dry food is easier to store compared to wet food, and owners often consider dry food easier to deal with because they can leave large portions in their pet’s bowl (if they are gone during the day for work, for example). Wet food seems to have more positive qualities. If your dog does not like to drink water, wet food is a great source of water. If your Yorkie is a little older, he may prefer wet food as it has a stronger flavor. If your furbaby is missing teeth or has other dental problem, wet food may be the right choice.
Next, research to see if there are any chemical additives on the ingredient list of a possible food choice. Just the name sounds bad! Here is a short list of chemical additives to avoid: corn/wheat gluten, BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, food dyes, propylene glycol, and rendered fat.
Sadly, almost all commercially available dog food is made with ingredients classified as “feed” grade (as opposed to “human” grade). The ingredients are of a lower quality. These foods are cooked at a high temperature in order to kill bacteria, but these high temperatures kill a lot of the nutrients in dog food. So, stay away from foods with any of the above additives on the ingredient list, and be sure to do research on any commercial brand before purchasing.
By-products and fillers
By-products come from the “rendering” process used to make dog food. Meal and bone “meal” (on your ingredient list) means that “dead animals from farms, ranches, feedlots, marketing barns, animal shelters, and other facilities; and fats, grease, and other food waste from restaurants and stores.” (courtesy of the National Agricultural Law Center)
Be sure to calculate calories per portion. Look for grain-free foods as they have higher calories (are more calorie dense), fat and protein numbers.
Your Yorkie will be healthier if he eats food formulated for small breeds. These brands will naturally be more “calorie dense.”
Search for keywords on the ingredient list. Look for (and avoid) butylated hydroxyanisole, butylated hydroxytoluene, tert-butyl hydroquinone, propyl gallate, and ethoxyquin. These preservatives are potentially deadly to dogs. Instead, look for products containing tocopherols (which is really vitamin E), citric acid, and rosemary extract. Unfortunately, bad preservatives can still be included in a product but not necessarily on the list of ingredients on the bag. Often lower cost foods will contain these preservatives due to their lower cost.
Use caution when purchasing a food with high levels of protein. Protein is great for your dog, but protein in large doses can have negative side effects. Too much protein can cause weight gain. It can also damage the kidneys and liver. The dog food you choose should have a healthy balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
The Top 6 Best Dog Food for Yorkies
Let’s review a few popular brands available on the market at the moment:
Wellness Complete Health Natural
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Wellness Complete Health Natural Small Breed Dog Food is specifically made for smaller dogs. It features a smaller kibble size and contains only natural ingredients. There are no meat by-products, food dyes, or preservatives. It also contains no wheat, corn or soy. This food is a reduced-calorie formula in order to help maintain a “healthy weight,” probably better suited to older or overweight dogs (or dogs that get a lot of treats). When choosing this product, make sure that your furbaby is still getting the right amount of calories for her size.
Wellness Complete can be found on Amazon.com for around $30 per twelve pound bag. Amazon customers give the product a 4.5 star rating; most reviewers say their dogs love the food. One point of interest – this food contains added minerals and vitamins. This is recommended for any age dog, but it does appear to target older dogs with a slowing metabolism. So, if age and weight are a factor for you, Wellness Complete could be the right food for you.
Blue Buffalo Life Protection
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Also specifically made for smaller dogs, Blue Buffalo Life Protection Dry Adult Dog Food features increased protein and carbohydrates to meet the metabolic needs of your small breed dog. Priced at just under $30 for a fifteen pound bag, you get a little more for your money compared to Wellness Complete.
Blue Buffalo is known for its all-natural products, and you won’t be disappointed with the ingredients in this product. No poultry by-product meal, no corn, wheat, soy, artificial food dyes, and definitely no artificial preservatives. Blue Buffalo uses whole grains, garden vegetables, and, most impressive, Blue Buffalo has formulated a special “Life Source” additive. “Life Source Bits” are a specific blend of antioxidant rich nutrients. Another point of interest – Blue Buffalo is formulated for all life stages of your dog.
Wellness CORE Natural
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Looking for a small portion that packs a nutritional punch? Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food is made with premium turkey and chicken to supply an optimum amount of protein for your furbaby. Like Wellness Complete and Blue Buffalo, CORE contains no artificial dyes, flavors, soy, wheat, or corn. What sets CORE apart is the fact that their 80 percent more meat than comparable brand dog food. CORE is packed with antioxidants, omega fatty acids, and probiotics. Priced at approximately $35 for a twelve pound bag through Amazon, Wellness CORE also received 4.5 stars from customer reviews. A point of interest for Yorkie owners – the Yorkie breed was mentioned here in saying that Wellness CORE was great for the breed. Overall, the food itself received top reviews.
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If your pup needs fiber, antioxidants, and a food formulated especially for smaller dogs, Diamond Naturals Dry Food for Adult Dogs may be the right fit for you. Diamond Naturals touts a smaller kibble size – perfect for smaller breeds such as a Yorkie. Diamond Naturals contains twenty-seven percent protein and sixteen percent fat, and the food is also formulated to meet AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles established nutritional levels, that way you know your furbaby is getting the exact nutrients he or she needs. A few things to consider: Diamond Naturals does contain chicken meal, fish meal, and egg product.
Diamond Naturals received a rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars; however, most complaints were not about the food itself, but the price of the food. Speaking of price, compared to both brands of Wellness foods, Amazon carries Diamond Naturals for just over $25. The lower price could be attributed to the use of meat meal compared to the use of premium meat in the Wellness brand, so ultimately you’ll have to determine what your budget is and which ingredients you are satisfied with.
Purina Pro Plan
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Yes, Purina Pro Plan Small Breed Formula can be associated with the word “additives,” but in this case, Purina has added several positive nutrients and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, and a natural prebiotic formula derived from whole wheat. Another positive note about Purina Pro Plan – real chicken is the first ingredient. Purina Pro Plan also purposely created a hard texture on the kibble which helps to clean teeth of plaque.
This product does contain some animal by-products, and gluten, grain, and egg product is present in the food as well. A six pound bag retails for about $10, but compared to the Wellness brand foods, this is actually a little cheaper (two six pound bags would equal just over $20, which is cheaper than either of the Wellness brand foods). Purina Pro Plan received 4.7 out of 5 stars. Almost every review mentioned that Purina Pro Plan was recommended by their vet, and that their dog loved it. Breeds mentioned were mini-schnauzer, Pomerianian, and Shih Tzu – all breeds similar in size to Yorkies. Reviewers also recommended buying from Amazon as the site’s price was cheaper than pet supply stores and major retailers such as Walmart.
Whole Earth Farms
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Whole Earth Farms boasts a list of natural ingredients including no corn, no soy, no by-products, no artificial colors, no artificial preservatives, and no ingredients from other countries. One thing to notice right off the bat – the list of ingredients in Whole Earth Farms’ contains several vegetables – peas, dried potatoes, dried blueberries, and dried sweet potatoes. Next, a host of vitamins are added to Whole Earth Farms’ food: Vitamin A, B12, Niacin, D3, and herbs such as cinnamon, rosemary, and sage.
Whole Earth Farms maintains a 4.6 of our 5 star rating. Most of the ratings were five- or four-star; however, a few were one-star and deserve to be addressed. While one negative rating was focused on price (Amazon offers a twelve pound bag for just under $25; this is cheaper than either Wellness brand foods for the same size), two ratings claimed that the food gave the dog “very bad breath.” Another rating said that since Purina had bought out the original parent company, Merrick, the dog food had not been of the same quality as what the rater had previously bought.
Overall, most owners said that their dogs loved the food. One owner even spoke about giving the food to a rescue dog and claimed that within a few days, the rescue had “livened up” and had a shinier coat as well. Overall, most pet parents were happy with the product.
Be careful with treats and snacks
To Treat or Not to Treat – That is the Question! Whether you realize it or not, your furbaby’s treats are also considered a part of her diet. When asked, some Yorkie owners said it isn’t a matter of what kind of treats their pups like, they like ALL treats. Caution had to be exercised in quantity of treats given to their Yorkies; it is easy to forget that treats have calories just as regular food does. One treat a day is very acceptable; some vets even recommended that amount. Two treats a day is okay, but definitely no more than three.
When pressed for particular brands of treats that Yorkies loved, the names Pupcorn and Greenies come up. One pet parent spoke about her vet recommending a large size kibble of low-calorie dry dog food (no particular brand was mentioned). This does not cause weight gain, and her dogs seem to love it. Of course, some furbabies will not eat hard dog treats. This is when knowing your baby comes into play; it is really up to the pet parent to decide if treats are an option or whether to avoid them altogether.
So, what food IS the best dog food for Yorkies? If cost is no issue, and you want your pup to have all natural ingredients, Wellness CORE might be the choice for you. If you’re looking for a mixture of value and good product, Whole Earth Foods might be the best choice for you. However, a really great mix of value and nutrients is Purina Pro Plan, though some might be put off by the smaller bag. Ultimately, you, the pet parent should use your knowledge of your pup, his personality, and his individual needs to choose the perfect food for him. After all, our furbabies give us so much love and companionship – don’t we owe it to them to give the very best food possible?