When it comes to grooming, we've tried out many different products. For shampoos and conditioners we recommend two brands: Isle of Dogs and Eqyss. Both will give you excellent results. Show dogs are often groomed on a weekly basis. Pets can be bathed every two to four weeks, depending on the weather. We usually bathe our non-show dogs less in the winter-time.
Grooming Tools You Should Own:
(Many of these products above can be found on Amazon.com and at various online supply stores.)
Starting with the Coat, regular brushing and bathing will keep your dog's coat looking its best, and will cut down on any shedding, as well. If you should find a knot, typically at the base of the ear or under the armpit, try first to use your fingers to pull the knot apart, and then remove with a comb. If the knot is really bad, you can try breaking it up by cutting into it a few times with the micro shears, and then pulling the knot apart and combing. As a last resort, you can cut perpendicular into the knot with the baby nail scissors, and cut the knot into strips. Loosen with your fingers and then comb out.
Nails - Trim the nails every two weeks or so, and don't forget to trim the dew claws. We have listed two different styles of nail clippers. Both work equally as well and it really comes down to personal preference. There is a product available called "Pedipaws" and it grinds the nail smooth. It actually works fairly well, if you are interested in trying it. Professional groomers often use a Dremel tool to grind down nails.
Ears - Most Cavalier ears stay clean and rarely have issues. Sometimes water gets into the ears and creates a perfect environment for yeast growth. It is very important for that reason to keep your Cavalier's ears clean and dry. You can use a chlorhexidine solution to wipe out dirty ears with a cotton square. When blow drying your dog, do make sure to get the underside of the ear leather dry, and put your thumb over the ear canal so that the dryer is not too loud or blowing into the ear canal.
Teeth - Let's face it, brushing your dog's teeth is not a fun job for either of you! Nevertheless, the teeth must be kept reasonably clean. One thing that really influences the condition of your dog's teeth is heredity. Some dogs will inherit better mouths than others. Second reason, is the stickiness of the food being fed. Raw food sticks to the teeth the least, and canned food sticks to the teeth the most. Kibble lies in between the two. You can give your dog raw bones to chew on, as well as deer antlers. Try to occasionally brush your dog's teeth by using a children's battery-operated toothbrush, made by Oral B or G-U-M. You can add CET dog toothpaste to brush the teeth if you like (but NEVER human toothpaste, which could actually kill your dog!), or just rinse it in water first.
Anal Glands - Cavaliers sometimes need to have their Anal Glands expressed. If you see your dog "scooting" quite a bit on your carpet, that's probably your dog trying to get those glands clear. If you don't know how or just don't want to clear those glands yourself, consult a Vet or dog groomer.
Eyes - Cavaliers often get running eyes, especially young puppies. Part of it is their growth phase, hormones, and the skull maturing. Sometimes the runny eyes develop into a yeast infection, and leave red yeast stains on the fur. Diet can also be a factor, and often environmental causes are to blame, like carpet cleaning chemicals and tree pollen.
Treatment for runny eyes: There are many products that claim to take care of this eye issue, but the majority of these products are a waste of money. The best active ingredient which actually works is called Tylan or Tylosin. It is the active ingredient found in "Angel Eyes" and other similar products. Tylan works. What it does, is it binds with the red yeast bacteria to clear up the staining and the running eyes. Tylan is a narrow spectrum low-grade antibiotic, which is safe to take over a long period of time. You have to give it about a month, and the eyes will clear up. If you stop giving your dog the Angel Eyes, the staining may or may not return. I have had good experience with the staining not returning.
While the Tylosin/Angel Eyes will stop future staining, it will not do anything to remove pre-existing stains. Again, many products claim to wipe off the stains, but most do not work. We mix our own paste using (white) milk of magnesia, corn starch, and hydrogen peroxide. Carefully brush the paste onto the stained fur without getting any directly into the eye, and let dry. You may need 2-3 applications in order to significantly fade the stain.
Diarrhea - It happens. So you wake up in the middle of the night to an awful smell. Yep. It's diarrhea. Ugh. So you get your dog, bedding, and crate cleaned up- what next?
In any case, start with these 3 basic steps:
As to the possible causes of the diarrhea, most commonly it is something your dog ate, and will pass in a few days. If your dog has any other symptoms, like fever, vomiting, disorientation, then you should seek medical attention. Blood in stool in very common for dogs. Normally, if a human has blood in their stool, they should be worried. Not so with dogs. Blood simply indicates a very irritated bowel. No food for 24 hours.
If you have diarrhea with a very bad strong smell, much worse than normal, then your dog may have Coccidia. Coccidia is a protozoa which exists naturally in our environment. Dogs have it in their intestine, and typically it doesn't cause an issue. Until it does. Most vets are still prescribing Albon to treat Coccidia, which takes weeks to suppress. A much better product has been in use by breeders for a very long time called Toltrazural. You can buy it at www.horseprerace.com. This drug will actually kill the protozoa in about 3 days for an active infection. It is a much better product, and hopefully your vet will be aware of it. Please note that the fecal test for coccidia very often yields a false negative. It's tricky to prove. If it looks like coccidia and smells like coccidia, it very likely is coccidia. Just keep your dog from drinking from puddles, wet leaves, places where birds hang out, and cold wet dirt.
Another troublesome little protozoa is Giardia. Again, naturally occurring, and not uncommon. The treatment for this one is a very effective antibiotic called Metronidazole.
Worms can also cause digestive upset. Deworming with Panacur often takes care of things.
Sometimes, not too often, diarrhea can be a symptom of something much more serious, so always keep a close eye on things.
As things calm down, and you start your dog on solid food again, avoid fat and sugar. Stick with high fiber foods like canned pumpkin and cooked potato. You can even add some psyllium to the food. Steamed white rice is fine, as is cooked lean ground turkey or lean white meat chicken breast. Stick with small meals.
The Reverse Sneeze - Cavaliers do this funny thing, and it is called the reverse sneeze. It can be quite alarming if you have never seen it before and don't know what it is. So, here is an informative Youtube video and a Youtube Video example:
There are many different ways you can feed your dog. Some folks feed table scraps or make their own home-made cooked food. Others swear by the raw diet. Many people prefer to feed canned foods or dry kibble. There are pros and cons to any of these diets, so you will need to select the diet that works best for you and your dog.
As for feeding, a young pup may need to be fed several times a day, while adults only need to be fed once or twice a day, in much smaller amounts. For example, I feed my older spayed females a level 1/4 cup of "low activity" senior kibble twice a day. That's all they need to maintain a healthy weight. On the other hand, my young, active "teenage" dogs will get a level 1/2 cup of full calorie food twice a day. You have to tailor your dog's diet to their needs.
Dry Kibble - Kibble is a very convenient and popular way to feed your cavalier. If you decide to feed kibble, you should be aware of a few things. First and foremost, dogs that eat dry kibble need free access to water at all times. Kibble is a compacted food, and the dogs must have water in order to properly digest.
Second, be very careful of which brand you choose. Luckily nowadays, there are many high-quality foods to choose from. We reference dogfoodadvisor.com and dogfoodanalysis.com for information. When we evaluate food, we look at the overall quality of the ingredients as well as where the ingredients are sourced and manufactured, and if it is manufactured in a stand-alone plant. Meat should be listed as the first ingredient, and be human grade and USDA inspected. The ingredients should all be sourced from either the USA or Canada. The manufacturing plant should be a facility used by one company only. No ingredients should ever be sourced from China.
We have been using a core group of foods for years now: Fromm's Family Foods, Acana, and for weaning pups we use Royal Canin's Starter and Mini Puppy kibble.
As mentioned, there are other good brands that meet the above criteria. If you feed a high quality and holistic type food, and your dog is healthy and doing well, that's all that really matters.
Raw Diets - There are several ways to feed a raw diet. Most pet stores sell nutritionally complete raw diets in frozen form. You thaw out what your dog needs for the day. Fairly Simple. The raw diet is completely digested. Teeth stay cleaner on the raw diet. Cons of the raw diet are cost and convenience. Primal and Bravo are good brands, also locally K-9 Kravings.
Another option is freeze-dried raw. A great brand is Stella & Chewy's. The Honest Kitchen offers a dehydrated raw, also very well made product.
Home Cooked - Some dogs required to be fed specialized diets for one reason or another, and sometimes home-cooked meals are the answer. Monica Segal has written several books on these topics and is a great resource. Visit MonicaSegel.com for more info.
Health Insurance - www.gopetplan.com for PetPlan insurance. The company is founded by Cavalier owners, and has a good reputation for paying on claims, and will cover inherited medical conditions. They offer varying levels of coverage.
Microchip - We use the AKC/CAR ISO chip, which is implanted before the puppy leaves our home. You will need to go online and register the chip.
Flea Prevention & Heartworm Treatment - Apply Frontline Plus after the dog is 6 months old or 10 pounds. Heartworm treatment is retro-active...the medication kills existing heartworms and larva acquired in the past 30 days. Ivomec is the active ingredient in Heartguard, which also contains a dewormer. Can be given once every six weeks rather than monthly. Give these products from April-November. If you live further south, you may need year-round coverage.
Low Cost Heart & Eye Clinics - are available every month at the CKCSC-USA shows as well as the AKC shows. A heart exam by a Cardiologist or an Ophthalmologist will run about $40. See club websites for more details.
Vaccination Schedule - We follow the Dodds Protocol for vaccination. The reason we follow this protocol is because vaccines can affect the immune system of our dogs. Repeated vaccinations can cause auto-immune related illnesses, and damaging the tissues of the heart. The truth is, one vaccine will confer years of immunity. It has been proven, for instance, that the rabies vaccination provides immunity for 7 years, or longer. See: Rabies Challenge Fund. The puppies receive the vaccine for the Parvo-Distemper Virus at 10 weeks and then 14 weeks old. The Rabies vaccine follows at 20 weeks old, or as required by law. At a year old, the puppy should receive the final Parvo-Distemper booster.Rather than re-vaccinating, you can run titres to confirm if an immune response is present. No other vaccinations are required after the final Parvo-Distemper, unless there is some sort of special need in your geographic area. Give only one vaccination at a time per vet visit, per month.
Spay & Neuter Concerns - Early spay and neuter has many negative health implications for your dog. When you visit your vet, the conversation will eventually turn to spaying or neutering your pet. DO NOT spay or neuter your pet until he/she is over ONE YEAR OLD. Female puppies should go through at least ONE heat cycle. The reason delaying spay/neuter is simple: Removing the hormones at a young age is detrimental to the long-term health and growth of your dog. In European countries, there is no tradition of spaying and neutering pets. It just isn't done. This is an American value, mostly driven by shelter and animal rights groups.
Think about humans...would you expect see visible physical effects if you did the same thing to an 8 year old boy or girl? At a physically immature age, the growth plates are still soft and have not fully closed. Hair has not fully formed (dog's coat isn't fully developed). In mature women who get hysterectomies, doctors still recommend leaving the ovaries in whenever possible in order to protect heart health, and to protect against incontinence. When you de-sex a dog at a very young age, the bones and skull will elongate, they will become lanky and physically unbalanced, and the dog won't develop a proper coat. Recent studies have shown higher rates of hip dysplasia and cancers in dogs that have been spayed and neutered early. While there are no specific canine studies, human studies have clearly proven the detrimental effects of full hysterectomy on heart health.
One increasingly popular option available to canines is a vasectomy, and many vets will now leave the ovaries in, just as they do for humans. This will help avoid incontinence, "spay coat", weight gain, and more.
So, as we try our very best to breed healthy, long-lived Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, please follow a prudent vaccination protocol and avoid the negative effects of early spaying and neutering.
Airline Travel - Cavaliers can easily fly in-cabin with their owners. Most airlines charge $75-$150 one-way for in-cabin tarvel. Use a Sherpa Bag or a Sturdibag to transport your dog. Don't feed dinner the night before the flight. Withhold water 3 hours before the flight. Even though medical papers are not required for in-cabin flight, bring along any current vaccination forms you have on hand.
Thieves - Cavaliers are known to be very expensive dogs, and much in demand. DO NOT take any chances. Do not leave your dog unattended.
Do NOT leave your Cavalier unattended in the car. The diagram to the left shows how outdoor temperatures differ from the car's interior temperature, and how quickly that temperature escalates.
Leaving the windows cracked open does NOT stop the heat in the car from rising. It is still extremely dangerous.
Always have fresh, cool water with you in the car, do not let your dog get dehydrated. Try to avoid having your dog out during the hottest times of the day.
Be aware, that the asphalt around your car is extremely hot. Be careful about placing your dogs down on the asphalt, as it may burn their feet.
Automobile - When traveling by car, always keep your dog crated, and keep the crate buckled into the seat. Keeping your dog crated while in the car can save it's life in the event of an accident. Dog car harnesses are NOT safe and can result in death in the event of an accident. The safest way to travel is to use a medium 200 Veri-Kennel, either metal or hard-shell plastic, and loop the safety belt through the crate's handle or metal cage.