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F.A.Q. Health


This site should never be used as a substitute for either advice or treatment from your own vet who you should consult with any problems your dog may have.


My Cavalier seems to pull his bottom along the carpet a lot and tries to nibble and bite at his rump area, he seems uncomfortable – will this be worms?


Possibly - but the most likely cause of this will probably be full or impacted anal glands.

Anal glands are two primitive scent glands situated on either side of the anus - not visible from outside. They are of no practical use in pet dogs.

The glands can become infected and impacted.
This is fairly common in many Cavaliers and is not dangerous although it can prove uncomfortable and even painful in some.

Signs of problems with the glands include;
‘Scooting’ – pulling their bottoms along the ground/carpet.
Chewing at their hindquarters, or nibbling near the area.
Pain or problems on ‘poo-ing’
Signs of blood or an external opening near the anus – which would be an anal gland abscess.

Your vet can empty these glands for your pup/dog if necessary and could show you how to do so.

The addition of 2 – 3 teaspoons of ordinary bran to the dog’s food (NOT breakfast cereal) – obtainable at Pet Shops or Health food shops may often help to prevent this problem occurring.

Some dogs never have this problem, but others have it fairly often.

The surgical removal of anal glands – should only be considered as a last resort – and only if the dog has had repeated abscesses or chronic problems.


How often should I worm my puppy and what is the best treatment for dog fleas?


Fleas and worms are very common problems in many dogs.
From time to time, even the best pups and dogs do get fleas and/or worms.


Commonest – round worms, tapeworms, hook worms and whip worms.
(In the UK we do not normally get heartworms, as they do in the USA and other countries abroad, although there have been a few cases – usually in dogs that have been abroad.)

Many pups have worms (round worms - Ascarids), which they get in the womb from their mothers, or via their mothers milk.
It is very important that puppies are wormed regularly – every few weeks until they are 14 weeks or so.

When you get your pup ask if it has been wormed – and with what preparation and continue the treatment as directed.

Don’t buy worming preparations from pet shops – they may not work at all. Ask your vet for the correct wormer for your pup.

Older dogs can suffer from a variety of worms – round worms and tapeworms – and should be wormed on a regular basis.
Again ask your vet for a reliable multi-wormer – either in tablet or paste form and never use any of these things that have been prescribed for another dog or may be out of date.


There is now an increased problem in the UK from Lungworms – which pups/dogs get from eating slugs/snails or coming into contact with foxes/fox excreta. This is potentially fatal problem and now occurs in most areas of the UK.
They do require special treatment and prevention – and your vet will advise you. (It is also known as French heartworm) but it is NOT the same as the heartworm in the USA, which is spread by mosquitoes.
It sadly can cause death in young pups who may find snails tasty – so if possible deter your pup from eating snails. It is treatable but obviously only if it is diagnosed in time – so best ask your vet about the local risk.
However, there is now a simple and quick blood test that your vet can do to determine if your dog has lungworm.

Symptoms of affected pups/dogs include – panting, problems breathing (dyspnoea) coughing and coughing up blood, lethargy, collapse, bleeding disorders and in some diarrhoea and neurological disorders too. It can be fatal if not treated.

Other worms that need treated for – roundworms, (ascarids) tapeworms (usually in older dogs) whip worms, hookworms etc. NO product will treat them all so please ask your vet for a worming regime that will suit you pup/dog.

Dog round worms are NOT the cause of worms in humans – contrary to myth and the popular press.

However they are a very slight, health hazard to small children via the larvae of round worms which may migrate to a child’s eye – so it is best to eliminate any risk and worm any dog or pup regularly and observe good hygiene when handling small pups.


Many healthy well cared for dogs, do from time to time get fleas – usually from cats or hedgehogs, and not from other dogs.

Never use flea powders – these can clog up the skin and cause problems, and do not use flea collars – may cause very nasty reactions if they get wet.

Ask your vet to advise you and he/she will probably prescribe one of the spot-on flea preparations which are applied to the back of the dog’s neck and which work extremely well.

Most worm and flea treatments can be routinely carried out every 2-3 months.

If the dog has a lot of fleas it may be necessary to treat the dog’s surroundings too – bedding, etc and the home.


What are the early symptoms I should look out for that might indicate my dog was developing heart trouble?


M.V.D is the commonest form of heart problem in Cavaliers - (M.V.D = mitral valve disease.)

This is a degenerative disease sadly occurring in many Cavaliers but NOT all.
It is a disease of the heart valves – usually the Mitral valve – which causes the valve to leak and the heart to enlarge often and work less efficiently. It can involve other heart valves too.

If you have your pet checked up regularly by your vet – your vet would be able to detect this condition by listening to your pet’s heart with a stethoscope.

However – early signs of MVD developing are;

Lack of exercise tolerance – your pet becomes more tired more quickly on walks.
Coughing – usually in the morning – a soft cough – rather like someone clearing their throat.
Breathlessness and panting more than usual in warm weather.
Slightly blue tinge to tongue and gums.
In some dogs a swollen tummy – due to a build up of fluid.

MVD does NOT occur in puppies – and if the vet says he/she detects a heart murmur in a puppy – it is usually NOT MVD – but a developmental condition and mostly these murmurs are innocent and will disappear in a few months as the pup matures.
Pups do NOT have MVD – as it is a degenerative disease and only develops with age.


My young Cavalier sometimes sounds as if she is choking or having an asthma attack – horrible choking noises and I am afraid it is serious – should I take her to an emergency vet when this happens?


This is probably 'reverse sneezing/snorting'.
Most Cavaliers do this from time to time.
It sounds like a snort/sneeze or as if they are choking badly on something – rather like a loud asthmatic noise.
It is due to the dog having a relatively short nose and long soft palate.
It is actually a spasm of the larynx and nothing to worry about although it can be scary for the owner if they have not heard it before.
It can occur when the pup/dog is at rest, or if they become excited, or even if they pull on their leads.

There are several ways of stopping it – although it would stop on its own.
Some owners stop it by tilting the nose downwards and covering the nostrils with the palm of their hand for a short time.
Gripping the larynx/voice box firmly for a moment can also stop it.
If you put your hand there – you will be able to feel it in spasm.
This noise – behaviour is common and normal in Cavaliers and usually nothing to worry about.


My young Cavalier seems to have quite a lot of tummy upsets. She does tend to eat rubbish. I keep changing her diet to try to stop this but it seems to be getting worse.


Changing a dogs diet frequently or suddenly can lead to sickness and diarrhoea very easily.

Gastro-enteritis - tummy upsets, vomiting and/or diarrhoea, are very common in pups or adult dogs. They can be due to a variety of causes, diet, parasites (worms), infections-bacterial or viral, or ingestion of foreign bodies or rubbish.

Initial treatment; – if your dog has vomited or had diarrhoea – starve of solid food completely for 12-24 hours. This is important.
Give very small drinks of water only and only every 2-3 hours.
Milk or eggs can make diarrhoea worse.
If vomiting continues for more than a few hours and the dog is not even keeping fluids down, or if the problem persists or gets worse contact your vet immediately.

If the dog seems better then small meals of bland food should be given for a day or two – chicken, white fish or lamb and rice.

Never make any sudden changes in any dog’s diet.


Scratching – could it be serious.
My new puppy seems to be scratching at its neck a lot. I have heard of a bad nervous condition called SM where they scratch a lot – could my pup of 12 weeks be starting with that?


Yes there is a serious neurological condition called SM – syringomyelia - which can cause scratching at the neck area – BUT – this is not the first thing you should consider in a puppy that age.
Commonest causes of scratching in puppies – and most puppies DO scratch – might be;
A new and unaccustomed collar.
Ear mites – very common in pups.
General itchy skin – perhaps caused by new food or even new surroundings – carpets, bedding etc.
Fur mites .These are all by far the commonest causes of scratching.

It would be very unusual for a pup so young to show symptoms of SM – and scratching (at the air usually) is only one symptom of many.

If you are in doubt however and the pup continues to scratch – please let your vet examine the pup and if necessary treat it for ear or fur mites.

(Puppies also scratch often for a while after the vaccination injections)


Help with teething. My young Cavalier is getting his adult teeth and I have been told that giving him some bones to gnaw on will help. I have also heard that bones are not good – but I do want to help him with teething and also to help keep his teeth clean in future – so bones or not?


No - most vets don’t believe in giving any dog of any age bones – raw or cooked large or small. The majority of vets will have seen too many pups and adult dogs develop life-threatening problems by swallowing bits of bone.
If your dog is teething – you may find that Nylabones help – the original strong hard plastic ones. There are lots of teething aids you can buy for your dog to gnaw on – but do be careful they can’t splinter or the dog can break bits off. Just keep an eye on him while he is gnawing. Dental chews can get stuck and can also cause upset tummies.

Possibly the best thing to help his teeth stay clean as he gets older is Logic Oral gel – it is a gel you can either put in the food, on his paw or on your finger for him to lick off. It contains enzymes that help to digest any remnants of food and help prevent plaque building up on the teeth. Dogs usually don’t suffer from tooth decay as humans do – but do tend to build up tartar or plaque – and it helps the dog’s general health if his teeth as kept as clean as possible. Logic is available from your vet or from on-line sites. Most dogs love the taste of it.

Disclaimer: For your information, can we please make it clear that any advice or opinions given on this site can never be a substitute for professional advice from your own vet or other relevant professional. If in any doubt please consult your own veterinary surgeon without delay, should your pet be showing severe symptoms of any kind. No legal responsibility can be incurred by the site owners for any information or advice given on this site.

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