Almost every day we are bombarded with information about all the foods out there that have health benefits and those that cause us harm. One day you hear how great one food is, and the next you’re hearing you should completely stay away! It can get overwhelming at the best of times.
Luckily, when it comes to our beloved Yorkies, things get a little easier. But as simpler as it might be, we still need to direct some attention to it to make sure your Yorkshire terrier is always happy and healthy.
Your Yorkie’s diet is just as important as your own.
Let’s Talk about the Dog Diet
As we’re sure you know, dogs are carnivores. That means they enjoy a diet consisting mainly of meat. This isn’t a surprise, as their distant relative, the wolf, also dines on the same.
Your Yorkie needs a balanced diet that supplies all its nutritional needs. As you would expect, good nutrition makes sure their bodies function properly, their beautiful coats stay beautiful, and they grow sufficiently and correctly—and most importantly, so they have the energy to exercise and play!
A good, balanced diet is made up of quite a few things. For now, let’s take a look at these Seven Important aspects: vitamins and minerals, protein, amino acids, enzymes, fats and carbohydrates.
Vitamins & Minerals
Vitamins are organic compounds necessary for life in all creatures. Without vitamins, food couldn’t be digested, your Yorkie wouldn’t grow and a ton of other problems would arise. There are a few vitamins that are fat soluble, like A, D, E and K. This means they can be stored in the body’s fat. Other vitamins are water soluble, like all B-complex vitamins and vitamin C, meaning they are flushed out of the body through urine and need to be replenished by food.
Minerals, on the other hand, are inorganic, but also necessary for life—but are consumed on a much smaller scale than vitamins. Essential minerals include calcium, phosphorus, copper, iron and potassium and a few more. Minerals are picky, they need a delicate balance to ensure good health, and some only work in the presence of others. Crazy, right?
The Almighty Protein
Meat is always a good source of quality protein, whether it be beef, chicken, fish, lamb or another. There are other sources like eggs or dairy products and even some plants. Proteins can be split up into two categories, in this case, complete proteins, and incomplete proteins. Complete proteins contain all the amino acids necessary for good health, while incomplete proteins don’t.
Amino acids are necessary for a lot of Bodily functions. Some of those functions include growth, healing, hormone and antibody production and more. When protein is digested it is turned into amino acids for the body to utilise for these functions. There are 22 known amino acids, and 12 of those are essential for canine life. They are:
Enzymes are protein based chemicals that cause biochemical reactions and affect every stage of metabolism. Some of the enzymes require a partner to function correctly; a coenzyme, that is usually a vitamin or mineral that helps cause the needed reaction. Some enzymes are produced in your Yorkie’s body while others they gets from their food.
Carbs are sugars that are found in starches and plants. Simply put, it’s fuel for your body. Your Yorkie runs on carbs the same way we do, or the way your car runs on petrol or diesel.
Some dog breeds that are fed foods that are high in carbohydrates will show symptoms of hyperactivity and can be countered with foods lower in cereal grain carbohydrates.
Fats are a great and necessary part of a good nutrition plan, especially for growing puppies and active dogs. Fats help metabolise fat-soluble vitamins and are a good source of energy. They can be found in animal meats and in plant-based oils.
When, Where, How Much?
It’s best practise to feed your Yorkie puppy at least twice a day, three is also ok. Too long between meals can cause your Yorkie puppy’s sugar level to drop (hypoglycaemia).
For fully grown Yorkies, two meals per is perfect, one in the morning and one in the evening.
Is it Bad to Free-Feed your Yorkie?
You might find a lot of articles or blogs saying you shouldn’t free-feed your Yorkie because of the risks that come along with it. And we understand that—but, we’ve had a good experience with it and won’t tell you to avoid it. Instead, let’s take a look at the risks involved and a better way to free-feed.
The most common objection to free-feeding is the exposure the food gets. You open it up to the possibility of spoiling. This is especially true when feeding home-cooked food, raw food or even canned food. Bacteria could build up and make your Yorkie sick—landing you a vet visit. With dry foods like kibbles, the biggest worry may be things like ants or flies getting into the food. So you can see why you should be cautious if you choose to free-feed.
On the other hand, if you do choose to free-feed, here are some things we suggest:
- Using a Feeder that controls the output of food can be a good way to not expose the food so openly as you get feeders with covers.
- Don’t leave fresh, raw or canned foods after your Yorkie is done eating. Rather, when they’re done, throw out whatever has been left over.
- Only use dry kibbles in an Auto-Feeder.
It’s also a good thing to ensure your Yorkie understands that you are the food provider.
Where’s the Best Eating Spot?
Dogs very much like routine, especially when it comes to their food. So first and foremost, find a quiet spot that you know you won’t move away from and start feeding him there and only there. Changing the spot often may upset your Yorkie. Again, routine is crucial.
Try not to interrupt them while they’re eating and don’t reach into their bowl while they’re eating. Also, avoid “teasing” the dog by placing his food down and then removing it. We’re sure if someone treated you or your meal like this, or reached in while you were eating, you’d growl too… grrrrr.
Yorkies Don’t Eat THAT Much
Yorkeis by nature are small dogs. They do not need to feast. A third to half a cup of food is more than enough for your Yorkie. The best way to gauge if they’ve eaten enough is to simply gauge their weight over time. Losing weight? Feed a little more. Gaining weight? Feed a little less.
Commercial dog foods do us a favour by giving us recommended serving sizes on the sides of their packaging, but please note these are just guidelines and the amount your Yorkie needs may be completely different to another.