A lot of concerned Westie owners will honestly ask What’s the best diet for a Westie? West Highland Terriers are dogs first and foremost and they really don’t need fancy dog foods to thrive. The fact is that Westie diet can be incredibly simple. There’s an incredible amount of hype about dog food. Its all driven by marketing, misunderstanding and guilt.
What was that last one? Guilt? What do you mean by that?
Simple. Very few dogs have an ideal life. They don’t lack for affection because we love them very much. The simple fact is that, because of the pressures of modern life and the time demands of working and family, most dogs are under-exercised and left alone for far too long. On some level we all recognize that and we compensate by spoiling our dogs whenever possible.
One way this spoiling takes place is overfeeding. The amount of food a dog really needs looks pitiful when its poured into the bowl, and this is even more true of dogs that are not exercised enough. The result is a fat dog, sooner or later.
Its easy to overfeed your dog because of his basic nature. While there are some dogs who are quite fastidious and disciplined in the amount they eat, most will consume as much as you put in front of them. This is because dogs started out as predators and scavengers, and for them its feast or famine. When they have a carcass to clean up they eat until they can’t eat any more, have a nap, then go back to eating. Rinse and repeat until the food is gone. This is the normal behavior for lions, hyenas, wolves and dogs.
Anything to do with pets in general, dogs and cats in particular, has become a multi-billion dollar industry. That means that we are constantly bombarded by marketing misinformation designed to get us to buy things that aren’t necessary for the health of our dogs. Marketers are fully aware of the guilt factor and they prey on our love of animals so that they can sell us more expensive stuff. Dog food is one of the most aggressively pursued markets. They want your bucks, folks.
I’m not trying to say that there is anything inherently wrong with expensive dog foods, just that they aren’t needed to keep your dog healthy. Once a dog has been provided with an adequate amount of standard kibble the most important thing for its health is exercise.
Its funny, really. A lot of us are subsisting on bag lunches and MacDonalds most days. We don’t have enough time to eat properly ourselves, yet we obsess over the quality of our dogs food. The simple fact is that, even if you feed your dog nothing but basic kibble he’s probably eating better than you are. All the rest is hype, folks. Keep your wallet in your pants and spend the money you save on a dog walker.
There are around thirty foods that are either dangerous or poisonous to dogs. You can find a list of them in a previous post called WESTIE DIET SHOULD AVOID PEOPLE CHOW. None of them can be found in commercial kibble, but they crop up when we feed our dogs scraps or share our snacks with them.
That doesn’t mean that scraps are bad for dogs, either. Its quite possible to feed a dog a balanced diet entirely on table scraps if you have a large family that eats well. Getting the balance right requires a lot of nutritional knowledge and care. Its a way more complicated than most people think.
Westie Special Conditions
Unless your dog has a problem diagnosed by a vet, the only thing you need to be aware of is that some Westies develop dry skin that can become itchy and form sores if untreated. In most cases, all you need to do is add some fish oil to his diet. Buy some capsules of cod, salmon or halibut oil and squeeze a couple onto his kibble. He’ll probably love it, although he might want to roll in it instead of eating it. Don’t obsess over what kind of oil, either. Buy the cheap stuff. This is one of those things you can do routinely or you can wait and see if the skin problems strike your dog. Lots of them don’t ever develop these sores, but adding the oil to the diet won’t cause any problems, so its up to you.
For more good information about dog dietary requirements, I recommend the Terrierman’s Daily Dose, one of the best dog blogs on the net.