Westie Lifespan and Caring for an Aging Westie [+Video]

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.

Here’s a video I made about the Westie lifespan among other things you need to consider when you think about getting a Westie:

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.

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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.

72 Comments on “Westie Lifespan and Caring for an Aging Westie [+Video]”

  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. Margaret! I feel the need to share my experience with you. I had an Amazing Westie, Yuki, just past in June, 14.5yrs old. (heartbreaking) She was diagnosed with Diabetes when she was 11yrs old, similar to your Toke. From what you said, “sleeps a lot”, that’s also possible the sugar is high. I started doing the glouse monitoring at home the first year, and wish I did it earlier. It was very helpful. In fact, her sugar was on the low side than the high side mostly, with not much Insulin usage. We started “Sugar Gold from Petwellbeing” from day one, and especially after we switched to V Dog vegan food, less spike for sure. (still had meat at times, but her diet was mainly V dog, fruits, vegi, and homemade treats) Till she past, her eyes, joints, skin, gum, heart, even blood profile and urine analysis were so called “fantastic”. At the end, this June, she was diagnosed with Pancreatitis, that elevated everything, I think….I will try my best to help any dog that needs my knowledge to honor my baby!

  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.

    1. My westie Angus is 16 tomorrow. He is still like a puppy even at this age. He us bling but still has a great life. The only issue we have now is the black itchy spots on his back. But the vets said westie are prone to this. He has an injection once a month to stop the itching. It’s £90 a month but who cares. We sacrifice food ourselves 1 day a month to pay for it. Only other thing he has got is sounds like water in his ears. Might have to go back to the vets but not bothering him. We are both 52 and he keeps us feeling young.i would never have another breed. Before Angus I had 6 boxers but alough beautiful the only have a short life span.

  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 .

      1. Claire, Just saw your post and wondered if your vet diagnosed your sweet Westie. We just had the same experience with ours, with the vet fairly sure it was a brain tumor. We didn’t do scans because of his age.

      2. We had a very similar issue with our first Westie. Initially we used steroid injections. The time between seizures were weeks. As he got older, the time between seizures grew closer, the effectiveness of the shots became less, and his recovery became longer. We eventually decided he wasn’t our boy anymore and he was in pain. We helped him cross the Rainbow Bridge. Twenty years ago there wasn’t as much info about Westie Shaker Syndrome. Hope this helps.

      3. Absolutely… support your decision and just know you are being loving and selfless. I know your hurt and pain – blessings to you and your family.

      4. Our westie Sally has had seizures since she was 11 years old. She is now 15 1/5 & going strong. She takes phenobarbital twice per day. Has blood levels checked every 3 mos. She has been seizure free since she started her medication. Good luck.

    2. Our Westie, Tucker, also had a mass tumor in his belly his last year of life. He loved to 14 years of age and his sister, Tricia, is still at it at the age of 15 1/2 years!

      As for your sweetie, just love him dearly, taking one step at a time. Our Tucker slowly changed his eating as the tumor took up more space and did not give his stomachs as much room. We went from two meals a day to five small meals so that he would still get his nutrition but in smaller amounts to accommodate his stomache. He also went from dry food, to dry mixed with canned, to just canned. He then refused the canned and we went to the more expensive moist in a roll. He eventually would no longer eat that and we started cooking his food in a crockpot. (Trixie thought that was awesome as we fed her the same as Tucker!) There are many good recipes online for crockpot food. I just made sure to supplement with a multivitamin to make sure they had full nutrition. A basic recipe runs like this:
      3 lbs ground turkey
      1 1/2 cups rice (white is easier to digest than brown)
      5 cups water
      1 Tbsp olive oil
      2 carrots, shredded
      1 cup Kahle, chopped
      1 sweet potato, shredded
      1 Apple, diced
      1/2 cup blueberries
      Cook on low 4-4 1/2 hours, til rice cooked

      The first five ingredients thru the carrots always stay the same. Then we will switch out veggies and sometimes add kidney beans. 🙂

      Remember the love part the most… our Westies are smart little cookies and still want to be treated the same. Tucker still wanted his daily walks to go adventure sniffing right up to his last day ❤️

  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

      1. We did the same for our Westie who is the same age, 16-1/2. He bites, licks and itches himself incessantly if he has any grains including in treats. Now with his teeth problems I soften his grain free food with a little chicken broth

    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.

    4. Hi George. Please ask your Vet to do a blood drawn food allergy test on your baby. The one that was done for my Westie showed allergies for eggs, pork, etc. and even other household and outdoor allergens. He had many issues with his tummy until we changed his diet. He was prescribed a serum to be given in an injection to build up immunities to things. After using that as a basis, changing his diet to grain free and avoiding the items on the list, he was much better. It helped us and so that would be my recommendation to you. Please be patient and don’t give up. There is much love inside of your little best friend!
      P.S. With his sister, I found that she was not digesting the peas and carrots that were in the food that I had been feeding her. Look to make sure that your Baby is digesting everything well.

    5. Raw goat mild has probiotics that help with digestion. I also give my 16 yo Westie 1/2 a pep is in his meals and one tablespoon of pumpkin mixed in also helps.

    6. Raw goat milk has probiotics that help with digestion. I also give my 16 yo Westie 1/2 a Pepcid in his meals and when he was younger one tablespoon of pumpkin mixed in his food also helped.

    7. My 15 year-old Westie had some serious throwing up for over a day. She would not eat anything and could not even hold water down. She slept all day and was exhaused. I know she has some liver, kidney and heart problems but they have been under control. After 12 hours of vomiting, I began baby food and she ate it and held it down. The Vet called and she recommended Pepsid, 5mg twice a day. I gave it to her in the baby food because she would not take the pill alone which package recommends. Boy did that help. I still gave her small amounts of baby food so she would not spit it up. I had to cut the Pepsid original formula in half because it only came in 10mg. I gave it to her at 7pm in a teaspoon of baby food and I think It began helping immediately. Pepsid stops the stomach from producing the digestive acids that can be so caustic to the dog’s stomach causing irritiation and nausea. So far so good with my Westie. Been giving her baby food in small amounts at first like a teaspoon every hour and she kept that down. The added a bland diet in small amounts of baby food, rice, white bread, pumpkin, hard boiled egg; increasing quantities little by little. Adding baby food with the bread, rice, egg, makes it more palatable for the dog. Her poop is turning yellow, but I think
      it is from the baby food. She began to be very hungry but I still fed her every hour or two and gradually increased quanitity of food. Better she be hungry and not throw up or spit up which irritates her stomach and keeps it from healing. She does go out and poop and pee. I will work towards more solid food a little at a time. Today after 2.5 days since I started this routine, she woke up and ran to front to go out and was happy. That is my girl. I feel this behavior to be so encouraing. Still working up to solid food though. I hope this helps you.

    8. I experienced same with our 15 yr old westie. Hills science diet digestive care has been. EXCELLENT. Need rx though. Such wonderful doggos

    9. The number one allergy dogs have is to chicken. My 17 1/4 year old boy passed August 2nd. He had issues with his tummy all his life until we did an intolerance test (swab the cheek saliva) and sent it in. Found salmon and shell fish (glucosamine is shellfish based) went to limited ingredient treats, organic home cooked Turkey with veggies, pumpkin, etc. no more agonizing tummy issues .

    10. My Westie had stomach problems. The best food for him was Natures Recipe. Chicken and Rice flavor was good and he did like several other flavors as well. The food got expensive but was worth it when he stopped having problems. I finally got him off that food and he eats Iams chicken and rice canned food. Also he could eat dry food dog chow Purina chicken flavor.

    11. If I was you I would not give chicken.
      Turkey is better. I had same problems with mine until I cut out chicken.

  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.

    1. What were the signs of dementia? We moved in August, but my Maggie has never had issues adapting to new places, but now I sometimes find her just staring into space or at a wall. She is going to be 12 in June and I am praying there is nothing wrong with her.

  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.

    1. Awww. My McDuff is 15 and in excellent health so I think he will make it to 19 or 20. How is Monti this year? He’s amazing!

  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.

    2. Absolutely our Andie is 14. She snapped both patella at 9 years old it was pretty traumatic that literally she could not walk. The specialist was wonderful, she had surgery on one leg allowed for rehab and then we had the second surgery. It worked out beautifully. I took her to rehab for a total of 8 Saturdays over the summer of 2016 she walks like a champ 5 years later. The surgery was totally worth it. Now she has developed diabetes and cataracts in the last few months so we know her time is not forever but she still has a good appetite and good lungs- she definitely barks us around so we will take care of her for as long as she lives

  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

    1. I said goodbye to my darling Westie on 7th July she became ill on 7th June. She had been perfectly healthy, I thought, up until she collapsed three times on 7th June. I rescued her at three years. She was only twelve years eight months. She’s been my 24/7 companion during lockdown. I’m heartbroken and don’t know how to get over my loss.

    2. I feel your pain .
      I lost my westie on Thursday and I am absolutely devastated.
      He was my soul companion and he was a big presence in my house .
      The house feels so empty .

      1. I am so, so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine how you are feeling. Losing your best friend must be the hardest thing. ❤️ It will get better! He was very loved and I’m sure lived a happy life full of joy!

    3. so sorry xx my westie is 11 he has health problems he my best friend my heart goes out to you lots love blessing

  9. Two westies..15 and 13, both doing great thankfully. Little deafness in the older one and needs dental work regularly. Both love a gallop around the field with our German shepherd. No major signs of slowing down yet..long may it last.

  10. We have an 11 year old Westie named Freddie. The best thing we ever did for him was to get a lab puppy. He was pretty lethargic before we got Kodi. Within 2 months he started acting like a puppy again. They run and wrestle and play. Kodi is very gentle with him.

    1. We were actually wondering about this as well, for our Sami. That getting him a playmate would make him more energetic. Not that he needs to, most of the time :))

  11. My beloved Westie GG lived to 16 years and 11 months. We lost him on September 9th. He was doing well for his age. I changed his diet over the years to accommodate his needs. Over the past couple years I fed him shredded chicken mixed with peas and carrots, and brown rice. I saw him gradually slowing down and one days he refused to eat. It was downhill from on there. I’m heartbroken and I miss my little man so much but I am so grateful for all of the years we shared together.

  12. Yesterday my sweet 19 year old, Annie, crossed over the rainbow bridge. She had stopped eating 3 days ago and was acting very confused and had gone blind. Yesterday she had 2 grand mal seizures. The ER vet put her to sleep.

  13. My moms westie Charlie is 18 and we think this is the end for him. Today he can’t stand on his own and has been asleep for most of the day.

  14. Hi Sharon, Sami and all, but firstly Sharon – so sorry to hear of Annie’s passing – but wow, 19, that was an amazing life she had with you. My girl, is Salty, she is just coming up to 9, but in the last few months has had a rapid change in her movement in that going from all the regular jumping and activity, to getting stiff if still too long, and sitting down occasionally on walks. I realise she’s turning a corner from mid life to later years, but reading of so many Westies that have done so well, for so long, on this site I wondered if anyone had any advice or experience of the same at this relatively young age?
    To the Westie owners who have tummy troubles, oh my goodness, yes that is Salty – from the off she has had issues. Basically because she is such a picky eater (will not touch dog food or any kibble, grain free or not) so she will often leave her tea. If she leaves her tea, I am up early walking her and watching her eat grass like a mini sheep in our nearest meadow. I remember a vet saying to me when she was much younger, she needs fiber, but when she won’t eat kibble/pumpkin that became virtually impossible. After expensive but fruitless vets visits, I finally came up with putting half a teaspoon of “Regucol” from Holland & Barrett (UK health shop) that is basically plant fiber ground up (and meant for humans – but there is no issue for dogs either as long as you decrease the dosage) mixed in a spoonfull or 2 of live yoghurt. Unfortunately in true Salty fashion she refuses the plain yoghurt and I do have to give her vanilla but at least her tummy troubles have gone from weekly to monthly. Hope this helps anyone with the same issue. Any advice on sudden onset of arthritis would be much appreciated. I’ve got her on glucosamine and have just found “golden paste”. The magnetic collar has been on a couple of weeks. All these things combined seem to have helped a bit, but only a bit.
    Thanks for any ideas, from Andrea and Salty

    1. Hello Andrea – I have a 16 year old Westie, Maxwell (9/8/05) and I too, give him glucosamine. I also give him an anti-inflammatory that he gets from his vet – TruProfen® Flavored Tabs which contain carprofen, “the most widely prescribed and clinically proven non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication”. He has to have blood work every 6 to 12 months as the anti-inflammatory may cause bladder or kidney issues. He’s been on them for nearly 2 years and no issues what-so-ever, last check-up was July, 2021 with A+ results. I know many people prefer natural remedy treatments, but have I tried multiple different options, yet he was only continuing to go down hill. The anti-inflammatory has made a difference and I recently changed his glucosamine from ARK NATURALS “Sea Mobility Beef Joint Rescue Dog Chews” to ARK NATURALS “Gray Muzzle Old Dogs! Happy Joints! Maximum Strength Chews” and it has made a difference as well. I’m so sorry Salty is having issues, these are truly cases where it seems, “It hurts us more than it hurts them”. I know we have no way of truly knowing what they are experiencing, but it really does hurt our hearts. Maxwell can also be a picky eater. He has suffered from skin allergies most of his life until I began feeding him grain-free kibble. It made ALL the difference in the world. He went from literally ripping out the hair all around his tail and as far above it as he could reach, to not having a single issue. I tried several brands, all of the expensive ones and then believe it or not I now buy him “Supreme Source” which I found at Safeway 6+ years ago. He doesn’t care for the salmon, he prefers the turkey recipe. He also has serious tummy issues, his stomach will growl so loudly at times, it’s woke me up in the middle of the night, no joke. I also give him yogurt (if he’ll eat it) and sometimes 2 tablespoons of milk if he won’t eat the yogurt. My friend who is also a Westie mom calls their tummy issues, “ninny-belly”. For me, that describes it perfectly. If he won’t eat his kibble, I’ll put some “Fresh Pet” chicken on it and if that doesn’t work, I’ve discovered what other customer’s at our local Mud Bay call, “the doggie crack”, which is lambs lung. If you are not aware of it, it’s been dehydrated which makes it lofty and crispy. I’ll just use my kitchen scissors and cut it up into tiny pieces over his kibble and he eats it all right up. Lambs lung has vitamin A, which ironically is good for their liver and works to help settle a ninny belly. Another area that I have followed is that I have never been in the habit of giving my dogs human food/snacks. Most of it’s bad enough for us humans, let alone our precious ones. I recently (8/9/19) had to put-down my Cairn terrier, Chester (aka, Chest-o, Chet, Squishy). He was 17+ (he was a rescue so not 100 on his exact age, but I was lucky to be his mom for 16 years), and both he and Maxwell knew better than to beg from mom when she is eating. They basically knew it was futile, I’d just say, no-go lay down and that’s what they’d do. However, if I am going to be honest, I will admit there were/are occasions where I’ll share a piece of chicken or steak, or even a vegetable, but not very often. I sincerely hope you find some soothing help for Salty, she’s way too young to be experiencing that amount of discomfort. Chérie and Maxwell’s Silver Hammer

    2. My westie Winston is going to be 10 in august and I noticed he’s been stiff also if laying for a period of time he’ll have a limp for a minute. He also lays around a lot

    3. Avis, I am so sorry for the loss of your baby. I lost my Lilly Pup who was always at my side, I don’t work either. She actually died on 25 Nov 2021 on Thanksgiving night. My husband and I told her after we prepared our Turkey to take to his mother’s house for dinner, we told Lilly we would give her some Turkey when we got home. We left around 11 and came home around 4 pm. I noticed something was not right with her. She was coughing and holding her head up like she was going to drown. I gave her some turkey and gizzards and she gobbled them up immediately like there was nothing wrong with her. As the night progressed she got worse and worse. I already decided years ago, that if at all possible I wanted her to die naturally at home where she was familiar and not at the Vet’s office. She passed away in her sleep, but her eyes were open and she just quit breathing. It was more like labored breathing. The next day I put a $100 deposit on a Westie puppy and it would take 9 mos or so to get her from a particular female Westie mother. I told my breeder that was fine since I had to grieve over my Lilly Pup’s life. I really believe that Lilly’s spirit helped me get my new puppy. On Sat, 24 Sept, my husband and I picked out our new Westie Puppy which we named Ellie, which in Scottish means Bright Candle. We have had her since then and she will be 11 weeks old on Sat. 15 Oct. She is a handful, but she is so precious and I see a lot of my Lilly Pup in her as well. She has the same traits as she did. It might make you feel better to get another one? It has made me feel better. I can’t stop laughing now at little Ellie’s antics. She is so funny. For such a small dog, they all have such a Huge Personality. I know it hurts right now, but believe me it will feel better soon with time. It has for me and I am telling you this from experience, recent experience. I am hear from you if you want to write to me on this forum. God Bless you and I hope your heart feels better soon.

  15. My westie ruby is nearly 16 her back legs are very stiff and now she’s starting to pee now in the house now which is frustrating as before she’d ask to go out !

    1. My Maxwell is 16 also, as of September 8, 2021. He too, began to urinate in the house around 6-8 months ago but I have made it easy for him, I bought a huge supply of puppy training pads and he does use them. He’s so sweet, he will not go if I am watching and afterwards, he sort of sanders out of the front hallway, casually, as if ho-hum, what to do now? I always make sure to replace the used one with a fresh one as soon as possible so it’s ready and waiting for him – I forgot to replace it the first couple of times and he went on the floor. If I do happen to “walk-in on him”, I praise him and give him some pats and tell him what a good boy he is!
      I look at it as adult diapers, without him having to wear them. I do know those are available for dogs, but I don’t want him to have to walk around with a big’ol thing on his bum.

      I leave two out at night because sometimes he needs to go twice, and then fold and roll it up and put it in a diaper disposal bag to put them in until I can get to the garbage-shoot (we live in an apartment) – I actually get them at the Dollar Tree (the diaper disposable bags – only thing I buy there ). There are 75 to a box so I’ll go in and buy 20 boxes, $20 + tax, and use them for poop duty when we go on our 3-a-day walks. They are super biodegradable and very lightweight, I often forget to take them out of a pocket and find them in the washer or sometimes the dryer!

      Maxwell’s back legs are stiff as well. I give him glucosamine (Ark Naturals Gray Muzzle Old Dogs Happy Joints!) and an anti-inflammatory prescribed by his vet. About a month ago, he became unable to jump up onto the couch so whenever I would see him stand up with his paws on the cushion, I’d just cup his tail and lil’ bum in my had and give him a boost. After a while, when he continued to try to jump when I wasn’t near by and I’d see him fall back, I decided to get a ramp for him. He loves it. I previously tried the stairs thing, but he did not like them. He did okay going up them, but his peripheral vision is bad and he couldn’t make out the stairs on the way down. The ramp did the trick. I just wish it was about 6-10 inches shorter as we have a small living room area.

      I’m happy to know another Westie – Ruby♥ is living the good life at 16, like my boy Maxwell!
      (♪ Maxwell’s Silver Hammer ♪)

  16. My sweet boy, Sammy, passed away Aug. 15, he was 16.8 years old. He started to slow down at the beginning of 2020, it went so fast. This last month he could barely walk, was always slipping on the floor and his back legs were giving out on him constantly. He was barely eating and starting to be disoriented. He was truly the best dog I miss him so much and am heartbroken. Reading all the stories has helped.

    1. I’m so sorry, Kimberly. I hate that we can’t extend our furbaby’s lives, or at least prevent them somehow, from having to go through that. It’s the circle of life, blaa-blaa-blaa, but it shouldn’t happen that way for them. They give us so much happiness and comfort, they deserve to somehow pass without ANY discomfort, what-so-ever! Sammy was obviously much loved and cared for, you were a very good mommy to him so try and take comfort in that.

  17. Our Sam will be 14 on October 29th. Over the years he has not escaped serious health issues including repairs to cruciate ligaments in both legs. However more recently he has become totally deaf, has cateracts, cannot hold his food down and even brings up any water that he has drank. Now he is struggling to get outside quick enough and has had several accidents. In spite of this we still love him to bits and don’t know what we will do when the imminent inevitable happens.

  18. Our little Riley 15 and 8 months old. He is mostly blind, although he always sees other dogs. He he deaf also, but still happy, eating well and plays for a little every day. He mostly sleeps. He does drink a ton of water and his vet said he probably had some disease which I can’t remember. She said the cure was too hard for an old dog. We have to make sure he doesn’t drink too much at a time as he will throw it up. We yell at him to take a break. He will walk around and drink more. Our problem is he can’t get up and down in our motor home. He weighs about 25 lbs. We hope he will be around for a little more, but realize he is probably quickly coming to his end. He has been the best dog we have ever had.

  19. Hi everyone. Writing about Salty the Westie in England again. Just had to let you know I’ve found something great for stiff joints. I expect you have all heard of it – Yumove. I have to say though, since I switched her to Yumove over a cheaper glucosamine powder she has been pretty good. I try and stop her jumping so much now too. I have to grind up the tablet and hide it in butter but she takes that every day and there is much improvement. Now I need advice on Fireworks please. It is coming up to a festival in the UK called Bonfire Night and people are allowed to set off fireworks as and when they like! It is supposedly for one night, but it rattles on for weeks nowadays. I have tried so many things for Salty but she is still petrified. Does anyone have any good ideas for calming dogs during firework season please. Love to all those gorgeous Westies.

  20. Gloria
    I lost my Westie, Angus, today. He was only 11.8 years. We just noticed him limping on his right hind leg, panting, and pacing in the last 2 weeks but in the last 3 days it became much worse. This dog never had any health issues. He licked his paw sometimes but nothing else. He was happy, healthy, feisty and a JOY. The vet took an X-ray and found that the right side of his pelvis was nearly dissolved by cancer. Putting him down was not a hard decision to make because I didn’t want him in pain one more minute but I’m sure gonna miss him.

    1. So sorry for you loss Gloria. My Andie had cancer throughout her little body so I know how you feel. It is devastating for anyone who has loved a little white doggie like we have.

  21. Thank you. Just as an update we said good bye to Andie on Tuesday. She was a fighter to the end, but like some other doggies she developed a large mass on her spleen, there was also evidence of cancer in her liver and lungs. We were shocked because we had xrays done in April and other than some inflamation -we got antibiotics for that, she seemed okay so the xrays of Tuesday were a shock. We took her in because she began panting on Sunday on and off and it got more pronounced by Tuesday morning. The Vet put her on oxygen to help her breathe. I called my husband and together we made the decision to let her go. She was the best girl. We loved her. She was our third Westie, and she was the most affectionate and sweet natured of the 3. So this is a blow. .but like the two before her she is forever with us.

  22. Hi I’ve Rescued a westie she’s 9 now she was left in a 1st floor flat all day now she has run off the house tries to be incharge very stubborn for example won’t even eat out of a cheap bowl she was very nervous but now she says hello to neighbor’s when she goes for a walk love’s sitting outside in the garden at summer time even late at night self-taught to go outside and do her bits never messed indoors considering she only was used to a litter tray full pedigree all paperwork Such a good dog

  23. I just happened to come across this site about old Westies and was so happy to discover it. My Murphy is 16 yrs 10 mos old and has had his medical challenges but is still full of life and is the light of my life. He was diagnosed with a mast cell tumor inside his right hind leg 20 mos ago. The vet felt he would not survive going under anesthesia at his age, that it might grow slowly, so we opted to let him be.

    Except for some slowing down in his mobility (partially due to arthritis), he has done pretty well. He still eats well, enjoys short walks, eyes the squirrels with enthusiasm, still tries to play with us, and sleeps comfortably. But he is totally deaf and sometimes seems confused and nervous and will walk in circles. The icy/snowy weather where we live is very hard on him. He is on meds for pain and anxiety. His tumor has now spread to the exterior of his leg and is slowing him down. But he still seems pretty happy. I took him to the vet this week in the hope that she could drain the growth or something, but she felt we should leave it alone. I adore this little guy and am so saddened to contemplate the loss of him, but I’m just trying to make each day as comfortable and pleasant for him as I can. He’s been such a sweet & loving companion to our family for almost 17 yrs and I am forever grateful for my Murphy.❤️

  24. Interesting to come across this site dedicated to sharing stories and issues about older Westies! I have a 13yr old, Finnegan, whom I try to muster along (I need the walking as much as he does, as I am a senior). He has had health issues all his life, centered around skin allergies/poor immune responses, and has been medicated his entire life on every vet and holistic treatment available. No cure, of course, just some measure of control over his –and my–stress levels dealing with staph infections and suchlike breakouts. It goes without saying that the vet office staff and vet know us VERY well as we are there so often each year…

    What I have found is that feeding him raw food, along w cooked yams and a daily snack of crunchy carrot, along w high-grade limited treat rewards has been most helpful. Since he now has what is most likely back end arthritis, I try my best to get out and walk w him whenever possible (though not every day), and adding glucosamine in adduition to Nutrivet (digestive aid to a healthier gut). When the back legs were getting more of a concern, I decided to add pet-specific organic cbd oil to his food, and in just a few months, his mobility has really improved when we walk.
    A final factor that is SO important: although he can sleep almost 24/7, he really thrives on mental stimulation. For quite a few years we have attended fun agility classes, and then sniff classes–it’s ike a light bulb going on in his head, and he is totally “into it”–he’s food-reward motivated, and a very quick study when shown something new to learn.
    So, we keep bopping along as best we can. Thank goodness his eyes and hearing and teeth are good, perhaps as a way for making up for the lifelong skin issues; he’s been very ill only once, some years ago, with pancreatitis, but made a good recovery. Perhaps another year or so, who knows? Every month is another gift, no matter if he sleeps a lot.

  25. I just lost my little guy Spencer on Thursday January 13, 2023 at 10:45AM…
    He died at home…literally in my arms. Reading the prior posts…I see that his
    problem also began with his back legs giving out.
    Since, he had a terrible puppyhood…The original owners did not seem to care about
    him…He was passed on to the dog walker. Though the idea was good she did not give
    the proper vet care…As a result, we received him with a ton of issues…ear infections,urinary
    infection, allergies to food, not neutered and a belly as black as tar! His age was approximately
    seven…We were able to get Spencer back to health while he was with us for nine years. This
    was our first introduction to the West Highland breed!
    At the age of 16…I have to say, I miss my Spencer terrible since he gave his last breath in my arms.
    Perhaps when he was quietly barking and moving his front paws in a running fashion during the
    last two days of his life…He finally reached that rainbow bridge when he gave his last breath!

  26. These stories are breaking my heart. My sincere respect and appreciation to all of you loving Westie parents. I have thought about getting a Westie or two so they could be company for each other but I have to say after reading these stories I could not take it. I recently lost my beloved cat Tiger after 15 years and his health problems in the last seven months were overwhelming…brain cancer etc. Monthly trips to the vet for chemo, pills, and pills converted to liquid by a special pharmacy, monitoring his bowel movements and urination it was daunting. I would have done anything for my best friend. I think he developed dementia because he stopped going in his box–that was rough. When he could not stand up or walk without falling I knew it was time to go to the vet..for the last time. My heart goes out to all of you. I bought him the last seven months of his wonderful spoiled life–I spoiled him. He was my company cat with his pretty face and tiger like personality. It’s been two years and I still mourn him and could not replace him. He was a big cat about as big as a Westie and a lot of times he acted more like a dog than a cat so I thought if I ever get another friend it would be a West Highland White Terrier.

    1. So sorry about you lovely cat. I have had cats too.
      I must tell you that you will never regret having a Westie . It is worth all the heartache . My little boy is 15 and I accept that one day he is going to die. But I don’t regret one minute of having him. I have so enjoyed him, Spent lots of money on his trips to the vets but he has been worth every penny. Since he was a puppy I have never been without him, he comes everywhere with me. I am 81 and we walk twice a day so keeps me going and always comes on holiday with us. He loves the car and I have to give him a treat to get him out of the car. The sweetest little dog you could hope to have. Love your little westies everyone. That’s all they ask for.

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