Taking Care of a Westie
We all want what is best for our four-legged best friends and if you are a new owner of a West Highland White Terrier you should learn how to properly take care of these small, confident, intelligent, and independent dogs. They have a lovely, pure-white coat that has a thick undercoat and a longer, coarse topcoat. Their coat needs regular grooming but that is not all, proper care also includes balanced feeding, training, workout, and Vet visits.
So let’s start with the most obvious things.
1. Balanced diet
The first thing we need to say is that you should not give your Westie human food except some veggies or fruit. Never give them chocolate, onions, or other potentially harmful food that will end up hurting your dog.
Consult with your Vet about what kind of food you should give your dog and they will most likely tell you to put your dog on a well-balanced diet. There are many options you can choose from on the market and sometimes that can be a bit confusing. Your Vet will have great advice for you and we recommend you listen to them.
Keep in mind to provide them with a constant source of fresh water and if you are using a bowl, replace old water with new daily. That will prevent any bacteria development because warm water is a great environment for them.
Their diet should have enough nutrients for your dog to remain healthy, strong, and happy. Provide your dog with dry and canned food and again, listen to your Vet about the balance and diet. A balanced diet should include proteins that are rich in essential amino acids (great for energy levels). Another important nutrient is a fatty acid, including animal fat, plants, and oil (great for their coat and inducing cell growth).
As your Westie grows older, their dietary requirements will change and they will require a different diet. Their diet should include 50% protein, 5% fiber, and 45% carbs that come from legumes or plants. Again, you must listen to your Vet throughout your dog's life as dietary requirements can differentiate from dog to dog, and some dogs can have trouble digesting some ingredients.
2. Westie - grooming and brushing
Proper Westie coat care is a daily job. If you want to ensure your dog’s coat remains unmatted and untangled you should brush their coat daily. While brushing them, keep an eye out for signs of redness or infections. West Highland White Terriers are prone to developing dermatitis so discovering it early can help very much in treating it. Some of the symptoms of early dermatitis include irritations, skin inflammation, and painful swelling.
Even though these dogs are small in-house pets and we would want them to always be clean and smell nice, you should not bathe them every week. They require baths every 3 weeks to a month. Giving them too many baths can irritate and dry out their skin. A good idea is to use mild shampoos that help in preventing the development of dermatitis.
To keep their coat clean and shiny, you can simply brush them to remove dirt and wipe them off with a wet wipe.
To prevent tearing stains and mats (red stains below their eyes), trim the hairs below their eyes.
3. Daily activity
Westies are an active breed that requires a fair amount of daily activities to be happy and satisfied. Not only is it important for their mental health, but also their physical health. You can play games with your dog such as tug-o-war and fetch. They are very playful and enjoy playing games with their family. It is also a fun way to satisfy their daily activity need. They love running so try not to leave them unsupervised or leave them for too long off the leash.
Daily exercise should be a part of your and your dogs routine, and here is how your dog benefits from it:
- Longer life
- Stronger bones and muscles
- Cardiovascular health benefits
- Improved psychosocial health
- Better quality sleep
- Reduced risk of developing serious medical conditions
- Higher levels of friendliness with other dogs
- Stronger bond with the owner
Their daily exercise needs change depending on their health, size, and age but for most adult, mature Westies, the recommended amount is twice a day for half an hour. Include enough games and running in those two exercise sessions but keep in mind that puppies and older dogs might have a problem with this much exercise.
There are many activities you can choose for you and your West Highland White Terrier like walking, jogging, biking, fetching, etc. To make play or exercise sessions interesting, try changing scenery every other weekend.
Whatever you decide to do, try and keep your dog away from fast cars or bikes as they tend to try and chase them. Keep them on a leash in crowded places for the same reason.
If you are taking your dog out during extreme temperatures, make sure that you have enough water with you at all times. They are small and can dehydrate quite fast.
4. Puppy school and obedience
This is not something you have to do but if you are a new owner you might not have as much experience in dog training as professionals in puppy training schools. It is nothing to be ashamed of and every dog is different. It is a new experience for you as well as for the dog and asking for help is not a bad idea.
Westies have a strong character that is prone to dominant behavior and sometimes that can be controlled in puppy training schools or obedience programs. It is also a great way to socialize your new pup and make sure they will not develop behavioral problems.
5. Visiting the Vet regularly
We believe that this is the most important thing you can do for yourself and especially for your dog. There is a list of potential health problems Westies are prone to and by discovering them early you and your Vet can prepare for treatment or even prevention.
Your Vet can be a great ally and a mentor throughout your new dog’s life and developing a great relationship with your Vet should be high on your priority list.
The best thing you can do is try and prepare yourself for your new dog and learn about this breed as much as you can. Now you know the essentials of taking care of a Westie and you are one step closer to being a perfect dog owner.
World Dog Finder team