by Linda Kornhi
Many Cavaliers in shelters are scratching themselves raw and have lost much of their hair for two main reasons. First, many shelters feed a commercial diet containing corn and/or wheat to which many Cavaliers are allergic. Second, these dogs may have had fleas and been dipped. Many Cavaliers are allergic to harsh chemical flea dips.
Feed your newly adopted companion a good quality dog food, one containing no corn or wheat. Bathe the dog thoroughly and apply Advantage or Frontline as directed to control fleas and ticks. Administer 2.0 mg of Tavist 1 BID only until the itching and scratching come under control.
You may find your new friend's teeth need attention. This is not uncommon in rescued dogs. Bad teeth with lots of tartar and loose teeth are somewhat common in Cavaliers, especially if they have not been well cared for. When you take your dog to your vet for an exam, ask him or her to check its teeth carefully. If cleaning is recommended, ask about first administering a course of antibiotics. This is sometimes a wise idea in an older dog. Be sure that your vet uses only isoflorane gas as the anesthetic. Because Cavaliers tend to have heart problems (notably mitral valve disease), it is the safest anesthesia.
Unless your vet is familiar with Cavaliers, it is up to you to educate him or her on the health issues of Cavaliers. Most vets have diverse practices and cannot possibly be experts in all fields any more than human physicians can be specialists in all fields. Be sure to ask your vet for a referral to a veterinary cardiologist, ophthalmologist, or orthopedic surgeon if needed.
There may be behavior problems with a new family member. Rescued dogs come from all walks of life and have been in all kinds of situations, both good and bad. Although Cavalier Rescue makes every effort to evaluate the dogs thoroughly before placing them in their new homes, your dog may be dealing with previously undetected insecurities. If you suddenly discover a problem, don't panic.
Observe closely what is happening. If you need to, make notes to keep your observations fresh in your mind. Then give the national rescue coordinator or your regional rescue coordinator a call. Rescue will want to know all the details so we can offer suggestions on how to handle the situation. Remember that we are here to provide help and support at any time. And if ever this adoption isn't working for either of you, we will gladly take the Cavalier back.
Two of the best ways to learn more about Cavaliers are to network with other Cavalier owners and to join the national and regional Cavalier clubs.