When in any doubt about your Westie's health, 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!
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 weeks, your puppy will get his first puppy shot. We give Intervet PROGARD PUPPY-DPv (Distemper and Parvovirus). Discuss with your vet the type of vaccines your pup needs. 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. Be sure to discuss Westie health with your vet because over-vaccination is a real issue!
Roundworms and Hookworms should be treated with a good medicine recommended by your vet. I use NeMex-2 and treat them at 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 weeks. Adult Westies should be wormed every 4-5 months.
Tapeworms are treated better with prescription rather than non-prescription medications.
At three months, heartworm treatment should begin and continue monthly without fail. Frontline┬« & Advantage┬«
It is important to keep your Westie's feet in good condition. Your Westie will grow a lot of hair between his pads and that hair can become thick and uncomfortable. The hair can also trap objects picked up as they walk. During the summer months grass seeds are a problem with sharp barbs that penetrate deep into the hair and eventually into the dog's skin. Sores soon develop and can escalate into much more serious conditions.
Examine your Westie's feet regularly. If you have never done this before you may have some resistance. Westies' feet are quite sensitive and they will pull away. Start by asking, "Give me your paw", and gently hold the paw giving a treat and praise. Once your Westie has confidence, you will be able to give the feet a good examination. Take a look at the pads. Make sure there are no sores. Examine in between the pads for lumps. If you spot any foreign objects, see if you can easily remove them. Take care not to tug hard on a trapped grass seed. It may be like a fishing hook, designed to go in, but not come out.
Westies lick their paws quite a lot. The hair on the feet will turn brown from being bleached by his saliva. However, there is a noticeable difference in a Westie cleaning himself and something that is irritating him. If your Westie seems to be bothered by something and you can't see anything, take him to your vet. Trim the hair away with blunt nose scissors. No need to remove it all, just shorten it to within 1/8 inch or so. Take extra care not to cut too close and nip the skin. Always finish off with a treat and a big fuss. The more the praise, the better your pup will feel. Omega-3 fish oil capsules given twice daily help boost the immune system and keeps the skin from drying out.
Taking your Westies for a daily walk will help keep the nails in shape. You will only have to trim closely those on the outside of the paw. If you do not walk your dog often, you will have to pay closer attention to nail care. I have found our dogs tolerate the Dremel Tool much easier than typical nail clippers. Linda holds them and I carefully give them a nail trim. Since their paws are full of hair, you can wet 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. Follow this link to find out more about using a Dremel Tool for nail care: www.DoberDawn.com (on the left, click on "How To Dremel Dog Nails")
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 it is very hard 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 from your vet to kill the remaining germs.
Use an 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, 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.
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.
We are now using 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. Stay tuned! (The result is that it
works significantly. Beard stains can be caused by wet food, but if it
is caused by your public water, the Aquasana Home Water System works and
does not stain 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.
We are now using 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. Stay tuned! (The result is that it works significantly. Beard stains can be caused by wet food, but if it is caused by your public water, the Aquasana Home Water System works and does not stain 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.