Westie allergies: allergies in west highland terriers

Westie allergies: allergies in west highland terriers

Skin issues and allergies are common in west highland terriers, unfortunately.

Here is Minnie The Westie’s experience of Westie allergies…

Impawtant disclaimer: this blog article is just one doggy’s experience, and is not medical or veterinary advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified vet to treat your dog’s health.

1. Get rid of toxic weeds (especially wandering jew)

Your Westie will never get over its allergies if there are toxic weeds in your garden! The plant that Westies seem to be most allergic to (in New Zealand, anyway) is Tradescantia fluminensis – known more commonly as “wandering jew”. It likes growing in dark, shady places and it is really hard to get rid of.

This is what wandering jew looks like:

A weed called "wandering jew" causes allergies in Westies.

A weed called “wandering jew” causes allergies in Westies.  Image credit: Forest & Kim Starr.

 

Normal weedkiller doesn’t kill wandering jew: we use one called “Amitrole”. (Recommended to mum and dad by the vet who told them about wandering jew!)

You will need to find out which plants and weeds cause allergies to Westies in your own country.

2. The role of diet in west highland terrier allergies

The food your dog eats can really affect his or her health. It can take some trial and error to find out what works well for your dog.

In short: you want your dog to be healthy, happy… and what comes out of the other end should be firm. If your dog seems unhappy, sick, or has runny poops, they’re not a well puppy!

Me, I eat a mixture of Hypoallergenic dog kibble, and home cooked chicken mince with brown rice, carrots and pumpkin. That gives me the energy I need, and I am healthy, with good firm poops!

Westie allergies can be worse if your dog eats the wrong food... find out what food works best for your Westie.

Westie allergies can be worse if your dog eats the wrong food… find out what food works best for your Westie.

 

Other Westies I’ve met do well on a raw food diet. It comes down to finding the diet your Westie thrives on.

Healthy snacks and treats are impawtant too

Remember to watch EVERYTHING your Westie eats – not just their main meals. I’ve met Westies who are fed raw food at meal times, and then given unhealthy treats and chew bars… and the owner is wondering why the dog still has runny poops!

Also be careful feeding your Westies human food. Pawsonally, I cannot eat much of it without it making my tummy go funny. It’s just too rich for me – even if it smells and tastes nommy, it’s no good for my tummy!

Watch what other people feed your Westie

Another problem can be that because Westies are so cute, people want to feed us treats and noms. But these treats could be really bad for us, so your humans may have to train (or ask) people not to give you their noms. It’s very unfair, I know, but it’s the best thing for your tummy!

3. Topical care for westie skin problems

It took a lot of trial and error to find out what would help my skin allergies the most.

Should you or shouldn’t you bath your Westie regularly?

There is a lot of conflicting advice on the interweb about whether you should or shouldn’t wash your Westie regularly. I think the best solution here is to do whatever works for your dog! Some Westies get worse after a wash; some feel better.

Me, I have a shower every week or two. These days I actually let mum and dad know when I want a wash – I start staring at the shower!

(NB: mum and dad find it easier to wash me in the shower than in the bath… I don’t wriggle in the shower!)

What shampoo or soap to use for Westie allergies?

Again, it needed some trial and error to find the pawfect shampoo for me. Some Westies do very well with the medicated Malaseb shampoo from the vets. It didn’t help me though.

Mum tried doggy shampoo after shampoo after doggy shampoo on me, but none of them helped my itchy skin.

In the end, mum tried her own shampoo with tea tree oil (mum also has a sensitive scalp) on me, and it is pawsome! (Which is weird, because apparently dogs’ skin has a different pH level to human skin, but it works for me!)

So yeah, use whatever works for your dog.

Other topical treatments

Minnie The Westie always takes a treatment kit with her on holidays, to treat any Westie allergies quickly. This can prevent Minnie's allergy from getting worse - and saves on vet's bills!

Minnie The Westie always takes a treatment kit with her on holidays, to treat any Westie allergies quickly. This can prevent Minnie’s allergy from getting worse – and saves on vet’s bills!

Mum always keeps some remedies handy in case of an allergy outbreak: the quicker she can treat it, the less likely it is to flare up.

  • Paws: I used to have a real pawroblem with itchy paws… a special spray from the vet sorts that out.
  • Ears: I do get ear infections from time-to-time. It looks like we’re on top of these now, as mum uses special ear drops from the vet to keep them clean, which stops the infection from forming. Prevention is better than cure!
  • Pee-pee: I’m prone to my pee-pee getting inflamed – especially after a trip to the beach… that sand is itchy! So mum keeps me trimmed and clean down there, and if it does flare up a special cream from the vet, plus a ‘Bladder Support’ supplement for dogs, sorts it out very quickly.
  • Slimy poops: My poops aren’t so good if I eat too much human food, or dog food that’s too rich for me. Probiotics from the vet help sort this out.

Mum always takes these remedies on holibobs with us… Murphy’s Law says that we’ll need them when we’re away from home!

Nip it in the bud!

We’ve found that if an allergy flare-up is identified and treated quickly, it will often nip the problem in the bud, and prevents costly vet’s bills. Investing in some topical treatments could save you a lot of money in the long run.

4. What if your Westie is in real distress with their allergy?

pawlyOne time my allergies got really bad. I wasn’t my usual, cheery self… I was very quiet. Mum and dad thought I was acting very depressed.

The vet that we first saw recommended sending me to a doggy dermatologist (skin doctor) to have some allergy tests. This would have taken several weeks to complete, and cost thousands of dollars. However, it would not have brought me the relief I needed.

Mum got a second opinion, and that vet gave me a steroid injection. (Apparently steroid shots are OK for dogs and cats – they are not as harmful for us woofies as for humans.)

It worked instantly! I was like a new puppy again!

After that, the vet treated my allergies with homeopathy. (I never needed to see that expensive dermatologist, as my allergies can now be managed!)

(Sidenote: Not all vets are the same. If you’re not happy with what your vet has suggested, find another vet and get a second opinion.)

Do also speak to other Westie owners, and other professionals working with Westies (e.g. your dog groomer). They often have some good tips. (Mum got a lot of her advice from her groomer, who also has a Westie with bad allergies.)

5. Alternative remedies for Westie allergies, e.g. homeopathy

My new vet was part traditional vet, part homeopathic vet. After my allergies were under control with the steroid shot, I had a number of courses of homeopathic remedies.

I have to be honest – mum didn’t think the homeopathic remedies would work. But you know what? They worked wonderfully!

The homeopathic remedies did far more for me than antibiotics (which make me sick). They were pawsome!

You see, the vet said that because I was the runt of the litter, I didn’t get enough nutrients from my mother’s milk. So my bowel didn’t develop properly, which is why I’m intolerant to a lot of food.

The vet’s approach was to make my bowel better and stronger, and that way I wouldn’t have so many allergies and diet issues.

I haven’t needed any more homeopathic remedies for years (paws crossed!), and I do still have to be careful with what I eat. But if I stick to my diet (which is very nommy), I’m fine.

That’s my experience of West highland terrier allergies – I hope you find something useful in this to help your Westie’s allergies!

minnie-the-westie-logo

Remember: in most cases, it’s a case of managing Westie allergies rather than permanently curing them. And if your animal is in pain or distress, please see a vet.

Love ‘n’ licks,

Minnie x

To link to this post use: http://www.minniethewestie.com/westie-allergies

Minnie The Westie - book coverAbout Minnie The Westie:

Minnie The Westie is the star of the dog cartoon book, Minnie The Westie: The Adventures Of A Cartoon West Highland Terrier Cartoon Dog. It’s available as a Paperback book from online bookstores, and Kindle eBook from Amazon. It contains 85 black-and-white Minnie The Westie cartoons.

Shop for Minnie The Westie’s book at Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk and The Book Depository (with free shipping worldwide).


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Westie dog names

Westie dog names: ideas for cute west highland terrier names

Looking for Westie dog names for your pup? Here’s a list of cute west highland terrier dog names to help you…

Need to sniff out some cute Westie dog names? Here are some of Minnie The Westie's furiends' names...

Need to sniff out some cute Westie dog names? Here are some of Minnie The Westie's furiends' names...

Girl westie dog names

Abigail (Abbie)
Abby
Bella
Betty-Boo
Biscuit
Blossom Marie
Bonni
Bonnie
Bridgett
Bristol
Candy
Charlie
Daisy
Darcy
Ellie
Finley
Fiona Mick
Gracie
Hley
Holly
Imelda
Jazz
Jinger
Jessie
Juta
Kami
Kerrie
Lady
Lady Zouzou
Liberty
Little Lady
Lucy
Mabel
Maddie
Maggie
Maggie-Mae
Maisie
Martha
Matilda
Millie
Mimi
Minka
Minnie
Misty
Miss Didi
Mollie
Molly
Oprah
Pearl
Pebbles
Penny
Pepsi
Piper
Princess Lyllian (Lylly)
Queen Keyarah
Queen Rosella (Rosie)
Roxy
Ruby
Sandy
Shayna
Shiva
Skye
Tilly
Willo

Boy westie dog names

Angus
Archie
Albie
Bacon
Barney
Bentley
Billy
Bobbie
Bobby
Bordeaux
Brody
Bromir
Buzz
Charlie
Chippy
Cotton
Duke
Duncan
Einstein
Franklin
Frazier
Fred
George
Hamish
Jack
Jasper
Lliorllio
Louie
Oscar
Mac
MacDougall
Magnum
Massimo
Max
Max A Million
McDuff
Monty
Morris
Oliver (Ollie)
Oscar
Otis
Peanut
Picasso
Preston
Ralef
Reggie
Robbie
Rossi
Rudi
Sebastian
Sir Elliott McElroy
Sir Winston
Sir Zeno
Snowy
Spooky The Great
Stan
Tino
Tintin
Tucker
Willie
Winston
Wrigley Mick
Wylie

Wags and nose licks,

 

PS. Wondering how I got this list of Westie dog names?

Easy: I asked my furiends what they’re called! If you have any Westie dog names you’d like to add, just put them in the Comments box below! *wags*

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Let's keep in touch! Sign up to Minnie Mail and get all my latest news and westie cartoons.

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To link to this post use: http://www.minniethewestie.com/westie-dog-names

 

West highland terrier temperament: What are Westies really like?

West highland terrier temperament: What are Westies really like?

This is something mum is often asked when she’s walking me. People give me a pat (or sometimes even a belly rub!) and then ask what the west highland terrier temperament is like, as they are thinking of getting a dog. Here is my view of the west highland terrier temperament, based on the Westies I have known and sniffed. 🙂

When you’re a Westie, everyone is a friend you haven’t met before

The most well-known aspect of the west highland terrier temperament is a Westie’s friendly nature. I’ve met many Westies, and they all love humans.

Why do we love humans? Because they give such pawsome belly rubs! Collecting belly rubs is my favourite hobby!

West highland terrier temperament: we love belly rubs!

What are Westies like with other dogs?

To be honest, that depends on the Westie: the west highland terrier temperament varies here, and also depends on our formative years.

Me, I was the runt of the litter, so I’ve always been non-assertive with other dogs. And I got attacked by some big dogs a couple of times. I am now very selective who I hang out with. My favourite furiend is my boyfriend Morris. He lives next door, and we spend time together regularly. I love Morris, he is pawsome!

My boyfriend, Morris, also a westie, is my bestie!

My boyfriend, Morris, also a westie, is my bestie!

 

West highland terriers love human companionship

Us Westies do like company. We like to be part of the (human) family, so we’ll happily go for rides in the car, plane, or boat with you. Being with our human pack is very impawtant.

My humans take me sailing, and I love it! Though the best thing about it is being with my humans. 🙂

Because west highland white terriers do like human company so much, don’t get a Westie if you’re going to leave him home alone every day while you’re at work. Your poor doggy will be miserable without you, and barking may become a problem.

Does that mean that Westies yap a lot?

No, Westies aren’t generally yappy dogs. They will bark if they are unhappy, for example if you leave them all day.

If persistent barking is a problem, that’s a training issue. You need to show the dog what’s acceptable behaviour and what isn’t.

Me, I only bark when people come to the front door. And then I bark with a very deep ‘woof’. People are often a little scared and expecting a big dog based on my big, deep woof! BOL!

Alert and good watch dogs… but terrible guard dogs

Most Westies will woof when someone approaches the front door. We are very alert, and it only takes the tiniest sound to rouse us from the deepest of sleeps.

However, as soon as the door is open, we wag our tails and hope to score a belly rub from the visitor. So if you want a dog that’ll put the bitey on intruders, the west highland terrier will disappoint you!

We chase things… like cats

Now there’s one kind of intruder that I’m very good at dealing with: cats! If a kitty cat ventures into my garden, I will give it a good chase. My motto is, “if it runs, chase it”… and all my Westie furiends are the same. My English furiends even get to chase things like squirrels and rabbits, lucky dogs!

Why do Westies chase other animals? Well, we were bread to hunt and kill rodents, so that is an ingrained part of the west highland terrier temperament. You will need to work hard with your Westie to train it not to chase furry critters.

Westies have terrible road sense

Because of our inclination to chase furry things at a moment’s notice, west highland white terriers have terrible road sense. Our reactions are generally a lot quicker than humans, so please, never let a Westie off the lead anywhere near a road.

If Westies chase animals, can they live with cats?

Despite our fondness of chasing furry critters, yes, we can live happily with cats. We quickly learn that cats have sharp, pointy claws – so please, protect your young pup’s eyes and nose in the early days.

The cat quickly becomes top dog in the household. Believe me, I’ve experienced it. I respect the claw!

Got a cat already? Westies will learn to 'respect the claw' very quickly!

Got a cat already? Westies will learn to ‘respect the claw’ very quickly!

 

Are Westies good with children?

This is a trickier question to answer, as it depends on the Westie, the parents, and the children. Generally, the Westies I know are very good with children, but (and this is a big but) the kids need to be trained how to handle and act around the dog.

Many dogs hate the sudden, jerky movements children make – they feel threatened, and may snap. This is just their self-preservation. Likewise, any dog might get a bit grumpy if its ears are pulled, fur is yanked, or things waved in front of its eyes. In particular, make sure children are careful around a dog’s food. Dogs may snap or bite if they think their food is being threatened, especially if a stranger (e.g. visiting child) goes near it.

For any dog to be part of a happy home, it means training both the dog and all the humans.

Training your Westie

The west highland terrier temperament is known as being a little, um, stubborn. So I shall write more about training your Westie another time. For now, all I’ll say is that you must plan on spending time training your Westie puppy each day, and puppy obedience classes are a very good idea.

Food

Me, I looooove food *drools at the thought*. My boyfriend, Morris, has a healthy appetite too. We will do anything we can to score some noms from you, and I have pawfected the art of using my ‘hypnotise-eyes’!

Westietude: Look deep into my eyes... feed me... feed me...

But other Westies I know are picky eaters. I think we’re all a bit different in this regard. However, I am doing my best to teach everyone my hypnotise-eyes tricks, there is a Minnie Merchandise range to help them with that!

Do Westies need much exercise?

Even though west highland white terriers are small dogs, we are not lap dogs. We like daily exercise, thank you very much! I sometimes see overweight Westies, and that makes me sad. Our daily walks and sniffs are impawtant to us. If you are not willing to walk a dog each day, the west highland terrier is not the dog for you.

Westies love discovering new sniffs!

Westies love discovering new sniffs!

 

Napping

Most Westies will enjoy some naps throughout the day. Being this cute is tiring, y’know!

Oh, and our favourite napping position? Your bed. 😉 You can always rely on a Westie to find the comfiest spot in the house, even if you don’t approve of it!

West highland terriers like a comfy bed (ideally yours!)

Skin issues and allergies in Westies

Yes, it is true that many Westies are prone to skin issues: I have had skin problems myself. There seem to be as many remedies as there are Westie owners; there is no hard-and-fast solution! Be prepared for some vets bills; and also the time to treat your Westie if a skin condition develops. Believe me, your Westie will repay you with love if you can make his skin comfy for him. 🙂

Here is my own experience of Westie allergies.

Grooming your Westie

Westies have hair, rather than fur, and it grows at about the same rate as human hair. Therefore your Westie will need to be groomed regularly. Me, I get groomed every 4-6 weeks in summer, and every 6-10 weeks in winter. As well as getting a bath and hair cut, my groomer also clips my nails and cleans out my anal gland. Not all groomers provide the same, comprehensive so don’t assume that all groomers will do this – ask!

If you don’t want to pay for someone to groom your Westie, you could learn to do it yourself.

In between grooms, your Westie will also need its hair brushed and maybe the occasional bath. (Me, I get a shower every week or two… I actually quite like it, and it soothes my skin!)

Wow, I hope you enjoyed this information on the west highland terrier temperament. Talking about Westies is one of my favourite subjects!

For a light-hearted look at the Westie’s attitude, check out my series on Westietude!

Love ‘n’ licks,

Minnie x

To link to this post use: http://www.minniethewestie.com/west-highland-terrier-temperament-what-are-westies-really-like

Minnie The Westie - book coverAbout Minnie The Westie:

Minnie The Westie is the star of the dog cartoon book, Minnie The Westie: The Adventures Of A Cartoon West Highland Terrier Cartoon Dog. It’s available as a Paperback book from online bookstores, and Kindle eBook from Amazon. It contains 85 black-and-white Minnie The Westie cartoons.

Shop for Minnie The Westie’s book at Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk and The Book Depository (with free shipping worldwide).


Next step:

Get a Minnie The Westie cartoon emailed to you each month with Minnie Mail – it’s free and fun! You can sign up here (or click here for more details):