Top Ten Tips for Success with Your Adopted Westie!

Tip #4  --  Food and Nutrition

You will have to make decisions about your dog’s food.  We always recommend that you do some research into this subject.

The poor quality of many commercial dog foods is surprising.  Many dog foods can not be digested properly, do not provide nutritional value and are missing essential elements.  The result of a poor diet is often evidenced by skin and coat problems, allergic-like reactions or a compromised autoimmune system.

We suggest you feed your dog food that is of a high quality containing USDA approved human grade ingredientsBUT be sure you are giving your dog at least a premium quality pet store food, if not better.  We generally recommend a lamb and rice based kibble. This will make your dog healthier overall and will make a huge difference in preventing the skin problems often experienced by Westies.

Read the Ingredients Label
Please read the list of ingredients to ensure the food does NOT contain wheat, soy or corn.
Additionally, AVOID foods or treats that list any of these ingredients on the label:
  • By-products (chicken by-products, beef by-products, etc.)

  • Fats or proteins named generically, i.e., animal fat, poultry fat, meat meal; instead look fats or proteins named specifically, i.e., beef fat, chicken fat or lamb meal

  • Food fragments, i.e., brewer's rice, corn gluten

  • Animal digest

  • Artificial sweeteners, i.e., corn syrup, sucrose, and ammoniated glycyrrhizin (added to attract dogs to unappealing food)

  • Propylene glycol

  • Artificial preservatives (BHT, BHA and Ethoxyquin)

  • Artificial colors

  • Sodium nitrate

  • Flavors

Look for a commercial dog food to contain as few grains as possible.  A whole-meat source should be one of the first two ingredients, preferably two of the top three. 

Feeding Your New Westie
Some rescue dogs may be reluctant to eat during the first day or two in their new adoptive homes.  This will resolve when the dog becomes comfortable with his new surroundings and new family.  To ease your dog's adjustment,  it is often helpful to add warm water or warm broth (chicken or beef) to the dry kibble or mix a spoonful of canned food or chicken baby food with the kibble.

Don't leave your dog's food out longer than 30 minutes.  If your dog has walked away from the bowl, he/she has probably had enough to eat.  Discard the remaining food, since exposed food is unsanitary.

Please remember that sudden changes in your dog's diet can cause stomach upset and loose stools.  New foods should be introduced gradually over a period of 7-10 days.  Make sure you have enough of the old food to last during this transition.

FIRST DAY... Feed 3/4 of the old food and 1/4 of the new food at each meal.

EACH DAY THEREAFTER...Gradually increase the amount of new food and decrease the old food at a rate of 10% per day.

Some dogs adjust quickly. Others may take longer.  Be patient.

Be sure the treats and snacks you give your Westie are healthy, too.  Fruits and vegetables are healthy choices.  Whole raw carrots are great treats for your Westie -- crunchy, tasty and healthy.

Food Safety
Never give a Westie turkey, chicken or rib bones as treats.  They can splinter and cause serious injury.
And chocolate is not a treat for dogs.  Chocolate contains theobromine, a powerful stimulant that is toxic to pets.  Onions can be toxic to dog causing anemia.  Also, sweets, cakes and cookies can upset a dog's gastrointestinal tract and lead to diarrhea and vomiting.

Home Cooked Food
If you decide to home cook your dog's food, please ask your veterinarian to consult with the Nutrition staff at  UC Davis Small Animal Clinic:
(Telephone:  530-752-1393). 
The Nutritionists will provide consultations and will calculate, via their computer program, the optimal balanced diet for your Westie.
This is just one of the wonderful services offered by an extraordinary Bay Area resource dedicated to providing the highest quality of veterinary care possible for your pet.

UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital and Small Animal Clinic



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