Now that you have a basic understanding of your Yorkshire Terrier’s nutritional needs you can think about shopping for a high-quality dog food. Your Yorkshire Terrier should be fed a high-quality dry kibble dog food that is specially formulated for small-breed dogs. It is highly recommended that you mixed a tiny amount of canned food into the kibble to entice your Yorkshire Terrier to eat. Without dry food, the Yorkshire Terrier has a great potential to develop gum disease, bad breath and tooth loss.
Shopping for dog food can be difficult because there are so many different options to choose from. In order to separate the high-quality foods from the low-quality foods, you need to learn how to read a dog food label. When comparing dog foods, the first thing you want to look for is the AAFCO statement of nutritional adequacy – this will tell you that the product meets the basic nutritional needs of dogs. AAFCO is the American Association of Feed Control Officials and the statement of nutritional adequacy will look something like this:
“[Product Name] is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food nutrient profiles for [Life Stage].”
After you’ve determined that the product is approved by AAFCO, you can then take a more detailed look at the ingredients list. Remember, protein is the most important nutritional consideration for dogs so you should look for a high-quality source of protein (or two) at the top of the ingredients list. Ingredients lists for dog foods are assembled in descending order by volume – this means that the ingredients at the top of the list are present in the highest quantities. So, if a product lists something like deboned chicken or fresh turkey as the first ingredient, you can assume that the product is a good source of protein.
When perusing dog food labels, you are likely to come across meat meals like chicken meal or salmon meal. The word “meal” might turn you off, but it is actually a very good ingredient to have in a dog food. Fresh meats contain up to 80% water so, by the time the product is cooked, the actual volume of the meat is much lower than it was originally. Meat meals have already been cooked down to a moisture level around 10% so they are actually a much more concentrated source of protein than fresh meat.
In addition to high-quality proteins, you should also look for digestible carbohydrates like whole grains and fresh vegetables. Things like brown rice and oatmeal are valuable additions to a commercial dog food while products like corn gluten meal or wheat flour are not. Gluten-free and grain-free carbohydrates like sweet potato and tapioca starch are also good ingredients if you are looking for a product that is free from gluten and grains. Just try to avoid byproduct meals as well as corn and soy ingredients. When it comes to fats, you should look for animal-based fats like chicken fat and salmon oil – these are much more biologically valuable to your dog than plant-based fats like canola oil or flaxseed. You should look for a blend of both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids as well.
Not only do you need to be mindful of the ingredients included in your dog’s food, but you should also be mindful of things that are NOT included. Avoid products made with artificial preservatives like BHT and BHA. You also want to look for products free from artificial flavors, colors and dyes. If your Yorkshire Terrier suffers from food allergies, consider a Limited Ingredient Diet (LID) which is made with a novel source of protein that won’t trigger his allergies. Novel sources of protein might include things like bison, venison, or even kangaroo meat.