8 Best Dog Foods for West Highland Terriers in 2020

Although small in stature, West Highland Terriers are famously big in spirit. They have the energy and enthusiasm of a much larger dog, although housed in a body that averages about 10 inches tall at the shoulder.

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Friendly, enthusiastic, and downright plucky, Westies are delightful pets. Their small size lets them feel right at home in apartments and city living, but their boundless energy also makes them fun companions for folks with active lifestyles.

Don’t let their adorable, toy-like appearance deceive you. They’re terriers through and through. Bred to hunt small game such as rats, they’re naturally tough and tenacious. They enjoy running, chasing, and playing, so it’s important their food delivers plenty of energy in the form of protein and carbohydrates. If you’re new to owning a Westie, you might be surprised to learn they typically need a diet with a higher energy content than many similarly-sized breeds.

As small dogs, Westies do run an increased risk of developing problems in their hips, ankles, and knees. Protecting their joints from injury, especially as they age, requires a diet with the right blend of vitamins, minerals, and other ingredients such as Glucosamine.

Another potential issue for Westies is their weight. As small dogs, even a few extra pounds can cause problems, including joint problems, which they’re already at risk of developing even when fit. Because these dogs are naturally active, keeping their weight at the correct level is usually a matter of portion control. You’ll want to carefully manage their meals, which usually involves feeding them twice a day instead of allowing them to free eat.

Finally, their food should also provide ingredients that promote skin and hair health. Despite their cuddly appearance, their double-coat is thick and even rough to the touch. Their diet requires nutrients to help keep their skin and coat from becoming too coarse and dry.

Fortunately, most Westies aren’t particularly picky eaters. Finding food that they like, and that’s packed with proper nutrition, usually isn’t difficult. If you’re in search of the best dog food for your West Highland Terrier, you’re in the right place. The complete guide below includes everything you need to know about selecting the right food, plus our top brand recommendations for 2020.

What are the Nutritional Needs of a West Highland Terrier?

Generally, Westies are healthy dogs. They’re naturally active and energetic. However, they do have potential health issues you should know about. Here’s a close look at their nutritional needs, and how the right diet helps keep them in good health.

First, West Highland Terriers are prone to obesity. Make sure to avoid overfeeding. The amount of food you give him should correspond to his activity level. As dogs grow older, their overall activity level typically decreases, so adjust their quantity of food accordingly. Along those same lines, make sure you’re not giving the dog too many treats during training.

Westies are incredibly active dogs. Make sure the main ingredient in their food is an animal protein, which provides the amino acids they need for healthy muscle development as well as the energy they need for a full day of activity. Additionally, the food should also contain brown rice or other complex carbohydrates, which also provide energy.

Obesity is another consideration when feeding your dog. Although active Westies typically stay fairly fit due to their natural desire to run around, you want to monitor their weight carefully. Extra weight isn’t always obvious, but it can add undue strain on their knees and hips.

Finally, watch out for food allergies. All dogs, including West Highland Terriers, can potentially develop food allergies. The most common type of allergy is a protein allergy. Dogs can develop an allergic reaction to a food they’ve eaten without issues for years, such as chicken or beef.

Signs of an allergy include vomiting, diarrhea, hair loss, itchiness, and reduced appetite. We’ll cover the details below, but most allergy treatments involving switching the dog’s diet to something new, typically a food featuring a new protein such as bison or fish.

What to Look For in a Good West Highland Terrier Food?

Most Terriers aren’t picky eaters. They’ll likely gobble down whatever meal you place in front of them. However, this doesn’t mean you can feed them just anything. You want to select high-quality food with the ingredients that your dog needs to stay healthy. Specifically, the food should contain:

  • Proteins
  • Omega Fatty Acids
  • Complex Carbohydrates
  • Glucosamine and Chondroitin
  • Fiber

Whole proteins are the most important ingredient in your dog’s food. They need whole meat protein from animal sources. Popular options are chicken, beef, lamb, turkey, and fish. Whole animal proteins contain the ten amino acids your dog needs to help maintain lean muscle mass. Animal protein should be the first ingredient listed.

The dog food you select shouldn’t be completely fat-free. Instead, it should contain Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Known as essential acids, they help improve skin and coat health. They’re also an effective treatment for seborrhea, a common canine condition involving dry, irritated skin.

Although animal protein is the most important ingredient, the food should also contain complex carbohydrates. Brown rice and barley are two common types. They provide a different type of protein. Plus, they also help dogs maintain a consistent weight.

As smaller dogs, West Highland Terriers are susceptible to a variety of issues related to their hips and joints. Their food should contain ingredients that promote healthy mobility. Look for the ingredients Glucosamine and Chondroitin. They’re amino acids that promote joint and cartilage health.

Most Westies that have hip dysplasia develop it before the age of two. Unlike many small breeds, where the risk of joint and hip problems increases with age, Westies, unfortunately, have that risk for most of their lives. It’s important their diet supports joint health even from a young age.

Finally, make sure the food contains fiber. Fruits and vegetables are the best options. Fiber promotes healthy digestion, allowing your dog to properly digest the nutrients in the food. It also helps prevent upset stomachs and other digestion issues. However, try to avoid food with lots of peas, as they don’t have many nutritional benefits and are often used as fillers in low-quality foods.

What are the Different Types of West Highland Terrier Food?

Aside from the ingredients, you also need to consider the type of dog food. A few different options are available such as dry, canned, fresh, grain-free, and allergen-free. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of each.

Dry food is the most popular type. It’s healthy, affordable, and easy to store. Plus, chewing on kibble can help keep your dog’s teeth clean. Also, it can help satisfy your dog’s need to chew, hopefully reducing his need to chew furniture and other household objects. On the downside, older dogs or dogs with dental issues can have difficulty eating dry food.

Wet food is another popular option. It’s easier to chew, even for senior pets. Plus, wet food smells better and tastes richer than dry, making it more appealing to canine palettes. If your dog displays a lack of interest in dry food, try wet instead. However, unlike kibble, wet food can become stuck between your dog’s teeth. If you feed your dog wet food on a regular basis, you’ll need to stay on top of his oral health needs, including frequent tooth brushing.

Grain-free dog foods have made a big splash in the marketplace in recent years. While traditional dog food contains wheat, rice, oats, or other grains, grain-free food uses potatoes, peas, or other alternatives. However, the evidence that dogs benefit from grain-free food is questionable. Grains provide an appropriate level of carbohydrates. Interestingly, most grain-free foods provide more carbohydrates than what your dog needs.

If your pet suffers from food allergies, you’ll want to try a limited ingredient food. As discussed above, protein is a common allergen. If your dog develops signs of a food allergy, you’ll want to switch him to food with one protein source and one carbohydrate source. Generally, you’ll get the best results if the protein is something the dog has never eaten before, such as bison or another less-common meat.

Another type of dog food is a raw diet. Raw foods included whole animal carcasses such as chicken, rabbits, and fish. It also includes a variety of organs. Raw diets are somewhat controversial. While it’s true dogs originally ate raw diets, they’ve long evolved past the need for raw food. A well-balanced dry or wet food is formulated to deliver all the nutrients dogs need, and it’s far easier to store and prepare than a raw diet.

Finally, fresh food is another popular option. Although it’s healthy, and dogs often love it, fresh food does require refrigeration. You can’t buy large quantities at once because it’ll go bad much faster than dry or wet food. Also, fresh food is usually more expensive than other types. However, most fresh food is extremely high-quality, with ingredients safe for human consumption and no fillers.

Overall Best Dog Food for West Highland Terrier:

Best Overall – Ollie Fresh Subscription Dog Food

Our top recommendation is dog food from Ollie. Although they’re a bit different than many other brands, there’s a lot to like here. Ollie meals are fresh, nutritious, and customizable.

Each meal is created for your dog’s specific needs. You choose between beef, chicken, lamb, or turkey. Next, you then choose from a variety of superfoods, fruits, and vegetables. All portions are custom-created based on your dog’s age, activity level, and other factors. It’s an easy way to provide your dog with all-day energy without weight gain.

All ingredients are both fresh and human-grade. Because it’s fresh, you can’t store large quantities of it for a long time. However, Olly ships the meals directly to your house as part of a subscription plan. Although it’s not quite as convenient as a bag of dry food, the top-quality taste and nutrition are worth the extra storage steps.

Finally, we also like how you can customize the meals for your Westie’s needs. As tiny dogs with muscular bodies, West Highland Terriers require food that delivers lots of energy, but their small frames also make them prone to obesity. Ollie’s fresh food is an easy way to deliver the nutrition they need. Even better, dogs love the fresh taste!

7 More Highly Rated Dog Foods for West Highland Terrier

While Ollie is an excellent option, it’s also a bit unconventional because you can’t just pick up a bag to store for weeks at a time. Instead, it requires on-going delivery. Also, it can cost a bit more than other brands. If Ollie isn’t the best option for your needs, here are other top choices to consider:

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

If you’re looking for dry dog food for your Westie, Taste of the Wild is a tasty and healthy option. It contains bison and buffalo, two novel proteins that aren’t found in many other dry foods, making this formula ideal if your dog suffers from food allergies.

Additionally, it has many ingredients to promote healthy digestion. A blend of fruits, veggies, and dried chicory root provides prebiotic support. Additionally, a mixture of amino acids and essential minerals aid nutrient absorption.

Keep in mind this is a grain-free food. While most animal experts agree that grain-free formulas aren’t necessary for healthy adult dogs, many pet parents prefer them. Instead of grains, the food has both peas and sweet potatoes.

Overall, the Taste of the Wild’s formula is a tasty and healthy option that most Westies will eat without issue. It provides a full range of essential amino acids and necessary nutrients to help promote healthy immune system function and all-day energy.

Purina One SmartBlend Chicken and Rice Dry Formula

When shopping for dog food, many pet parents find themselves drawn to novel ingredients and unique formulas. Although that’s often not a problem, keep in mind that traditional food formulas provide a lot of benefits, too.

At first glance, Purina ONE’s SmartBlend might not seem particularly exciting, but it’s packed with plenty of delicious goodness. The chicken and rice formula provides a complete protein profile in an easy-to-digest package.

It provides a variety of benefits specific to the needs of West Highland Terriers. The real chicken boosts heart health and muscle development. Plus, it contains natural sources of Glucosamine, to both prevent and treat joint issues.

With simple, but nutritious ingredients, it’s an excellent choice for adult Westies in good overall health and with no existing allergies.

Hill’s Science Diet Small Breed Formula

Westie Highlands naturally benefit a brand of food formulated for small breeds. Hill’s Science Diet Small Breed Formula packs all the needed nutrition into bite-sized kibble that’s easy for little teeth to chew.

The main ingredients are chicken meal and barley. It also includes a prebiotic fiber to enhance digestion and increase stool quality. Keep in mind that chicken meal is slightly different than chicken, so it might not be the most protein-packed option, although it still provides balanced nutrition.

Overall, it’s one of the best formulas for feeding a small dog with existing digestive issues. It’s physically easy to eat, and the prebiotic fiber allows for easy, comfortable digestion. Additionally, the blend of antioxidants and vitamins helps boost the dog’s immune system. Finally, it contains no artificial ingredients or colors to help avoid potential stomach irritation.

Nutro Ultra Small Breed Adult Dry Dog Food

Another healthy option designed for small dogs is Nutro’s Superfood Plate. To say its nutrient-packed is an understatement. It’s loaded with lean proteins, antioxidants, whole grains, and healthy oils. It delivers 100% balanced nutrition for adult dogs.

The main ingredient is a blend of three animal proteins: chicken, lamb, and salmon. They deliver all the amino acids your dog needs to maintain healthy lean muscles. However, keep in mind that a three-protein blend can complicate the process of identifying potential allergens, so it might not be the best choice if your dog has food allergies.

The formula uses whole grains, which boost digestion to help increase nutrient absorption. Of course, this means the food is not grain-free, although that’s not a problem for most dogs.

Overall, Nutro’s Superfood Plate is a healthy choice for small dogs such as Westies. The blend of proteins and other ingredients helps boost immune system function, heart health, a shiny coat, and more

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Canned Food

While many dogs simply prefer the taste of wet food, many others require it due to frequent gastrointestinal issues. If your furry friend is plagued by stomach problems, check out Royal Canin’s Diet Canned Food. Of all the foods on our list, this is arguably the easiest to digest.

It combines several proteins with prebiotics and fibers. Additionally, it supports healthy gastrointestinal functions with Omega-3 fatty acids and fish oil. All dogs with sensitive stomachs will likely benefit, including seniors and dogs with health challenges.

Additionally, the formula helps control your dog’s weight. Although healthy Westies typically maintain a healthy appetite simply by staying active, they can quickly pack on the pounds if they suffer any mobility impairment.

Although it’s suitable for long-term use, the low-fat formula is also an excellent option for keeping your dog healthy if he’s affected by temporary stomach or mobility problems.

Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Chicken Dinner

Another high-quality wet food that works well for Westies is Blue Buffalo’s Homestyle Recipe. The first ingredient is chicken with additional garden vegetables and fruits. With a blend of protein, carbs, and vitamins, it provides all the energy your dog needs for a full day of play.

Additionally, the formula is notable for what it doesn’t contain. You’ll find no meals, corn, wheat, soy, or any type of artificial additive. Instead, it contains simple, pure ingredients.

Finally, we want to recognize the food’s texture and smell. It has an enticing aroma that dogs love. Many pet parents turn to wet food when their dog turns up his nose at dry. Of all the wet foods available, Blue Buffalo is one of the best options for picky eaters.

Iams ProActive Health Adult MiniChunks Dry Dog Food

Iams is a popular brand for all dogs, with their ProActive Health line our top choice for smaller dogs such as West Highland Terriers. The formula has small, crunchy kibble that is easy for Westies to chew.

Additionally, its crunchy texture helps remove plaque and tartar. One of the main benefits of dry food is how well it cleans teeth, and this formula, in particular, does a great job of boosting dental health. More than just a clean mouth, proper dental care also helps promote a healthy heart and cardiovascular system.

The two proteins in the formula are chicken and protein. It also includes seven essential nutrients, with an emphasis on heart health. Finally, it also has antioxidants and fiber to boost the immune system and enhance nutrient absorption.

Overall, the formula has two main benefits over other dry foods. It excels at helping clean teeth. Also, it has many nutrients that boost heart health.

Frequently Asked Questions

Finding the right dog food can feel complicated, but we’re here to help with answers to common questions.

How Often Should I Feed My West Highland Terrier?

Although specifics vary based on weight, activity level, and age, as a general rule, dogs in their size range need between 450 and 700 kilocalories each day. The more active they are, the more calories they need.

How they get those calories matters, too. A small breed should get 10% of their calories from protein, 5% from fiber, and 50% from carbohydrates. That’s why the blend of ingredients in the food is important, and why some experts don’t recommend grain-free food.

You can’t apply a universal guideline such as, for example, feeding him two cups a day. Instead, the number of calories by volume varies by brand. Check the calorie content of the specific food to ensure you’re meeting his daily calorie needs. Never exceed their daily caloric requirements.

When Should I Feed My West Highland Terrier?

First, you shouldn’t feed your dog once a day. Doing so doesn’t supply enough energy to keep him active all day long. Instead, feed your dog at least twice a day. You want to split his meals into equal portions.

Consistency is key. You want to feed your dog at roughly the same time every day. For example, most people feed their dogs in the morning and evening. Dogs are creatures of habit, and they grow accustomed to regular mealtimes.

Most dogs do best when you serve them meals yourself. However, some Westies do fine with free eating, which is when they help themselves to dry food throughout the day. You should never allow free eating if your dog shows signs of obesity.

Do West Highland Terriers Have Allergies?

Fortunately, West Highland Terriers have no special susceptibility towards food allergies. Unfortunately, all dogs can potentially develop allergies over time, so it’s important to recognize the signs.

Dog food allergies can appear out of the blue. Don’t let the popularity of grain-free foods fool you. Most dog food allergies aren’t related to grains. Instead, dogs frequently develop allergies to common proteins such as chicken and beef. Even if he’s eaten those proteins for years without a problem, allergies can still appear.

What are the Signs of Food Allergies?

West Highland Terriers are naturally active. They usually eat with enthusiasm. Avoiding their food, or reducing the amount they eat each day, is usually a sign of a medical issue, possibly a food allergy.

Other common signs of a food allergy are itching and scratching. They might bite and scratch at their skin, often excessively. Also, watch for hair loss, sores, bleeding skin, swollen lymph nodes, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Keep in mind food allergies can appear completely without warning. They’re often not an issue many owners think to investigate as the cause of the problems listed above. Fortunately, once they’re identified, they’re usually fairly simple to treat.

How Do I Treat Food Allergies?

Most food allergies disappear with a dietary change. However, the process doesn’t happen overnight. First, you’ll need to choose a new food. You’ll need to select a formula that has what’s called a novel protein, which is a protein your dog has likely never eaten before. Bison and salmon are two popular novel proteins, although even something like chicken or lamb will work fine if your dog has never eaten them before.

You and your vet might decide on a Limited Ingredient Diet. It’s a formula that contains only one type of protein and one type of carbohydrate. If switching the food to one with a novel protein doesn’t seem to help, the next step is switching to a Limited Ingredient Diet.

Finally, keep in mind that most dogs don’t easily switch from one diet to another. While he might have no problem eating the food, it might take a few weeks before his body adapts to it completely. He might experience diarrhea and other signs of gastrointestinal distress during the switch.

When Should I Switch My West Highland Terrier from Puppy to Adult Food?

Like many small breeds, Westies reach their adult size fairly quickly, usually between 12 and 18 months. Typically, they develop their full-frame (their skeletal system) between six and eight months of age. However, it takes them about a year to reach their adult weight.

The dog’s sex makes a difference in how they grow. Female Westies tend to grow less overall than males. Also, females don’t have as much muscle. With less muscle, they can gain weight easier than males.

While you’ll want to discuss specifics with your vet, 12 months is a fairly standard time to switch from puppy to adult food.

Is Fresh Food Better than Other Types?

You likely noticed that our top recommendation is the only fresh option on our list. Is fresh food healthier than dry or wet food? Not exactly. You can find a wide variety of dry and wet food that absolutely meets your dog’s daily nutrition needs. Although fresh food is tasty, the main reason Ollie’s is our top recommendation is because of its customization.

Conclusion

Not just any food is good enough for your beloved Westie. It needs to contain animal-protein plus ingredients to aid digestion, improve coat health, and protect hips and joints from damage. Westies need lots of energy to stay active during the day, but their food can’t be too calorie-dense, as these tiny dogs are prone to weight gain.

While all of the foods listed above meet your dog’s nutritional needs, they do vary in taste and texture. In many ways, finding the right food for your dog means identifying foods he likes to eat. Fortunately, almost all Westies love the fresh taste and wholesome ingredients in meals from Ollie.

Plus, pet parents love the customization options. You can adjust the proteins based on your dog’s preference. As your dog ages, his nutritional needs can change, but Ollie allows for easy customization. Also, it’s simple to switch the proteins if your dog develops an allergy.

Of course, if Ollie isn’t a good fit, all of the other options on the list are also highly rated. No matter which one you choose, you’ll help set your dog up for a happy, healthy, and active life.

Chelsea Kuhel

Chelsea is the owner of a very huggable Boxer/Pitbull mix named Miles. When time allows she also cares for her 4 other animals, I mean children.

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