View Full Version : Tips to keep your cavalier healthy

23rd June 2011, 04:25 PM
There has been alot of talk recently about those poor cavaliers that are ill or generally not well. I thought a good Karma thread was in order. Does anyone have tips to keep and maintain your cav in good/great health generally.

23rd June 2011, 05:10 PM
Karlin had suggested I add flaxseed oil to Gracie's raw diet and it not only helped her poop as intended, it has been wonderful for her coat and eliminated some dry scratchy spots. And....she loves the taste so much she eats better. So that is one I will share. I add about 1/4 tsp to her meals.

23rd June 2011, 05:55 PM
Karlin had suggested I add flaxseed oil to Gracie's raw diet and it not only helped her poop as intended, it has been wonderful for her coat and eliminated some dry scratchy spots. And....she loves the taste so much she eats better. So that is one I will share. I add about 1/4 tsp to her meals.

FWIW, I have a very different opinion of flaxseed oil from things I've learned from the K9KidneyDiet moderators. The recommendation is to give only omega 3 (fish) oils and not to give omega 6 oils because we already get plenty of omega 6 oils in our diet. Omega 6 oils are actually PRO inflammatory - they promote inflammation, where omega 3 oils are ANTI inflammatory.

Here's a link to a University of Maryland website that explains:


"Flaxseed oil contains both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are needed for health. Flaxseed oil contains the essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which the body converts into eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil. Some researchers think that flaxseed oil might have some of the same benefits as fish oil, but the body isn't very efficient at converting ALA into EPA and DHA. And the benefits of ALA, EPA, and DHA are not necessarily the same. Omega-3 fatty acids, usually from fish oil, have been shown to reduce inflammation and help prevent certain chronic diseases such as heart disease and arthritis. Studies are mixed about whether flaxseed oil is useful for the same conditions.

Getting a good balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the diet is important. These essential fats are both examples of polyunsaturated fatty acids, or PUFAs. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, while most omega-6 fatty acids tend to contribute to inflammation. A healthy diet should consist of roughly 2 - 4 times fewer omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids. The typical American diet, however, tends to contain 14 - 25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids. Many researchers believe this is a significant factor in the rising rate of inflammatory disorders in the United States." (Arthritis, for example, is an inflammatory disease.)

For these reasons, I only give fish oil supplements and I don't give any omega 6 supplements. We and our dogs get plenty of omega 6's in diet and not enough omega 3's, and we can't efficiently convert the omega 3's that are contained in flaxseed oil.


23rd June 2011, 07:47 PM
We've actually had this thread in the recent past - so I'll say this again........

The BIGGEST, NUMBER ONE, do-this-if-you-do-nothing-else thing we can do to have healthy dogs is to maintain them at optimum or even slightly thin weight!

Other tips:

Do regular routine "well" full blood chemistry panel with CBC and urinalysis. This is so useful in detecting problems early, before symptoms, when you have a chance for early treatment that can make a huge difference as to outcome. This is especially important as our dogs get to middle age and older.

Find a GP vet that can hear soft heart murmurs. Take chest radiographs when murmurs progress to a middle grade or at middle age even if murmur free so you have a baseline for comparison when disease progresses. (My definition of middle age is 7 to 9, senior is 10-12, and geriatric is 13 and up. I realize that others have different definitions.) Best scenario is that a Cavalier owner should know the status of their dog's degenerative valve disease long before there are obvious symptoms. Surprises are never good.

When necessary, work with a good specialist. Don't wait until you are in a crisis. Huge difference in quality and quantity of life. If possible, assemble a quality team of GP vet, any specialist that you might need (cardiologist, internist, neurologist, ophthalmologist, TCM/acupuncture vet) and remember that you are the central member/coordinator of your team. I realize that this is something that will take some years and is not instant for a new Cavalier owner and may not even be possible depending on whether you live in an urban or rural area. When you find a good team, treat them well! Be respectful, remember the vets and clinic staff with lunches, baked goodies, etc. a couple of times a year.

Make a chart/folder of your dog's records and keep in your home office. Get copies of test results, reports, blood chem panels, etc. Make a list of your dog's meds, history of vet visits, etc. I even keep all of my dogs' radiographs in my home office. This is of huge benefit if you have a consult with a specialist or you have an emergency room visit. Not only will the new clinician have an accurate history on your dog, but you will gain instant respect as a responsible guardian. Also, in a crisis, we tend to forget important information because we are upset. I can walk into an ER and hand a complete chart to the clinician. Take some time to find specialists, 24 hour hospitals, etc. in your area before there is a crisis. Talk to other dog owners about their experiences with different facilities. I give more credit to "my" specialist team than to any other factor for the longevity of my Cavaliers (ten past and two present).

Become educated about problems in your breed. Find credible sources of information. Print the materials and keep them handy. Perhaps purchase a veterinary textbook about something of particular interest about which you want to learn more. (I highly recommend 3rd edition of Manual of Canine and Feline Cardiology - available on Amazon - not too expensive. Also get a copy of Plumb's Veterinary Drug Handbook.) Learn how to understand the results of a blood chemistry panel.

I am not a fanatical diet person - there are several good alternatives so find what works for you and your dog. But do not feed cheap grocery store kibble. If you feed kibble, find one with decent ingredients - there are many. Be skeptical of veterinary prescription kibbles and learn about alternatives.

I am less gung-ho about supplements than I was in the past - but fish oil capsules seem to be highly recommended by my internist, cardiologist, TCM vet, and other people that I respect. I'm about to switch from Co-Q-10 to ubiquinol from new info I've learned.

Limited vaccinations - learn about this from source material (such as papers by Dr. Ron Schultz or http://www.critteradvocacy.org which is a site created by a vet in Texas) rather than from opinions on internet message boards. Find a vet that will agree with your views on vaccinations.


Jasper and Holly
24th June 2011, 02:09 AM
I feed a raw diet which i also add a tsp of yogurt and a tsp of omega 3 oil and a tsp of oatbran to it. Fruit and veggies only what dogs are allowed to have. My two love seedless water melon, strawberries etc. The list is endless! and a small amount of kibble. I also give a beef soup bone every couple of days for their teeth, always supervised, it is fantasic for their teeth. This is important to me as my last dog had a lot of dentals in the 12 years we had him as he would never eat bones and I don't want to do that again. So far it's working fantastic. I wouldn't like to feed just kibble or tinned food as I think they would soon get bored with that. Just google what fruit and veggies dogs can have and you'd be amazed at the list. Also I think my two would eat just about anything because they alway want each others food! Competition. I was a little apprehensive at first starting the raw diet but it's been great so far. Like some people have said they can choke on a bit of kibble just as easy as they could a bone.

24th June 2011, 05:30 PM
I can certainly switch over to fish oil.... if Gracie will eat it! :-D Maybe I can do half and half for a bit till she gets used to it. Hopefully it will also help with the dry skin issue like the flaxseed did. As long as I get to the end goal of lubricating her poop and reducing her dry skin areas, then works for me!