Top Ten Tips for Success with Your Adopted Westie!

    Tip #5  --  Grooming

  • Regular Brushing
  • Clipping vs. Stripping
  • Grooming Shops
  • Bathing Your Westie
  • Ear Care
  • Nail Care
  • Dental Care

    Grooming is part of your Westie's general health and hygiene routine.  It includes brushing, combing, bathing, hair trimming via stripping or clipping, ear care, dental care and nail clipping.  Regular grooming stimulates circulation, improves appearance and reduces shedding.  It also enables you to discover lumps, lesions, cuts, scratches or external parasites.

    Set aside a consistent place and time for your dog's grooming session.  Keeping your Westie well-groomed does not have to take a lot of time, especially if you do it regularly.

    Remember…any creature with hair WILL SHED!  Even a Westie will shed.  The difference is in the degree of shedding.  Westies will shed at about the same rate that you do IF you do some things to keep their shedding under control and to maintain their skin’s health.

    Regular Brushing
    Brush or comb your dog’s hair every day.  This will get keep the undercoat cleaned out and let the skin breathe.  It will also pull out the loose hairs that would later be left on your furniture.
    Brushing serves as a very nice “bonding” experience between you and your dog.  Most Westies enjoy being groomed.  If your dog doesn’t like it at first, he will learn to like it. Begin slowly and give your Westie lots of praise. Be positive, patient and gentle.   If the hair is combed or brushed daily, it won’t have much chance to mat and become a painful experience.
    Westies require hair brushing on a regular basis and hair coat trimming at least four to six times a year.
    The tools you use will depend on your dog's type of coat.  A flea comb can be used on fine coats whereas soft, thick coats will require a gentle slicker brush.

    Clipping vs. Stripping
    You can trim your Westie's hair coat by either “stripping” or  “clipping”.   Most pet owners opt to clip their Westies.  Westies that are show dogs have stripped coats. If you are interested in hand stripping your Westie, ask a breeder for tips and guidance on how to do this.
    Whether you hand strip or clip your Westie's coat, be sure to use the proper grooming tools for the job.

    Professional Grooming Shops
    If, like most pet owners, you will prefer to have your dog clipped and will prefer to have this done by a pet professional.  The biggest challenge is to find a grooming shop that knows how to "do" a Westie cut.  Ask anyone you see with a Westie where they take their dog for grooming.  Contact the Regional Westie Club in your area as they may have a member who lives near you who can suggest a groomer. Also ask your veterinarian for a recommendation.

    The SFBWHWTC does not recommend, guarantee, endorse nor rate grooming salons.

    If you select a groomer without a personal recommendation, visit the shop before your appointment.  Ask the groomers if they have any experience with Westies.  Tell them you have heard horror stories about Westies who came home from the groomer looking like Scotties or Schnauzers…be sure they understand what you don’t want.  Go in armed with pictures and information (the above websites have grooming charts you can use).  Ask to see a picture of a Westie they have groomed.

    Also, you may want to ask if they ever leave the dog on the table unattended.  Of course, they will not admit to this but it will let them know you are someone who is interested and will not be easily dealt with if you find they are less than careful!

    Make sure the groomer clips the dog's toenails each and every time (including the dewclaws if your pet has them).

    Plan to take your Westie to the groomer every 6 - 8 weeks or at least 4 to 6 times a year.

    Bathing Your Westie
    Westies with normal skin should not be bathed weekly as it will remove the natural oils from their coats thus making them susceptible to dry skin and eventual skin problems.
    Use a mild shampoo intended for dogs not humans.  Do not use human shampoo on your dog as it is the wrong pH for your dog's skin!  We have found human shampoo (especially Selsun Blue) can turn a Westie's hair coat a pinkish color.  Choose a shampoo that is formulated for your Westie's needs.  You can purchase an appropriate dog shampoo through your veterinarian or at pet stores.

    Dogs with existing skin problems or a chronic skin disorder may need to be bathed weekly or more frequently using a special medicated shampoo such as Malaseb (for yeast infection) as recommended by your veterinary dermatologist.

    If you bathe your dog yourself we recommend using a hand held shower spray in your bathtub.  Be sure to put a rubber mat on the floor of the tub to keep your dog safe.  Water for a Westie's bath should be tepid.  Pay careful attention to remove all the shampoo when rinsing your dog.

    Consider using Humilac® or ResiProx conditioner if your Westie has dry skin.  These products will not leave a greasy or oily film on the haircoat.

Ear Care
Without a doubt, one of the most common problems that crosses the veterinarian's exam table is otitis externa (infection or inflammation of the external ear canal). Surprisingly, most ear infections can be forestalled by proper preventative care by the pet's owner. Often pet owners unknowingly make the problem worse by inappropriately treating the ear with improper medication or by traumatizing the ear during cleaning. The best way of preventing this is to take your dog to your veterinarian once you notice any ear problems and learn proper ear cleaning techniques.

Nail Care
Regular nail trimming is important to your dog's health and well being.  Never use ordinary scissors to trim your dog's nails. Use trimmers that are specially designed for dogs. Hold the dog's paw firmly, and cut off the tip of the nail with a single stroke. Be very careful to stop short of the quick, the blood vessel inside the nail. Cutting the nails right after bathing will make the quick more visible; applying baby oil will serve the same purpose.

    Dental Care
    Good dental care includes with regular veterinary visits, daily home oral care and veterinary dental cleaning as advised.
    Imagine how your teeth would look and feel if you did not brush them daily.  The same applies to your pet's teeth.  Unless you are regularly providing some form of dental care, you are neglecting an important factor in the overall health of your dog.
    Periodontal (gum) disease is one of the most common conditions seen by veterinarians today.  The problem begins when plaque and tartar are allowed to build up on your dog's teeth.  Plaque harbors the bacteria which can infect gum tissue and the roots of teeth resulting in disease and tooth loss.
    Besides the negative impact on the teeth and gums, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream.  The veterinary community has documented that tooth decay causes other internal diseases such as heart, liver and kidney diseases.  Brushing your dog’s teeth can prevent a lot more than just dental disease.
    Signs of poor oral hygiene include bad breath, sensitivity around the mouth, pawing at the mouth, loss of appetite, plaque, tartar, bleeding, inflamed or receded gums, loose or missing teeth, or difficulty eating and chewing food.
    Brush your dog’s teeth regularly, daily if possible.  Dog’s teeth build up plaque just like a human’s teeth.  If left uncared, the dog will need to have its teeth cleaned professionally much sooner than if regular care is given.  When a dog's teeth are professionally cleaned, the dog must be anesthetized.  This always presents some risk…not to mention cost.
    Use a pet toothpaste and either a pet toothbrush, a finger cot or a gauze pad.  It is important to use a toothbrush and toothpaste designed for pets.  A pet toothbrush is ultra-soft and shaped to fit your dog's mouth and teeth.  The dogs like the taste of the pet toothpaste flavors.  Pet toothpaste does not need to be rinsed and it is safely swallowed. Do not use human toothpaste or baking soda.  These products often contain ingredients which should not be swallowed by pets.
    Begin slowly and gently, be patient and give your Westie lots of petting and praise.  Get the paste on the teeth, especially in the back.  The toothpaste has an ingredient that works without doing a lot of brushing. Gradually build up to approximately 30 seconds of brushing per side. Always reward your dog after each session.
    If you are having any problems brushing your dog's teeth, contact your veterinarian.
    More information about dental care can be found on the following websites:
    A Complete Dental Care Program



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