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Yorkshire Terriers and Water Drinking Issues


Many owners are extremely conscientious regarding what food is fed to their Yorkie, for both meals and snacks, however another important element that is often overlooked is what our puppies and dogs drink. The water that you feed to your Yorkshire Terrier plays a role in his/her overall health
In this section we are going to discuss:
  • How much water a Yorkshire Terrier should drink each day
  • What can happen when a puppy or dog is not receiving enough water
  • Great tips for encouraging a Yorkie to drink more and alternative ways to stay hydrated
  • What to do if your Yorkie drinks too fast and the effects this can have on a dog
  • Health issues that may cause a dog to drink less and those that can cause increased thirst
  • Valid reasons why unfiltered tap water can wreak havoc on a dog's body

How Much Water a Yorkshire Terrier Needs

Just like humans, canines require water on a regular basis. It is needed for every single body function, from the heart to the brain… to carry nutrients, for skin health, for the digestive system to properly function and more. 

Water also helps keep dogs healthy by flushing toxins from the body and is needed for a dog to properly regulate body temperature since droplets are constantly being evaporated off of the tongue and in the breath when panting and that water needs to be replaced. Interestingly, a lack of enough water can even throw a dog's sense of smell off, since the nose functions best when properly hydrated.   

The amount of water that a Yorkie needs will vary depending on his activity level, health status, how much water is present in the food that he eats and the temperature of his environment. With this said, the general guideline for toy breed dogs is 1 to 1.5 ounces for each pound of body weight.

Keep in mind that young puppies that are in the weaning process will be ingesting water via the milk replacer that is used to offer a mushy 'stew' of food and the pups water needs will increase respectively as he transitions to slid food and drinks more water from a bowl.  
Let's look at requirements of how much water a Yorkshire Terrier should be drinking each day, based on weight. The lower number will be for Yorkies more sedentary days without hot weather and the higher number will be for active dogs and/or during times of high temperatures. 

Weight of dog | Amount of water

1 pound (.45 kg) = 1 to 1.5 ounces (29.6 to 44.4 ml)

2 pounds (.90 kg) = 2 to 3 ounces (59.2 to 88.7 ml)

3 pounds (1.36 kg) = 3 to 4.5 ounces (88.7 to 133 ml)

4 pounds (1.81 kg) = 4 to 6 ounces (.11 to .18 liters)

5 pounds (2.26 kg)= 5 to 7.5 ounces (.14 to .22 liters)

6 pounds (2.72 kg) = 6 to 9 ounces (.18 to .26 liters)

* A Yorkie can drink up to 10% more water than these guidelines if his food has very low water content and/or he is a very active dog. If a puppy or dog drinks much more or much less than this, it will be time to look at possible health issues (more ahead).
Yorkie puppy water requirements
Shayna, 2 years old
Photo courtesy of Marsha Heller

What Happens if a Yorkie Does Not Drink Enough Water

If a Yorkie does not drink enough water on a regular basis, this will generally cause a mild dehydration that can affect his overall energy levels and put a strain on the kidneys. If a Yorkshire Terrier is severely lacking in regular water intake or in cases of quick dehydration (heat stress), this can cause quite serious issue that can be life threatening. 

1 to 5 % loss of body fluid - Far too many dogs are living in a state of mild dehydration that does cause symptoms but is misdiagnosed as other issues. Just a 1% loss can cause a Yorkie to have trouble focusing (not listening to commands, not coming to attention when his name is called, having trouble learning new commands, etc.) Up to a 5% loss can cause dry skin issues, cases of bad breath, nausea, problems with constipation and/or muscle pain.

5 to 10% loss of fluid - This is considered moderate dehydration and can quickly turn into a serious issue if treatment is not given. Signs are dark urine, weakness, sunken in eyes, heavy panting or strained breathing, pale gums, dry nose and/or mouth. 

10 to 15% loss of fluid - With this amount of water loss, a dog is in a state of severe dehydration that necessitates immediate veterinary care. Along with the above signs, there may also be muscle tremors, seizures, and eventual coma and/or death. 

How to Know if your Yorkshire Terrier is Drinking Enough

Aside from the signs listed above, there are a few other ways to determine if your Yorkie is not meeting his water requirements:

1) If you suspect that your Yorkie may not be drinking enough, going by the above water intact guidelines, it may be wise to keep track of how much water your Yorkie ingests each day. Keep note of this for one week. If your puppy or dog is not meeting recommended requirements, it will be time to use some methods to increase his intake (more ahead)

2) Test your Yorkie's capillary refill time (CRT). The gums contain many tiny blood vessels, called capillaries. When pressure is applied to a spot on the gums the blood is temporary forced out and then when the pressure is released, the blood flows back in. 

A delayed time in this reaction often points to issues including a lack of water and also heart conditions. Press on an area of your Yorkie's gums with a fingertip, applying steady firm pressure for a count of 10. 

When you let go, that spot will be white. The normal time that it should take for this to turn back to its normal color is 1.5 seconds. If there is a delay, this can mean that your Yorkshire Terrier is not drinking enough water. 

3) While the color of urine is subjective, healthy urine for dogs that are drinking enough is a light yellow. If the urine is a dark yellow, this can be a sign of insufficient water intake. Please note that orange or brown urine are also signs of medical issues including liver disease, kidney stones, a bladder infection, a urinary tract infection and more.
family of Yorkies
Melody, Joey, Tinkerbell and Mickey Mouse
Photo courtesy of Steve & Robin Timm

How to Encourage a Yorkshire Terrier Drink More Water

Whether your Yorkie is not drinking enough on a daily basis or if you've just exercised your dog and want him to rehydrate, there are some tips to help encourage more water intake:

1) Keep the water fresh and cool. Ahead we will discuss the actual type of water that your give to your Yorkie, however one key is that the water is clean and cool.

Most dogs will not be enthusiastic to drink room temperature water that is either in a dirty bowl or has old food specks floating about.

Additionally, when water stands too long or if the water is simply topped off instead of being replaced, it can become slimy. 
There may be a thin layer of slime floating on the top or it may settle to the bottom of the dish; either way this can make many dogs avoid drinking.  

The water bowl should be cleaned once per day. Many owners find it helpful to remember this by washing it out each evening as the dinner dishes are being washed. 

Another great option is a canine water fountain, which makes drinking more tempting since it is always flowing. We'll discuss these more ahead when we touch on the effects of tap water. 

2) Use stainless steel bowls for both food and water. It cannot be overstated how terrible plastic bowls are. They easily scratch which allows bacteria to quickly grow in the tiny crevices, they do help at all in keeping water cool, those that are brightly colored can slowly leak dyes into food and water and they can be too easily pushed around by a dog's nose. 

Using a quality stainless steel (or ceramic as a second choice) bowl will help keep the water clean and cool. 

3) Offer fresh or frozen fruit. Fruit should be part of every Yorkshire Terrier's diet. Many are not only safe to eat, but are packed with vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants which can help with everything from the immune system to fighting off certain cancers. 

The natural sugar (fructose) does not spike insulin levels in the same way that processed sugar does and many are very low in calories and contain high levels of water. 

If you want your Yorkie to drink more water, you may want to change that thinking to 'eat' more water. 

Some great choices which are relished by dogs either fresh or frozen (which are great for hot summer days) include watermelon (choose the seedless variety) and strawberries (both have 92% water content), mango (84% water), orange slices (87 %), pear slices (86%) or blueberries (80%). Be sure to only feed fruits such as these that are safe and offer only fresh fruit since the canned type can contain lots of added sugar and chemical preservatives. 

4) Make it portable. Whenever you leave the house with your Yorkie for daily exercise via walks or venturing outside on a hot day for more than 20 minutes, bring water with you. It's also a good idea to bring water if you'll be taking your Yorkshire Terrier with you to visit friends or will be having him/her be your companion for running errands. 

Too many owners assume that their dogs will drink enough when they get back home and this often is not the case. 

One of the easiest ways is to have a canine water bottle and travel bowl combination. A quality one will be easy to carry, will keep water cool and the lid serves as the bowl. Take a break at the halfway point, pour some for your Yorkie and let him lap it up. Dogs will drink when water is offered, particularly when it is done in a new environment (during the walk, at the park, etc.). 

If a Yorkshire Terrier Drinks too Fast

The most common issue with Yorkies that drink too fast is stomach upset and/or vomiting right after drinking. Not only do you not want to see your Yorkie get sick, but also the vomiting will not only expel the water he just drank but will send other fluids out as well which can make the puppy or dog more dehydrated than ever. 
Offer water on a more consistent basis can help prevent this so that the Yorkshire Terrier does not reach the point of being excessively thirsty, however one of the best methods to help a dog slow down when drinking is to use a slow-feeder bowl for his water. 

These have safe protrusions that distribute the water (or food) which forces the dog to lap (or eat) around them and food or water is ingested much slower.  

Health Issues that Cause Lack of Thirst with Dogs

There are many different health conditions that can cause a puppy or dog to not drink as much as usual or to stop drinking all together (known as adipsia):

Stress - Being in a state of high anxiety such as when moving to a new house, trying to get used to a new family member or when traveling can cause a dog to feel too nervous to eat or drink. 

Mouth/ oral issues - Trauma to the mouth or teeth, periodontal disease, tooth decay and/or a splinter stuck between the teeth. Essentially, any issue that is causing pain in a dog's mouth or if the pain level increases when food or water passes through the mouth can cause a dog to stop eating or drinking. 

Disease- There is a wide range of health conditions that have adipsia as a symptom including distemper, leptospirosis and parvovirus. In most cases there will be other signs as well such as vomiting, lethargy, lack of appetite and/or diarrhea. 

Parasitic disease such as Lyme disease (also with on and off acute limb lameness, lack of appetite, depression and/or moodiness) or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (also with nose bleeds, discolored spots and/or lethargy) can cause a dog to stop drinking. 

Even an issue such as canine cognitive dysfunction that can occur with senior dogs can cause a dog to not want to drink. 

Diseases that Can Make a Yorkshire Terrier Have Excessive Thirst

Most health conditions that cause increased thirst (polydipsia) also causes an increase in urination (polyuria).

Do keep in mind that a Yorkie will drink more water during hot weather, when exercising more and/or if his food is excessively dry. However, if your puppy or dog seems to not be able to quench his thirst, it's always smart to rule out some possible medical conditions. 

Diabetes - The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that between 1 in 100 to 1 in 500 dogs develop diabetes at some point in their lives. 

Terriers - the Yorkshire Terrier included - are among the top 9 breeds that develop this. 

It most often occurs in dogs from the age of 4 to 14 and females that have not been spayed are at a much higher risk than males.
Yorkie in Romania snow
Brandy, photo courtesy of Raffaella
Other signs of this aside from increased thirst include weakness, skin issues, change in appetite, weight changes, urinary tract infections (UTIs), sweet smelling breath and in some cases, vomiting. In later stages there can be vision issues. 
Other diseases - Less common yet still a possibility would include kidney or thyroid disease, Addison’s disease, Cushing's disease, hormonal disorders and electrolyte imbalances. 

Low protein diets / low protein levels- If a dog is not receiving enough protein in his diet, one sign is increased thirst. In general puppies require 25 to 30% protein and adult Yorkies require 20%. If you are feeding your Yorkshire Terrier a high quality dog food or home cooking with chicken and/or fish, his or her protein needs should be taken care of. 

With this said, the Yorkshire Terrier is one of just a handful of breeds in which protein-losing enteropathy (the body lacks the ability to absorb protein) is seen more often than many other breeds.

Conditions that can cause this include intestinal cancer, infection in the intestines (bacterial, fungal or parasitic), inflammatory bowel disease, stomach ulcers and food allergies

Why Tap Water is Really Bad for Dogs

It's so easy to give your Yorkie water… you just go over to the kitchen sink, run the facet and voila! There it is… and many owners never give this a second thought.

However, in many states in the US, in many areas of Canada and in who knows where else around the world, tap water contains very dangerous toxins. In fact, it is downright shocking what is considered legal for humans to drink. 

Substandard city plumbing - The National Resources Defense Council produced a study that showed 19 cities including Atlanta, Fresno, Albuquerque and San Francisco have tap water that puts humans at risk due to deteriorating plumbing that allows contaminants to leak into water supplies.   

Legal contaminants - In the States, the United States Environmental Protection Agency only regulates the levels of 91 water contaminants out of over 60,000. Of the 91 that are regulated, even though many are proven to cause cancer and other fatal diseases, that are allowed to be present in small qualities (i.e. one 8 ounce glass). 

Tap water is only safe if it is ingested in very low amounts and very infrequently. If you give a Yorkshire Terrier unfiltered tap water every day, for months or years, it can bring about grave consequences.
Yorkshire Terrier full size
Princess Paisley, 5 months old
Photo courtesy of Sharon
Let's take a look at some of the toxins that are LEGALLY allowed to be in tap water:

Fluoride - In the US, 60 to 80% of people's tap water has added fluoride; in Canada the percentage is 40 to 60% and in the UK, 10% of public drinking water has fluoride. Over 8000 dogs each year develop bone tumors; Osteosarcoma is the #1 cause of those tumors in canines and fluoride is directly linked to Osteosarcoma. 

If that alone is not enough to give you pause when giving tap water to your Yorkie, it is also a fact that fluoride ingestion by canines can cause bone loss, hormonal problems and even cognitive brain damage in high doses. This substance is considered 'highly toxic' in canines. 

Trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids - These are the by-products of chlorine treatments (meant to kill germs) but these can cause cancer and reproductive problems.

Chlorite - This is a by-product of disinfectant chemicals that has been shown to cause central nervous problems when ingested long term. 

Arsenic- As per the International Academy for Research on Cancer (IARC), this is a Category I carcinogen, which means it causes cancer. Low levels are allowed to be in tap water and even so states in New England and in the western part of the country have been shown to randomly exceed legal limits.

PFOS and PFOA- The CDC's publication ' National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals' (2009) found that these 2 compounds are found not only in water but also in just about everyone's blood that they tested.
Quote: " PFOS and PFOA have been detected in the blood of nearly all people in the United States". Why is this bad? These have been linked to thyroid disease, testicular and kidney cancer and colitis.

Trichloroethane (1, 1,2) - This is allowed to be in the majority of city water supplies in low amounts and is a runoff from chemical factories. This has been shown to cause liver and kidney disease and also may cause immune system issues. 

What you can do - There are several methods to ensure that the water that your Yorkie drinks is only beneficial to his body and to stop the ingestion of these harmful toxins:

1) Use a filtering device on your kitchen tap. This is a great solution if both your Yorkshire Terrier and you and others in the house would otherwise drink the water from the kitchen faucet. These are easy to attach and the filters need changing bout every other month. You can obtain this from your local home improvement store. 

2) Use a canine water filtering system that will circulate and filter your dog's water before he drinks it. These are usually made with charcoal filters which work well and the water is circulated via a fountain. Not only will this clean up the water, it also can encourage a Yorkie to drink more since most are attracted to the movement of the cascading water. 
Things to Do Now:

Become a Member (if you are not already a Member) - Receive reminders when we add a new page. You will also receive a free & helpful Welcome Booklet. 
Browse Yorkshire Terrier Supplies, for all of our top recommended items to ensure optimal care.
Check out our book - Simply the most comprehensive, helpful Yorkshire Terrier book that exists! 

Healthy Snacks for a Yorkie - Great alternatives to the chemical packed treats that you find at the food store. 
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