Westie Lifespan and Caring for an Aging Westie

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Westies are getting older as time goes on, as much as we do. Still, they have one of the longest lifespans, which gives the two of you plenty of years to enjoy each other. However, be careful, without proper health management and senior care, the aging process can move faster than it should.

If you have one of your own, knowing the 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 is really important. Diet and vitamins are important, as well.

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What Is the Westie Life Expectancy?

Answer: 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, our Westies 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 diet and all the exercise they need.

1. Age

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 7 to 10 years old. This is when vets 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.

Cute westie puppy with glasses on the nose, in front of a computer

2. Bad Vision

Similar to humans, when Westies become older, one of the largest concerns is they can get cataract. 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 still see. This wasn’t true for my first dog, though: the vet said the operation might be too difficult, so the puppy lived for the last 2-3 years of his life like that. It was a bit difficult, but he made it happen. He lived until 17, so he was quite old.

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. Raw food might also be a solution, as well.

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.

westie lifespan and caring for an aging westie

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.

Here are the vitamin suggestions from our community:

The VetriScience Canine Plus Senior Multivitamin for Older dogs-60 Bite Sized Soft Chews: you need to see the reviews on Amazon also, to understand how good they can be for your senior westie.

Zesty Paws Senior Advanced Multivitamin for Dogs – Glucosamine Chondroitin for Hip & Joint Arthritis Relief – Dog Vitamins & Fish Oil for Skin & Coat – Digestive Enzymes MSM + CoQ10: again, read the Amazon reviews as well, since they are so helpful in understanding what they can be used for.

I know we normally recommend what we personally use on this site, but our westie, Sami, is not too old. He’s been born in late 2018, so he’s quite young. So we looked at what our community is buying and recommending and we tell you. If you have other suggestions, please comment below and we might add it to the article. Thanks a lot!

Sami the westie at the beach

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.

20 Comments on “Westie Lifespan and Caring for an Aging Westie”

  1. Thanks for all your information .
    Our Westie called Toke is 11.5 years old (male) and has been diagnosed with diabetes. All he wants to do is sleep! He loves his walk and going in the car but we worry about how much longer he’ll be here.
    He’s never chased balls or anything, just not interested in them. He very occasionally plays with his toys but only if ‘he’ wants to.
    I look forward to hearing about Sami’s adventures.

    1. Our westie, Teddy lived to almost 17 1/2. He’s been gone just a short time so we just have our other westie, Max who is 13 1/2. Unfortunately Max has allegies so we keep him on a vegetarian diet and takes Apequel twice a day. If you can take your’s to a small dog park so he can have fun and get exercise.

  2. My miniature Westie will be 16 this year. She eats very well and has always weighed about 12 pounds. She sleeps quite a bit.

  3. My Westie is 15 this year. We just found out that there is a very big mass in his body, pushing his stomach and intestines to the side and back. It really broke my heart. We have opt for a palliative care instead of an operation as we are worried that the surgery will be too intensive for him. What can we do to make his life better in his last days?

    1. Casper is 15 and an half, and he has been in relatively good health until, he suddenly started to have seizures (3 in 12 hours), and became very lost (bumping into walls, not wanted to have anything to do with us, walking like a robot) for at least an hour and an half after each seizure. He is so uncomfortable, panting and not himself obviously that we have taken the final decision. It goes without saying that we are heartbroken, but don’t want him to suffer. Remind yourself that taking this hard decision is an act of Love.

        1. Our westies is 16 in July eats well has a walk in the garden every day.she looks sad sometimes .she is ex.breeder had her 10 yrs will be so upset when she passes her pal is Meatloaf he is 6 they are the best of friends .had five since 1982 .17,14 17 so they have all had good lives love them to bits .

  4. We seek help coping with and ideally eliminating our Westie’s stomach problems. About every 3-4 weeks, her tummy becomes upset and she becomes lethargic until she “throws-up,” then she’s OK again for awhile. We feed her a home-cooked concoction of boiled chicken, white rice peas and carrots, plus 1/4 to 1/3 cup of Wellness Core kibble, twice daily. Vet-evaluations have revealed nothing helpful. Can someone suggested a recommendation for us to try? Thank you.

    1. We have a 16 1/2 year old Westie. 11 years ago we switched her to a grain free kibble diet and 98% of all her stomach issues went away. Before a grain free diet she was vomiting bile almost every morning. I use Zignature turkey

    2. We have a 12 year old Westie when he was a pup he had kibble and Chappie. When he was about 3 years old he started to develop an upset tummy like your Westie. Our vet said to eliminate CHICKEN from his diet which we did and he is now fine. We introduced duck and rabbit which he is perfectly fine with. Also for some strange reason he is ok with Turkey. As he has got older we have introduced Senior Tribal kibble which seems to doing the trick. Also make sure you read the ingredients on dog treats…if it mentions chicken or animal derivatives…avoid it. See how it goes.
      Good luck

    3. My dog has the same exact problem. Purina pro plan low fat diet has been a big help. It’s a prescription dog food. Your veterinarian can help you order it.

  5. My westie (Hilary) is 16 and half years old. Took her to the Vet this week because she was behaving different. The Vet said Hilary’s has dementia, blend from her left eye, liver is not well and her heart is only working 40%. The vet gave her 4 to 6 months, I’m devastated and sad but blessed to have her for so many years.

  6. My westie (Monti) just turned 19. I have only had him for four years but he has been an absolute joy. He has slowed down significantly as sleeps a lot but he is still the most amazing little guy and I am truly lucky to have him in my life.

  7. Our 11 year old Westie blew out his ACL 2 years ago. Expensive but worth the fix. Now at 11 he’s blown out the other (all hopes of an NFL career have vanished). We will also have it fixed because he really is still very spry. I haven’t seen much about ACL issues in Westie forums but the vet has said it is common for this breed. Anyone else out there with this issue?

    1. Yes our 10 year old Westie has had both his ACLs repaired! One at 3 years old and the other at 8.
      He is running around just fine now. I was also told it’s quite common as well as loose patelas.

  8. Sorry for your loss. I lost my westie in jan. He was 12 and had a lot of ongoing health issues which he had had for the last 4 yrs. I miss him every single day as it was just me and him. I lost my best friend and companion

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