The Cavapoo is a crossbreed. This dog is the result of crossing a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Miniature Poodle. According to general opinion (a large number of vets claims the same), crossbreed dogs should be healthier than purebreds.
However crossbreed, purebred or mixes, they can all develop genetic health problems just like people can inherit a particular disease from their ancestors.
Unlike purebreds, the crossbreed dogs can benefit from something called hybrid vigor- crossing two pedigree dogs of different breeds will result in puppies that will have a higher level of genetic diversity and hereditary health than their pedigree parents.
No matter Cavapoos have a slimmer chance to inherit some disease from their parents or others from their family line, they still can get sick.
The most common diseases that affect Cavapoos are Hyp Dysplasia, Atopy ( skin allergies ), Mitral Valve Disease, Patellar Luxation, Ear Infections, Obesity. Eyes disorders such as Cataract are also fairly common in Cavapoos.
To minimize the possibility of your dog getting sick in the future, think carefully where you will buy the puppy. Although many diseases that can appear in older age, won’t be detected in puppies you can at least make sure you get as healthiest puppy as you can.
The Most Common Health Issues That Affect Cavapoos
This inherited condition commonly affects large breeds but also some small dogs can get it as well. Unfortunately, Cavapoos are prone to this condition.
What’s wrong with Cavapoo that has Hip Dysplasia?
The ball and socket of the hip joint simply don’t fit together well which results in the loose hip. The laxity of the hip can further lead to degenerative changes.
There are several different treatments depends on the severity of the condition. In some cases, lifestyle modifications can help but in some more severe cases, surgery may be necessary.
What are the signs if your Cavapoo has Hip Dysplasia?
- affected Cavapoo won’t be active as a healthy dog
- may suffer from a loss of hip muscle mass
- will have difficulty jumping, running or climbing stairs
- lameness in the hind end
Atopy ( Skin allergies )
Like humans, Cavapoos also can catch some allergies. They can get them if they touch or inhale allergens. Cavapoos can be allergic to grass, dander, pollen, trees, flowers, dust, some perfume, food, fleas…
Allergies in Cavapoos can be seasonal ( spring or summer ) or year-around. Usually, this is a life-long condition and require constant treatment.
It is quite interesting how the crossbreed that is promoted as hypoallergenic to humans may catch allergies itself, but it is true. In this combination allergies are Cocker Spaniel’s genes and not Poodle’s. Poodles are not prone to allergies.
Why Some Dogs Are Prone To Allergies and Others Are Not?
There are certain theories that try to explain why some dogs are prone to allergies while some others are not.
First of all – if one the parents has allergies, most probably that the puppies will develop them as well.
Birthday theory – if the puppy is born during spring or summer when the level of pollen is very high, it is more likely that this puppy will develop allergies.
This is simply because he was exposed to a high concentration of pollen while his immune system was not so strong. Opposite, puppies that are born during wintertime should avoid this inconvenience.
Strainer-like skin theory – Cavapoos with allergies tend to have weaker skin ( not just Cavapoos but all dogs). The skin should be like a protective cover which purpose is to protect the dog from the environment.
In the case of a dog with allergies, the skin is more like a strainer than a good shield allowing pollen to contact directly the immune system.
Adhesive skin theory – Dog with allergies have adhesive skin. This term ”adhesive” doesn’t mean that the skin is really sticky but more on the microscopic level. This characteristic of skin allows bacteria to better attach to the skin, creating skin infections.
What are the signs if your Cavapoo suffers from skin allergies?
- itching and scratching
- licking and rubbing the face, paws and groin
- frequent skin and ear infections as a result of allergies
Allergies diagnostic is not easy. All symptoms may indicate other health conditions as well. That is why you need to go to the vet. Vet will perform full examination and if he /she finds necessary will do the blood tests or skin biopsy.
What Are Treatments For Allergies in Cavapoos?
Humans usually use antihistamines to treat allergies. Dogs have their own antihistamines but they simply don’t give good results.
Other options are drugs that your vet can give you but they are rather expensive and allergies require long-term treatments.
Other options are either steroids, Atopica drugs, Immunotherapy vaccines…
For more information on remedies for allergies in dogs do read a great article written by Dr. Pippa Elliot, a veterinarian of almost three decades of practice.
Mitral Valve Disease
Mitral Valve disease is more common in small dogs than in large ones. Almost 10% of dogs (all breeds) develop some kind of heart disease and more than 80% of heart diseases are caused by mitral valve insufficiency.
If you are not a medical doctor or a vet then I assume you don’t know much about mitral valve disease. At least I didn’t know. That is why I tried to find easy-to-understand information and explanation.
So let’s see first what is the mitral valve. There is an upper part of the heart and it’s called Atria. The lower part of the heart is called Ventricle. The heart is also divided between the left and right sides.
Each chamber of the heart has its own valve which should keep the blood from flowing backward.
The valve between the left Atria and left Ventricle is called Mitral Valve.
The blood that has no oxygen in it, returns from a body and enters to right atria and then through the right ventricle goes to the lungs, picks the oxygen, returns to the heart passing now through the left side ( first to the atria then rushing through the ventricle ) and continues to other parts of the body that it needs to bring oxygen. What a perfect machine, right?
What happens when some part ”breaks down” in this perfect machine? Due to the high pressure that is made when the ventricle pumps blood out, the mitral valve may ”wear out”.
This is called mitral valve insufficiency. This condition is often linked with heart murmur although it may be caused by mitral valve infection or endocarditis.
One of the first signs of mitral valve disease is a heart murmur. Dogs can develop heart murmur from 4-6 years of age. It may pass several months to several years before heart failure happens. Cavapoos that are diagnosed with a heart murmur has a higher chance of sudden death.
If you suspect that your Cavapoo might have heart problems and mitral valve disease rush to the vet. The vet will perform a physical examination first and then will decide on the next step. That can be blood and urine tests, chest x-rays or ultrasound examination.
Although the same problem in humans can be solved with surgery, this treatment is not applicable in dogs. If your Cavapoo is diagnosed with mitral valve condition your vet will probably will give some medications ( Nitroglycerin, Diuretics, Beta blockers …) and might suggest you low-salt diet.
Even though the prognosis is not good, dogs that suffer from this disease if treated on time and with the right therapy which helps them to stabilize quickly can live a quality life for several months to several years.
If you seek more information and details on this condition, especially on remedies and treatments do read a great article from the official web page of VCA hospitals
Patellar Luxation or Dislocated Kneecap
Many small dogs have genetic predisposition for this condition. So Cavapoo is not an exception ( Poodle’s genes).
Patella Luxation means that the kneecap (hind legs) is moved out of its normal position.
What Are The Signs of Dislocated Kneecap in Your Cavapoo?
- you can notice a skip in your dog’s step
- your Cavapoo may try to run on three legs and then start running on all four as nothing happened
There are different degrees of this condition. In mild form, the kneecap dislocates only when the force is applied directly to it, in moderate form kneecap dislocates frequently and in more severe form kneecap is out of its normal position majority of the time.
Half of the affected dogs usually have both knees involved and the other half only one knee.
Many dogs that suffer from this condition in its mild form ( or even in moderate one) can live their lives normally without bigger problems.
But the bad thing is that a dislocated kneecap can provoke other problems such as injuries ( torn ligaments). As your Cavapoo getting old, arthritis may appear and increase the chances of low mobility and joint pain.
What Are The Treatments For Dislocated Kneecap?
If your Cavapoo has mild form of condition surgery won’t be necessary but in other cases, surgery might be a solution.
If the surgery is necessary it is super important to perform it before arthritis or knee injury occurs. In that case, the prognosis is great as your dog will totally regain use of its leg. But if the surgery is performed after the arthritis has been developed then the situation is not so simple. Joint pain and further progress of the arthritis will occur.
Ear infections are very common dogs but especially in floppy-eared breeds such as Cocker Spaniels but also in breeds that have hairy inner ear flaps such as Miniature Poodles. So Cavapoos are prone to ear infections definitely!
If noticed on time and treated with the right therapy, an ear infection is easy to cope with the condition. But if don’t treat ear infection in your pet then more severe damage can happen.
What Are The Signs of Ear Infection in Your Cavapoo?
- Scratching and rubbing the ears
- Shaking the head
- Leaning often the head on one side
- Redness and inflammation of the ear
- Unpleasant odor
- Discharge in the ear that can be either yellow or black in color
- Hair loss around or in the ear area
There is two types of ear infection
1.Otitis Media – middle ear infection which occurs when outer ear infection spreads inward.
2.Otitis Externa – outer ear infection usually caused by bacteria or yeast accumulated in the ear. Other causes may be matted hair, earwax, debris or foreign substance.
What Are The Treatments for Ear Infection in Your Cavapoo?
As soon as you notice any of the listed signs you should go to the vet. The vet will perform full examination to determine the type of ear infection.
The therapy depends precisely on the cause of the infection. The vet will most probably use otoscope to check the ear canal ( similar to the doctor that needs to examine the child with suspected ear infection)
If your dog is in pain, the vet may use sedatives in order to make the examination more comfortable for your dog and more efficient.
The vet is most likely to take the sample from the ear canal and examine it through the microscope ( cytology ). Using this technique the vet will be able to define which microorganism is making a mess so he can prescribe the correct medications. In the case of bacterial infection, antibiotics are usually prescribed.
If a foreign substance is causing the problem or wax build-up then the vet may sedate your dog in order to remove it.
Middle ear infection requires more time to solve and it’s harder to get rid of. In the case of more severe infections, the therapy period may last for 6 weeks to complete.
If you notice that ear infections are very common in your Cavapoo, check with your vet what may be the cause of that frequency. Maybe the reason might be thyroid disease or allergies. If you solve the basic problem, maybe ear infection as a side effect simply vanishes.
To prevent ear infection do the weekly cleaning regularly. Ask your vet for an ear cleaning solution as it might help you to keep ear area clean and free of bacteria and debris.
Make sure the ear area is trimmed and groomed on regular basis to prevent ear infections.
Obesity in Your Cavapoo
Believe it or not, obesity in dogs is almost as common as humans. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, even 56% of dogs in the USA are overweight or obese https://petobesityprevention.org/
Obesity in dogs makes a great trouble causing different health issues with dog’s lungs, heart, joints, liver and kidneys. Overweight dogs are more prone to injuries and run great risk at any type of surgeries.
The main reason why a dog becomes obese is overeating and lack of physical activity.
People mistakenly think that a dog needs unlimited access to food 24/7. It is not true. Dogs will eat whatever is available and whenever is available no matter they are hungry or not. If they have several meals a day and snacks in between, it is highly possible for your dog to become obese.
In humans, lack of exercise may lead to overweight among other health problems. Remember that dogs are as lazy as we are, they won’t exercise more then it is necessary.
You have to stimulate them. Moreover, the majority of dogs live in apartments or small yards so they don’t have a chance for big physical activity unless you do something about it.
Other reasons for obesity may be spaying or neutering procedures ( as they may slow down the dog’s metabolism), hormonal disorders, etc.
Crossbreeds are prone to obesity as well and purebred dogs such as Cocker Spaniel among others. So Cavapoo runs a great risk of gaining extra weight.
How To Check If Your Cavapoo is Overwieght?
Average weight of adult Cavapoo is between 12-25 pounds.
Check the ribs. If you touch your Cavapoo in the chest area and you cannot feel the rib, the bones, maybe your Cavapoo is overweight.
Try to find other big bones in your dog’s body such as hip, spine, shoulders. If you cannot feel them, you have a problem ( not to say that your dog have an even bigger problem)
Check the tail. Touch the base of the tail. You should feel the bone. If you cannot feel it at all, means that your Cavapoo is overweight.
Check the breathing. If you Cavapoo experiences heavy breathing after minimal activity such as a short walk, this can indicate a problem with weight.
If you above mentioned small tests show you the problem, it is better to see the vet. He will perform the detailed examination including blood tests, will ask you about your Cavapoo’s eating habits as well as physical activity and exercise. Based on all that he will suggest you the plan.
This plan will surly include lower calorie diet, less food on daily basis, more exercise, more water and fibers etc.
As with humans, the process of losing weight is long -term. You will need to be persistent and patient and eventually, the result will come.
What Should You Ask For When Buying a Cavapoo Puppy?
If you have decided to buy a Cavapoo puppy, the very first step should be to find a reputable breeder.
Once you find a breeder what you should pay attention to? How to check if the puppy is healthy? How to know if the puppy will grow in healthy adult Cavapoo? Do you need to ask for health certificates of the parents of a particular puppy?
Don’t trust any breeder who tells you that crossbreeds are 100% healthy and that there is no need to show you any health guarantee on puppy or health certificates of the puppy’s parents.
Even though he is trying hard to convince you that he has never had any issues with puppies, no complaints so far from satisfied customers. Simply don’t trust him and leave.
Although many potentially inherited diseases cannot be detected in puppies, a reputable breeder will make sure that he is breeding the healthiest dogs possible. This will reduce the chance of some genetic defects and disorders to occur.
A reputable breeder should be able to show you the health certificates of the parents and grand parents. Those certificates testify that the parents as well as grandparents are screened for genetic defects and that are healthy for breeding.
Both puppy’s parents should have appropriate certifications from health registries such as Canine Eye Registry Foundation, Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.
It’s not enough if a breeder says that puppy is checked by the vet, as well as his/her parents. This is not ok, you should ask for the mentioned certificates and also ask if possible to see the parents, check if they look healthy and clean.
If one of the puppy’s parents are dead, ask what did he/she died off. Ask the same question for grandparents and others from the same family line.
Don’t be embarrassed, better to ask now. Imagine bringing a potentially sick puppy to your home. To watch him/her suffering or even to be forced to put him/her to sleep. Better to avoid all that.
If you did proper research, found a reputable breeder, bought a healthy puppy with a great genetic background, don’t think that everything ends here.
One of the most common health problems that your Cavapoo can have is obesity ( Cavalier’s genes). The best thing is that you can protect him from this problem. With a proper diet and enough exercise and activity, you will raise a healthy and happy Cavapoo.
Cavapoos as crossbreed dogs should not have many health issues. Of course in some case genes make a mess, in other cases the age, the living condition, the poor diet or owner who neglects his pet make a problem.
The bottom line, watch your dog, spend time with him/her. If you notice any sign of illness or discomfort seek advice from a vet. In the majority of cases, early diagnosis carries better chances for recuperation as well as for long and happy life.