This is Sharda again for another West Highland Terrier newsletter.
Today, let’s talk about the proper West Highland Terrier feeding schedule!
Going to the pet store to pick a brand and type of dog food can seem particularly overwhelming when you walk down the aisle and see the dozens upon dozens of varieties of foods available.
If you take the time to read the labels and understand the basic needs of your dog, you will find that there are only a few feeds that meet your dog’s needs.
During a Westie’s lifetime, the feeding requirements will change. A puppy should be fed at least three times a day until it is four months old.
A young puppy must be fed more often, because it has a smaller stomach and is growing at a very fast pace.
After four months of age it is recommended to decrease feeding to twice a day. Some adult dogs only require feeding once a day, or may be given free choice food if they are outdoors or are not over-eaters.
Any changes in feeding should be closely monitored to determine the effect that they are having on the overall health of the dog. Fresh water should always be available for all dogs and puppies.
Regularly scheduled feeding will help with housetraining as well. A schedule of feeding means a schedule for toileting.
WET VS. DRY
The first decision that you have to make is whether you are going to feed wet, dry or a combination of wet and dry foods. There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of food.
Wet food is often more palatable for dogs of all ages, and can be particularly important to feed when your puppy is very young or your Westie is very old. Dogs with dental or intestinal problems may need to be fed wet food at least for a short period of time on recommendation by a veterinarian.
Most breeders and vets do not recommend a diet of only wet food, as it does not have the same fiber and consistency as the dry food. Dogs that are fed only wet food often have issues with producing excessive amounts of gas and needing to go outside often to defecate.
Dry food is often rather unpalatable to a dog, particularly if they have previously been fed a diet of wet food. Increasing the amount of exercise and mixing a small amount of wet food in with the dry will gradually allow them to switch over. If a dog is on a diet of dry food, the food acts to clean the teeth and promote healthy digestion.
When feeding dry food, it is important to make sure the dog has free access to clean water at all times. Make sure that the major ingredient in the dry food is not corn, corn meal or wheat, as this is largely filler that will swell up in the dog’s stomach when the food is consumed.
Check that veterinarians or breeders approve the food that you are using. This is usually indicated on the dog food bag. Your local veterinarians will be able to provide a list of premium dog food brands available in your location.
In addition in both wet and dry foods, check to make sure that the food contains the balanced nutrients your dog needs. It will need to have carbohydrates, proteins, essential fatty acids, minerals and vitamins.
By feeding this food based on the recommended serving size for your Westie you can be assured that your dog is getting their basic dietary needs met. If your dog seems to be hungry or is not eating all the recommended amounts of food, always check with your veterinarian and adjust the amounts if necessary, based on the vets advice.
SCHEDULED FEEDING VS. FREE FEEDING
Once you have decided on the type of food you will be feeding, you then need to decide how you will feed. While, as the human, you may have a preference the final decision is really up to the dog, many dogs require a scheduled feeding.
This simply means that the food is presented to the dog for up to twenty minutes and then is removed, whether eaten or not. This is a good habit to get in with indoor dogs, as it helps plan for exercise breaks and trips outside.
Free feeding is used for many dogs. It is simply placing an automatic feeder or bowl of food out for the dog, so they may access exercise choice of when and how much to eat. This is a good way to feed if the dog is not a glutton, or if there are dogs that get along well together.
If you have a dominant dog, it may prevent other dogs from accessing the feed, or may eat until it is stuffed to prevent others from getting any food! This is unhealthy for both the dominant and the submissive animals. Avoid feeding dogs together if they are in anyway aggressive towards each other.
Hope you learned a lot from today’s West Highland Terrier newsletter.