Having a fit, trim and healthy Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is very important. Cavaliers are compact dogs; it takes only a few extra pounds for them to become overweight. Besides the typical overweight problems an overweight dog puts additional stress on its heart. Cavaliers are a breed that does not need any extra stress on the heart. Below are some ideas for you to consider of helping maintain a proper weight for your Cavalier.
Do not free feed your Cavalier. By free feeding I mean leaving food out all the time for your Cavalier. Having food out all the time makes it hard to monitor the amount of food consumed each day. I see many reports that free feeding also leads to finicky eaters. Most experts agree it is better to feed twice a day at specific times. Put the food down for no more than 20 minutes and then picking it up. This way you have precise control over the quantity of food and can also keep track of your dog eating habits. A sudden change in eating habits is a common indicator that there could be severe health issues. With controlled feeding you’ll notice any changes right away.
Another important way to maintain proper weight for your Cavalier is through portion control and consistency. Although every Cavalier is different, except for pregnant bitches or a super active Cavalier, a portion from 1/3 cup to ½ cup twice a day is a typical meal size. The nutritional value of your food will of course affect the normal amount that you need to feed.
The biggest issue with weight control is of course treats. Dogs beg for food because it works. Begging will be reduced if they are NEVER feed from the dinner table. Cavaliers are social animals and respond to love and attention just as much as they do food. Use rewards other than food as much as possible. If you must provide treats try to identify the caloric value of the treat and decrease the meal portions to compensate.
How you know your Cavalier is overweight? I would first look at the area between the end of the rib cage and the hind legs. Your cavalier should be slightly indented in this area. If this rear loin area is the same width as the rib area your cavalier is overweight. If the indentation is drastic your Cavalier is underweight. The rib area is another place to evaluate your Cavaliers weight. You should be able to feel but not see the ribs. There should be a little cushioning around the ribs. Your cavalier should not feel like there’s only skin covering the ribs as this is a underweight condition nor should you have to press hard to find the ribs, light cushioning is what you should find. If in doubt ask your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breeder.