It’s both confusing and concerning when your Yorkie starts refusing their food. We receive this question often, so it’s time we answer everything in this concise article!
Several reasons why Yorkies won’t eat include low-quality dog food, consuming too many treats, insufficient exercise, no feeding schedule, boredom, stress, and health issues.
Everything will be explained in full detail below, including how to best get your Yorkie eating again!
7 Reasons Why Your Yorkie Isn’t Eating
There are 7 main causes of food refusal when it comes to Yorkies. After speaking to thousands of owners, it’s nearly always one of the following.
- Low-quality dog food
- Consuming too many treats or table scraps
- Insufficient exercise
- Unclear feeding schedule
- Boredom or fussy eating
- Health issues
1. Low quality dog food
It’s crucial to be using a high quality dog food. Although we have the best intentions of providing a premium kibble, we really do have to check the label!
Unfortunately, many well-known brands still use fillers, by-products, additives, preservatives and more to their formulas.
These companies do this to save money making their product, ultimately passing the savings on to you. This is what creates a drastic price difference in kibbles on the market today.
While low quality ingredients might be good for our bank accounts, they’re terrible for a Yorkies stomach!
Yorkies thrive off a diet high in protein, medium in fat, and low in carbs. This is the ideal macronutrient breakdown.
High quality kibbles nearly always follow this macro breakdown. Low quality kibbles typically have a high percentage of carbs compared to protein and fat (because it’s cheaper).
While still on the topic of diet, it’s important to remember that some Yorkies have sensitive stomachs to common allergens.
Common allergens include: chicken, beef, pork, lamb, chicken eggs, dairy, soy, and wheat.
Yep, despite being including in most kibbles and treats, chicken is actually a common allergen and doesn’t always sit right with a dog’s stomach.
2. Too many treats or table scraps
I’m certainly guilty of giving a few too many treats throughout the day, and i know many owners are the same!
Unfortunately, too many treats during the day can sabotage your Yorkies appetite for later on.
And table scraps are even worse!
Not only does our food contain many toxic and harsh ingredients for dog’s but it could teach your Yorkie to refuse their own food and wait for ours!
It’s crucial to use a healthy low-calorie dog treat and avoid table scraps to keep your Yorkie’s appetite.
Remember to inform everyone in the household about this. While you may not be slipping table scraps under the table, someone else might be (like the kids! It took a while to figure this out).
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3. Insufficient exercise
Yorkies have a surprising amount of energy, and despite only being small, still need their daily walk and exercise.
Exercise doesn’t just keep them fit and healthy, it also creates a strong appetite. Inactive Yorkies may literally not feel the need to eat much!
Adult Yorkies should ideally receive 60 minutes of exercise/activity per day.
The best routine would involve walking your Yorkie for 30 minutes shortly before each mealtime to work up an appetite.
4. Unclear feeding schedule
I have many friends with small breeds, including Yorkies, and something they often do is leave the food bowl down the entire day with food in it.
“Day grazing” is very common with small breeds, and while it works for some, it does make it difficult to track how much your Yorkie is actually eating.
Having rigid mealtimes will train your Yorkie to be sufficiently hungry at specific times, resulting in all the food eaten in one go.
It’s a good idea to stick to set mealtimes, and in some cases remove the food bowl 30 minutes after putting it down (even if there’s still food).
It won’t take long before your Yorkie realizes “Damn, I gotta eat this food when it’s put down!”
Noteworthy: Time restricted eating is actually one of the best tricks to combat fussy eaters!
5. Bored of the food
While it’s slightly more difficult to diagnose “boredom” it’s certainly possible that your Yorkie is just fed up of the same old food.
If you’re already providing a high quality kibble and have a good routine with your Yorkie, then it may that shes just bored of it.
Have you been feeding the same kibble for a long time? If your Yorkie did enjoy this specific food for a long time but has gradually become disinterested, a simple switch up may be the cure.
It’s hard to know if your Yorkie is just “bored” without any real issue. There’s a great way to combat boredom which I’ll explain below.
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6. Stress or anxiety
Canine stress and anxiety can be brought on my many things. And if your Yorkie is currently affected by this, then it may be playing havoc with their appetite.
Yorkies may get stressed or anxious from the following:
- Being left alone too long
- Insufficient attention from owner
- Insufficient stimulation
- Lack of training
- Unsettling environment (noisy, chaotic, fast pace)
- Punitive training or punishment
- The loss of another pet or family member
- The addition of someone new in the home
- Someone else in the home is stressed
- Moving homes
As you can see, many things may cause our little friends excess stress.
Consider your Yorkies overall routine and lifestyle, and be fair when assessing if something could be causing them some mental upset.
In other, more subtle cases, environment factors such as new outside noises, smells, and even moving their food bowl can be unsettling enough to cause food refusal.
Yorkies must feel calm and relaxed in order to have a basic healthy appetite.
7. Health issues
A change in appetite and food refusal is a very common symptom of an underlying health issue/s.
If there’s no obvious reason to your Yorkie’s food refusal, then it important to contact your vet and schedule an appointment.
- If your Yorkie has already completely refused food for 2 days it’s important to get help as soon as possible.
- If your Yorkie is weak and isn’t eating, then again it’s important to contact your vet
- If your Yorkie is also refusing to drink fluids, you should take them to the veterinarian immediately.
While refusing to eat doesn’t always significy health issues, it is one of the most common symptoms of most issues.
If you’re unsure as to the cause of the food refusal, then be all means contact your veterinarian.
Ruling out health issues is always important to do as early as possible.
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6 Ways To Get a Yorkie Eating Again
From speaking with other Yorkie owners dealing with food refusal, the following tips were all mentioned as great ways to solve the issue.
1. Reduce common allergens
If your Yorkie is consuming many common allergens (chicken, beef, pork, lamb, diary, eggs, soy, wheat), then try reducing or completely eliminating them.
If your Yorkie is showing signs of discomfort after eating these kinds of ingredients then there’s a high chance this is the issue.
Kibbles that get their main protein source from salmon, turkey, or duck are good alternatives.
2. Mix in wet dog food
Veterinarians recommend an 80% dry kibble with 20% wet dog food split to cure food refusal.
Wet dog food is incredibly rich, tasty, nutritious and palatable, making it almost irresistable.
This usually fixes food refusal from the first try. Just be sure to mix it in extremely well to avoid your Yorkie only eating the wet food.
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3. Switch dog treats
Our favorite healthy low-calorie dog treat has always been Zukes Mini Naturals.
Each treat only contains around 2 calories and does not contain nasty ingredients.
Stop all calorie dense dog chews and table scraps, and opt for these little nibbles.
This will allow you to keep rewarding your Yorkie, without disrupting their appetite.
4. Rotate kibbles
To percent your Yorkie from getting bored, you can follow the rotation diet.
This is where you simply rotate two different kibble flavors every 2-3 months.
It’s crucial to find two kibbles your Yorkie tolerates well. In most cases, it’s best to stick to the same brand, just switch the flavor.
By providing a switch of flavor it can keep your Yorkie interested in mealtimes for longer. Just be sure to make each switch over gradual (7 days phasing in and out).
5. Meat broth or peanut butter
If you aren’t fond of trying the wet dog food mix, a quick DIY option is to add meat broth or peanut butter.
With meat broth opt for little or no salt version, and with peanut butter ensure it does not have Xylitol (toxic to dogs).
A little of either of these mixed into the kibble will refresh its flavor and make it irrestibly tasty.
Just don’t give too much peanut butter as it’s high in calories!
6. Time restricted eating
As explained before, time restricted eating is a very good way to stop fussy eating habits.
By limiting the time your Yorkie has to eat (30 minutes) it will awaken their survival instinct to eat food the moment they have it.
This is only worth doing if your Yorkie has a bad habit of picking at their food for hours on end.
Try giving them only 30 minutes, after which the food bowl is removed until their next mealtime.
Of course, if your Yorkie isn’t eating anything at all then this may not be appropriate… This is for those that pick and mess around with their kibble.
As I mentioned earlier, if your Yorkie hasn’t eaten anything for two days straight, it’s important to speak to your veterinarian.
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When To See a Vet
If you’re concerned about the food refusal with your Yorkie, then when should you seek veterinarian help?
Seek veterinarian help in the following situations:
- Your Yorkie is a puppy (under 1)
- Your Yorkie is a senior (over 8)
- Your Yorkie hasn’t eaten in 2 days already
- Your Yorkie is visibly weak and isn’t eating
- Your Yorkie is refusing to drink as well as eat
If any of these apply to you then we advise you to consult your veterinarian as soon as possible.
How Long Can Yorkies Go Without Eating?
Most healthy adult Yorkies will be able to go for more than 3-5 days without eating, so long as they keep drinking plenty.
Puppies, seniors, and those with health issues are significantly more vulnerable and likely can’t go this long.
Please note that it’s crucial your Yorkie keeps drinking fluids. If they refuse fluids and food completely they must be taken to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
While Yorkies don’t usually have eating issues, it’s completely normal for them to experience at least once or twice in their life…
7 common reasons why Yorkies refuse food include:
- Low quality dog food
- Too many treats or table scraps
- Insufficient exercise
- Unclear feeding schedule
- Bored of the food
- Health issues
6 Ways to get your Yorkie eating again:
- Reduce common allergens
- Mix in wet dog food
- Switch dog treats
- Rotate kibbles
- Add meat broth of peanut butter
- Implement time restricted eating
If you’ve had experience tackling this issue be sure to message in! We would love to hear what worked for you and your Yorkie.
Thanks for reading. Back to more Yorkie articles!