Sometimes a finicky eater, the Yorkshire terrier needs a high-quality diet to maintain excellent health and the beauty of its long, silky coat. These tiny dogs need relatively few calories per day, but it's important that the small food portions that provide those calories contain all the needed proteins, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins and minerals your Yorkie requires for optimum health and energy.
Yorkies range in size from 3 to 7 pounds. According to the National Research Council of the Natural Academies, inactive dogs around this size require about 150 calories of food daily, while active dogs need or 200 calories. Before 1 year of age, Yorkie puppies require about 400 calories to promote healthy growth. These calories must be divided into several meals, because the Yorkie's stomach is very small. Divide the daily ration into four meals per day for puppies, three for adult Yorkies.
Like many toy breeds, Yorkies frequently suffer from dental disease if they do not get regular dental cleanings and brushing. Feed your Yorkie a diet that not only maintains the dog's weight, but also has a crunchy texture that will help keep the teeth clean. The hard texture of dry kibble helps to maintain your Yorkie's dental health by scrubbing away plaque from the surface of the teeth when the dog chews. Dry food also doesn't get stuck in the long fur of your Yorkie's face. Choose a dry dog food with a kibble size made for the small mouths of toy breeds.
Dogs need a combination of protein, vegetables, fruits and carbohydrates in their diets. Your Yorkie's food should contain a protein or protein meal, such as chicken, fish, lamb or turkey, as the primary ingredient. Avoid byproducts derived from the non-muscle meat of animals. These proteins can contain up to 14 percent indigestible material. Brown rice and sweet potatoes are good sources of carbohydrates needed to provide energy and fiber in the Yorkie's diet. These carbohydrates also tend to cause less stomach upset than corn or soy, an important factor for Yorkies with sensitive stomachs. Fish oils can help to maintain your Yorkie's shiny, long coat.
Yorkies can suffer from hereditary hip and joint problems including luxating patella, a condition that affects the dog's knees. Obesity can hasten the development of such problems. It's important to ensure that your Yorkshire terrier doesn't become overweight. If you want to give your Yorkie treats without adding excess calories, try healthy cooked vegetables such as carrots, green beans or canned pumpkin, or small bits of cheese.
If you cannot feel your Yorkie's ribs without probing, your dog is overweight. Consult a veterinarian about whether a diet dog food would be appropriate for your dog. These foods contain more fiber and fewer calories than a standard diet.
Small Yorkies, especially those weighing 4 pounds or less, can suffer from hypoglycemia, a drop in blood sugar from a lack of food. Yorkies should either be fed three meals evenly spread through the day, or should be free-fed dry kibble, to keep the blood sugar levels as consistent as possible. Feed a type of food your dog enjoys eating. Yorkies who refuse their food can quickly become hypoglycemic. To counteract a drop in blood sugar, add a teaspoon of corn syrup or a high-calorie dietary supplement gel to your dog's food, or rub it directly on the Yorkie's gums. If your dog fails to respond, seek immediate veterinary care, as this is a medical emergency.
Some Yorkies have sensitive stomachs. If you change your Yorkie's food, do it gradually over the course of a few weeks to minimize stomach upset.