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While you’ll typically find multiple aisles of neatly packed dog food and treats lining the shelves of most pet stores, there’s good reason to think twice before you buy them for your beloved Yorkie.

Much like the shelf-stable foods we purchase for ourselves, the convenience of fridge-free storage for your dog’s food can come at a cost, often in the form of artificial preservatives.

In this helpful guide, we’ll break down which ingredients to avoid plus the benefits of buying limited-ingredient dog food for your furry friend.

The hidden dangers of shelf-stable ingredients in dog food

There’s no denying the perks of being able to store your dog’s food without worrying about fridge or freezer space, but there’s a trade-off that comes with that convenience.

Three ingredients to avoid in dog food

Manufacturers often rely on added preservatives to extend the shelf life of the dog foods they are producing. While natural preservatives, typically made from vitamins C and E, are generally considered safe, they tend to preserve foods for a shorter period of time, so many manufacturers turn to artificial preservatives instead. And there is enough debate around the use of these preservatives to make you take pause about feeding them to your pooch.

A few of the most common chemical ingredients to avoid are:

  1. Ethoxyquin
  2. Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)
  3. Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)

Although these artificial preservatives can be very effective at extending the shelf-life of dog food, some studies have linked these chemicals to health problems in both humans and animals.

And while the reported negative effects are typically attributed to high and prolonged exposure to these chemicals, due to Yorkies’ diminutive size, any amount of these artificial ingredients can be cause for concern. So the next time you’re shopping, make sure you take a closer look at that ingredient label.

Shelf-stable foods are often highly processed

To make dog food that can last for months (or even years!) on the shelf, it often has to go through high heat and multiple levels of processing, which can strip the natural nutrients and vitamins your Yorkie needs. These then need to be added back in with artificial ingredients along with the chemical preservatives, making shelf-stable food a lot less appealing overall.

The benefits of buying limited-ingredient dog food

When it comes to buying the best food for your Yorkie, less is more…at least when it comes to ingredient quantity, that is.

Typically, the longer the ingredient list, the more likely it is to include preservatives and processing. But beyond length, what exactly should you be looking for on the ingredient list?

Best ingredients to look for in dog food

When reviewing the ingredients list, typically found on the side or back of dog food, pay particular attention to the order of ingredients. Ingredients are listed by weight (determined by water content), with the first few ingredients typically making up the majority of what is found in the food.

Ideally, you’ll want those ingredients to include a high-quality mix of meat, vegetables, grains, and fruits to ensure your Yorkie is getting the proper nutrition it needs.

For truly high-quality, wholesome ingredients, you may want to think outside of the pet store aisle and choose one of the many fresh options now on the market. You can even do all your research online to review brands like The Farmer’s Dog use high-quality human-grade ingredients delivered right to your door, portioned just right and balanced based on your Yorkie’s unique age, weight, and activity level—without a single preservative in sight.

So, what’s the best dog food for Yorkies?

While dry kibble and canned dog food most likely come to mind when you think of what to feed your Yorkie, you may want to steer clear of the shelf altogether. That’s because those same ingredients that keep the food shelf-stable for months or even years could be causing more harm than good in the long run.

The good news is that there are now plenty of options to provide your pup with healthy, clean ingredients that you can recognize, including high-quality fresh options that offer the benefits of a healthy, home-cooked meal for your Yorkie without the work. Because we all know that Yorkies deserve nothing less than the best.

Of course, it’s always best to consult with your veterinarian before changing your pup’s food.