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Grooming

The Coat
Westies have a hard, double coat. In their native Scotland, Westies scamper among the cairns, where the rough terrain catches and pulls excess hair. Since the Westie has become a sofa-dweller, the excess coat must be pulled out some other way.

The practice of removing extra coat is called "stripping". If a puppy is stripped from about six months of age, the coat will develop hard and straight. Hand stripping is best performed by professionals. Follow-up stripping can be done at home using a small-toothed comb, such as a flea comb. Professionals will use stripping knives and Calcium carbonate or grooming chalk, available at http://www.cherrybrook.com/.

A grooming chart can be found at http://www.atlantawesties.org/ProgramPages/groomingchart.html

Further information can be found in a grooming video by Mary Cunningham. A pet-grooming version is available. http://www.westieclub.com/garm.html#video

Cleaning
Some Westie owners believe that the dogs need little or no bathing. Excess bathing can strip the natural oils in the coat and leave the skin itchy. On the other hand, unbathed dogs can be carrying harmful bacteria leading to infection. A vet, who may prescribe antibacterial shampoos, should see a dog with skin problems.

Unless the dog has a specific condition warranting more frequent baths, washing the dog every month to six weeks should be enough. Shampoos will soften the coat. If play has left the dog dirty, a rinse with warm water with cider vinegar will get the dog clean without unbalancing pH levels.

Nails
Nails should be kept trimmed. Clip the white of the nail with a special dog clipping tool or have your vet or groomer trim the nails.

Teeth
As in human teeth, the more frequent brushing, the better. Natural poultry-flavored toothpaste is available in pet stores. The commercial brand Plax has also been recommended.

Anal Glands
Anal glands are located in the center of each buttocks. These can become impacted. They should be examined regularly by the vet or groomer and excavated when necessary. These can be easily "expressed" by any owner when bathing.

Ears
Westie ears are very vulnerable to infection. If a dog is constantly rubbing his ears, he may have an allergy-induced infection. Checking with your vet at the first sign of redness, swelling or irritation, may save your Westie from a painful and difficult to resolve infection.

To remove visible wax or dirt, gentle cleaning is suggested. Use baby oil, or mineral oil, which is the same thing without the fragrance to clean ears. Followed up with a clean dry cotton swab to get the excess oil out.

Most vets would not recommend many of the products that are on the market that are made for cleaning ears.  Smelly ears? Ottomax is a GREAT product to solve yeast and bacteria infections. Never use peroxide and alcohol. They can cause damage that must be corrected surgically. It is okay to use a little peroxide on the hair around the outside of the ear after the baby oil treatment.

Keeping your little one's ears DRY after bathing will solve 80-90% of all the infections that may happen.  Use a Q-Tip brand swab and insert it in the ear cannal to dry.  As long as you are gentle you can not damage the ear drum as the ear is shaped like a letter "L" with the drum down and over out of the Q-Tip path.  Have you vet show you how so you can do it yourself!


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