Should Cavaliers Eat Grain-Free?

A fit and healthy Cavvy is a happy Cavvy, so when it comes to your Cavalier’s health and well-being you want to give him or her the best of everything, the best health care, the best grooming products, and the best food. But what is the best food for a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel? There are many to choose from, even grain-free food. But should Cavaliers eat grain-free?

As a general rule carbohydrates in a Cavalier King Charles Spaniels diet can give them the required dietary fiber and antioxidants for a healthy digestive system and an increased immune system.

However, there are reports that a Cavalier can be allergic to certain grains, so a grain-free diet would be wholly substantiated in these cases. But as I have discovered during my research, there is more to our canines companions’ food.


The majority of us know that grain is a form of carbohydrate, but what is the problem with my Cavvy eating carbs? Well, essentially Cavaliers are more carnivores than us humans, and so require fewer carbs and more meat. This is why you should never try to make your doggie a vegan, their bodies don’t digest foods the same as we do.

But this is not to say that Cavvy’s can’t have carbs, just the correct carbs, and fewer of them.

By ‘correct carbs’ I mean the ‘good’ carbs everyone talks about, like whole grains, vegetables (excluding potato), some fruits, and beans. ‘Bad carbs’ are processed foods, so in human terms, this would be similar to white rice.

Although potato is technically a vegetable, due to its starchy content, it is not classed as good for you, and therefore very bad for your pooch. However, sweet potato is very good for them. We give these smart bones made with real sweet potato to Lady as a treat. We prefer smart bones as there is no rawhide in there, and are much better for your dog.


Kibble, or dry dog food, is generally high in carbohydrates as it is processed food, and as a result, can cause weight issues with your dog. Kibble is widely available as it is an easy solution to feeding your dog quickly.

Feeding your Cavvy only kibble can be stressful on the kidneys and liver due to the dryness of the product, and there are ways of combating this. You can either add some warm water to the kibble to soften it and make a sort of meat stock, or you can purchase specialized kibble that is specially made for your breed of dog.

We give Lady Royal Canin as it the specifically made for each individual breed.


A very small proportion of Cavaliers can have allergies to carbohydrates, whether they be whole grain or not. As a result, your Cavvy will have an upset tummy. If this is the case, then you must consult with your veterinarian for a specialized diet plan.

Freshly Prepared Meals

Some dog owners like to prepare their own meals in order to avoid grain altogether. Unfortunately, these types of meals wouldn’t be balanced enough for your Cavalier, as they wouldn’t contain any carbs.

Whole grain is easily digestible for the majority of Cavaliers, so if you do decide to prepare your own dog food, ensure you add the ‘good carbs’ such as oatmeal, tapioca, and cooked brown rice, or cooked sweet potato.

It is probably best to thoroughly research or get some help or tips on how to prepare fresh meals for your dog, especially if you have never done this before. Below are four books that have been recommended on a few websites.

Canned Foods

Canned, or wet dog food is easier on the digestive system for Cavaliers, and contains a lot more meat than kibble does.

Smaller dog breeds have a faster metabolism and higher energy levels than larger dog breeds, and therefore need many more calories than their bigger cousins. Wet dog food in a can, tray, or pouch is an excellent way to give your Cavvy the nutrition he or she needs.

Photo by Mishk Ah on Unsplash

However, some wet foods are not balanced enough, so reading the labels or speaking to a professional is vital before selecting the right foods.

To keep the balance right, we feed Lady a combination of wet and dry foods, which meets all her dietary needs, and she rarely has an upset tummy.

What We Feed Lady


As Lady is getting older now, her joints are not as they were, and she has a bit of arthritis. So we give her a Yumove tablet from Lintbells every morning to help.

Unfortunately, she will not eat the tablet on its own, even though it is supposed to be tasty to dogs, so we have to break it in half and roll it in a small piece of ham.

So not really a breakfast, but I give it to her before I eat my breakfast.


Lady isn’t as active as she used to be, partly due to old age, and partly due to her arthritis. So we now feed her half a tray of Butchers Lean and Tasty as it has 30% less fat, and uses whole grain. Unfortunately, as I live in the UK, I am unable to find this in the US.

Evening Meal

To keep things balanced, we like to give Lady a bowl of kibble for her early evening meal, and we use Royal Canin as this has been perfectly balanced for a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

As kibble is hard and gets stuck in Lady’s teeth, we give her half a Dentastix after her kibble to stop the plaque build-up and protect her teeth, plus it gives her minty breath.


As a treat, when she has been a good girl, we give Lady a smart bone made with real sweet potato. As stated earlier in the post, sweet potato is a good carb, and these smart bones contain no rawhide, which is better for your doggie.

My Final Thought

If your Cavalier doesn’t have any allergies, and you manage to keep your dog’s diet balanced, then there is no reason to remove all grain from their meals. However, ensure the grains they do have sit firmly within the ‘good carbs’ range. If you give your Cavalier balanced meals and regular exercise, you’ll have one happy Cavvy in your home.

2 thoughts on “Should Cavaliers Eat Grain-Free?”

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