Cavalier Health Website
The best site I've seen for Cavalier King Charles Spaniel health matters, specialists and other topics is www.cavalierhealth.org. It's a great site and provides all kinds of information about Cavalier health issues.
The question is...what can we do to keep our Cavaliers healthy every single day besides annual exams, vaccinations as needed, heartworm medicine and possibly some other medicines for fleas, worms and ticks, if needed? First of all - feed them a high quality dog food. The grain-free craze is about over for the show community, although there a several limited ingredient dog foods that are good. Just avoid the grocery store brands. Most of them are full of "chicken meal" and "by-products" and other stuff that is rendered from animal body parts that we won't talk about. Look at the ingredients...is meat the first thing? What are all of the additives? Can you pronounce them? Look up your food on the internet - ratings, comments and independent quality reviews.
Then there are the supplements. Our community generally doesn't give pet tabs (i.e. vitamins for dogs) because if the food is good quality they should get everything they need from it. But there are some supplements that might do some good, such as Omega 3's (like those fish oil capsules), royal jelly capsules or supplements for coat health. We give those sometimes to our show dogs to keep their coats in peak condition.
Cavalier Grooming Tips and Tricks
I thought some of you might be interested in some of the grooming tips we use for preparing out dogs for the show ring. Here they are:
- Many shampoos are very drying to Cavalier skin, so pick one that is a dog shampoo. Many of us use Isle of Dogs shampoos for our show dogs.
- We might groom our dogs every week - 2 weeks maximum, and some of the more vigilant show breeders and dog handlers will wash ears 2X/week as Cavaliers tend toward oily ears and they will get greasy and smelly, and may get yeast infections.
- One handler I know uses Selsun Blue shampoo for whitening, medicating skin at the same time. Another breeder uses Vetrolin, a horse shampoo that removes stains and whitens coat.
- Creme rinse helps a lot with tangles and loosening dead hair - some of us use Pantene as its a really good detangler and won't dry out skin (get the Moisturizing version). Isle of Dogs Coat Conditioner is good too.
- I use Greyhound slicker (like cat brushes) and pin brushes (the metal pins sticking out 0f the brush). They are the best, but any good quality brushes will do.
- When you get a mat, don't cut it off horizontally close to the skin, cut through it vertically from the skin side outward using blunt end (kids) scissors, and pull the knot apart, pull out the dead hair and comb it out. It blends in better with the coat around the area.
- Don't forget to trim nails and hair under their pads! Grinders are good if your dog is scared of clippers. Don't get too close to the pink part of the nail unless you want a disaster on your hands!
- Get a grooming table and the accessories to keep the dog safe on the table
- If you blow them dry - use room air - no heat. It takes longer but they will be a lot more comfortable
- If you want their ears to be a little fluffier - add some mousse to their ears to add volume
- Dry ears brushing UPWARD, not down - gets the moisture from under their hair better and adds volume to their ears. Blow both the outside of the ear, and the inside of their ear so that the ear is dry underneath too - don't let them get an ear infection! You might add a cotton ball inside their ear to keep water from getting in.
- Use Wondercide Ear Wash (google it) after bathing. Ear washes keep your dog's ears clean and free from ear infections
- If you've got a Cavalier with a fluffy coat, there are things called "drying coats" that will flatten their hair. Try looking at www.cjcraftsandgifts.com for their drying coats. They can really make your dog look great!
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any of your grooming questions.
Many people ask what we recommend for heartworm prevention, and to eliminate fleas and ticks. We typically recommend a topical product vs. a chew, as Cavaliers can have significant negative reactions to the chews, including seizures, vomiting and even death. We suggest Revolution topical - it handles fleas, ticks and heartworms.
Every dog should have an annual checkup and test for heartworms. As far as vaccines go, we suggest the Jean Dodds, DVM shot protocol. Google it - she recommends that after the first year shots, rather than booster every year you should titer your dog's immunity and only booster if they need it. That, and the Rabies shot, which is required by law. Never pair up Rabies and a DAPP shot - its a lot for the dog to take at once! Also, the Lepto vaccine is optional, and Cavaliers may have a reaction to it. Its a powerful vaccine. We suggest the lepto vaccine is most important if you might have standing or brackish water on your property. This is typically where dogs contract leptospirosis.
If your dog gets a case of the scoots, let their tummies rest for a day and make sure they get plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Then, give them a diet of rice and chicken with broth for a couple of days, and as their stool firms up, you might add back a little kibble, and then more each day until they are back fully on kibble. They can be back on track in about a week.
Our puppies are typically on Royal Canin Puppy (X-Small) kibble soaked in goats milk to start, with a little minced chicken and broth added for flavor. I'll transition young puppies to Fromm Puppy Gold for up to 4 months, and then transition them to a homemade diet recommended by Dr. Judy Morgan (google her and Puploaf). I also feed my dogs Fromm Beef Frittata for some crunch, I use it as a treat and also because it has some added vitamins that might not be present in a low-carb diet.. About 3/4 cup per day of raw food +kibble - that might be up to a cup per day for young puppies and dogs. We do not want our Cavaliers to get fat since they are food driven dogs anyway. My adults get about 2/3 cup per day with a bit of chicken and broth on top.