Below is a summary of our knowledge in some areas in dog care. At Celticbrae Kennels we practice natural health care where ever possible, however we do not disregard the expertise of vets and modern medicine, rather we recommend a balance of the two. It is important to have a vet like your own doctor in that someone that you can easily communicate with, he or she does not necessarily have to agree with alternative ideas however they should respect your ideas and needs and be able to discuss the options available.
At the end we have put together a brief summary of what we do, so don’t feel to weighed down with the below facts, these are here mainly so you get an understanding of our practices. It is just advice, take what you want from it and leave the rest. Two books I can recommend is Give Your Dog a Bone by Dr Billinghurst and Pet Care by Pat Coleby, the later of the two explains vitamins and minerals in great detail, however some of her views on kennel practices are dated and we do not agree with them all.
We are happy to answer any of your question that you may have concerning your westie, however we are not trained professional it just advice on what we would do concerning basic health care for pets. You are welcome to contact us on either e-mail or telephone numbers and address are listed below. Remember you are always welcome at Celticbrae even if it has been years since we have heard from you. Celticbrae dogs are always welcome back home.
Skin functions as a barrier to protect the body from infections, caustic substances, ultra violet light and dehydration. For good health and a properly functioning skin depends also on the healthy function of other organs such as the liver and kidneys. Because the skin is an organ that is highly visible, disorders are readily detected during an examination. An excessive build up of toxins causes the skin to become inflamed and cause a number of visible skin conditions, including hot spots, hair loss and itchiness.
There are many factors that cause skin irritations however the main three causing factors are toxic intake, flea infestation and allergies. Our pets have to deal with an ever-increasing amount of toxins; Chemical flea preparations including flea collars, worming tablets, preservatives, dyes and additives in commercial pet food, vaccinations and other drug treatments such as antibiotics and cortisone. All of which a coupled with environmental conditions and poor nutrition.
Flea infestation can cause problems as an allergy to flea saliva can cause flea allergy dermatitis or flea hypersensitivity. Studies show that there are as many as 15 antigens in flea saliva that can cause allergic reactions. As in humans animals can also form allergies to food, mainly from preservatives, additives and chemicals found in commercial pet food. Inhalants from dust and pollens and to many things within our supposedly safe home environment, such as garden plants like Wandering Dew, Poison Ivy and Nettles.
Good regular grooming patterns are needed to keep our pets skin in optimum health. Grooming removes the dead hair along with dead skin cells and stimulated the hair follicles in the skin and blood circulation. Regular grooming also helps in the control of moulting and keeps hair loss to a minimum rather all over our furniture and clothes. Grooming is also an important part of both flea and tick control.
Grooming entails more than brushing it includes bathing, clipping of nails, ears to be cleaned and plucked, (regarding plucking we feel that if your dog has never had ear problems don’t start plucking, the hair is there for a reason) and removal of hair in problem places for the animal such as eyes, paws, anal area if need be.
Over bathing your dog can quickly dry out their skin leaving the coat dull and the skin flaky. Dog’s skin cells replace themselves every 3-4 weeks and bathing more than this can cause problems. Healthy dogs on a balance diet do not smell and require bathing less, however if you must bath there are some things you can do. If the dog is simply dirty from playing in the mud a simple rinse with water will soon sort out the problem, or a good brushing once the mud is dry will often does the job. If shampoo is required do not use detergents, soaps and shampoo design for humans. Our skin has a different pH to dogs causing dry skin or for sensitive pet rashes. Oatmeal based shampoos and conditioners are best and help retain moisture in the skin. Often we can fall into a catch 22 with our pets, many people tend to bath their dog regular especially if they are white. Continuous washing not only damages the skin but also strips the coats of natural oils, which help keep the coat, clean. With these oils depleted the coat actually absorbs the dirt. Do not over wash your westie.
Dry baths are very effective on westies, using either grooming chalk or cornflour. Dampen the coat with a wet cloth and rub the chalk through the coat. Brush the coat thoroughly to remove any excess chalk. Always remember that white is a human concept not a westie concept, and that westies 90% are a greyish white and not the snow white of TV etc. presents of them.
HEALTH PROBLEMS CAUSED BY FLEAS
Flea Dermatitis / Flea Hypersensitivity is an allergy to flea saliva can be very severe travelling over the animal‘s body causing alopecia - baldness, seborrhoea - scaling skin, hyperpigmentation a dark discolouration of the skin. The skin is usually hot and the animal suffers from the itchiness, which can cause great suffering. Studies have shown that there are over 15 different antigens in the flea saliva that is capable of causing an allergic reaction in a sensitive pet. Dogs that have flea allergies will bite at the base of their tail and scratch frequently. The bite of a single flea can cause hours and even days of intense itching.
There can also be a loss or thinning of hair and usually flea dirt can be found on the animal. The animal does not have to have a huge amount of visible fleas to suffer any of the above-mentioned irritations, as many fleas may have been removed by the constant chewing by the animal. If a dog or cat is sensitive to flea saliva just on bite can set off an allergic reaction.
The other health problem is fleas can transmit flea tapeworm eggs. Tapeworms can make your dog very sick. Tapeworms are a zoonosis disease meaning that they can be transmitted to humans from the pet. One at a time the Tapeworm segments are passed by the animal, the segments are full of eggs and while the segments are warm and active they remain complete, but when the segments dry they break open releasing the eggs. Flea larvae ingest these eggs and the tapeworm develops into immature form within the flea. The pet consumes the flea usually whist grooming itself, the immature tapeworm is released into pet remaining and maturing within the pet’s intestine.
The first thing that we can do is to keep our animals as healthy as possible. Fleas and ticks are parasites and live in a balance with their animal hosts. It is true that a healthy pet does not seem to attract as many fleas and ticks as one in poor health and debilitated condition.There are alternatives to flea preparation that harbour toxic chemicals. Regular grooming of the pet to remove dead skin and hair, keeping the pet and the pet’s environment clean. Diet is a key factor in ensuring that your pet has a well balance nutritious raw natural diet, Garlic is high in organic sulphur, an excellent flea deteriorate.
Homoeopathic flea preparations are available as homoeopathic flea energy and combination remedies and can be given to the pet either via their drinking water of directly to their mouth. These preparation can be given with confidence of no possible side effected are very effective in the control of fleas. (Though I have not had great success with these).
Home made flea rinses and powders are also very effective in the control of fleas. There are countless recipes available and I prefer the recipes that use essential oils and avoid pyrethrum, which is very popular in these recipes. Pyrethrum though a natural product and far less destructive than commercial chemicals which has its side effects when used for the long term:
Flea sprays made up from 500mls of water add 5 drops Lavender Essential Oil. Spray pets, bedding and favourite areas regularly. (I find this spray if use regularly very effective. A flea powder can be made from unscented talc and 5 drops of Essential Lavender Oil added one drop at a time. This can then be sprinkled on a clean dog and bedding.
Flannel flowers and Pennyroyal are also flea repellents that can be blended with unscented talc when dried. (About a hand full of undried leaves blended to 2 cups talc).
Sachets made from shade cloth and filled with dried Lavender and Rosemary, stitched the sachet into the pets bedding, as the pet warms the bedding the fragrance is released, repelling the fleas.
Both fleas and ticks live off the animal most of the time; and it is therefore essential to control the environment in addition to your pet. This includes the pet’s bedding, favourite areas in the garden and home. If your pet is an inside pet this will include carpets and furniture.The remedies mentioned above should be used on these areas. A sprinkle of these powders or a spray of the homoeopathic remedies or natural flea spray will help the control of flea eggs in these areas. All bedding should be washed regular and kept clean of flea dirt and eggs. In warmer months remove all excess bedding and use only bare minimum.
One of natural flea deteriorate available to use in your yard is a relatively new concept based on biological control. A small worm or nematode that is a natural predator for the flea eggs and larvae is freeze dried and then reconstituted and sprayed on the yard to combat the flea population. One of the brands available is called Interrupt and is apparently available from some veterinarians. I discovered this on the Internet. I have tried it, and have been flea free since for over 2years. It was a $100 lay out but considering the cost of comerical flea controls it was money well spent.
Ears should receive a weekly inspection for hair; discharge and that the ears are free of grass seeds and other foreign matter. Dog groomers clean the ears of their canine client when visiting the salon, however veterinarians will agree that the ears needs good attention between visit remembering in tick prone areas the ears should be checked daily as this warm moist area of the ear is a ideal environment for the tick.
Irritated ears show symptoms of pawing at the ear, carrying the head to one side, vigorously shaking of the head, restlessness and depressed like state. The usual honey colour wax discharge may become darken, thick and oozing, there may also be a foul odour accompanying. Often the dog will whimper when the ear is touch either by him or others as ear infections are extremely painful.
It is important that ear infections are dealt with promptly as prolonged infection may cause permanent damage including impaired hearing or deafness. For this reason your vet should always assess ear infections. A diet free of preservatives and chemicals is important as the ear canals are used as an exit valve for built up toxins.
Studies show that more than 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats by age three show some signs of gum disease. Bad breath could be an early warning sign of the dangerous gum disease gingivitis. Lack of dental care means more than bad breath; build-up of tartar, bacteria causes a veritable cesspool from which the blood stream drains infection. These bacteria may go to all organs of the body and cause serious infections. Heart and kidney infections, among others, some may be life threatening; this is why dental care is much more than a cosmetic concern.
One of the best dental health measures for dogs and cats is a regular treat of tough, raw meat. Although this may surprise you, tough cuts such as stew beef, oxtails, and poultry hearts and gizzards actually contain large amounts of connective tissue that act like dental floss! Very loose teeth in small dogs have been observed to become tighter in their sockets, and raw meat also seems to help scrape some tartar away.
With a natural raw diet consisting of raw meats that are served whole in order to make the pet chew and work at his food, there should also be a included into the diet bones, both smaller bones such as chicken that can be fully consumed and larger bones that are too hard to be fully consumed, the later make for excellent teeth cleaners for dogs. These bones are usually beef bones and left in the yard not only clean his teeth but also keep him occupied for long periods of time. Prevention is the key to helping pets maintain good health.
Anyone who has lived with an older, stiff and disabled dog has experienced the heartbreak of arthritis. This slowly progressive disease starts with almost undetectable discomfort, and may progress to the point that the animal refuses to stand, walk outside for constitutionals, or even eat. Arthritis actually comes in different forms, with different causes, and can attack dogs and cats regardless of breed or age.
Although causes may range from autoimmune rheumatoid arthritis (which is more common in humans, by the way) to Lyme disease and primary cartilage degeneration in young dogs, by far the most common type is degenerative osteoarthritis. As our animals age, the bony joints begin to move less smoothly, and bony spurs may develop in the body's attempt to stabilise these "creaky" joints. Joint instability and bony proliferation cause pain when the animal moves.
The best cure for arthritis is prevention, feeding your pet a well-balanced natural diet throughout their lives. Also keeping your pet at a healthy weight, by not allowing your pet to become overweight ensure that their bodies are able to grow without any extra pressure on the joints that work so hard throughout our lives. Also grow your puppy slowly; don’t be impatient for your dog to fill out. Puppies should be kept lean and allowed to mature with time not excessive weight. Cider vinegar added to the drinking bowl will also aid the prevention of this painful disease.
For those pets that already suffer from this painful disease I recommend the use of cider vinegar this wonderful elixir really does help relief the pain of arthritis. I should know as I have suffered from arthritis myself for some years and cider vinegar offers great relief.
Even a healthy pet needs worming. New pets and worms usually come together although we do not like to think about it. Worms have lived with our pets for many years and their lifecycles are very much intertwined. The worms are quite busy reproducing themselves. Their motto is “safety in numbers” as with flies and most insects, when the conditions are right, rapid effective reproduction ensures their survival until the next opportunistic time. Most pet intestinal Worms reproduce in cycles of two to three weeks, almost constantly showering the intestine with massive numbers of eggs. The adult worms are essentially egg factories; sending the eggs out individually or reproducing neatly packaged versions for further travels in the animal and plant kingdoms.
Early worm stages lying dormant in the tissues of the mother and are awaken and move to the newborns at birth. Other forms of transmission are through insects, directly through the paws or through the oral/faecal route. From the early beginnings, the worms can be there. If the worm load is large, troubles can start as early as two to three weeks of age causing poor digestion, bloating and possibly intestinal blockage.
Tapeworms can make your dog very sick. Heavy infections may be notice by abdominal discomfort or nervousness in the host. The host may vomit and sometimes have convulsions. The convulsions are brought about by what is thought to be toxins released by the tapeworm. Active segments around the anus may cause the host to lick or scoot‚ on the ground.
Tapeworms are a zoonosis disease meaning that they can be transmitted to humans from the pet. In humans the side effects of tapeworm infestation can include abdominal pain, diarrhoea and itching around the anus and more seriously tapeworms in humans can lead to blindness, which may be irreversible. Due to this serious health threat our pets should be on an effective worming management plan, especially when children are involved. Other worms found in our pets are roundworms, hookworms, and whipworm, which there are many species of each family and heartworm.
Signs of worms can be varied, from vomiting, coughing, poor coat, underweight, and overweight, loose and / or bloody bowels, hypoactivity, to no signs at all. Tapeworm segments may be seen adhering around the anus, they look like small particles of rice. Tapeworms can also been seen as flesh coloured objects moving in the faeces. Round worm can also been seen in the faeces either singly or when there is an infestation in balls.
Worms will not affect a strong and healthy animal; their vitality will keep the worm numbers low or almost non-existent through strong digestion and excellent immune function. Dogs fed on a natural raw diet; receiving their vitamins an all their minerals shouldn’t have a lot of problems with worms. Worms have trouble surviving in a clean, hard muscle stomach and intestinal tract, which is able to expel the worm. Kennel hygiene along with clean exercise enclosures and runs is also important in the control of worms. Water bowls and feeding dishes should be kept clean with regular washing.
Supplementing the diet with cleansing herbs such as garlic, which can be feed either by tablet form or fresh cloves crushed into their food. Slippery elm is another beneficial digestive herb, slippery elm is easily found in health food shops in extract form. Apple cider vinegar is a beneficial supplement that discourages worms; this can be administered via drinking water, one teaspoon into an average drinking bowl. Sulphur is also effective supplement in the control of intestinal worms. Sulphur can also be rub into the coat for the control of fleas. Flea control is an important part in the prevention and management of intestinal worms. Always use a good a quality-worming tablet, best supplied by you veterinarian. Ensure you use the correct tablet for you dogs weight and it is a broadspecturm wormer hat covers tapeworms.
The Balanced Diet
A diet needs to be balanced, convenient and not excessively expensive. Raw is the best offering a mix of raw meats with bones such as chicken carcasses wings and necks. Pork, rabbit, lean beef and roo meat are other good menu choices. When feeding bones make sure that there is ample meat left on the bones, and that the bones are not so big that your pet is unable to consume them.
Beef bones are great teeth cleaners but are often to large and hard for most dogs, as beef is generally a lot older than other stock before slaughter the bone are of less nutritional value. Meat cuts should be lean often our pets are feed the fatty scraps, these are just as bad for them as for you. These meats should be served whole and not cut into small bite size pieces. By leaving whole the pet is having to work at his food, this aids with dental care, digestion and is giving the pet a work out through the jaws and chest region. Offal should also be included into the diet a couple of times a week rich in vitamins along with eggs.
Grains are also needed to balance a diet, there are many different ideas concerning, which grains and how much. Grains should not be the basis of the diet however do need to be included the best grains for your dog is millet, whole wheat best sprouted and barley along with legumes are inexpensive easily obtain and easily added to the menu. Grains that have been sprouted along with other grain are a high source of protein again inexpensive and easily prepared. I have found that westies on a diet to rich in protein will have an oily coat and have strong body odour and some even itchiness, I now add either oat or wheat bran to the mince mixture (this bran can be brought at horse feed shops in bulk amounts very cheaply) I know use bran rather than rice or any other carb.
Raw vegetable need to a part of the diet and should include celery, mushrooms, pumpkin, avocado, carrots, spinach and broccoli. These can be pulped and added to quality lean mince to be more attractive to the more fussy palate. Alfalfa feed daily aids in cleansing the blood and helps with the detoxification processes.
Foods to avoid chocolate and other products with caffeine. Caffeine can react in dogs as well as cats causing heart failure. Onions, Chilli, tomatoes, potatoes, soft cheeses and pate. Yellow cheese in moderation along with cottage cheese is high in calcium.
Nutritional supplementation should be used in conjunction with a high-quality basic diet. The use of nutritional products and daily supplements raises the nutritional availability of essential nutrients in the animal's overall diet. The purpose of incorporating supplements into the diet of work and companion animals is to provide a full spectrum of essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other food factors that may be deficient in the animal because of biochemical individuality or low-quality food. Diets deficient in nutrients may lead to poor growth, frequent illness, poor appearance, and suboptimal performance. Left unnoticed and unattended, sub-clinical deficiencies and varying stress factors may contribute to the onset of more serious, costly health problems in the future.
Vitamin supplements should be used as required or where the diet is lacking. Though a diet high in minerals and fresh produce including green leafy vegetables should require minimal vitamin supplements. Vitamins and minerals are required by the body for optimum health and are excellent in keeping the immune system working at peak performance. Garlic is high in organic sulphur and aids flea control beautifully. Kelp supplemented into the diet is a natural source of Zinc, Iodine and Potassium amongst other minerals. Zinc deficiencies can also lead to skin problems. Other supplements include Omega oils 1,3 & 6. Omega is free radical that scavenge throughout the body and are need for optimum health. Cider vinegar is a valuable supplement rich in potassium and is used successfully in the control of arthritis. Raw honey and molasses are rich in trace elements. Yoghurt natural, fresh and with acidophilus is also a great source of calcium, and restoring the gut bacteria. Nutritional supplementation not only enhances recovery from stress, illness, and injury but also helps prevent the onset of many degenerative diseases, such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, gastrointestinal problems, and skin disorders.
Puppy training is very important, westies are very quick to take the upper hand and most new owners find this out within hours of owning their new friend. Puppy school is a great way to socialise your puppy and learn skills to communicate to him easily and clearly.
Toilet training is persistence whenever your pup has wakened, eaten or begins to wonder pick him up and take him out, when he does his business reward him with a fuss. When he makes a mistake tell him no! In a big strong voice. He will soon get the idea.
On your first night he may whimper and cry for a while, this is where you need to be strong. Choose the area that you are going to use for his bed and stick to it. There is no right or wrong place, just what suits you. We recommend the crate that he came in as he can be locked in and keep secure, you can sleep easy knowing he cannot get into any mischief. His crate is also moveable and while at work etc. it can be taken outside for a safe place for him to retreat to while you are not home.
Large beef bones can help keep him occupied while your not there. Though westies do not seem to be overly destructive they are still just puppies and the best way to protect that, which is precious to you, is to remove it from their reach.
It is always a good idea to make your puppy spend time alone even if you are at home full time so he has his independence and is happy to be by himself on the occasions where it is necessary for him to be alone.
Remember that your new friend is a dog and his general physical and mental health will benefit greatly if he is treated as such and given clear guidelines and boundaries to follow.
Raw chicken – necks, wings (bashed to break up the bone), carcasses
Tooth cleaners (large hard bones)
Mince meal recipe
1 parts pet mince / 1 part oat or wheat bran
Green leafy vegetables / fruit – what ever is floating in the fridge and the fruit bowl including a clove of garlic. Fruit and veg should be put through a blender and pulped.
Add 1 tablespoon of kelp powder, Also add a form of omega oil either as supplement oil or use sardines etc. In times of illness or stress we add a tablespoon of ascorbic acid
(vitamin C). Other supplement you may like to include is natural yoghurt, honey or molasses, Milk Thistle, parsley and sprouts.
Into drinking water add a teaspoon of cider vinegar.
For your new puppy we would recommend a variety from the above, for example. Mince mixture for breakfast, some chicken for lunch with a night meal of the mince. If your puppy is a ‘guts’ when eating you may want to offer a little mince before the chicken so that he doesn’t try to swallow the chicken whole. Along with water you might like to offer him some puppy milk. Do not use cow’s milk, as dogs are lactose intolerant.
Table scrapes are fine but don’t use onion, as some dogs are extremely allergic to onions, and no cooked bones as cooked bones are not digestible and splinter in the dogs stomach perforating the bowl, which is extremely painful and expensive to fix. (Table scapes should not be the sole source of diet for your pup). You can also add offal such as kidney, liver, and heart start in small amount as it can cause constipation at first. Eggs from time to time.
As we all leave busy lives and not always easy to organise meals for us! And owning a pet is meant to be fun! At times we need quick (fast food) when we need to use commercial food we choose Super Coat, after a lot of research we have found that Super Coat the lesser of evils.
We worm every 3 months and use heart guard once a month against heartworm. We also recommend that you investigate vaccination for yourself via the net and your vet. We practice along with many other breeders that after the puppies initial vaccinations that we booster every 3 years and not yearly. Dog vaccinations are currently suspected for many of the canine disease and health problems that we are seeing in our pets, such as skin problems, cancer and aggression. As with the debate with human vaccination there are many different ideas and we urge you to form your own opinion and what is best for you.