Choosing Healthy Snacks

Choosing Healthy Snacks for a Yorkshire Terrier



People know how important a healthy diet is and this extends to our dogs as well. What a dog ingests has a direct impact on his health; not just today but for his or her lifetime. While you may put a lot of careful thought into what you feed your Yorkie for regular meals, making sure to offer super healthy snacks is just as vital. Many pre-packaged, manufactured snacks are filled with ingredients that can cause a slew of issues, from allergic reaction to upset stomach. With so many options out there, it may seem overwhelming to sort through the choices. 


This section is going to cover:

  • Treats to avoid & consequences of bad snack choices
  • Veggies & Fruits - Which ones are best and why
  • Commercial snacks that are actually good and their benefits

Snack Treats to NOT Give a Yorkie


The pet food market is filled with all sorts of treats and snacks. From bacon flavored to cookies to those shaped like bones; many are made to look like they'd be yummy and owners can be lured in. But just what is in those snacks?  


Let’s look at some of the issues:


1) Overseas products. There are some major issues with dog food products made overseas and China is just one of the countries to be wary of in this regard. Some snacks have been recalled but many are still on the market. These are thought to be linked to a life-threatening kidney disease called Fanconi syndrome. In addition, Yorkshire Terriers and other dogs can develop allergic responses to these treats including dulling of coat, loss of hair, hot spots and watery eyes. Others have become ill with intestinal problems including vomiting and diarrhea. 


You may be most aware of issues with chicken jerky; however it extends way beyond this. Warnings have gone up regarding duck, yam and sweet potato snacks as well.  


Though the exact ingredient or processing that is causing these problems has not been identified, the FDA received more than 5,600 complaints (as of October) from dog owners regarding illness in their pets after consumption of treats from China. There are also reports of severe illness from chicken treats coming from Thailand.

*** Play close attention to which country a dog snack has been manufactured in, not just packaged in. For example, fine small print may show that it was manufactured in an Asian country and larger, more easily seen words may say that it was packaged in Ohio, USA. 


*** You’ll also want to see which country a snack is sourced from. This means where the meat originates from. In other words, if the meat in a chicken snack comes from China but is then turned into a treat in the US, you’ll want to avoid this. 


2) Harmful USA ingredients. While making sure that a snack for a Yorkie is made in the USA is one step in the right direction, this does not mean that it is a good treat or will not cause issues. Some contain very little ‘real’ food and are packed with artificial coloring, a high level of preservatives and artificial flavoring. These are chemicals and they can cause quite severe allergic conditions. These snack ingredients can cause a Yorkie to develop drying skin, dulling coat, itching, rashes, thinning hair, watery irritated eyes, tear staining, upset stomach, diarrhea and/or vomiting. 


Here is what to avoid:

  • Artificial preservatives - Added to snacks to make them last longer, these can wreak havoc on a little Yorkie’s body. This includes: BHA, BHT, calcium propionate , ethoxyquin, potassium sorbate and sodium nitrate. 
  • Artificial colors - The brighter the dog snack, the worse it is. And bright red doggie treats should be avoided at all costs. Make sure that snacks for your Yorkshire Terrier are neutral colors like cream and tan. 
  • Chemical humectants - This is added to some canine snacks to make them soft and chewy, and therefore more appealing to a dog being given the treat. However it is a chemical that can cause all sorts of problems including the dry coat and itchy eyes that we spoke of. Most often, it will be listed at propylene glycol. Good treats will use ingredients to retain moisture, but use vegetable glycerin or molasses, both natural ingredients that are not harmful. 
  • Artificial sweeteners - These should be avoided as the effects of many have not been studied on canines and are thought to cause upset stomach. Look for natural sweeteners including applesauce or molasses.

3) Raw hide. It cannot be overstated how dangerous raw hide snacks can be to dogs, and particularly to toy breed dogs like the Yorkie. Long thought to be a great snack due to being hard and therefore good for teeth, it is now known that not only can these be choking hazards, the most risky element is the potential for stomach or intestinal blockage. 


There are both ‘real’ rawhides made from the skin of cows which are also unsafe due to arsenic and formaldehyde that are deposited on the treats during the processing and ‘fake’ rawhides that can be just as hard and therefore cause the blockage problems. There are much better snack options for Yorkshire Terriers that promote strong, healthy teeth (more ahead). 

The Benefit of Vegetables as Snacks


There is a notion with some owners that for a dog to think a snack is delicious, it must be shaped like a bone, be brightly colored or smell like bacon. This is not so. While there are some fantastic commercial snacks (more ahead) some of the best choices are those that are already in your fridge. 


In general, about 25% of a canine’s diet should consist of vegetables. There is no die-hard rule and if a Yorkie eats 20% one day and 35% the next, this is just fine.


There are some great choices to add to meals such as leafy greens that are packed with antioxidants and minerals; these include spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collards, turnip greens and lettuce. 


For snacks, look to baby carrots, which are low in calories, high in vitamins and minerals and good for the teeth. Some worry that carrots are high in sugar; it should be noted that while carbs are converted to glucose (sugar) each does so at varying degrees. Carrots have a low glycemic index score of 35 due to their high fiber content which slows the absorption of glucose. All of this leads to carrots being a great snack for dogs. With this said, do not go overboard; as with any other treat, moderation is key. A good serving size is 1 to 2 baby carrots for Yorkie puppies and 2 to 3 for an adult. 


Other vegetables that can be safely given to dogs include green beans, sweet baby peas, sweet potato, regular potatoes and zucchini.  Carrots for snacks can be given raw, but for meals you can cook them. For all of these veggies, steaming is best as it helps them retain the nutrients. 




Some fruits are ‘super foods’, packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants (which can clear the body of free radicals, preventing countless diseases and health conditions).  


Another reason that fruit is a great snack for Yorkies is that they are easily handed out, can be served in a number of ways and are well received, since they taste so good.


Some of the best fruit snacks for Yorkies do not cause any issues in regard to sugar due to their fiber content, which slows the production and absorption of glucose. Therefore, when given in moderation, you don't need to worry about them containing natural sugars.


Here are some of the best fruit snack choices for Yorkshire Terriers:

  • Banana - Great for upset stomach and often well received by all puppies and dogs. Offer slices either fresh or frozen. 
  • Blueberries - If we had to recommend just one fruit to give a Yorkie, it would be blueberries. These are packed with antioxidants. Freeze some to give out as treats and rewards or mix some into your dog’s kibble. 
  • Raspberries - A close second to blueberries for snacks. The texture and color makes them fun treats and they as well are packed with vitamins and antioxidants.
  • Strawberries - Super sweet and super healthy, strawberries are excellent snacks. Researchers have also found these to have anti-inflammatory properties. 

*** Try freezing fruit, dogs love it this way and it makes it less messy. Also, mixing fruit into whole white yogurt and then either giving that as a treat or freezing the mixture into ice cube trays is a fun and healthy snack. Be sure to use whole white yogurt and not any with artificial sweeteners or flavors. 


The Best Commercial Dog Treats for Yorkies


Keeping in mind what we want to avoid (Artificial preservatives, artificial colors, chemical humectants, artificial sweeteners, low grade ingredients and anything made from China or Thailand) and what we want to have (snacks that promote healthy teeth and taste good), there are some great choices. 


Here are our top 5 picks:

  • Blue Ridge Naturals Sweet Tater Fries - These are made and sourced in the USA. There are no additives or preservatives. These are healthy with lots of beta carotene, vitamins A & C. These are naturally sweet and well received by Yorkies. Additionally, the texture makes them great for teeth (though do still brush your dog’s teeth on a regular basis). 
  • The Real Thing BiteMe Beef Sticks - These are made in the USA from 100% lean beef. These all natural snacks are grain free and gluten free with no chemical preservatives and no additives. If you worry about your Yorkie eating a snack that may trigger allergies, this is a safe choice that is well-liked. 
  • SmartBones chews - The line of SmartBones treats , which are made in the USA, are excellent, healthy snacks and treat options for many reasons. They are superb for chewing to keep a Yorkie’s teeth healthy and strong while being 100% rawhide-free and highly digestible. They contain wholesome vegetables and real meat. Additionally, they are sized for small dogs and very well received. They have a large array of super yummy flavors, we recommend the peanut butter and sweet potato varieties. 
  • Zuke's Mini Naturals Dog Treats - These are made in the USA and are quality snacks made with wholesome ingredients such as chicken (the main ingredient in the roasted chicken treats), and healthy foods such as ground barley and fish oil (great for the coat). You’ll see vegetable glycerin listed, which is a safe & healthy moisture adding ingredient. There are lots of delicious options including salmon, rabbit, wild blueberry and peanut butter. Every single ingredient is sourced and made in the US, with a high level of consistency. There has never been a recall. 
  • Macs & Buddy Mini Bones - This are made in the USA dental treats that promote clean teeth. There are 2 flavors. The Fresh Breath one is made with real dill, parsley and mint, which are natural, safe ingredients known to help a dog's breath smell nice. The other is cheese, made with no by-products or artificial coloring. These are really great for the Yorkshire Terrier breed due to their perfect sizing for a Yorkie's tiny mouth (and tiny teeth). 

A Final Word


There are lots of choices when you are looking for snacks for your Yorkshire Terrier, however you won’t often find them in the pet food aisle of your local supermarket or pet store. Many supermarkets and pet supply stores only stock 'big name' brands that mass produce pet foods. The smaller companies that offer a personal touch and put care into the products are often forced out by larger companies.


You will find them in the produce aisle by choosing healthy fruits and vegetables. If you opt for manufactured treats, please do take them time to check out the manufacturer and read the fine print on the label; understand the ingredients and what it is that you are giving to your Yorkie. 


Never assume that a well-known brand offers safe snacks. Big names that mass-produce often try to cut corners and that means chemicals. Too many Yorkie puppies and dogs suffer from coat and skin issues and upset tummy due to questionable ingredients put into canine snacks.


Also, you can't really go by pricing. Some really good, wholesome treats are extremely affordable. 


And finally, please remember that what you offer as treats and rewards is just important as what is put into the dish for meals. 


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