Sunday, December 18, 2011

Time and sanity saving tips for living with a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Last year around this time I posted "Our Favourite must have's for a doggy Christmas". I had planned on doing something similar when I realized that my list hasn't changed all that much! Either I'm a creature of habit or my poor neglected dogs weren't spoiled enough this year. ;)

Instead of doing what would end up being a very similar list, I decided to share something different. A list of a few things that will make living with a royal spaniel easier during the Christmas holidays (and after).

Puzzle toys
Our challenge in life aka: Zoey, requires you always to be one step ahead of what she is thinking. As a younger dog she suffered from severe separation anxiety. We often joke that she is a border collie stuck in a cavalier's body. She is high energy, high anxiety, and high on fun every single day. Although her separation anxiety has improved with age certain situations are always sure to set her off. (like the preparation of getting ready and heading out for a Christmas party, out of routine, not normal)

A treat ball has been a magical solution to our problems. A few kibbles in the bottom and our wild woman Zoey becomes so busy with her treat ball she forgets to be anxious when we leave her.

Zoey and her treat ball
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Snoods

I am always surprised by the number of cavalier owners who do not own snoods. Ours are well worn with everyday use. Gunky ears with yesterdays left overs...ewww. A snood is a quick and easy way of keeping your cavaliers ears out of their dinner or anything yucky. A Google search brings up many wonderful places to buy a snood for your cavalier. Every cavalier owner should have a snood!

Princess Molly and her snood ready for a dog show
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Zoey modelling a snood we made for a handsome tri boy
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Tangles and spay/neuter coats
Like many cavaliers, since Zoey was spayed I have noticed changes in her coat.  She now mats and tangles very easily. Previously I would carefully bath and condition her coat, and save the brushing for after her bath was completed.  The end product was these horrible small mats all over her body coat.

Mats like these
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Our solution: Brush the conditioner into the body coat while they are still in the bath. It sounds too simple but it really works. She dries mat free with an incredibly soft coat because the conditioner has properly coated the hair. I've also been using this trick with Molly who is not spayed. We get smooth tangle free coats every time. Our Chris Christensen wooden pin brush works really well in the bath!

Brushing out the mats
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Smooth and tangle free
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Tidy paws
The cavalier breed standard calls for no trimming. One of the important exemptions to this rule is the bottom of their paws. Many owners are under the impression that they have to take their cavalier to the groomer to get their pads trimmed. With some training and care. grooming paws does not have to be a task for the groomer. You can save yourself lots of money and stress on your dog by doing it at home after a bath. All that is needed is blunted ended scissors and some treats.

Hairy toes, Zo's grow really fast
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Start by getting your cavalier desensitized to you handling their feet. Anytime they are near you and relaxed pick up their feet, hold them in your hands, play with their feathers, touch each nail, and in between their pads.

I find it easiest to trim the hair between their pads after their bath while they are still wet. Carefully lift up a foot and cut the hairs so that the pad of their foot is fully showing. Cut, treat, cut, treat, cut, treat. My guys are so used to this routine that I am able to do it on my own and finish with one treat at the end. You may have to start with having someone help you.

All done
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Dish soap
The world's best shampoo for cavalier ears! It can also be used as a safer alternative to flea shampoo. Dish soap is very drying so try to use it once a month or so for gorgeous de-greased ears. Cavalier ears get very greasy fast.  Nothing will make a Cavalier's ears softer and cleaner. Don't believe me? Try for yourself and see what you think. Cheap and almost always accessible!


Pretty ears
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Canine life muffins
Many of us have read about dog nutrition and know that dog kibble isn't always all its cracked up to be. Raw is intimidating for most owners including myself.  For me the worry of proper sanitation, perforated bowels and choking is too much for me to handle. Home cooked doggy meals provide a wonderful alternative but they can also be very time consuming to make, and have to be carefully balanced  

For us these muffins are the solution. They are very straight forward to make, use normal everyday ingredients, are easy to combine in large batches and freeze, and offer me peace of mind knowing that my dogs are getting a nutritious healthy meal full of fresh ingredients.

They mix and bake like a meatloaf
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There are a few different mixes such as this on the market so you should be able to find one at a higher end doggy store.

My girls love their muffins! A word of caution: They are dense and nutrient rich and cavaliers tend to gain weight quickly on them. Use in moderation and very small portions. 1/2 a muffin is *too* much muffin for a lazy small cavalier like Mylee. 1/3 is about right. (use in combination with a snood, trust me on this!)

Happy holidays to everyone. Hopefully you will find some of this post useful. Christmas card coming soon..

7 comments:

  1. Wow! What a great, informative, fun, interesting post! Your blog is fantastic and a favorite of mine.
    Happy Holidays to you and your beautiful family!

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  2. Ah, bless, I remember those tangles :-) Good advice, my very own :-)
    Freya is very good in the bath, but then she is a CAVALIER :-) :-) :-) X X X
    I will leave that as an open comment :-) :-) XXX
    Babies you all look beautiful and SMELL SO MUCH BETTER :-) X

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  3. Great tips, especially the dish soap for the ears! To save time brushing the dogs teeth we use a bath glove. It has five fingers so each cavie gets a finger and the abrasiveness of the glove cleans awesome, dogs love it compared to a brush. I wash it when Im done with soap and water and micro it for 30 seconds to kill the bacteria that might be in it:)

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  4. Well I took my woodpin brush to the bath tonight for Becky; much better!! Now we just await YOU to come cut her nails ;)

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  5. Great article. I am thinking of a Cavi and wondering how much grooming they would take.

    I heard alot about ear problems with them been so long. On another forum someone mentioned seeing Cavi's with long and short ears but someone else said the ears were just cut. I'm sure they didn't mean they actually cut the the bottoms of ears to keep them short while they are growing up? .. so assuming they look so long cos the fur on their ears grows past the end of the actual ear flesh?

    So if kept puppy trimmed so wasn't as much feathering, it would look smaller and smaller ears even as an adult keep its 'puppy look'?

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  6. Hi Katilea,

    Thanks for commenting on my blog post! I always love connecting with people who are passionate about this breed.

    I haven't had too many ear problems with my crew. My ruby Mylee has had a few yeast infections that seem to stem mostly from diet. She is sensitive to grains and chicken and as long as we stay away from those foods, her stay healthy and infection free.

    I'd hope that no one would crop Cavalier ears and I certainly have never heard of that happening. I'm going to assume like you that they just meant the ear feathering that grows.

    If you do decide on a Cavalier it is your choice on how you'd like to keep them. I love long ear feathering but they are a bit more to maintain. Many people who keep them as pets do trim their ears. With trimmed ears they do sort of keep their puppy look. It all depends on what you like and what works for your lifestyle.

    Overall I do feel they are fairly low maintenance breed in terms of grooming. My crew get brushed once or twice a week and do just fine. Excessive coat is not correct, however some variance between coat types is normal.

    Hope this helps some! Let me know how you make out and if you do decide on a cavalier.

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  7. Hello, i just discover that blog and i really like it. I am searching information about ears aspect. I have a 2 years old very nice ruby girl, Mony and her coat is very dark and beUtiful...but her ears stoped growing... they stay short. Is there any product who help to grow? Thank you.

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