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Westie Puppy Care

What to Expect the First Year!

 

When in any doubt call a vet immediately.  It costs nothing to speak with them on the phone, and very little for a check-up.  BE SAFE NOT SORRY!

 

 

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  Vital signs
Body temperature
  100.9-101.7 F 38.3-38.7C
Pulse rate                 70-100 beats per minute
Respiration               15-30 breaths per minute
Life Span                   12-15 Years
Sexually mature:      Six to 12 months

 

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NOTE:   New AAHA Vaccination Guidelines!

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has issued new 2006 guidelines.  The 2006 guidelines state that "vaccines against canine distemper, canine parvovirus and canine adenovirus produced by major biologics manufacturers all produce excellent immune responses and can be reliably administered in extended duration of immunity protocols."  This means that puppies should be given an initial vaccine and then a booster three to four weeks later.  We give the first vaccine at 7 1/2 weeks.  This means your pup should get a second vaccine from your vet, 3 to 4 weeks later, which is a total of two puppy shots.  The vaccine should be administered a year later, then every three years thereafter. 

The "core" vaccines (distemper, parvovirus, adenovirus, rabies) should be given to every dog.  "Non-core" vaccines - including parainfluenza, Bordetella, and Barrelia (Lyme disease) - are required only under special circumstances, where exposure to the disease is likely.  For example, if you board your dog, Bordetella is required.  Some vaccines are not recommended such as Leptospiral or Giardia vaccines.  Follow this link to see the new guidelines:  http://www.aahanet.org/

Vaccinations: Know what You’re Using

CritterAdvocacy.org

We recommend you discuss with your vet these new protocols.  Be sure to give him/her as much info as you can about these new protocols.   Frequency of the rabies vaccine is determined by state law and differs from state to state.

Housetraining Your Pup

First things first!  Remember when your parents rubbed your new puppy's nose in the mess when it had an accident in the house or swatted at it with a newspaper for some misdeed?  Punishment or force training is not a good technique.  Housetraining comes down to one simple skill:  being a good doggy time manager.

Westie Characteristics

West Highland White Terriers make wonderful pets for many reasons. They are smart, courageous, and alert, which makes them very good watch dogs. They are super house dogs, and are relatively small. Westies can hear noises that are too high-pitched for human ears. They have a powerful sense of smell. They can also be alarm clocks!  Chloe wakes me every morning at 5:30 AM for our first nature break of the day...Read More!

What To Expect In Your Pup's First Year

Our moms receive tremendous care every day, but especially during the days before and after whelping a litter of pups.  We are with them every step of the way.  For the first few weeks the pup's whole world consists of his mom's quite, nurturing warmth and the close comfort of littermates.  Eyes normally open around two weeks and hearing begins shortly thereafter  ...Read More

Socializing Your New Puppy

Puppies go thorough a critical period of socialization between eight and 16 weeks of age.  During this period of time they mature very rapidly.  If isolated from external stimuli and not exposed to the outside world, they can grow up to be fearful adult dogs.  How do we get our puppies socialized so they grow up to be well-adjusted, adult dogs that are comfortable meeting strangers, children and other dogs?  The key is to make sure your puppy gets exposed to everything he may ever be exposed to during his lifetime, while he is very young.  If not exposed to new situations during this critical period, your puppy may always be fearful when exposed to new things in the future.

What Food

Choose a dry food intended specifically for puppies, avoiding generic foods and those that sell for unusually low prices.  Many things that owners look for, such as high protein levels and extra vitamins, are more likely to be harmful than helpful. Never feed your Westie dog food or treats that have wheat, corn, or beef.  Many Westies are allergic to these food items.  Do not give them bones of any kind.  The bone can splinter and lodge in their throat or puncture their stomach. Be sure to check out www.frrco.com/123045.

What Supplements

We have found Omega-3 Fish Oil Gel Caps to be effective in helping boost the immune system. It also strengthens the skin follicles and produces healthy skin. Be sure your product is from a reliable company. Brewer's Yeast with Garlic is a good supplement as well. We use Four Paws® Brewers Yeast With Garlic from JeffersPet. Save on Pet Health Products at Puritan's Pride.

How Often

Offer food to young puppies three times a day.  After 5-6 months you can feed twice a day.  Even adult dogs should have their food split into morning and evening feedings.  Let your puppy eat and after 15 - 20 minutes remove the food dish.  Having food continually available encourages overeating and chubby puppies are more likely to have weight problems later in life.  

People Food

Do not give your pup people food!  If you start with a balanced diet and add goodies from the table, you won't have a balanced diet anymore, and your puppy will have more digestive trouble.  Even treats should be used sparingly and don't let them become an important part of the diet.  If you plan to change your pup's diet from our plan, be sure to change them over slowly, using your new food in small portions (mixed with Canidae All Life Stage Dog Food) and increasing each day for 8-10 days so there will be no digestive problems.  Their little stomachs are very sensitive!  Remember, there are other good foods on the market.  We feel Canidae is the best because we have no food allergies with our dogs.  Whatever you use, be sure it has no wheat, corn, or beef.  That applies to treats also!

Teeth

Your pup will lose most of his teeth in the first few months.  You'll find them laying around the house or your pup will be playing with them on the floor.  As soon as your pup is well established in your home and while he is still young enough to be easily influenced, begin a regular teeth-brushing program.  Buy any one of several canine toothbrushes and a tube of canine toothpaste, and start brushing his teeth at least once a week.  As he matures, he'll accept this program readily if it's associated with a regular playtime or before a walk. 

 Animal Dental Care Kit

 Animal Dental Health Products

Watch for double teeth at about three months of age.  As he matures, check regularly for broken teeth, foreign material, gum wounds, gum redness, and tarter buildup.  At four or five years he may require annual tartar scaling by your vet.

Ears

During grooming sessions, check your pup's ears.  Don't poke cotton swabs into his ear canals, but instead look closely into the canals for dark wax.  If wax is abundant, wrap your index finger with gauze damped with your cleaning solution and clean the canals.  You can also use Q-tips saturated with ear cleaner.  Do not insert into the ear canal, just clean the inside of the ear.  Solutions can also be purchased from pet supply stores. 

If his ear canals smell foul or exude excessive wax, make an appointment with your vet for examination.  Abnormal head carriage is another sign of otitis (ear canal inflammation).  If he tips his head to the side, shakes, or scratches his ears, consult your vet!

 Animal Ear Cleaning Products

 

Ear Infections/Ear Mites

Ear infections in dogs are an on going problem and about 10 % of Westies are susceptible to ear infections.  Since a Westies' ears are upright they don't get infections as easily as dogs with hanging ears, but once they get an infection you will never be able to get rid of it permanently.  A sign of an ear infection is your Westie digging at the ear and/or shaking its head.  The ear canal will appear dirty with red or black ear wax. Normally there should be no ear wax in the dogs ear.

The trick to keeping your Westies ear infections under control is to continue the medication for a week to 10 days after the ear appears to be clean. The bacteria may still be in the ear canal and the additional medicine will kill the remaining germs.  

You will need to go to your Vet and get an ear cleaner, an antibacterial agent, and an ear drying cream or powder. 

Use the ear cleanser and apply it with a cotton swab. Clean out the ear as far down the ear canal as possible.  Use several swabs until they come out clean.  Once the ear is clean, wait a couple hours for the ear to dry good before applying  the antibacterial agent.  Do this twice each day.

Once the infection is gone, if the ear is excessively moist, use a drying cream every few days to keep the infection from starting up again.  The ear will probably become infected again about every three months, so frequently check the ears to see if they appear clean.  We just keep the medicines on hand and treat the ear as needed.  If the problem continues, go back to the vet because you may need a different antibacterial agent.

It is imperative that you keep after ear infections. If it is chronic, the ear canal can swell shut, sealing in the bacteria and causing the dog to go deaf.  In addition the dogs continued digging at the ear will break down the cartilage in the ear and it will flop over.

It is equally important that you keep their ears free from ear mites.  It is hard to distinguish whether your Westie has ear mites or ear infection.  Consult your vet. 

Westie Pup's Ears Not Standing Up

Normally, your pup's ears will stand up within three months, although it may rarely take up to six months for the cartilage to become strong enough to hold the ears up.  During this time, teething uses up most of the cartilage.   Keeping hair trimmed as closely as possible on the ears will help the ears stand.  It is amazing how this little weight can deter the ears from standing.  Take your scissors and trim closely the hair on the front and back of the ear.  This usually does the trick!  At 4 months, it this doesn't solve the matter, you may need to tape the ears.  

If you have concerns that the ears will not come up by themselves you can tape them.  Over the years, we have had only one pup whose ears did not stand.  I occasionally suggested to the owner that they tape the ears, but they said they didn't care since it gave her "character".  To tape the ears, it is better to pick up the tape at the vet's office for about $3.  That way, you know your are getting the tape that will do the job.  After about two weeks, you can clip the tape in a couple of places and then remove the tape by pulling it upwards so the ear is not bent.

INSTRUCTIONS:  Cut the hair inside and outside of the ear VERY short.  Cut a piece of tape about 4 inches long.  Place the middle of the strip of tape horizontal across the inside of the puppy's ear about 1/3 of the way down from the tip of the ear.  Bring the ends of the tape around to the front of the ear crossing over each other in the front of the ear going down toward the ear opening.  Press the tape tight to the ear and cut off any that sticks down in the ear itself that would tickle the pup's ear.  Leave the tape on for at least two weeks. Replace it if the puppy works it off.  Replace it even if the ear is up.  It must be on long enough for the bent cartilage of the ear to grow straight.  Two weeks should be enough. The taping may need to be repeated several times.  When you do take the tape off, the ear may be rather funny shaped because of the dents the tape has created in the side of the ear. This will straighten itself out in a short time. 

Another way is to get a super duty brown paper grocery sack from the grocery store.  Cut out a slightly rounded triangle that will just fit the inside of the ear and extend down slightly into the ear for support.  For best fit, shave all the hair from the inside of the ear and for best support, shave all the hair from the top backside of the ear.   Round or flex the paper into a shape that will fit the curve of the inside of the ear.  Apply false eyelash glue to the paper.  Be careful not to put to much on as it may ooze out from the sides, but be sure to cover the edges.  Push the glued side of the paper onto the inside of the ear (apply even pressure to all areas of the ear, especially the edges) and hold it until it sticks.  The paper will naturally peel away from the ear within two weeks and the ear should stand.  Keep water away from the ear during this process.  Do not remove the paper prematurely; you may damage the skin inside the ear.  You may need to repeat this process if the ear tissue is not thick or the cartilage is not strong enough during the first application period.  When the paper peels off there will be a residue inside the ear from the glue.  To remove this residue, shave the inside of the ear, as the residue should be attached to the hair that is re-growing in the previously shaved area.

Our vet has also recommended giving a teaspoon daily of Knox Gelatin for about two weeks.  You can mix it with a teaspoon of canned meat. 

Eyes

A Westie's dark eyes should appear bright, shiny, and clean.  It is important to keep the hair clipped away from his eyes between the eye and nose.  If the hair touches the eyeball, it will water and cause stains underneath the eyes.

Beard Stains/Weeping Eyes

Some Westies have weeping eyes which may be caused by an eye infection, clogged tear duct, or hair touching the eyes which causes the eyes to weep and therefore causes stains.  Consult your vet.  

 Angels' Eyes Tear Stain Remover

Note the change in the paragraph below regarding the use of distilled water!
One home remedy that works for us is to use distilled or spring water.  It keeps the beard from staining and some say it even keeps down eye infections and weepy eyes.  If your Westie has a stained beard, it will take 5-6 months for the stain to grow out after beginning to use distilled water.  The use of a Lixit waterer will keep the beard out of the water bowl.  The beard does not get as wet with a waterer as it does in the water bowl.

NOTE:  New studies show that prolonged use of distilled water is not good.

On a more scientific level‚ there are several very credible research reports and books that stress the more recent opinion that long term consumption of de-mineralized water (distilled) can in fact be dangerous.  Dr. Zolton Rona‚ author of The Joy of Health‚ states that "the longer one consumes distilled water‚ the more likely the development of mineral deficiencies and an acid state."  Dr. Paavo Airola‚ cancer expert and author of "How to Get Well" and "Cancer... Causes‚ Prevention and Healing" also reports that "long term consumption of distilled water eventually results in multiple mineral deficiencies."

We use a water filtration system exclusively for our dogs.  The water will be better for them and we will see what it does to their beards. 

We chose the Aquasana Home Water System.  You can click on the banner below to read about it.  We have it connected to the sink in the grooming room.

drinking water filters

Stained (brownish) paws are caused from licking.  The saliva discolors the hair.  It is important to keep the nails trimmed.  When they get long and uncomfortable, they will begin licking and chewing on them.  Keep their nails trimmed often. 

Bathing

When you first bathe your pup, make sure the house is warm.  Puppies can lose body temperature quickly.  While bathing, wash his face last.  By this time he has adjusted to the experience.  They get calmer the more you bathe.  Be patient!  If he has a skin problem see your vet immediately.  Towel dry your pup as quickly as possible.  Use a hair dryer, but be careful not to burn him!  Avoid getting shampoo in his eyes and try to keep water out of his ears.  If necessary, put cotton balls in his ears.  Unless your pup has been rolling in something he shouldn't have, pups should not be bathed very often.  Any surface dirt can be left to dry and brushed out, without the need for a bath.  I have found an emu shampoo that is good for Westies if you shampoo often.  Some, however, say you should never bathe your Westie because they say that you wash out the inner coat and protective oils leaving him more susceptible to skin problems that cause unpleasant odors.  However, for years we have bathed our Westies every week to 10 days and have never had a problem.  We use Kalaya Emu Shampoo and use Bio-Groom Super Whitening Shampoo, especially for the face, because it is "tearless".  Both shampoos are hypoallergenic.  We think the coat is softer and healthier looking when bathed often.   Just be sure to use the right shampoo and rinse, rinse, and then rinse again!

Nails/Paw Care

It is very important to check the paws and nails weekly.  The hair should be trimmed between the paws and nails trimmed.  Many have found that a Dremel Tool is the best way to trim nails rather than a typical nail clipper.  You can begin as a pup and there is no problem at all in getting them to tolerate this chore.  Always have a small treat ready afterwards.  We have found our dogs tolerate the Dremel Tool much easier than the nail clippers.  Since their paws are full of hair, you can dampen the feet so you can pull back the hair easier and then hold each individual nail and gently touch the 1/2 inch sanding drum with a "fine" sanding drum. 

Toys

Your Westie needs many things in his life.  He needs love, respect, and lots of attention.  He will soon realize that you want what is best for him.   When you need to be away from home, your Westie may spend quite a lot of time on his own.  Part of your training must be keeping him occupied during the times he is alone.  Westies love toys!  They all love squeaky ducks, teddy bears, balls, and monsters from the deep.  They love them all.  There are a lot of toys that can keep their teeth in good health.  Products like Nylabon keep them busy for hours while exercising their jaw and keeping their teeth clean.  Remember, if a toy is not safe for your toddler, it's not safe for your Westie.  Eyes that can be removed and swallowed, or fur from a stuffed animal, are not suitable.  Endoscopic surgery to remove a foreign object is expensive.  Believe me, I know!

Shots

Between six and sixteen weeks of age, puppies lose the disease protection they received from their mothers and become able to form their own immunity to disease.  Until your pup is four or five months old, try to prevent contact with stray or sick dogs.  Avoid boarding your pup or taking her to places like highway rest stops where lots of other dogs go to the bathroom.  Beginning about7 1/2 weeks, your puppy will get his first puppy shot.  The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has issued new 2006 guidelines.  The 2006 guidelines state that "vaccines against canine distemper, canine parvovirus and canine adenovirus produced by major biologics manufacturers all produce excellent immune responses and can be reliably administered in extended duration of immunity protocols."  This means that puppies should be given an initial vaccine and then a booster at three to four weeks later.  We give the first vaccine at 7 1/2 weeks.  This means your pup should get a second vaccine from your vet, 3 to 4 weeks later, which is a total of two puppy shots.  The vaccine should be administered a year later, then every three years thereafter. 

The "core" vaccines (distemper, parvovirus, adenovirus, rabies) should be given to every dog.  "Non-core" vaccines - including parainfluenza, Bordetella, and Barrelia (Lyme disease) - are required only under special circumstances, where exposure to the disease is likely.  For example, if you board your dog, Bordetella is required.  Some vaccines are not recommended such as Leptospiral or Giardia vaccines.  Follow this link to see the new guidelines:  http://www.aahanet.org/

About twelve weeks your pup will need a rabies shot, boostered a year later and then one to three years after that, based on your state of residence.  

Worms

Roundworms and Hookworms can be treated with something like Nemex-2.  Tapeworms are treated better with prescription rather than non-prescription medications.  You do not have to withhold food with prescription.  Usually, with non-prescription medications, you withhold food 12 hours before and 4 hours after treatment.  Our pups are wormed at 2, 3, 4, 6,and 8 weeks.  Then, you will worm your pup at 10 and 12 weeks.  We worm our adult dogs about every 4 months.

Heartworms

At three months, heartworm treatment should begin and continue monthly without fail, using Heartguard Plus or Interceptor.  Consult your vet.

Fleas

Skin problems are often caused by a flea allergy.  You can purchase Animal Flea Control Products from your vet or pet supply store.  It is important that you get on a product that works.  We do not use a chemical flea control.  We give our dogs Brewer's Yeast with Garlic AM and PM.  Over these years, we have never even seen a flea.  We keep our dogs and their living quarters clean.

Grass Allergies

Some skin problems are attributed to "grass allergies".  Another thing you can do to eliminate skin problems and especially "hot spots" is to put your dog on a special diet that eliminates wheat, corn, and beef .  Wheat, corn, and beef seem to cause some Westies to be more susceptible to grass allergies.  Change your dog's diet to one based on lamb and rice.  Also, Omega-3 fish oil capsules can be given two times daily to boost the immune system and keep the skin from drying out even more than normal.  A hypo-allergenic shampoo is important!

Hot Spots

A "hot spot" will appear as a circular crusty lesion with hair loss about an inch  in diameter.   Females seem to be more susceptible then males.  While a hot spot can occur anywhere on the dog they are more likely to be found on the belly and around the genitals.  See your vet to get a topical ointment to treat the sores.

Keeping Your Westie White

 Super White™ Coat Brightener Shampoo

One way to keep your Westie white is to use white grooming chalk and sprinkle it into the coat once a week or as needed. You can use a spray bottle to slightly dampen the coat prior to sprinkling in the grooming powder.  Let it set for about an hour, then brush it or pat it out.  You can also use Corn Starch, or baby powder with corn starch that you purchase in the grocery store.  Sprinkle on, then comb or brush the coat thoroughly.  It is not unusual for some pups to have a dorsal stripe that will likely disappear in months to come.

Raw Hide Chews

You should watch carefully if you give your Westie raw hide chews. They should always be the "big" ones so that it takes a long time to get a small piece in their mouth.  A Westie can get small pieces stuck in their throat and the raw hide can wear a hole through the esophagus.  The chews become soft and can also get stuck in the roof of the mouth.  We do not allow our Westies to have pig ears and raw hides. Westies like to swallow "things".  One of our Westies, when a pup, had a procedure done at Mississippi State University Animal Veterinary School to remove a foreign object (one of those little protective round pads you put on chair legs).  The cost, including our local vet:  $1,150.  You do learn soon that your pup is just like your toddler.  If it will fit into their mouth, it probably will be!

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