Health problems are always a common concern that dog owners frequently wonder about. Even with quality food and exercise, there are still some Cavapoo health issues that are tied to genetic traits. Additionally, health issues can be common in designer dogs or a mixed breed dog that has parent dogs with predisposed health issues.
Make no mistake, my family and I go to great lengths to ensure Rosie maintains optimal health, but there are some ailments common to the breed to be aware of.
So, what health problems can Cavapoos have? Cavapoos are prone to a range of genetic diseases affecting the brain, heart, and optical health of the breed. Additionally, Cavapoos can become emotionally attached to their owners, which can bring on a condition known as separation anxiety even in short separations from owners.
This is not to scare owners or potential owners of a Cavapoo, but to have a realistic outlook about potential health issues is both responsible and safe.
In this guide, I will explore some of the common health problems that can arise with Cavapoo puppies and adults during this breed’s lifespan.
We are not veterinarians; the purpose of this article is to educate about problems that may develop based on Cavapoo data. Make sure to consult with your vet if you notice any symptoms of these ailments.
What Is the Life Expectancy of a Cavapoo?
The life expectancy of any dog, and much like any living thing, is always a subjective estimate and should never be set in stone. The common consensus about Cavapoo’s is that they can live between 12-15 years, but there are so many variables that could exist to surpass, and sadly, not hit this general span of years.
Activity level, food quality, clean water, and an absence of many health issues that are genetically tied to the breed all play a part in how long a Cavapoo lives. Just as we see with humans, there are also instances with dogs where perfect health is maintained for years and years, and yet a genetically-inherited disease can arise out of nowhere.
There are just far too many scenarios and unknowns to assign a firm number to Cavapoo longevity. According to the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, food quality, and even intermittent food restriction has been shown to increase longevity in multiple dog breeds.
The point I am making is that there are well-established health guidelines to follow–even some practices that may seem wrong–that can help to keep a Cavapoo from developing a genetic disorder.
The 12-15 years estimate is a good barometer of life expectancy to keep in mind, but it also helps to know the different types of health problems that can arise in your Cavapoo.
Health Problems Common to Cavapoos
All dogs can slip into bad health is basic needs such as high-quality food, clean water, exercise, and companionship are not met. But there are some potentially fatal problems that deserve a closer look with Cavapoos.
Furthermore, designer dogs, doodles, or any type of mixed breed or cross breed will also be facing the potential of two different breeds and the common health problems associated with each.
Addison’s disease is an uncomfortable and alarming disease that is common in poodles, which is one parent of a Cavapoo dog. This disease is characterized by an inability of the adrenal glands to produce proper amounts of steroids like aldosterone and cortisol. These two steroids are essential for regulating many internal organs in a dog and can cause frequent trips to the vet if the disease overtakes a Cavapoo.
The progression of Addison’s disease may not be noticeable in a Cavapoo puppy, in fact, Cavapoos may not begin to show symptoms of the disease until early adulthood. Common symptoms of this disease may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Fluctuations in movement and motor control
- Recurring nausea and stomach problems
- Stress and anxiety
These symptoms are hard to immediately pinpoint as belonging to Addison’s disease. Make sure to take your Cavapoo to the vet frequently if any of these symptoms keep occurring. Thankfully, there are numerous methods that veterinarians can use to treat this disease, including hormone replacement therapy.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a vision problem that can run fairly rampant in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. According to veterinarians Ryan Llera and Cheryl Yuill, The two main photoreceptor cells of the retina are the rod cells and the cone cells. The dog’s eyes contain many more rods than cones. Rod cells are responsible for vision in low light conditions and for detecting and the following movement. Cone cells are responsible for detecting color in dog types. Cone cells do not work very well in low light.
Therefore, the onset of Progressive Retinal Atrophy is a genetic health issue that affects the photoreceptor cells of the retina that gets progressively worse as a dog grows older. Symptoms can include reduced vision, tear stains, and cloudy or dilated pupils, and clumsiness.
Unfortunately, there is no effective treatment available against PRA.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and miniature poodle breeds are both small dogs with specific anatomical traits that align with small dog anatomy. Since a Cavapoo will inherit traits from both of these types of dog breeds, genetic health concerns like Syringomyelia can develop. This condition is the build-up of fluid in the spinal cord due to inconsistencies in size between the brain and the skull.
For a Cavapoo puppy that takes after the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel more than the poodle parent, this condition can begin early and cause intermittent moments of extreme pain and lethargy for the rest of a Cavapoo’s life. This condition is further exacerbated by exercise and excitement in Cavapoos.
Treatment options for this painful condition include the administration of corticosteroids to reduce the fluid build-up and swelling, and even surgery that can correct the deformity in the skull and brain. This is a painful and alarming condition that needs to be addressed as soon as possible by a veterinarian.
Mitral Valve Disease
Mitral Valve Disease (MVD) is a prolonged and degenerative disease that can affect any dog breed. It is not generally understood how or why A Cavapoo is prone to developing MVD, but this serious malfunction of the mitral valve in the heart is one of the most fatal health concerns with the Cavapoo dog breed.
MVD is where the mitral valve in the heart weakens over time and begins to deteriorate as a Cavapoo dog ages. Instead of pumping blood out of the heart, the mitral valve begins to flow the blood back into the heart, which can lead to heart failure.
Even if the parents are healthy and you purchased from a good breeder, MVD can arise in a Cavapoo due to the genetic trait being strong in the Cavalier line. Symptoms of MVD can include, but are not limited to the following:
- Heart murmur
- Weakness that lasts longer than one day
- Chronic gagging and coughing
A veterinarian can develop a comprehensive plan of treatment to correct MVD in a Cavapoo dog. Surgery is usually considered as a last resort.
Hip dysplasia is a condition in Cavapoos that is typically inherited from the poodle parent. A dog with hip dysplasia will experience pain and weakness in the hip that is caused by the joints in the hip rubbing and grinding against one another instead of functioning properly.
Hip dysplasia can be noticeable in a Cavapoo puppy, therefore, it is always recommended to consult with a reputable breeder that is honest about health concerns with a Cavapoo. Symptoms can include limping or scouting across the floor to avoid the pain that can come from walking. Additionally, stiffness and an inability to run or jump during training sessions can also give clues to this condition.
A veterinarian can use a range of positive reinforcement methods in a Cavapoo dog to ensure that less stress is applied to the hip during normal daily activities. Additionally, a range of medications and possible surgical procedures are also available if the condition continues to worsen.
Mental Health: Separation Anxiety
Nearly every dog breed can suffer from this condition when left alone. There is a common misconception that this psychological disorder only affects dogs that are rescued from abusive situations or are frequently rehomed, but that is not the case.
This common condition is particularly recognizable in dog breeds that develop strong bonds with their owners, and I have health with this very issue with Rosie in the early weeks and months after we brought her home.
When a puppy or adult dog is left without its owners for the first time, no matter the breed, a sense of loss and panic will overcome a dog due to the uncertainty it feels regarding the return of its owners. Symptoms can include the destruction of furniture or household items, defecating or urinating on the floor or furniture, loud barking and crying, and even self-harm in some extreme instances.
Since every type of breed is prone to this condition, veterinarians and behaviorists are well aware of treatment options to help reduce the condition over time. There are methods you can try that include teaching your dog to anticipate your departure, crate training, and even medications that can calm a dog’s nerves during your departure from the home.
This condition can be treated overnight or even in days or weeks; it requires strict adherence to the advice from a veterinarian to help ease your dog into becoming used to your departure from the home. A dog may learn quickly that it may need to live more independently the more you can train the dog to be comfortable in its own company for however long each day.
Are Cavapoos Healthier Than Cavaliers?
A Cavapoo contains a nearly equal amount of traits to both a Cavalier and a poodle, therefore, the question of a Cavapoo being healthier than one of its parents would depend on which of the two parents is prone to more health concerns. By analyzing the range of genetic conditions in both breeds, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel does have a larger range of possible health concerns that the miniature poodle.
But genetics is never as cut and dry as simply judging which breed has more health concerns and subtracting the results from the two. The truth is that a Cavapoo can develop health concerns without any of the common genetic health concerns of its parents never come to fruition. Biology is a mysterious branch of science, even with the tests and hypotheses we have about dogs and mammals in general, abnormalities can still rise with no symptoms ever observed in a dog’s parents.
But since genetics are strong indicators of how healthy a puppy can expect to become, it may help to know some of the common genetic diseases of the Cavalier.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Genetic Diseases
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a beautiful breed of dog, and one of the two parents, along with the poodle, that is responsible for producing and F1 Cavapoo, but this breed sometimes struggles with being healthy. In addition to many of the conditions we discussed above, this breed can also be prone to the following genetic diseases:
- PSOM. Primary secretory otitis media is a condition that causes massive amounts of ear wax to build-up in the outer and middle ear. It isn’t well-researched if this condition is freely passed on to a Cavapoo, but regular bathing, drying of the ears, and a healthy diet are known to help reduce the symptoms.
- Patella luxation. This condition affects the kneecap in roughly 30% of Cavaliers and results when the patella falls out of alignment with the rest of the knee due to a genetic disposition in the Cavalier line. What is concerning when looking at this condition from a Cavapoo point-of-view is the possible comorbidity of this condition along with hip dysplasia that could result from muscular and skeletal issues from both parents, especially since symptoms can begin to show once a Cavapoo has reached 25 pounds in weight and 14 inches in length, which is the onset of adulthood.
When the data is analyzed to determine which parent known for healthy longevity, the poodle has a much better track record. But even with this in mind, there are no guarantees that your Cavapoo puppy will not be healthy just because one parent has more genetic diseases.
What Are Inherited Diseases in Dogs (IDID)?
IDID is a broad term that essentially means what genetic or hereditary health traits mean to humans. There is a common fear with adults that frequently wonder if they will develop diseases or disorders that may have afflicted their parents or grandparents–the same is evident with dogs.
According to the Mammalian Genome Society, there have been more naturally occurring inherited diseases in dogs than have been cataloged in any other species apart from humans. This is common in nearly all breeds and some inherited traits are not going to be immediately noticeable during the Cavapoo puppy stage.
We all know that a Cavapoo is known for being low shedding and good for people with allergies, but dogs are also living, breathing animals that can develop dangerous conditions over time. Some of these conditions can come from mismanagement on the part of the owner or, a puppy or adult can start to show symptoms from their bloodline as time passes on.
Dogs can make surprising recoveries from some inherited conditions that a parent may not have been fortunate enough to recover from–and vice versa. As an owner, it is important to feed your Cavapoo a well-balanced diet and provide plenty of exercises and mental stimulation to help fight against any IDID’s that could be building up in the blood.
How much exercise does a Cavapoo need for proper health?
Most breeds need daily exercise to keep weight gain to a minimum and to provide proper lubrication and usage of the muscles and joints. Just as exercise is vital for human beings to maintain good health, the same also applies to dogs.
Dogs already spend large amounts of their lives asleep, therefore, it is important to give them physical and mental stimulation during the hours they are awake. Based on the height and weight of a Cavapoo, at least 2-3 hours of exercise (moderate at a minimum) is recommended.
What is the best food for a Cavapoo to maintain proper health?
Different breeds and sizes of dogs need different amounts of varieties of foods to maintain proper health. Always be sure to prioritize an equal amount of meat (the main staple), carbs, and vitamins and minerals to help support and regulate your Cavapoo’s well being.
Try to avoid processed meats at all costs since the concentrations of sodium and fat are far too high. Opt for a vitamin and mineral-packed combination of wet or dry food.
Hopefully, this article has helped you to understand some of the health concerns that come with Cavapoos. Always remember that there are problems that you can help to keep away, by ensuring your Cavapoo eats a healthy diet, receives, plenty of exercise and companionship, and there are the genetic factors that are outside of your control.
Always consult your veterinarian if you notice any of these symptoms.