Best Dog Food for Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

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April 3, 2024 / Dog Food / By: Melanie Evans

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was, quite literally, one of the first popular breeds to be termed a "lapdog".

They regal little dogs might not need quite as much exercise as some dogs, but in order to remain bright and healthy - and for those beautiful coats to stay shiny, they do need to be on the right diet.

Choosing the right diet for your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel can get overwhelming with so many food types and so many brands to choose from. While some Cavs seem to thrive on just about any diet, others are very sensitive to what you feed them. 

Here's a comprehensive guide to healthy Cavalier King Charles Spaniel dog nutrition and several commercial options to consider.

What food to feed a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Best Dog Foods for Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

Here is a look at some of the best, based on both our experience, and the reviews and opinions of other Cavalier King Charles Spaniel pet parents.


#1. ACANA Regionals Grasslands Recipe

Our expert choice for the King Charles is this excellent kibble from ACANA, which contains no grains and is rich in protein. It's designed with optimal calories in mind.

ACANA Grasslands Dog

Cavaliers have done very well on ACANA and no wonder since this a well trusted brand.

Dogs are meat eaters and the Regionals grasslands formula is packed with it featuring lamb, trout and game bird. Raw grass-fed lamb (8%), fresh duck (8%), fresh whole eggs (8%), lamb meat meal (8%), whole herring meal (7%) are the first five listed ingredients - all quality, protein-rich lean meats and fish. 

Looking past the first five ingredients this kibble has absolutely no artificial ingredients, colorings or other unhealthy ingredients. It is limited in unwanted carbohydrates, and the carbs used are easily digestible for Cavaliers - lentils, chickpeas and other bean varieties. 

Packed with omega 3 and 6 fatty acids (from the herring and pollock oil), this kibble also has all the essential nutrients to maintain your King Charles' coat shiny and healthy. Finally more than half of the ingredient list are veggies, fruits and other botanicals.

It contains 35% crude proteins, 17% crude fats, and 6% crude fiber, with 457 kcal  per cup. ACANA Grasslands is also AAFCO approved for all life stages and all breeds. The word from other Cav owners is that while ACANA is expensive NO DIGESTION issues ever, coat is healthy and soft and weight is perfect.  

This is one of the best possible foods for Cavaliers and if fits within your specific budget - your dog will thrive on it. 


#2. Merrick Lil' Plates Grain-Free Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe with Freeze-Dried Raw Bites

Our runner-up is from Merrick - a popular options with many owners and breeders alike. Made from real freeze-dried raw chicken, it’s nutritionally dense and free from corn or soy.

Freeze Dried Raw Dog Food

This very popular all-life stages small breed dog food offers both great nutrition from high quality ingredients and a taste that appeals to the often picker palette of the Cavalier King Charles.

The primary protein ingredient is real, freeze dried raw chicken. As a great lean protein it provides the high quality nutrition small dogs need as well as a more appealing texture than some simpler dry kibbles provide.

In addition to the chicken this smaller sized kibble offers more than adequate amounts of essential vitamins and minerals via sweet potatoes, peas, apples and blueberries and to help keep their beautiful coats healthy and shiny - and to help support heart, brain and eye health flaxseed and salmon oil provide plenty of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.

The formula also features a glucosamine and chondroitin supplement to support joint health.

Pet parents who chose this food for their pups report that they love the taste - especially of the freeze dried chicken, and that it is well tolerated by pups who have a slightly sensitive stomach.

Reviewers also like the fact that the formula does indeed seem to benefit coat health and the glucosamine and chondroitin is excellent for the joint health of senior dogs. 


#3. American Journey Grain-Free Lamb & Sweet Potato Puppy Recipe

Your growing Cavalier needs a diet that it's optimized for proper brain development. This recipe from American Journey is packed with natural protein and optimal amino acid profile and is one of the most affordable foods on our list.

Grain-free dog food for puppies

When smaller dogs like the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are puppies they need a little more in terms of certain nutritional elements to ensure that their rapid growth - small dogs do grow and mature faster than their larger counterparts - is well supported.

To meet their need for plenty of high quality lean protein the formula boasts real real, deboned lamb supplemented with chicken meal and turkey meal. Carbs include fiber-rich chickpeas and sweet potatoes that are easy to digest.

Essential antioxidant vitamins are provided by a fruit and vegetable combination that includes blueberries, kelp and carrots and Omega 3 fatty acids - which are essential for proper brain development as well as coat and eye health - are provided by salmon oil and flaxseed.

To meet the special nutritional needs of puppies the formula is also supplemented with a complex B vitamin supplement as well as DHA, an amino acid found in mother's milk.

This is an affordable yet quality grain-free puppy food for Cavalier puppies - kibble size is perfect for their smaller mouth and it's slightly softer and well tolerated even by sensitive stomachs. It contains no artificial additives, no by-products or any artificial dyes or flavors.

American Journey is a Chewy exclusive brand that is made in the USA and pups absolutely love it!


#4. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Small Breed Turkey & Chicken Recipe

We love this grain-free small breed recipe from Wellness CORE. It offers a whole lot of sustenance and energy, glucosamine and chondroitin as well as lean protein for muscle building and joint care.

Best value dry dog food for king charles cavalier dogs

This well-balanced, grain free dog food formula is a big hit with small dog pet parents in general. It boasts a great source of primary protein in the form of lean fresh turkey and the secondary protein ingredient, chicken, is provided in nutrient rich chicken meal form, offering small dogs all the protein they need without any bad fats that they do not.

The addition of sweet potatoes, kale, spinach and blueberries adds taste, fiber and a rich source of antioxidants and there is salmon oil and flaxseed to provide Omega 3 fatty acids in more than adequate quantities.

The formula is also enriched with glucosamine and chondroitin for healthier joints. 

The absence of any grains helps make sure that pups with more sensitive digestive systems can tolerate the food more easily.

Those who chose this product to feed to their pups praise it for its easy digestibility, the smaller sized kibble as well as for its apparent great taste.  We also love the fact that the formula includes the joint loving glucosamine and chondroitin.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Dietary Considerations

A toy spaniel adult dog

As a smaller dog, the dietary requirements of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are a little different to a larger dog in a number of ways. Here is a brief overview of some of the most important.

Caloric Needs

Small dogs do have a slightly different need in terms of caloric intake to larger breed dogs.

At around seven or eight weeks old Cav puppies should be fed solely on proprietary puppy food.

Young Cav pups have smaller tummies so it's recommended to divide their daily portions into smaller meals throughout the day. Ask your breeder for their current eating schedule and a small supply of the food they've been on.

If you do decide to change brands/kibble make sure you do so gradually to avoid an upset stomach. 

We also recommend you mix a little of the old with the new kibble each day to make the transition easier until your pup eventually is only eating the new kibble.

Veterinarians recommend that at ten to twelve months old, Cavs should be fed an adult diet.

The usual basic advice to pet parents is that dogs should consume 30 calories for every pound of body weight per day.

That increases to between 35 and 40 for Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, as they have higher metabolisms than their larger counterparts and burn the energy from the calories they intake faster.

Also active Cavs will have different requirements than sedentary dogs. Just as with puppies, give your Cav adult dog a consistent feeding place and meal times.

Cavaliers tend to gain weight easily so do not overfeed them.  

Your Cav should appear fit and should have an evident waist. Factor in the occasional treats into their daily caloric intake and never feed them your table scraps. Snacks and treats are a significant silent contributor to excess daily calorie intake.

In fact studies show that it takes only about 11 extra kcal/day for a dog to gain 1 lb over the course of a year - many common treats provide between 50 to 100 calories.

Excess calorie intake, energy dense foods and inappropriate feeding practices are the main causes leading to obesity in Cavs.

If you simply can't resist giving your Cav the occasional treat, offer small chunks of veggies instead of high-protein and high-calorie meat or cheese. 

Special Nutritional Considerations

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

As small dogs, with small stomachs, and often slightly sensitive digestive systems as well, Cavalier King Charles benefit from a dog food that packs a lot of nutritional value into every ounce, and that is well tolerated. For many pups a grain free formula is most easily digested.

If you decide to primarily feed your Cav dry food, make sure she also drinks plenty of water in order to remain hydrated.

Since obesity is such a problem with Cavaliers, watch their diet and treat intake - it subtracts years from their lives. We recommend a puzzle feeder bowl to prevent fast eating, obesity, encourage mental stimulation and provide enrichment to your Cav.

The presence of plenty of coat loving Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids is important as well, and even more so for puppies as these amino acids are essential for healthy brain development.

Finally, a food that is supplemented with glucosamine and chondroitin is advised to help protect joint health.


Melanie Evans

Melanie Evans is a professional freelance writer based in Scranton, PA, who, enjoys sharing her lifelong knowledge about dogs. When not working, Melanie enjoys playing a wide variety of sports, traveling and hanging out with her energetic boxer dog Bruce.

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