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Best Dog Food For Cavalier King Charles Spaniels: Puppies, Adults & Seniors

Are you seeking the ultimate dog food for your Cavalier King Charles Spaniels? Let's dive in to review our favorite dog foods for the breed at each life stage. We compare some of the top dog foods for your Cav as a puppy, adult, and senior.

Emma Braby Picture

Last Updated: August 31, 2022 | 13 min read

Black and tan King Charles Spaniel eating out of red bowl in grass

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The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a graceful and charming pup who loves to chill with his family. He is adaptable and pretty laid back when it comes to his needs. But the one thing he does require to stay happy and healthy is high quality food.

Research shows that nine out of ten dog owners don’t fully understand their dogs’ nutritional requirements. So, if you feel a little overwhelmed by the concept of canine nutrition, you are not alone.

We walk you through each of a Cavalier’s life stages and the changing nutritional needs as they grow. From the ingredients to look for and how to pick the best formula, we’ve got you covered. We’ve also scoured the market to find the very best dog foods for your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

At A Glance: Best Dog Food For Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

Diamond Naturals Best Overall
Our Rating

Best For Puppies

Diamond Naturals

The Farmer's Dog Food Products (3 flavors)
Our Rating

Best For Adults

The Farmer’s Dog

Blue Buffalo Senior Formula For Small Breeds
Our Rating

Best For Seniors

Blue Buffalo Life Protection

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Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Puppy Nutrient Needs

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy sitting with full dog food bowl
Is there anything cuter than a Cavalier pup? Probably not!

To give your Cav puppy the best start in life, it’s crucial to feed him the best nutrition you can afford. Puppyhood is the most important nutritional stage because it sets the foundations for a healthy body and lifestyle. By the time you welcome your pup home, he’ll be ready to eat kibble.

Puppy kibbles are designed to meet the nutritional needs of developing pups. They have a higher protein, fat, and energy content to provide the puppy growing power he needs. So, it’s crucial to feed him a puppy food rather than one for all-life stages. The Cavalier is a toy dog breed, and he’ll only weigh up to 18 pounds at maturity. So, you’ll want to pick a small breed puppy kibble too. Small dogs need more energy than large dog breeds, plus the kibble pieces are smaller than normal-sized kibble.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recommends that puppies get a minimum protein content of 22%. Meat protein should always be the first ingredient, and this is a sign of high-quality kibble. Protein contains amino acids which are the building blocks of all living things. Meat meals are concentrated protein, and it is a great source of glucosamine to support joint health.

Omega three and six fatty acids are an essential part of puppy nutrition. The most important facts to look for are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA). They assist in healthy cognitive and vision development and are naturally found in mothers’ milk. Read the ingredients list and look for the following ingredients: meat meals, fish, fish oils, and eggs.

Adult Cavalier Nutrient Needs

Ruby Cavalier King Charles Spaniel eating dog treats in a bowl
Adulthood is all about a well-balanced diet focusing adequate fuel and feeling good.

Around the age of 12 months, you should start thinking about switching your dog to adult food. Although he has not yet fully matured, he has completed most of his growing now. Cavs are partial to food, and they are low-energy breeds, making them prone to weight gain. So, it’s important to switch them to adult dog food that contains less fat and energy than puppy kibble.

A well-balanced meal includes meat protein, healthy carbohydrates, fiber, omega fats, vitamins, and minerals. Now, AAFCO recommends that adult dog food contain a minimum protein content of 18%. And meat should still be the first listed ingredient.

High-quality foods list nutrient-dense ingredients that provide all the antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals the immune system needs. Ingredients such as blueberries, cranberries, dried kelp, and pumpkin are just some of the best ingredients high-quality dog foods use. If your Cavalier has a sensitive stomach, choose a food that lists probiotics. These promote friendly bacteria in the gut. Look for ingredients such as dried lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product.

Senior Cavalier Nutrient Needs

Senior tri color Cavalier King Charles Spaniel laying on ground
As your pup approaches eight years of age, it’s time to think about switching to senior food.

The senior life stage requires fewer fats and energy because he is becoming less active. Otherwise, he’ll put on weight, which heightens the risk of developing weight-related health conditions. Cavaliers are known to have sensitive stomachs, too, so be sure to transition him between food gradually.

As dogs age, their joints and bones become achy and stiff. To provide them support, look for ingredients such as meat meals, fish, fish oil, cartilage, green-lipped mussels, and added glucosamine supplements. These contain high levels of glucosamine and chondroitin, which keep joints supple. Poor quality food rarely contain the needed glucosamine.

As your Cav ages, his immune system also becomes weaker. So to keep him fighting fit, it’s important to look for nutrient-rich ingredients and lots of antioxidants. Fresh fruits and veggies and vitamin and mineral supplements are super important to keep his immune system strong. In senior dog food, the fiber content tends to be higher. This helps with regular digestion and keeps him feeling fuller for longer, keeping him trim and healthy.

Best Dog Foods For Cavalier Puppies

From the age of six weeks, your puppy is weaned off his mother’s milk and transitioned to kibbles. So, by the time he gets to you, you’ll need to have a high-quality kibble ready and waiting. Here are the best kibbles for Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppies.

Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy

  • No artificial fillers, flavors, or colors.
  • Real meat is the first ingredient.
  • Made with real cage-free chicken.
  • Amino acid profile supports muscle growth.
  • Made in the USA from sustainable sources.
  • Includes blueberries, kale, and carrots.
  • Veggies supply fiber for young puppies.

This is our top pick for Cav puppies because budget-friendly without compromising on the quality of their food. The protein content in this recipe is 32%, which means plenty of big, meaty taste. The first two ingredients are cage-free chicken and chicken meal, which is fab for your puppy and eco-conscious consumers. It also has a high-fat content that nourishes your pup’s skin and coat from the inside out.

Fish meal and salmon oil support organ function and improve overall wellness. The kibble is fortified with vitamins, minerals, and K9 strain probiotics, packing every bite with guaranteed goodness. We also like that this recipe comes in large 40-pound bags, so if you have an army of Cavalier pups, this is a top choice for you.

We love that this recipe contains a long list of nutrient-dense ingredients, such as kale, chia seed, pumpkin, blueberries, oranges, coconut, and papaya, meaning this option strengthens your pup’s developing immunity.

Hill’s Science Diet Small Paws Puppy

Science Diet Small Breed Puppy
  • Veterinarian endorsed brand.
  • Made from natural ingredients.
  • Natural DHA from fish oils.
  • Antioxidants boost immune health.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 397 Calories per cup.
  • 24.5% Protein, 15.5% Fat, 3% Fiber.

This recipe is part of the well-known Science Diet range, and it is our favorite for Cavalier puppies. It is made with tasty chicken meal as the first and only meat protein ingredient. This simple recipe makes it ideal for canines with sensitive stomachs because one animal protein means easier digestion. This is a grain-inclusive recipe using wheat and corn as the main grains.

DHA is supplied thanks to fish oil, which helps his brain and eyes develop healthily and take care of his gorgeous coat. There is a blend of vitamin and mineral supplements to support his immune system. The blend of vitamin C and E works extra hard to take care of his immunity. The kibble pieces are designed for toy and small breeds, making this an easy-to-eat option.

We love that this recipe is made by scientists and canine nutritionists who have studied the needs of small breed pups, meaning that everything your dog needs can be found in this kibble.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Small Breed Puppy

Blue Buffalo Small Breed Puppy Budget
  • Super 7 package with antioxidants.
  • DHA for brain health.
  • Omega fatty acids for skin & coat.
  • No corn, wheat or soy.
  • First ingredient is deboned chicken.
  • 415 Calories per cup.
  • 29% Protein, 17% Fat, 5% Fiber.

This recipe is one of our favorites for small breed pups, and it is great for Cavalier pups. This kibble is from the high-quality life protection range, ensuring it provides everything that small breed pups need. The protein content is 29%, and chicken is the main star of the show. Deboned chicken and chicken meal are the first two ingredients, meaning lots of yummy taste.

In addition to chicken, Menhaden fish meal and eggs are listed. And these, alongside fish oil, provide a high content of omega-three fats for healthy development. LifeSource Bits are added to the recipe, which are kibble pieces optimized with seven superfoods needed for small breed puppy development. This is a grain-inclusive recipe using gentle oatmeal as the main grain.

We love that this recipe contains the highest amount of prebiotic fiber and lots of probiotic ingredients. So if your pup needs extra support with regular digestion, or he is forever scavenging for snacks, this is a top choice.

Purina Pro Puppy Toy Breed Puppy

Purina Pro Toy Breed Puppy
  • Real chicken is the first ingredient.
  • Probiotics for digestive support.
  • DHA for brain development.
  • Formulated for dogs under 10 pounds.
  • Higher calorie density for growing puppies.
  • 533 Calories per cup.
  • 34% Protein, 20% Fat, 3% Fiber.

This recipe is designed for toy breeds, meaning it is ideal for your pint-sized pup. The kibble pieces are super tiny, making this an ideal option for smaller-than-average Cavalier puppies. The protein content is 34%, and the first ingredient is chicken. Fish meal, dried egg product, and fish oil are also added to supply the much-need DHA and ARA nutrients needed for healthy organ development.

There are plenty of vitamin and mineral supplements added to the kibble to ensure your pup gets all the goodness he needs to develop into a fighting fit pooch. The high-fat content, along with biotin, keeps your canine’s coat silky smooth. This kibble is fortified with probiotic ingredients that supply live enzymes and digestive support with every bite.

We love that this recipe contains the highest protein content, making this an ideal option for Cav pups who are crazy for big, meaty chicken flavor.

Solid Gold Toy and Small Breed Puppy

Solid Gold Small Breed Puppy Food
  • Grain-free recipe.
  • Made for toy and small breeds.
  • Single meat protein source.
  • Contains pumpkin for healthy digestion.
  • Chicken is primary ingredient.
  • 450 Calories per cup.
  • 30% Protein, 18% Fat, 4% Fiber.

This is another top choice for small puppies because the kibble pieces are also tiny. The protein content is high in this formula, and at 30%, you can be sure he’ll get all the growing energy he needs. Chicken and chicken meal are the first two ingredients, with ocean fish meal adding an extra boost. Eggs and salmon oil supply the all-important DHA and ARA nutrients.

This is our only grain-free choice for Cavalier pups. Instead of grains, it relies upon the slow-release energy of chickpeas and peas. Pumpkin and sweet potato are also used, and these also provide healthy prebiotic fiber for his gut health. Probiotic ingredients further support his gut health. This recipe uses an optimized blend of 20 superfoods to ensure every bite provides nutrient-dense puppy fuel.

We love that this recipe provides a grain-free option on our list, making it a great choice for pups who don’t tolerate grains well.

Best Dog Foods For Adult Cavaliers

Your canine’s adult diet should be well-balanced and meet his dietary needs. Here are our favorite choices for your adult Cavalier.

The Farmer's Dog

The Farmer's Dog Food Products (3 flavors)
  • Cooked fresh, flash-frozen, and shipped to you.
  • Personalized meal plans.
  • 4 healthy, vet-designed options: beef, chicken, turkey, or pork.
  • Made with human-grade ingredients (no fillers or preservatives).
  • Manufactured in the United States.
  • Calories and nutritional values vary based on recipe.

Your Cavalier deserves the very best. That’s why The Farmer’s Dog earns our award as the best dog food for adults. Not only is The Farmer’s Dog made with high-quality ingredients, but their four fresh recipes are delicious and nutritious. In fact, they’re so yummy you could eat them (if you wanted to), thanks to the human-grade ingredients. The recipes are developed by pet nutritionists that ensure a balanced diet to keep coats shiny while helping control weight.

The Farmer’s Dog is made with sweet potatoes, green beans, or even broccoli, depending on which meat option you choose. Recipes also include fiber-rich superfoods that pack a lot of nutrients to maintain a robust immune system. They are AAFCO-certified for all life stages, and the meal plan is customized for your pup, so you can feel confident your dog’s next meal meets all of his needs to keep him healthy and strong.

Cavs are prone to heart disease, so we recommend adding grains into their meals by mixing in rice or kibble. 

We love that these recipes are cooked fresh based on a personalized meal plan for your best friend. And since every ingredient is human-grade, you can be sure your Cav is getting the very best dog food possible.

Hill's Science Diet Adult Small & Mini Perfect Weight

Science Diet Perfect Weight Small Dog
  • Made with natural ingredients.
  • Made for small breed weight maintenance.
  • Veterinarian endorsed brand.
  • High-fiber formula.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 291 Calories per cup.
  • 24% Protein, 9% Fat, 13% Fibe

Hill’s has created this formula particularly for keeping small dogs at a healthy weight. Many Cavaliers suffer from obesity, so this kibble is bound to be a big hit. The protein content is great for dogs who struggle to digest rich, meaty recipes. The first ingredient is meat.

This kibble is crafted with natural ingredients, plus vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. It’s
made in the USA with quality global ingredients and formulated by a veterinarian.

We love that this recipe is specifically designed for small breed adults who need to maintain a healthy weight, making this a good option for dogs looking for weight management food.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Small Breed Adult

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Small Breed
  • Budget-friendly.
  • Made with high-quality ingredients.
  • Glucosamine for joint health.
  • DHA for brain development.
  • No corn, wheat, or soy.
  • 397 Calories per cup.
  • 26% Protein, 15% Fat, 4% Fiber.

This is the next product for small breed adults from the Life Protection line. So, if your Cavalier did well on this formula as a pup, he is sure to do well on it as an adult. The protein content is 26%, and it starts with deboned chicken and chicken meal as the first two ingredients. Menhaden fish meal and eggs provide an extra boost of protein. DHA and other healthy omega fats contribute to his overall wellness.

This is a grain-inclusive recipe that uses brown rice and gentle oatmeal. Blueberries and cranberries are rich in antioxidants for immunity strength. And dried kelp is rich in calcium, ensuring bones stay strong. This recipe is fortified in probiotic ingredients that promote friendly bacteria in his gut. Peas and chicory root are natural sources of prebiotic fiber.

We love that this recipe has extra added kibble pieces known as LifeSource Bits. These are jam-packed full of optimized small breed nutrition, including omega fats, antioxidants, and probiotic ingredients.

Taste of the Wild Small Breed

Taste of the Wild Small Breed Puppy
  • Grain-free recipe.
  • Made with lamb, egg, and duck.
  • Dense in omega fatty acids.
  • Nutrient-rich and highly digestible.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 370 Calories per cup.
  • 32% Protein, 18% Fat, 4% Fiber.

This recipe is chicken and beef-free, which are two of the most commonly used meat proteins in dog food, making it a great choice for picky eaters. Instead, it uses venison, lamb meal, duck meal, and ocean fish meal. These ingredients provide a high protein content of 32%, which drives most fussy Cavaliers crazy. These ingredients also supply healthy fats for his overall health.

Each bite of kibble guarantees live microorganisms which are fantastic for his digestive health. Antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals are supplied thanks to fresh fruits, veggies, and added supplements. This recipe also lists yucca schidigera extract, which is a great source of prebiotic fiber and is known to reduce gas.

We love that this recipe has a long list of K9 strain probiotic ingredients, meaning your pup benefits from digestive support in every bite.

Merrick Lil' Plates Small Breed Adult

Merrick Lil' Plates Grain-Free Real Chicken & Sweet Potato
  • Grain-free dry food with chicken for small dogs.
  • Real deboned chicken as the first ingredient.
  • Formulated with prebiotic and probiotic fiber.
  • Made with a crunchy texture in a small kibble size to help reduce plaque and keep teeth clean.
  • Cooked in the USA.

This lil’ plates recipe is full of high-quality ingredients and yummy meat, making it a fantastic choice for fussy dogs. It has a high protein content of 38%, starting with deboned chicken, turkey meal, and chicken meal. Salmon meal and salmon oil also contribute to the high protein content and supply leading glucosamine levels which his joints appreciate in his later years.

The fish ingredients, along with flaxseed, sunflower oil, vitamin E, biotin, and folic acid, all do their bit to support a healthy and luscious coat. Each kibble piece is fortified with extra vitamins, minerals, and probiotics for better digestive health and immunity strength. This is a grain-free option which is important for those who do better on such a diet.

We love that this recipe has the highest protein content on our list. Making this the best kibble pick for bouncy Cavs and fussy pups who crave lots of meat.

Best Dog Foods For Senior Cavaliers

Seniors are hungry doggos, probably even more so than ever because they have more time on their paws to dream about the next meal. But during his senior years, he needs much less energy and lower fat content. Make the switch to one of our favorite kibbles for older Cavaliers.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Senior

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Senior Formula
  • High protein content for muscle maintenance.
  • Glucosamine and Chondroitin boost.
  • No corn, wheat, soy, or chicken by-product.
  • Super 7 package of antioxidant-rich ingredients.
  • Deboned chicken is the first ingredient.
  • 371 Calories per cup.
  • 23% Protein, 13% Fat, 6% Fiber

This senior option is our top pick for seniors because it’s the only one to complete a full set for the Cavalier, meaning that if he has always loved Blue Buffalo’s small breed Life Protection line, this is the obvious choice. The protein content is 23%, starting with deboned chicken and chicken meal. Chicken meal is rich in glucosamine for extra joint support. Nutrient-dense dried kelp is rich in calcium which is great for his bones.

This recipe lists LifeSource Bits, this time made with seven select superfoods optimized for his senior years. Healthy omega-rich fats support cognitive function, healthy coats, and overall wellness. Probiotic ingredients are added to assist with smooth digestion.

We love that this offers a high-fiber diet for seniors, making it a top choice for aging Cavs always looking for the next snack and pushing the scales a bit too high.

Hill’s Science Diet Small Paws 11+

Small Paws Science Diet
  • Veterinarian endorsed brand.
  • Antioxidant blend for immune health.
  • Made with natural ingredients.
  • Fiber supports digestive health.
  • Easy to digest ingredients.
  • 371 Calories per cup.
  • 18% Protein, 11% Fat, 4% Fiber.

We have chosen another Hill’s Science Diet for your Cavalier because it is ideal for senior dogs who need less energy and fats. All while supporting vitality and mobility in slow older dogs thanks to the optimized blend of vitamins and minerals. This is a grain-inclusive recipe using barley and rice, providing slow-release energy. Taurine is added for heart health.

Chicken meal is the first ingredient rich in glucosamine for joint support, and fish oil adds an extra supportive boost. Chicken is the only meat protein and offers a balanced protein content of 18%, making this ideal for older dogs whose stomachs struggle to digest rich, meaty recipes. L-carnitine is great for stimulating metabolisms to keep dogs trim.

We love that this recipe is designed for small breed dogs aged 11 years and older, making this a top choice for the golden oldies out there.

Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Senior

Wellness Small Breed Senior Complete Health
  • Low sodium for heart health.
  • Glucosamine and Chondroitin boost.
  • Omega 3’s and 6’s for skin and coat.
  • Lower calorie for less active dogs.
  • No fillers or by-products.
  • 437 Calories per cup.
  • 25% Protein, 12% Fat, 5% Fiber.

This formula is from Wellness’s Complete Health range, which does exactly what it says on the tin. The protein content is 25%, and deboned turkey and turkey meal are the first two ingredients. They are both nutritious and lean meats that excite his taste buds for sure. The kibble pieces are crafted to be small and easy to eat.

The fiber content is 5%, which makes this a high fiber diet. This is great for helping him feel fuller in between meals to manage weight. Probiotic ingredients assist with digestive health, and brown rice and oats are easy to digest grains too. Flaxseed, biotin, and folic acid work together to nourish his coat, and taurine supports his aging cardiac system.

We love that this recipe has lots of nutrient-dense superfoods, such as carrots, spinach, and blueberries, for a stronger immune system. Additional vitamin and mineral supplements boost his weakening immunity.

Victor Senior Healthy Weight

Victor senior
  • Nutrient-dense for aging dogs.
  • Glucosamine boost for joint health.
  • Fortified with vitamins and minerals.
  • L-Carnitine for muscle retention.
  • Formulated for superior digestion.
  • 360 Calories per cup.
  • 27% Protein, 11.5% Fat, 4.5% Fiber.

This option is made specifically for senior breeds struggling to manage their weight on ‘normal’ senior kibbles. Although this option is not designed specifically for small breeds, it ticks all of the small breed boxes. Plus, the kibble pieces are small enough for small breeds to eat easily. This recipe contains a unique blend of probiotics, supporting digestion and immunity.

The protein content is 27%, and the first ingredient is beef meal. Menhaden fish meal and chicken meal are also listed, which supply an extra boost of protein for amino acid variety. Blood meal is also listed, and although this might not sound appealing to you, it is highly nutritious. Organic seaweed meal is also rich in antioxidants which is great for his immune system.

We love that this recipe is designed specifically for seniors who need to manage their weight thanks to optimized nutrition.

Merrick Lil' Plates Senior

Merrick Lil Plates Senior Formula Food
  • First ingredient is real deboned chicken.
  • Grain-free recipe.
  • Gluten-free, no artificial colors or flavors.
  • Added prebiotics and probiotics.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 348 Calories per cup.
  • 32% Protein, 12% Fat, 3.5% Fiber.

This recipe follows our adult recommendation, so you can be sure if he loved it during adulthood, he is sure to love this choice. This is also the only grain-free recommendation for senior Cavaliers. So, if your pooch has always thrived on a grain-free diet, this is the most obvious choice for him. Sweet potatoes and peas provide slow-release energy, as well as prebiotic fiber for regular digestion.

The protein content is 32%, starting with lean and yummy deboned chicken and chicken meal. Salmon meal and salmon oil provide extremely high levels of glucosamine, supporting joint health. This recipe is fortified with many probiotic ingredients to further support senior dogs with digestion. And the friendly bacteria help to reduce gas which is a bonus for everyone.

We love that this recipe has leading glucosamine levels, making this a top choice for canines who struggle with achy joints and mobility issues.

Final Thoughts

And that, our dear readers, is the full 411 on Cavalier King Charles Spaniel nutrition. We hope you now feel comfortable making the best dietary choice for your King Charles and his nutritional needs. With an option for every age and dietary need, you can be certain you are making the best choice for your pooch.

Blenheim in harness at the park

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