Confused about food

Hi … I am hoping someone can give me some advice about dried complete dog food.
We took in a stray Westie at the beginning of September. She was in a very bad condition… Dirty, smelly, long hair and nails etc and a very baggy tummy. We think she had been used for breeding. After door knocking, social media, posters etc as well as visits from the the local dog warden and the subsequent 28 working day wait, we have fallen in love with this dear little doggie.
When my daughter bought her home it was late and I only had 5 minutes before the local store closed! They only brand name they had was Bakers - as I didn’t know how long she would be with us, I got a small box. She didn’t really eat much at all for the first week or so. I tried Iams too but she liked that even less. I started reading on this website about which brands are best and am very confused! I’ve stuck to dried because I’ve read it’s better for their digestion. I’d like to get it right … I’ve stayed away from wet food - I have a feeling that this will affect her output … Which I’d like to be manageable. It’s pretty soft at the moment. I read on here that Chappie got got reviews for sensitive stomachs, so I gave that a go too but wow that made her windy and she didn’t really like it much! So I’m in a bit of a pickle about what to feed her. She’s off her food after being spayed this week - so it would be an opportunity to try something more appetising for her. She’s being spoilt with fresh chicken - which she loves! I realise that I can’t keep changing the food as this in itself will cause problems for her digestion. I have been using bakers as the base and adding chappie. To be honest Bakers is what she is eating most of. The vets face said it all though when I told him what I was feeding her! I don’t mind paying a bit more to get it right for her but wouldn’t be able to go to the. £40 plus bags of food.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated… I’m new to being a dog owner but so far am besotted with my new best friend !

Hello and welcome to the forum. Well done for taking in your Westie. Can you give a bit more information? How is her digestive health and is she less smelly after being looked after by you? What are you feeding her at the moment? Does she have any allergies that you are aware of?


Hello and welcome to the forum. As Tinyplanets has said, you need to give us more information. What are you giving her at the moment? Do you have a budget? We try to help our new members to understand more about selecting a good dog food so that they can choose themselves. This website simplifies it considerably because it has a huge database of reviews of different products. If you can’t or don’t want to post back then there is a thread here which may be of help. The Dog Food Directory is here and the filters are on the left hand side of the page.

Because of the West Highland White Terrier’s propensity for skin problems I would advise the following:

  • A grain free product.
  • Hypo-allergenic formula if possible - no red ingredients (see the Dog Food Directory for the definition of these).
  • Dogs need protein, especially one that is in poor condition so look for food that has a named meat/fish source at the top of the ingredient list. Choose single source for the time being. A protein level of minimum 26%, more if possible.
  • Simple recipe.

If you have any products in mind and wish to share your thoughts on here, please get back to us and we will try to advise.

Thank you for your replies… I had originally wrote a whole lot more but it seems to have been lost during submission. I have updated the original submission.

Thank you Tink - that gives a better over all picture of your new pal. BTW well done for rescuing her and for giving her a new start in life. The good news is that you should be able to get a good quality product for your budget. What I would like you to do is to have a look at the Dog Food Directory here. Go to the Filters to the left of the page and I would suggest that you select these although you can tweak them to suit yourself:

*** Type of Food - dry (remove ticks from other boxes)

  • Food Properties - place ticks in these boxes: Natural, Hypoallergenic, Grain free and Clearly labelled
  • Rating - move the slider to 3.5 to 5.0 stars
  • Avoid Ingredients - Place a tick in the box All red ingredients and in All cereals
  • Nutrient levels - move the protein slider to 26% - 40%
    Click ‘Go’*

This will give you four pages of good quality products and you now have to take a look at them to see which suits your budget and which you feel would be a good choice. My feeling is that you need to go with products that are sold in small bags - no larger than 2kg. This is just in case it doesn’t suit your dog. Next, there are quite a few on there that are not easily available in stores so if you can identify products that are easy to obtain, that too will be a bonus because you won’t have to pay carriage. However, if that is not a problem then you have a greater selection. Remember that better quality products are only found in pet stores or online so if you have a good store near you, so much the better. Two products on there that are available in Pets at Home are Fishmonger’s and Wainwright’s. Canagan is another that is sometimes found in pet stores - well, it is in mine. There may be more; you can find out the availability by clicking on the product itself and then clicking ‘Buy/Store finder’.

When you have located a suitable food, don’t take too much notice of the recommended daily allowance. They are usually set too high. Start right at the bottom end - even 10% lower might be appropriate. Knowing the breed well, I would say that a starting point of circa 100g per day might be about right but reduce by 10% if she puts too much weight on after the spey. Increase by 10% if she needs more. If you budget for this amount it will make the calculation easier for you. Divide the ration into at least two meals per day - never be tempted to just give one meal. Always weigh the food properly - a small digital scale in 1g divisions can be obtained for less than £10 - got mine from Argos - worth every penny.

It is possible that your dog might be a bit ‘iffy’ with the new food, especially as she has been having Bakers which contains sugars. Transition to the new food gradually and if you can keep adding a bit of cooked chicken sprinkled over the food she should take to it fairly quickly. You will find that her poos will be much better once on the new food - see Poop Points. In the space of perhaps a couple of months you ought to be seeing an improvement in her general condition - muscle tone, coat etc.

Please post back if you need any further help or an opinion on a particular product that you have selected. Also, it would be nice to hear how she gets on.


There are many wet foods as good a quality as dry and they are just as good for digestion if not better as there is generally less processing invoved. The same principles as choosing dry food apply.i.e. first and main ingredient meat, grain free etc. Pets at Home have some good quality ones, Natures Menu, Forthglade, Wainwrights Grain Free and others. You usually find them stacked seperately from the poor quality foods. Many independant pet shops also stock some good quality wet foods. If she is a little picky about food she may find wet more palitable so please don’t dismiss it.


I agree - there are some really excellent quality wet food products these days and they do tend to be less processed than dry. However, the problem is that they can be more expensive than kibble and the OP said that she had a budget of £40 tops. It could be doable though - depends on the product and how much the dog needs. All those products that you mention are good ones and also obtainable from local pet supplies stores. Same principles apply re searching in the Dog Food Directory except that the tick under ‘type of food’ needs to be in the ‘wet’ box instead.

*** Type of Food - dry (remove ticks from other boxes)

  • Food Properties - place ticks in these boxes: Natural, Hypoallergenic, Grain free and Clearly labelled
  • Rating - move the slider to 3.5 to 5.0 stars
  • Avoid Ingredients - Place a tick in the box All red ingredients and in All cereals
  • Nutrient levels - move the protein slider to 26% - 40%
    *Click ‘Go’
    Please post back if you need any further help or an opinion on a particular product that you have selected. Also, it would be nice to hear how she gets on.
    Thank you so much for your advice Dottie :slight_smile:
    I’ve had a look using your guidelines … There was only 2 pages so I’m not sure what I did wrong. No worries though - there was a lot to read - although most of them at the top end of my budget. Maybe I’ll have to rethink that! There’s 4 brands that have caught my eye - I wonder whether you could help me a bit more with them. They are quite different in prices and I wondered if this means that the quality is better?
    I’m tempted by Wainwrights grain free which would be easy to get hold of from my local pets at home.
    Millie’s Wolfheart grain free keeps coming up when I search … Which is quite expensive too. There was a review from one of the pages which took me to Walking the Dog Grain free - this seemed quite good?
    Then a friend swears by James Well Beloved so I looked at that too. Do you think any of these would be worth a try? Do you know if there is any way of buying samples of them … I am getting a collection of large bags of uneaten food!!
    A local breeder recommended Asda Hero! This was way down on the ratings on this site so I haven’t given that any real consideration. I guess I should steer away from the 1 star ones - which Bakers falls into! The advert on the TV says Bakers is the best British dog food! The more I read on this site though, I can see there are benefits of finding a better quality food. For me, I’d like; firstly for her to like it but also to improve her smelly wind, firm up her stools ( to make them pick upable without leaving a smear on the grass!), improve her smelly breath and improve her coat… A big ask but one I will continue to strive towards! Looking forward to your thoughts :slight_smile:

I think two pages is quite enough! LOL You have made some good choices.

  • James Wellbeloved is known for their ‘…and rice’ range which is not grain free but in recent years they have brought out grain free versions. That particular range doesn’t score as well on here as the others that you have chosen but it is widely available.

  • Millie’s Wolfheart - good choice but their smallest bags (AFAIK) are 5kg and then there is carriage to pay. They have so many varieties that I would hesitate to suggest which one would be suitable so if you really fancy that one then it would be best to telephone the company.

  • Walking the Dog is a good one and if you can get it in store then that would be OK but you would need to check on the store finder. The interesting thing about that one is that if you have a pet store near you that sells their own, white label products it is possible that they may have this food in stock, possibly a little lower in price. It might be worth making a note of the formula and asking around.

  • Wainwright’s Grain Free - this is a good product and is only available in Pets at Home. The bags are 1.5kg and that is ample for you to judge if your dog is going to do well on it. Given the situation that you are in, I think it may be the most convenient product to go for and should be quite suitable for your Westie. I’m not too good at maths but based on 100g per day, using the 1.5kg bag would cost 49p per day. Multiply this by 31 days and it gives a figure of £15.47p per month so is well within your budget and you have got a good quality food into the bargain. Of course if your Westie does well on it then you can buy the bigger bags which come out even cheaper. There are four varieties - fish, lamb, rabbit and turkey. Just buy one variety at the moment - maybe turkey and vegetables may be best. You can try the others at a later date. If you go for this product and it suits your dog then keep an eye open for when it is on offer. It was recently being sold at £6 for 1.5kg as opposed to the normal £7.49p so it was a good saving. They usually have the offers running for a few weeks -not sure but it may be about two or three. Ask in store about this.

Thank you so much Dottie for your reviews :slight_smile:
I also saw another one called Arden Grange sensitive. It’s not scoring so high but there was some good remarks about it from owners on another pet forum.
I have contacted Millie’s Wolfheart and they suggest the countryside mix which can be purchased in small samples for £1.50. Arden Grange are sending a free sample :slight_smile:
I’ll def look into the local stores and their own brands for the walking the dog one… Thanks for that - it’s a bit cheeky though that they do that isn’t it!
I agree that Wainrights would be the most convenient … I actually have a Pets at Home within walking distance from me. I think I will try this one first… I’ll get a small bag and let you know how it goes.

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