Affable, affectionate, and intelligent, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel makes an ideal family house pet. Their silky tresses are easily maintained with regular brushing and an occasional bath. Good health depends on regular attention to your dog's eyes, ears, teeth, and toenails.
Gather your supplies
Bath time and grooming will be much less stressful if all supplies are on hand and within easy reach. You'll be able to keep one hand on your pet while reaching for the items you need at each step of the process.
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A nonskid mat for your dog is essential to prevent feet from slipping. Your dog will feel calm and more secure during grooming when he has solid footing.
Other supplies you'll need include:
- Shampoo that is certified as dog-safe
- Detangling comb
- Slicker brush
- Blunt-nose scissors
- Nail clippers - coated scissor-style or grinding style
- Ear cleaner liquid formulated for dogs
- Toothbrush fingertip gloves or toothbrush chews
- Quiet blow dryer
- Eye wipes, washcloths, and towels
- Cotton balls
- Bathtub or sink
- Small training treats and/or favorite water-friendly toys
Establish a pleasant routine
Grooming time can double as bonding time between you and your Cavalier King Charles spaniel. Brush your Charlie at least once a week to keep her free from burrs, tangles, and mats.
Start with rubbing your dog all over her body. As a lap dog breed, your Charlie will likely love this start to the grooming process. Your fingers will be feeling for tangles, mats, bumps, sores, or any other unusual feature on your dog's skin or in her coat.
Use a detangling comb to untangle any small clumps of hair. If necessary, snip away matted hair using blunt-nosed scissors. Clip as few hairs as possible to avoid giving your dog a choppy appearance.
Begin with basic brushing
Gently go through the coat with a slicker brush, beginning at your dog's neck and working your way down the body. Finish by brushing through the hair on the ears and feet. An extra-small slicker brush works well for the "feathers" on your cavvie's feet.
Reward your dog with a few treats during each step of the process. Your dog might benefit from a little break at this point to play with a toy and keep the process enjoyable. Dog attention spans are short, so begin playtime just before the restlessness kicks in. Doing so will prevent your dog from loathing grooming time and running and hiding whenever he sees you coming with the brush.
Examine your dog's eyes
When your Charlie looks at you with those soulful eyes, it's a great time to return the gaze while noting anything out of the ordinary. Look for dilated or cloudy pupils, dry eyes, and thick drainage and call your vet to schedule an exam if you observe anything out of the ordinary.
Cavaliers are prone to chronic dry eye, progressive retinal atrophy, and cataracts. Wipe your dog's eyes daily with a moistened cotton ball, washcloth, or commercial dog eye wipes to remove any discharge and avoid bacteria that can cause infections.
Clean your dog's ears and teeth
Clean under the ear flaps with a dog ear wipe or cotton ball moistened with witch hazel to wipe away debris. Check the ears at least weekly to detect ear infections or other issues that can affect your dog's hearing.
Brush your dog's teeth at least three times weekly. Use a finger glove pet toothbrush or toothbrush dental chew. Never use human toothpaste on dogs, as it might contain xylitol and other ingredients that can make your pet fatally ill.
When to bathe your dog
Giving your Cavalier King Charles spaniel a bath too often can lead to dry skin and allergies. With proper brushing, a Charlie dog will only need bathing occasionally. If your dog smells cheesy or has other bad odors, it could be a sign of a yeast infection.
Trim hair around the feet and trim your dog's nails at least once a month. This is a good time to give your dog a bath as well. Be sure to use only pet-approved shampoo. Products with the incorrect pH for your Charlie's skin can lead to itching and skin conditions.
Scheduling a visit to your local groomer makes the monthly grooming process go smoothly. Your groomer will trim your dog's "slippers" — those long hairs around a Cavvie's toes — as well as drain anal sacs if needed and trim toenails to the proper length.