Cavapoo health

When thinking of getting a cavapoo puppy, you need to consider quite a few things. Do you have enough space in your home? Do you have enough time to devote to your puppy? Can you afford good food and vet visits and treatment in case anything goes wrong?

The last question is very important. We all want our pets to be healthy and happy from the moment they are born to the their last days. But dogs are people too. They can get sick, just like we do, and you the owner will need to deal with the consequences.

This is why it is important to understand what potential health issues you may encounter with your cavapoo.

In this guide I talk about the most common health concerns that cavapoo are prone to and what you should do if you suspect any of them in your cavapoo. Of course, please remember that no guide online can be better than qualified help of your vet.

Cavapoo are cross bred from poodle and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. The diseases that cavapoo can potentially have can be inherited from either of the parents. While poodles are known to be generally a very healthy breed, it’s not always so with the Cavaliers.

In fact, they are known to have a few very serious conditions that the Cavalier community is very aware of, such as Mitral Valve Disease, Syringomyelia, Epilepsy, Canine Hip Dysplasia and a few others.

Below I will provide an outline of each with possible symptoms and a plan of action for you and your pup if you think your cavapoo has inherited one of these conditions from their Cavalier parent.

One note here again is how important it is to choose a reputable cavapoo breeder when it comes to finding a healthy cavapoo puppy. A good breeder will do their best to only allow healthy parents into breeding, so your chances of getting a cavapoo with a potential health issue go significantly down. In the case of cavapoo (and other cross breeds) this is particularly important.

Purebred dogs like poodles normally don’t present their owners with health issues, but a lot of Cavalier crosses can and do. Do your research before getting your puppy and be very careful! Having a dog that’s sick is not easy, and it’s also not good to support bad breeders by buying their puppies.  

Mitral Valve Disease is a real plague in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel world. About half of all Cavalier deaths happen to be because of this disease (whereas only a small fraction of other breeds die from it.) It is twenty percent more prevalent in Cavaliers than in other breeds.

It is not as common in cavapoo but it can definitely be passed along from the Cavalier parent. Mitral Valve Disease is a degenerative disease of the mitral valve of the heart. It usually leads to heart failure in Cavaliers, or congestive heart failure, where the still-functioning heart cannot pump enough blood for the normal functioning of the dog’s body.

The main signs of heart failure in your cavapoo are easy to see. You may suspect it if your normally active and happy cavapoo is suddenly avoiding running or jumping and it seems as if they are short on air. Shortness of breath, difficult breathing and fainting spells are also signs. A certain percentage of dogs of any breed will have mitral valve disease and heart failure at some point in their lives.

The problem with Cavaliers, and consequently cavapoo, is that the disease prevalence is so much higher, and it also starts much earlier in the dog’s life. Sometimes dogs as young as 2 or 3 years old can get it. Cavaliers are recommended to be screened for MVD annually. There is normally no such recommendation for cavapoo as the disease is still less prevalent in the cross breed.

But if you notice any signs of heart issues in your dog, take it to the vet immediately and make sure to do all necessary tests. Although MVD in dogs cannot be treated and cured, the vet will help you manage your dog’s condition with various treatments and possibly a surgery if it is required.  

Syringomyelia is another serious conditions that Cavaliers are prone to and that they can pass on to cavapoo. Syringomyelia occurs when fluid-filled cavities develop in the dog’s spinal cord, in the area close to the brain.

Almost half of all Cavaliers may develop Syringomyelia at some point in their life. The susceptibility to it can also be passed to a cavapoo from their Cavalier parent.  This disease is highly pathological and may cause severe pain and discomfort in the dog. One of the signs of it is when you see your dog becoming more and more sensitive in their neck area.

They may also scratch their neck and head area a lot. Syringomyelia is usually diagnosed by MRI or computed tomography (CT). While Syringomyelia cannot be cured, the vet can medicate your dog for pain caused by it, which can greatly improve the quality of the dog’s life.

According to the site https://www.cavalierhealth.org, Syringomyelia often does not progress beyond a certain stage, which makes it a little more manageable. 

Epilepsy is quite common in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, particularly in certain lines. This disease is characterised by repeated seizures not caused by any trauma or skull malformation. Epilepsy is heavily genetic and is often passed from Cavalier parents to cavapoo puppies. 

Some of the symptoms of epilepsy include repeated erratic motions such as paddling of the limbs in your dog. During these episodes the dog may experience a level of discomfort and whine, cry or bark. Defecation or urination, or both, can also occur.

Some dogs have silent epilepsy episodes where they simply stare into space (not to confuse with all the “regular” times your dog just seem to stare into space). Diagnosing epilepsy in your pup may be a little complicated, as seizures and motor issues may stem from other conditions besides epilepsy. However, if you ever notice anything unusual about your dog, take them to the vet immediately.

With regards to epilepsy, you will be recommended various drugs for medication which may improve your dog’s life.

About fifteen percent of all Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are estimated to suffer from hip dysplasia. This is a highly heritable disease that your cavapoo can have as well if it’s passed on to him or her from their cavalier parent. Hip dysplasia expresses itself in the malformation and abnormal development of the hips that results in arthritis and joint pain in dogs.

The symptoms, according to https://www.cavalierhealth.org, include bunny hopping and swiveling of the hips when running and difficulties with certain movements such as getting up off the floor or climbing the stairs. Although hip dysplasia is mostly hereditary, certain environmental conditions and dog’s individual characteristics may contribute to the development of this disease.

For example, overweight puppies suffer a higher risk of hip dysplasia development. Running on hard surfaces poses unnatural stress on joints and hips and may also contribute to hip dysplasia. Many breeders argue that too much exercise in young puppies is also a risk factor.

Hip dysplasia is diagnosed by X-Rays. If your dog is diagnosed with hip dysplasia, they will require medication for pain and in some cases a surgery.        

 

Both hip dysplasia and epilepsy are common not only in cavaliers but in poodles as well. Here are some other dysfunctions that your cavapoo can inherit from their poodle parent.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy is a serious condition in which the retina of the dog’s eyes degenerates causing progressive loss of vision. The symptoms of this disease include such issues as night vision issues, dilated pupils, bumping into objects and furniture and glassy eyes. There is no known cure from Progressive Retinal Atrophy in dogs. 

Addison’s Disease is when the dog’s adrenal glands are unable to produce enough of certain hormones that are crucial for the dog’s health and well-being. It expresses itself through such symptoms as vomiting, lethargy, lack of appetite, heart arrhythmia and some others.

With the progression of this disease the dog may be more and more vulnerable to stress which can lead to shock in your dog or even death. If your dog has Addison’s disease, it is very important to discover it on time and treat it with hormonal supplementation and some other medications.

Since it often occurs in poodles, this disease can be potentially passed to your cavapoo.

I don’t want to intimidate you out of your decision to get a cavapoo, or infuse fear if you already have a cavapoo. Not all cavapoos will develop any of these diseases. Most cavapoo are healthy and happy till a very old age.

The likelihood of your particular cavapoo developing any of the conditions I briefly outlined above is not that big. However, it’s good to know what issues you may potentially encounter, so you can react quickly and not let the disease develop further.