Balancing the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Feeding your cavalier the optimum amount of a nutritious food is essential to its health.
Karla S. Rugh
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Some manufacturers have developed special foods for small-breed dogs, some of which contain slightly more protein, fat and calories than standard foods. Dog-food manufacturers contend that small dogs need these additional nutrients to fuel their active lifestyles and their revved-up metabolisms. In reality, the nutritional needs of dogs vary considerably from dog to dog, even within the same breed. Whether you feed your Cavalier a special small-breed food or standard dog food, you can provide all the nutrition it needs, just as long as you tailor the amount to your Cavaliers needs.
Some dry foods for small dogs have compositions that are identical to those for larger dogs, but the kibble size is smaller, to make it easier to chew. Whether small dogs actually need smaller kibble is debatable. Many small dogs eat standard-sized kibble with no trouble at all. Still, if your Cavalier only picks at its bowl of large-size kibble or takes a long time to eat, it may be trying to tell you that it would prefer a smaller kibble size.
Barbara Hill, a Cavalier breeder from Omaha, Nebraska, feeds her Cavaliers dry food with just a bit of canned food mixed in (1 tablespoon of canned food per cup of dry food). She feeds only commercial products, and never adds any supplements or people food. The major companies spend millions of dollars doing research and I don't second-guess them, Hill says. I select a product and stick with it for years. My dogs never know the difference, and unless the manufacturer changes the ingredients, its likely my dogs will eat the same product all of their adult lives.
Major recipe modifications, especially to popular dog foods, are relatively infrequent. Most manufacturers instead prefer to introduce new products. Some indicators that a recipe may have been changed include different packaging (watch for words like new or improved), a change in the foods color or texture, or a difference (decrease or increase) in your Cavaliers appetite for the food. The manufacturer can tell you what, if any, changes have been made. If the recipe has been altered substantially, introduce the new-formula food gradually to avoid upsetting your Cavaliers digestive tract.
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