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King Charles Spaniels are a small and loving breed dependent on their humans and often full of energy. It’s worth noting that there are two kinds of spaniels: the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the English King Charles Spaniel, but both have very similar needs, including high-quality nutrition to fuel their sweet and gentle temperament.


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5 Nutritional Needs of King Charles Spaniels

King Charles Spaniels can be sweet little lap dogs, but they also have lots of energy and benefit from regular exercise. To ensure your furry friend stays a healthy weight and has the nutrition they need to thrive, let’s review the nutritional needs of this small breed.

Protein

Protein is essential for all dogs as it’s the foundation of healthy muscles. High-quality dog food will provide your pup with ample animal protein such as meat, fish, or poultry. Puppies need more protein than adult dogs, and puppy specific food generally provides 22% protein or more.

Many high-quality adult dog foods provide protein levels around 34%, which can help promote lean muscle mass and ensure your dog gets all the amino acids it needs.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrate heavy food can cause your King Charles Spaniel to become overweight, but some carbohydrates can be useful for energy since this breed has a high metabolism and can burn calories quickly. However, it’s essential to keep in mind that there aren’t any steadfast carbohydrate recommendations specific for dogs.

Fats

A reasonable amount of fat in your dog’s diet is essential for their health as it’s an easy to digest form of energy. Look for ingredients that provide omega fatty acids or DHA, such as fish or natural oils.

Fruits and Vegetables

Canines can benefit from a wide range of fruits and vegetables in their diet, which provides added nutrition and beneficial fiber. Make sure that what you’re feeding your pet is on the list of foods they can safely eat, wash it well, and cut it up as much as necessary.

Probiotics

Gut health is just as much of a concern for canines as it is for humans, which is why many foods contain probiotics specific for dogs. This ingredient can help your dog more easily digest their food and absorb more of the nutrients.

6 Special Dietary and Nutritional Considerations of King Charles Spaniels

This breed typically weighs between 13 and 18 pounds and has a life expectancy of 12-15 years. While many of the nutritional needs we’ve covered are universal with all canines, let’s go over the health conditions specific to King Charles Spaniels and the impact, if any, of diet and nutrition.

Health Issues

The King Charles Spaniel is susceptible to a range of health issues, but many of them are genetic and not significantly improved by diet alone. If you are a parent to this loving and social breed, it’s best to work closely with your vet to understand better how a high-quality diet can improve your pets’ quality of life when they have any of the following health conditions.

Mitral Valve Disease

Mitral Valve Disease eventually leads to heart failure for many King Charles Spaniels, and although this condition is genetic, it’s another reason to ensure that your dog is eating a healthy and nutritious diet.

A healthy diet likely won’t slow the progression of this disease, but it won’t cause undue stress from excess weight gain that can further tax your pup’s cardiovascular system.

Congenital Blood Disorders

Idiopathic Asymptomatic Thrombocytopenia is a condition characterized by an unnaturally low number of platelets found in the blood. These disk-shaped platelets aid in blood clotting, which is why this condition includes bleeding disorders or overly large platelets.

This condition doesn’t appear to cause any specific health problems for the King Charles Spaniel, and a healthy diet can once again ensure they get the best nutrition possible, but it likely won’t change the status of their condition.

Syringomyelia

Syringomyelia or SM is a disease that impacts the brain and spine of the King Charles Spaniel. This condition stems from a malformation of the back of the skull that puts pressure on the brain, and while many dogs show no changes in behavior, others will scratch due to the discomfort.

If you see your dog scratching, it might not be a food sensitivity, and it’s worth checking with your vet to rule out other conditions such as allergies, fleas, or ear mites.

Hip and Knee Issues

Hip dysplasia and luxating patella are more common with this breed, and it’s best to feed them dog food with chondroitin, glucosamine, and other ingredients that help promote optimal joint health. Some dog parents find that glucosamine and chondroitin make a noticeable difference with their dogs and may also help alleviate arthritis symptoms.

Episodic Falling

Episodic Falling is another concern with this breed that is characterized by increased muscle tone and muscles that cannot relax. Many kinds of dog food promote lean muscle mass, but the cause of this neurological condition is rooted in genetics, and there’s not much you can do to prevent it via diet.

Eye and Ear Issues

King Charles Spaniels are prone to eye and ear problems that can cause dry eyes or progressive deafness. Many types of dog food have ingredients that support neurological development, and nutritious food gives your pup a better chance of maintaining their eye and ear health.

Daily Calorie Intake

Treats should always be given in moderation to this breed, which is prone to obesity when overfed. This breed should also get fed high-quality dog food in amounts appropriate for their weight, age, and activity level to avoid under and overfeeding.

Puppies will need to eat three to four times per day until they are around six months old, but adult dogs will eat once or twice each day. For an active adult King Charles Spaniel, they’ll likely need about 530 calories each day.

To ensure you aren’t over or underfeeding, you can check your dog’s ribs through their coat. You should never be able to see them, but you should be able to feel them under the skin when applying gentle pressure.

Several online calculators can help you establish a more specific calorie allotment for your pet and estimate their protein requirements, which typically hover around 1 gram per pound that your dog weighs.

Activity Level

King Charles Spaniels often get labeled as sweet little lap dogs, but they really descend from sporting dogs and enjoy getting at least moderate outdoor exercise. Walks and canine oriented sports are good choices, but this breed will also spend their days on the couch if allowed.

This breed has a particular interest in scents and has retained some of its hunting instincts, so it’s essential to keep it on a lead when exercising. They are easily distracted when following an interesting scent trail or when chasing after a small animal and may not come when called.

Allergies

This breed is susceptible to allergies like many other breeds, and this can include best-selling dog foods or airborne allergens. King Charles Spaniels might not show obvious signs when they ingest food they are allergic to, but they often will itch, bite, or scratch at their skin.

They may also have food intolerances that make them unable to digest their food well and absorb the nutrients that it contains. Signs of food intolerances include loose stool, gas, and stomach upset or pain.

Dietary Restrictions

Like other dog breeds, there are foods you should never feed your King Charles Spaniel, and that includes grapes, raisins, chocolate, alcohol, coffee, citrus, macadamia nuts, and dairy products. Many of these foods cause serious gastrointestinal irritation, loose stool, vomiting, liver failure, bloat, difficulty breathing, panting, and neurological symptoms.

Skin Conditions

Some skin conditions in King Charles Spaniels are caused by auto-immune disorders that can trigger inflammatory reactions and severe tissue damage. One of the most well known auto-immune system diseases that King Charles Spaniels may suffer from is lupus, which has varying symptoms that involve the bones, kidneys, skin, and blood.

There are successful treatments for many skin conditions that affect this breed, and changes to the diet often significantly reduce symptoms.

King Charles Spaniels Feeding Schedule

Since most King Charles Spaniels weigh between 13 and 18 pounds, they’ll need roughly 1-1.5 cups of kibble per day. Ideally, you’ll want to feed your dog twice a day and split this amount in half; however, some dogs prefer to eat once each day.

On the package of dog food you purchase, there are feeding charts that recommend food measurements based on your dog’s weight; however, it’s a good idea to check with your vet to confirm your dog’s caloric needs based on other factors such as their age and activity level.

Overall Best Dog Food for King Charles Spaniels

Our 2020 Picks: Best King Charles Spaniels Dog Food

Our Top Pick: Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Taste of the Wild is a family-owned business that makes its products in the USA. This company uses high-quality ingredients that they get from their long-time, trusted suppliers so you can be sure the food is safe and of the highest quality.

This grain-free dog food has a higher protein level at 32% and includes several different protein sources to ensure your pet is getting the most nutrients possible. To support your furry friends’ health, there are also other ingredients such as sweet potatoes, peas, ocean fish meal, taurine, and fermented additives to help support gut health.

This dog food is our top pick thanks to its diverse protein sources and viable microorganisms specifically formulated for dogs and dried chicory root that aid in digestion and nutrient absorption.

As an added bonus, this food contains an omega fatty acid blend added to support the health of the skin and luxurious coat of the King Charles Spaniel, and natural antioxidants for better overall health and immune system support.

10 More Top-Rated Dog Foods for King Charles Spaniels

Runner Up: American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Key Features:

  • Features added kelp, fruits, and vegetables that provide added nutrients
  • Contains real deboned salmon
  • Sweet potatoes and chickpeas provide fiber and slow-release energy

The American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato dog food is an excellent grain-free option that includes kelp for added immune support and a healthier coat. There are also a number of ingredients such as chickpeas, carrots, blueberries, and sweet potatoes that provide much-needed nutrients, fiber, minerals, antioxidants, and slow-release energy for a well-rounded meal.

This food provides King Charles Spaniels with the high-quality protein they need for lean muscle mass and DHA to support their brain development and vision. There are also omega fatty acids to promote better skin and coat health, and deboned salmon is the first ingredient.

King Charles Spaniels of all ages can benefit from this food that includes glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health, and the kibble pieces are small enough to chew easily.

Pros:

  • Suitable for small breed dogs like the King Charles Spaniel
  • Free from ingredients that can upset a sensitive stomach
  • Grain-free and high protein formula

Cons:

  • Not the best option for very sensitive stomachs

Freshest Super Premium Pick: Nom Nom Fresh Packaged Meals

Key Features:

  • Meals formulated by a top board-certified veterinary nutritionist
  • Real meat is the first ingredient
  • Comes in a variety pack so you can find the best recipe

Nom Nom provides a vital service to dog owners who want to feed their King Charles Spaniels the best food but don’t have time to cook it themselves. This premium food delivery service allows you to build a custom profile and note any dietary restrictions. The dog food shows up at your door in pre-portioned packages that contain high-quality, fresh ingredients.

Nom Nom food also contains added supplements to support the health of your dog and hopefully prevent chronic disease. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, eggs, vegetables, taurine, and vitamins are just some of the ingredients that get featured in each recipe, and you can order a variety pack to find out which version your dog prefers.

Pros:

  • A two-week trial period where you can try out the service
  • Get fresh, premium dog food delivered to your door
  • Contains all of the essential vitamins, minerals, and supplements your dog needs

Cons:

  • Delivered meals have a shelf life

Best Value: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

Key Features:

  • Features a Super 7 package of ingredients rich in antioxidants
  • The first ingredient is real deboned chicken
  • Suitable for small breeds and is free from corn, soy, or wheat that could upset stomachs

The Blue Buffalo Life Protection dog food features real chicken as the first ingredient and is suitable for small and medium breeds of all ages. This food also offers immune support critical for King Charles Spaniels in the form of omega fatty acids, essential vitamins, and chelated minerals.

The high-quality protein used in this food promotes lean muscle mass development and provides your pup with the fuel it needs for it’s higher energy levels. This food also has Lifesource bits that feature vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants recommended by holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists.

The kibble is also sized appropriately for the smaller jaws of the King Charles Spaniel, so there shouldn’t be any issues with chewing, and the life bits are a smaller size and different color. The Blue Buffalo formula also features premium natural ingredients like apples, blueberries, pumpkin, and spinach that help increase the kibble’s nutrient density.

Pros:

  • Added glucosamine supports good joint health and enhances mobility for all ages
  • Chelated minerals absorb better and support a healthy immune system
  • Free from poultry by-product meals and manufactured in the USA

Cons:

  • Can cause digestive issues in pups with sensitive digestive tracts

Best for Active Dogs: American Journey Active Life Formula Salmon, Brown Rice & Vegetables Recipe Dry Dog Food

Key Features:

  • Formulated for an active dog like the King Charles Spaniel
  • Features a blend of nutrients that support overall health and the immune system
  • Includes vegetables and fruits for fiber and enhanced digestibility

American Journey Active Life dog food features animal protein as the first ingredient and brown rice for sustained energy levels. Sweet potatoes, carrots, and peas offer vitamins and minerals found naturally in these ingredients, and phytonutrients help support the often delicate immune system of the King Charles Spaniel.

This food is also rich in fiber to enhance digestion and contains omega fatty acids that make for a shiny coat and healthy skin. For an active dog breed like the King Charles Spaniel, this food provides balanced nutrition that is free from by-products, corn, soy, and wheat. This formula is also free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives to avoid issues with sensitivities.

Pros:

  • 25% of the protein comes from real deboned salmon
  • Kibble size is suitable for small and medium-sized dogs
  • Features flaxseed and fish oil that provides DHA

Cons:

  • Smells strongly of fish

Best Limited Ingredient Option: Natural Balance LID. Limited Ingredient Diets Sweet Potato & Venison Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Key Features:

  • Single protein food sourced from deer
  • Paired with limited carbohydrates to maximize digestibility and nutrition absorption
  • The limited ingredient list makes this food ideal for dogs with food sensitivities

If you’re looking for a dog food that has a limited number of ingredients, Natural Balance’s Sweet Potato & Venison Formula is an excellent option that provides well-rounded nutrition. Many King Charles Spaniels have sensitive digestive tracts or prefer food with only a few flavors, and this kibble features an ideal blend of protein and nutrients.

This food uses a single protein source with the meat coming from fresh deer that is paired with specific carbohydrates and free from corn, wheat, soy, and artificial preservatives. If your dog has a sensitive stomach, this food can help their digestion and provide vital omega fatty acids from flaxseed.

You’ll also find that the ingredient list includes brown rice, legumes like garbanzo beans and peas for extended energy release, and potatoes that are highly digestible and offer potassium. All of the ingredients support a healthy coat and skin, and this food is free from artificial colors and flavors.

Pros:

  • Grain-free and limited carbohydrates
  • Suitable for all breeds and smaller dogs
  • A good option for dogs with sensitive digestive tracts

Cons:

  • Kibble size is a bit bigger and might not be suitable for older dogs

Best for Picky Eaters: American Journey Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Key Features:

  • Includes sweet potatoes and chickpeas for extended energy release
  • Grain-free, gluten-free, and free from corn, soy, wheat, and other fillers
  • Formulated for easy digestibility and to avoid common food sensitivities

If you have a picky eater, they may enjoy the Chicken & Sweet potato flavor of American Journey dog food. This smaller-sized kibble uses chicken born, raised, and sourced in the USA and produced in Kansas facilities.

This dog food also contains sweet potatoes, blueberries, kelp, and carrots that provide a well-rounded blend of antioxidants, DHA, omega, and fatty acids. Real deboned chicken is the first ingredient in this kibble, and it’s free from grains, corn, wheat, soy, and is gluten-free.

The size of this kibble is ideal for small and medium-sized dogs and appropriate for the energy levels of the King Charles Spaniel. The recipe also contains nutrients that support the immune system and promote healthy brain and eye development to help prevent common maladies that can strike many King Charles Spaniels.

Pros:

  • The high-protein formula features real chicken as the first ingredient
  • Includes sweet potatoes and chickpeas for easy digestibility and extended energy
  • Recipe encourages lean muscle mass and supports the immune system

Cons:

  • Some owners have reported loose stools when feeding this kibble

Best for Weight Control: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Healthy Weight Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

Key Features:

  • The recipe features high-quality protein but reduced calories from fat for weight control
  • Features essential vitamins and nutrients that support strong bones, teeth, and immune systems
  • No poultry by-products, corn, wheat, or soy

The Blue Buffalo Healthy Weight dog food features a very high-quality recipe complete with a good protein source and all of the nutrients you expect, but with fewer calories from fat. If your dog has weight control issues or is already overweight, this formula is ideal but doesn’t require you to feed more food for the same effect.

As with other Blue Buffalo foods, this kibble contains Lifesource bits packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants but is free from corn, soy, wheat, and chicken by-products. The kibble is also cold-formed to preserve the potency of these nutrients and is the right size for smaller dogs of all ages.

If your pup is more sedentary, this kibble might be a good option, and the ingredients list is still free from common items that cause sensitivities or an upset stomach. There’s also glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health, omega fatty acids for a healthy coat, and other nutrients that support the vital immune system of the King Charles Spaniel.

Pros:

  • Suitable for all adult dogs of all sizes
  • Smaller sized kibble is more comfortable for smaller dogs to chew
  • Features Lifesource bits that contain vital minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants

Cons:

  • Not the best option for picky eaters

Best Non-GMO Option: Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Adult Farm-Raised Chicken, Brown Rice & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food

Key Features:

  • Formulated specifically for small breeds with an easy to digest formula
  • No fillers, artificial ingredients, and is GMO-free
  • High-quality protein is the first ingredient and is free from chicken by-products

Nutro has a standing reputation for food made with excellent ingredients, and their small breed food features only non-GMO items with real chicken as the first ingredient. This kibble is small enough for small breed dogs of any age and features natural fiber sources for healthy digestion and optimal nutrient absorption.

Ingredients like chickpeas and beet pulp add nutrients to this food that’s also packed with omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. The ingredients come from trusted suppliers in the USA, and there’s no by-products, corn, soy, wheat, or other fillers that can upset a sensitive stomach.

This food also contains sunflower oil, brown rice, and sweet potatoes that encourage healthy skin and provide extended energy. These ingredients also offer a robust array of vitamins and minerals, so you can feel confident that each bowl packs a high level of nutrition for your beloved King Charles Spaniel.

Pros:

  • Made in the USA
  • Features farm-raised chicken as the first ingredient
  • Free from corn, wheat, soy, and artificial colors and preservatives

Cons:

  • Not the best option for dogs who have had several teeth removed

Best Sensitive Skin Formula: Diamond Naturals Skin & Coat Formula All Life Stages Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Key Features:

  • Wild-caught salmon offers an optimal profile of amino acids for lean muscle mass
  • The recipe is balanced for all life stages and appropriate for small breeds
  • Nutrient-rich, but also easy to digest with dog-specific probiotics

If you are looking for a food with hypoallergenic ingredients, the Diamond Naturals Skin & Coat formula provides everything your pup needs in an easy to digest recipe that is ideal for King Charles Spaniels with food sensitivities.

This high-quality food lists wild-caught salmon as its first ingredient, followed by an impressive list of whole-food ingredients that include fruits and veggies. This recipe is suitable for all life stages, and the size of the kibble is comfortable for smaller breeds to chew.

Dog-specific probiotics aid in digestion and GI health while also supporting the immune system thanks to the ingredients’ high nutrient density. The lack of fillers, artificial ingredients, wheat, corn, and soy make this food easier to digest and is less likely to cause stomach upset, loose stool, or allergic reactions.

Pros:

  • Grain-free, and contains no wheat, corn, soy, or chicken products
  • Made in the USA by a family-owned and operated company
  • Manufactured in a facility with advanced science-based food safety protocols

Cons:

  • Maybe not the best for picky eaters

Best Small Breed Formula: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

Key Features:

  • Enhanced with antioxidant-rich foods and precisely formulated Lifesource bits
  • Kibble is perfectly sized for small breed dogs and promotes the removal of tartar
  • Features glucosamine for improved joint health

Smaller breed dogs like the King Charles Spaniel have different energy requirements than other breeds of dogs, so a specialized food like the Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula for small breeds can deliver precise nutrition more reliably.

This food features deboned chicken as the first ingredient plus egg and protein meal to support muscle development over time. There is also an assortment of other natural ingredients like peas, carrots, blueberries, cranberries, sweet potatoes, and flaxseed that add vital vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

This small breed dog food features a formula to support strong teeth and bones thanks to the calcium and phosphorus content, and the omega fatty acids promote healthy skin and a shiny coat. This nutrition-packed dog food carefully supports your furry friend’s immune system, and the kibble is perfectly sized for their smaller mouths.

Pros:

  • Formulated specifically for small breeds with higher energy needs
  • Nutrient-dense to support joint, immune, skin, and coat health
  • No poultry by-products, wheat, corn, soy, or other fillers

Cons:

  • Many dogs don’t like the Lifesource bits

Our 2020 King Charles Spaniels Feeding Guide (FAQ)

What services deliver fresh premium meals for my dog to my door?

If you decide to feed your King Charles Spaniel fresh food that you don’t prepare yourself, services like Ollie and Farmers Dog can ship premium fresh meals to your door in pre-packaged amounts.

You’ll need to answer a few questions about your dog first to customize your order, and they offer multiple protein options.

How do I know I’m feeding my King Charles Spaniel enough?

Your vet can help you determine the number of calories your dog needs based on their activity level and the specific food you feed. You’ll need to observe your dog to ensure they aren’t getting too little or too much as this active breed can become overweight if not fed proper portions.

According to a recent report, feeding a grain-free food can help keep your dog from gaining weight, and restricting the number of carbohydrates in their diet can also prevent a number of diseases and illnesses.

What are some signs that my spaniel doesn’t like their food?

If your dog refuses to eat their food, even when very hungry, it’s a good indication that they don’t like their food, and you’ll need to try another variety.

Some King Charles Spaniels are picky eaters and will refuse to eat even the highest quality food, so testing out a few different types before finding one they like isn’t uncommon.

Conclusion

Choosing the right high-quality dog food for your King Charles Spaniel is essential for their health and energy levels and can help your furry friend live a long and energetic life. While this breed has its fair share of health problems, avoiding obesity and providing a nutritionally dense diet is essential.

If you’re preparing for the arrival of your new furry friend, we hope our nutritional guide can help you find the best high-quality food that best fits their age, activity level, and specific dietary needs. Whichever food you choose from our list, you can feel confident that your King Charles Spaniel will have the proper fuel for many healthy and happy years.

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