Balancing the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Feeding your cavalier the optimum amount of a nutritious food is essential to its health.

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Some older dogs don't want to eat because their senses of smell and taste are less acute. Others eat seemingly adequate quantities of food, but lose weight because they can't digest the food or absorb the nutrients as efficiently. Underweight seniors benefit from food that contains added levels of high-quality fat, which increases palatability and energy content.

The ability to metabolize protein decreases with age, so senior dogs, even if they're healthy, need up to 50 percent more protein than younger adults. Inadequate protein intake can cause muscle wasting, weakness and immune-system impairment. To prevent protein deficiencies, most senior foods now contain as much protein as puppy foods. 

Chunky Cavaliers
Obesity is the most common canine nutrition-related health problem. It can increase your Cavaliers chances of developing serious diseases, such as diabetes, liver disease, pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) and hip dysplasia. If your Cavalier already has any of the above conditions, obesity will only worsen them. 

Obesity can overwork your Cavaliers heart and make breathing more difficult, which makes it especially dangerous if your Cavalier suffers from mitral valve (heart) disease. Overweight dogs often have trouble running, playing or sometimes even walking, which increases the likelihood of continued weight problems. 

How can you tell if your Cavalier is the correct weight? You should be able to easily feel your Cavaliers ribs. Its all right if you also feel a little body fat; its not all right to feel huge fat pads. Your Cavalier should also have a clearly defined waist--an indentation in the flank area that's visible from above and from the side.

Preventing a weight problem is lots easier than treating one. Feed your Cavalier scheduled meals, instead of simply allowing it to eat as much as it wants whenever it chooses. Limit between-meal treats (veggies are good low-calorie choices). 

Kris Hassig, a Cavalier breeder from Minnetonka, Minnesota, stresses that its up to you to prevent weight problems. The owner is in charge of the food bowl. Cavaliers don't make themselves fat, because they are not the ones who fill the food bowl, Hassig says, adding that snacks must be carefully controlled. Plan your dogs snacks as part of their daily food intake so your puppy doesn't become tubby.

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janet   Bethlehem, PA

4/4/2012 4:11:13 AM

good article, thank you

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