Nutritional needs can change as your Yorkie grows older. Dental problems may necessitate a change to a softer diet, while kidney or digestive problems could lead to a prescription veterinary diet. Even healthy older Yorkies may need fewer calories, or a little help to revive a waning appetite.
Some dog foods are developed using a process that breaks protein molecules down into smaller units. Though created to help dogs with food allergies, these foods may also be useful when a highly digestible protein is required for your older Yorkie.
Protein Quantity and Quality
You may hear that older dogs should consume less protein because of concerns with kidney function. This may be true for dogs actually suffering kidney disease, but it's not the case for healthy older dogs. Protein does not cause kidney disease; it merely becomes more difficult for diseased kidneys to process. So don't shy away from protein for your older Yorkie without reason.
What you do want to check is protein digestibility. Aging digestive systems may not be quite as efficient as they once were, so easily digestible protein is essential. Look for 22- to 25-percent protein, and call the manufacturer's toll-free number to ask about digestibility.
While you need to keep supplying a good level of protein, if your Yorkie is slowing down a bit, you'll need to provide fewer calories. You can look for a food lower in fat, but too little fat means the food will not be very palatable. Look for a moderate amount.
Your other choice is to feed a little less. This may leave your Yorkie feeling a bit hungry. You can look for a food with a little more fiber, to help create a feeling of fullness. Or you can add a little canned pumpkin (the plain kind, not for pie) as your own fiber addition.
Keep doing rib checks on your dog to know if you need to adjust calories. If your senior Yorkie needs more calories to maintain his weight, ask your veterinarian to find out why this is happening.
Don't just start giving your Yorkshire terrier supplements whenever you want. Some supplements conflict with medications, and many are just a waste of your money. Some don't even contain the ingredients they claim, so be cautious when investing in these products.
While supplements usually aren't necessary throughout most of your Yorkie's life, a few might be helpful for senior dogs. Older Yorkies can suffer dry, itchy skin. Your veterinarian might recommend vitamin E or fatty acids to help. If your Yorkie is having trouble metabolizing any nutrients, other specific supplements might be indicated. Other options exist for easing aching joints.
As they get older, some Yorkshire terriers may be less inclined to eat, or they may eat only a bite or two. This might be due to your Yorkie experiencing a decreased sense of smell. Food that doesn't smell good isn't very appetizing. If this is the case, you can help by warming the food in the microwave — not so it's hot, but just slightly warm, to release more aroma. Add a little chicken broth before warming for even more effect.
Sudden weight loss is always a cause for concern. If your Yorkie is eating well but suddenly starts losing weight, a veterinary checkup is in order.