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What to Do if Your Senior Yorkie Won’t Eat

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Alrighty, Yorkie parents out there, you know as well as I do that these little furballs of joy are something special. They’re full of energy, love to please, and their devotion to us is off the charts. But what happens when your golden-oldie Yorkie won’t eat?

We’ve all dealt with a fussy eater at some point, but what happens when your elderly Yorkie suddenly stops eating altogether?

There are plenty of causes as to why your Yorkie might not want to eat. Luckily, there are some ways to make mealtime enjoyable again.

So, fasten your seatbelts folks! We’re about to delve into why your old Yorkie won’t eat, and more importantly, how to turn things around. Let’s get started!

side view of old yorkshire terrier with tongue hanging out

Why Won’t My Elderly Yorkie Eat?

It’s normal for dogs, just like us humans, to lose some of their appetite as they age. But when your Yorkie decides to go on a full-blown food strike, it’s a different ball game.

Here are some reasons why your Yorkie might be playing hard to get with their grub:

Age Factor

As they trot into their golden years, Yorkies (like all dogs) need fewer calories. Why? They’re just not as active anymore. However, this doesn’t mean they should quit eating altogether.

Health Issues

Yorkies aren’t immune to health issues, especially as they age, and some of these can seriously mess with their appetite.

Let’s take a look at some of these problems.

Dental Problems

Dental diseases are common in Yorkies, mainly because they have small mouths and their teeth can get easily overcrowded. The plaque build-up on their teeth can lead to gingivitis, bad breath, and teeth loss.

These conditions can eventually cause chewing and eating problems that hinder your Yorkie from eating properly.

Read this post for help in feeding your dog with dental issues.

GIT Problems

Tummy Troubles like upset stomach, pancreatitis, or hemorrhagic gastroenteritis can also curb your Yorkie’s appetite.

If your dog suffers from any of these conditions, he might prefer to stay alone and relax while staying away from food.

Other health problems that might cause Yorkies to lose their appetite include the following:
● Cancer
● Dementia
● Hypoglycemia
● Toxicity
● Fever
● Dizziness

Remember, aging Yorkies might be on more medications for chronic conditions, some of which can curb their appetite as a side effect. So, keep a tab on those antibiotics, pain relievers, and anti-inflammatory drugs.

sitting yorkie lifting paw

Stress and Anxiety

Just like us, Yorkies can get stressed or anxious, particularly as they age. This might result in them giving food a pass for a day or two. Changes in your dog’s environment or daily routine are enough to make him uncomfortable.

For example, if you moved to a new house, your Yorkie might take time to adjust to the new surroundings. During this time, you may notice that he refuses to eat.

The same happens when your dog meets unfamiliar people or animals daily, like if you have guests that are staying for a long period. Your dog may even get anxious when one of the family members is missing.

Food-Related Issues

If you think your Yorkie doesn’t have health problems and he’s still not eating well, the food might be the issue. Dogs can be picky eaters, and they easily get bored if you keep feeding them the same food for too long.

At the same time, some dogs might not eat if you suddenly change their diet to something new. What’s more, dogs’ taste buds get less sensitive with age, which makes the food less desirable to them.

Dogs sometimes get used to human food and refuse to eat their regular meals. It’s ok to give them a treat of human food occasionally, but too much can spoil them and keep them from eating their actual food.

What to Do If Your Elderly Yorkie Won’t Eat

Firstly, put on your detective hat and figure out what’s bothering your Yorkie. Whether it’s a health issue or a behavioral one, there’s always a way to reignite their love for food.

Time for the Vet!

If your Yorkie has been fasting for over 48 hours, it’s time to call in the professionals. A sudden loss of appetite could signal an underlying health issue.

Your vet will conduct a full examination, which could include blood tests, urine tests, x-rays, and dental examinations. They could also recommend food that’ll be easier on your Yorkie’s tummy and more appealing to them.

Addressing Behavior Blues

elderly Yorkie laying on dog bed wearing diaper

As we mentioned, health problems aren’t always the reason your dog isn’t eating. It’s common for older Yorkies to have behavioral problems that decrease their appetite. This includes dementia, confusion, and depression.

If your Yorkie is dealing with dementia or confusion, he might still recognize familiar faces. However, he might have trouble distinguishing between different kinds of food. In that case, you need to follow a strict feeding schedule. Make sure your dog’s food, water, and bed are always in the same place to avoid confusing him.

You might also need to adjust his diet to include more antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that improve his cognitive function.

When dealing with depression, you can cheer up your Yorkie with new toys, interactive treats, and a refreshed menu. Sprucing up their meals with different, healthy foods might reignite their love for food.

yorkshire terrier dog eating from a bowl

Additional Tips to Woo Your Yorkie Back to Food

  1. Hydration is Key: Make sure your Yorkie is staying hydrated. A decrease in food often comes with less water intake, so always have fresh water available.
  2. Warm it Up: Try warming up their food a bit to enhance the aroma and make it more appealing.
  3. Quality over Quantity: Consider giving your Yorkie high-quality, senior-specific dog food. This meets their changing nutritional needs and could be more appealing.
  4. Peaceful Mealtimes: Try to create a quiet and calm feeding environment to reduce stress or distractions during mealtimes.
  5. Mild Exercise: Gentle exercise could stimulate their appetite. Just remember to keep it appropriate for their age and health condition.
  6. More Quality Time: Sometimes, extra petting or more attention can help them feel more secure and could indirectly stimulate their appetite.
older Yorkie laying down

Putting It All Together

There are many reasons behind an elderly Yorkie’s loss of appetite – normal aging, health conditions, or even feeling a bit blue. So, what’s the plan of action? Firstly, understand the cause, then find a suitable remedy. Remember, more than 48 hours without eating warrants an immediate trip to the vet.

If it’s simply a decrease in appetite, consider changing up their diet, adding enticing ingredients, or even switching to high-quality, senior-specific dog food. This can not only stimulate their appetite but also improve their mood and cognitive function.

So, fellow Yorkie owners, take heart! With a little time, patience, and some culinary creativity, your seasoned Yorkie will be back to savoring their meals before you know it.

Cathy signature with Yorkie drawing
Blond woman holding a Yorkie and Chorkie sitting outside

Cathy Bendzunas

Dog Blogger, Former Dog Groomer

I have adored Yorkies for well over 50 years. As a young adult, I began to show and breed them. Now, I just write about them and have several in my little pack of small dogs.

I have had dogs all my life and have trained as a dog groomer. I also have been a kennel worker, worked in a pet hotel through PetSmart, and still am a pet sitter.

Check out my bio for more information about me.