Westies, similar to every living being on this planet, is subject to getting older as time goes on. Although, they have the tendency to own one of the longest life expectancies out of most other breeds, which gives you your companion for plenty of years. However, without proper health management and senior care, the aging process can be expedited.
If you have one of your own, knowing Westie lifespan, what to expect with an aging Westie, how to accommodate their needs as they get into their senior years, and the best tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle are all important.
What Is the Westie Life Expectancy?
The average lifespan of a Westie is between 12 and 16 years, depending on several factors including birth defects, diet, and level of activity. It’s important to note that although there are Westies who have lived to the age of 16, these are some of the rarer occurrences. More often than not, this breed will have a life expectancy of up to 12 to 13 years.
What Are the Signs of an Aging Westie?
Although Westies are notoriously sassy and stubborn, as they become older, their bold personalities will start to change. There are several ways that you can tell your companion is entering the senior years of their life, which is when you’ll have to take special care to ensure they’re getting the proper dietary and exercise needs.
First and foremost, the easiest way to tell that your Westie is entering their senior years is to simply consider their age. Most dogs are classified as seniors as soon as they turn seven to 10 years old. This is when veterinarians suggest taking your dog in for more tests and changing their food so that they have access to more vitamins and minerals to keep them energized and active.
2. Disrupted Vision
Similar to humans, when Westies become older, one of the largest concerns to have is of cataracts. Older dogs have the tendency to develop a haze that is grey in color and seems to cover the surface of the eyes. More often than not, your vet will suggest surgically removing cataracts so that your dog can maintain pristine vision.
3. Hearing Loss
Senior Westies are also quite prone to suffering from hearing loss, and although there are surgical options open to you, it might not be the most useful solution. Instead of putting your dog through an optional surgery, developing hand commands in place of verbal commands can help you to communicate with each other easier. It’s also highly recommended your Westie has their ear canals checked regularly to ensure they are clear.
4. Gum Disease
It’s always best if you’re able to get your dog adjusted to the idea of grooming as early as possible so that it becomes simpler when they get older. As a senior dog, your Westie is going to need a little more tender love and care, especially in terms of their oral health.
Ensuring you regularly brush their teeth can help to prevent the buildup of tartar, which, in turn, promotes healthier gums.
If your dog’s gums become infected and inflamed, there’s a high probability that they will experience a lot of tooth pain and even have to get their teeth extracted. This results in having to change their food to something easily digestible with minimal chewing.
5. Weight Changes
Over time, your Westie is going to become less active as they lose most of their spunk and want to spend the rest of their days relaxing and hanging out with family. You’re likely going to notice they are experiencing various weight changes, whether they are becoming larger or thinner. The less active your senior dog is, the more likely calories will be to bulk onto their bodies, causing an increase in fat.
On the other end of the spectrum, senior dogs are also prone to losing weight, especially if you haven’t adjusted their food to accommodate their senior lifestyle. For example, many senior dogs find that soft food is far more preferable to hard kibble and will avoid eating at all costs. If this is the case, you will need to consider switching to canned food designed for seniors or softening the kibble in water.
6. Joint Stiffness
Moderate exercise is always recommended for dogs, especially as they become older, as it gives them a stronger foundation to avoid certain ailments as they get older such as osteoarthritis. However, there should also be ingredients in their daily food that will help to build stronger bones and joints to avoid most signs of aging.
Taking your Westie out for moderate exercise can help to relieve some pain and stiffness in their joints. You may also want to consider talking to your vet, as there are new treatments available, such as glucosamine, that will help to loosen the joints and build stronger bones.
7. Difficulty Adapting to Change
It’s important to note that for as long as your Westie can remember, they have had the same routine, slept in the same area of the home, and have gotten used to the same family members. Large changes, such as an addition to the family, or even kenneling them when you go on your first vacation, are going to be received far more poorly when they are older. This is quintessential with most breeds, as a lot of changes can be very emotional and stressful for an older dog.
Many pet parents find that introducing a younger pet into the family can help to breathe new life into an older dog. However, as Westies are very stubborn, you will first want to talk to a breeder or adoption specialist to get an idea of whether a companion for your dog is a good idea or not.
Now that you are fully aware of the most common signs of an older Westie lifespan, it’s time to consider tips and tricks for managing their signs of aging.
How to Manage Signs of Aging
Knowing what to do to help promote a healthier Westie life expectancy gives you the ability to hold onto your favorite companion for much longer. These easy to follow tips likely apply to any dog breed in their senior years as well.
1. Schedule Regular Vet Visits
As your Westie gets older, there are different ailments that could affect their lifestyle. It’s always best if you’re able to catch the problem before it becomes worse, which is why regular vet visits are highly recommended.
It’s likely your vet will do a thorough workup as your dog enters their senior years, which will include analyzing their blood and stool samples.
It’s important to remember that as a senior, your dog won’t be able to bounce back from injuries as quickly as they would have when they were a puppy. As such, you may find that trips to the vet will become more frequent, but it’s well worth it in the end as their body will be able to heal with professional help.
2. Manage Their Diet
Another incredibly important thing to remember is that you will need to manage the diet of your Westie, as this is what gives them the building blocks for a healthy and long life. All senior dogs will require a change of pace when it comes to their food, as they will require more vitamins and minerals than they needed during the peak of their lifespan.
As the lifespan of a Westie is quite long, you can expect to feed them senior dog food for quite a while. You’ll want to make sure you choose a blend that has vitamins designed to support healthy teeth, bones, and joints.
The perfect senior dog food will also help your Westie to grow healthier hair and promote healthier eyes over time. It should include all of the essential ingredients necessary to help them live a long and healthy lifestyle.
3. Establish an Exercise Routine
Likely, your Westie isn’t going to want to go on a four-hour hike with you daily, but it is important for you to establish an exercise routine to run through with them daily. Whether it’s going for a walk to the dog park in the morning or running an obstacle course, your Westie will need to stay active.
You can also seek advice from a dog trainer to have an exercise regime written up for you and your pet to follow daily. Similar to humans, the more active your dog is into their senior years, the healthier they are going to be. They’ll be able to build more muscle around their most sensitive joints and maintain higher energy levels to promote healthier sleep and better moods.
Westie Lifespan: Final Thoughts
When you make the decision to own a Westie, you are taking on a huge responsibility for up to 16 years, as their lifespan is typically between 12 and 16 years of age. By taking advantage of the tips laid out in this guide, you’ll be able to give your Westie the healthiest senior lifestyle possible. In addition, you’ll know when it’s time to visit the vet to help assess and prolong their life expectancy.