Vaccinations : Consult your vet if the vaccination program has not been completed to ensure the correct dosage.
Teeth : Puppies start getting their 42 permanent teeth between 16 and 30 weeks. Check regularly to ensure each baby tooth is replaced with an adult one. Do not feed cooked meat bones and never chicken or pork but use raw beef marrow bones.
Pet dental kits can be purchased with the proper tools to clean your pets teeth. Consult your vet about cleanings.
Anal Glands : Cavaliers often need their anal glands emptied some more frequently than others. A good indication is when they are regularly ' scooting ' their rear end on the floor.
Ears : Check the inside of the dogs ears regularly and if the dog frequently shakes it's head and scratches it's ears then investigate for an infection, wax buildup or earmites. In summer it could be a grass seed which can be dangerous if ignored. Cavaliers may occasionally need the hair inside their ears trimmed.
Eyes : Clean any stained fur in the eye area with cotton wool and warm water. At the first sign of any eye infection contact a Vet. Weeping eyes in the Cavalier is normal and generally outgrown. This condition is greatly reduced by Nuvet Plus supplements.
Snorting : This is a Cavalier characteristic especially when excited and not a cause for great alarm. It is a sudden breath intake accompanied by a snorting noise. It can usually be stopped by placing the hand over the nostrils momentarily to restrict the intake of air. Sometimes it is accompanied by a flipped palate and here you can hold the dog in your arms and a quick flick of its head should flip the palate back.
On the whole Cavaliers are a healthy breed however like all breeds there can be possible health problems and inheritable genetic defects. This does not mean that all dogs are affected and with a proper diet and exercise a Cavalier usually leads a long healthy life.
Some of the breed problems are:
Heart Murmurs - get the heart checked at annual vaccination. The Cavalier Club is actively involved in heart research publishing a list of dogs and bitches aged five years and older that are free of Mitral Valve Disease. This assists breeders wishing to improve the health of the breed. Forms are completed by your Vet or Cardiologist, held on a central database and statistics made available to those engaged in researching the problem of heart murmurs in Cavaliers.
Eye Defects - Can only be diagnosed by a veterinary ophthalmologist who will certify dogs that have been examined under the KC/BVA Eye Scheme. Cavaliers can suffer from Hereditary Cataract or more likely Multifocal Retinal Dysplasia.
Luxating Patella - This occurs in the back leg and the knee cap slips causing the dog discomfort. The condition is usually surgically correctable.
Hip Dysplasia - Being a small breed this is not a common problem and then not usually till old age. No indication of this disease is evident in young dogs and can only be diagnosed by x-rays of the hip joints normally after the age of two.
It is important to understand than even if the sire and dam have been screened and found clear of any health problems, no breeder can guarantee that your puppy will never develop a problem during its life time. Screening lessens the chance and questioning breeders on health issues should not anger them. Not all breeders believe in all testing, or of having tests certified, they should not object to providing copies of any testing that has been done and will be pleased that you care about the health of your puppy.