How You Can Help

DCP00553Tank 7 weeks profile

 “My little dog – a heartbeat at my feet”
– Edith Wharton




Unfortunately cavaliers have a lot of health problems. Researchers need the help of cavalier owners if they are to find out more about the causes of inherited diseases and improve the treatments available for dogs in pain.

The best way that true cavalier lovers can help is to volunteer their pets to take part in the various research projects that are taking place in the UK.




For some months researchers have been recruiting Cavaliers for a very important study, one where it is hoped that it would show that risk factors for syringomyelia can be identified by looking at the shape of the Cavalier’s skull.

This could be an enormous help to breeders in trying to decide what puppies they should keep as potential breeding dogs. In countries where there are no low cost CMSM scanning schemes for breeders, it would help breeders choose the puppies that appeared least likely to develop early onset SM.

Many owners have been really helpful and submitted photos of their dogs. Your cooperation has been greatly appreciated even if your dogs were not, in the end, selected for the final shortlist.

The study still needs another one or two dogs and so, in the hope of finding the right dogs to allow the study to be completed, the age limit has now been reduced to three years old.

Cavalier owners have proved to be so helpful in the past. Please, if you have a cavalier that may be suitable and you are willing for them to have a free MRI scan, read the information on the poster, grab a friend and get them to help you take some photos.



Owners of one of the UK’s most popular dog breeds, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, are being asked by researchers at the University of Bristol’s School of Veterinary Sciences to take part in a study to investigate a novel method of assessing neck pain in dogs.

Syringomyelia is a progressive inherited neurological disease of the neck spinal cord in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (CKCS), which may cause neck pain and affects around 70 per cent of CKCS over six-years-old.

Researchers at Bristol’s Vet School and the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) aim to find a pain-free method of detecting neck pain of neurological origin in dogs.  The study, funded by the UK’s largest dog welfare charity Dogs Trust, hopes to improve the welfare of CKCS by enabling vets to more easily recognise when dogs are suffering from chronic pain related to syringomyelia.  Signs of the condition can vary and are often extremely subtle meaning that some cases can go undiagnosed.

The study involves owner-completed questionnaires and assessment of the dog’s neck skin sensitivity with a pain-free electronic pressure device, known as a von Frey aesthesiometer, being applied to the skin, while monitoring for the dog’s behavioural response.

Heather Williams, the veterinary surgeon who is co-running the study at Bristol alongside leading veterinary specialists Drs Nicolas Granger and Jo Murrell, said: “Vets, the Kennel Club and CKCS owners are keen to reduce the numbers of dogs affected by this condition, and improve treatments for affected dogs.

“Early detection of neuropathic pain in dogs could prompt earlier investigation and treatment, and be used as a tool to monitor the progress in dogs already being treated.”

Members of the public who own suitable dogs of any breed with neck pain referred to the University’s Langford Veterinary Services (LVS) or the RVC can take part in the study.

Owners of CKCS that have previously had an MRI of the head and neck regions can also help with the research, by allowing their dogs to be ‘von Frey tested’, either at Bristol or as part of an extensive neuropathic pain study assessing several pain assessment methods at RVC, being run by RVC vets Sandra Sanchis Mora, Professor Holger Volk (neurology) and Dr Ludovic Pelligand (anaesthesia).

Professor Volk said: “This is a landmark project to improve patient care. The development of this ‘bedside’ test to detect neuropathic pain will lead to earlier detection of pain and better tailored treatment.”

In addition, CKCS breeders looking to determine the syringomyelia status of their dogs to help selection of healthy individuals for breeding are welcome to participate in von Frey testing when arranging MRI screening under the KC/BVA Canine Health Scheme at the LVS Syringomyelia Screening Clinic.

To take part in the study, email

Alternatively, for information regarding further neuropathic pain/syringomyelia research based at the Royal Veterinary College (London), email



SM is an increasing problem in Cavaliers. Researchers need help from pet owners as well as breeders if they are to get the information they need to improve the health of the breed.

The study shown below is one way that Cavalier pet owners can really help SM research. We need photos so we can compare all sizes and shapes of Cavalier heads and there are a great many more UK Kennel Club Cavaliers in pet homes than there are in breeder/exhibitor ownership.

For this study we want photos of any and every KC registered Cavalier that is over five years old. It doesn’t matter whether they are sick or well, male or female, spayed or still entire.

Members have always been so obliging when asked to help research projects, so please take a look at the flyer, grab your camera and someone to help and see if you can persuade your little dog to co-operate.


RVC Neuropathic Pain Study 2014


If you have a cavalier with MVD please consider helping with this study………..

New Research on Degenerative Mitral Valve Disease at the Royal Veterinary College in conjunction with VetCOMPASS
Ms M Mattin, Prof A Boswood, Prof D Church, Dr D Brodbelt

This study needs the help of Cavalier owners and their dogs and primary vet practices. It aims to document the prevalence of DMVD in UK dogs, evaluate survival characteristics of dogs at various stages of the disease and to determine the prognostic value of clinical measurements and cardiac biomarkers.
If you are willing to take part in this study, you will receive valuable information about your own dog’s heart condition. This will enable your vet to optimise the care of your dog at different stages in the disease. You will also be contributing to research on a disease that frequently compromises the health of the Cavalier breed.
A blood test can provide vets with useful information about the severity of MVD through ‘cardiac biomarkers.’ The study will evaluate whether these tests can also help vets estimate the outlook over time for dogs with MVD and manage the disease more effectively.
Participation involves a health check and a one-off blood test as part of your dog’s regular check-up. The results of the cardiac biomarker blood test will be returned to your vet for your dog’s benefit.
If your dog has MVD and you are interested in participating in the study, please ask your usual vet if they are part of the VetCOMPASS MVD study. If not, please direct them to the VetCOMPASS website for further information: Or ask them to contact Maddy Mattin at the RVC:  Tel: 01707 667168 / 07757 750492
A lot is being asked of Cavalier owners at the present time but together we can help to ensure the future health of the breed that we love.


The Cavalier Collection Scheme

However sad the thought makes us, our dogs will die at some time. There are some owners who would like to know that something positive could come out of their loss. This Scheme helps owners to volunteer their pets for post-mortem when they die. The cell tissue samples obtained are invaluable to researchers studying heart disease, pancreatic disease and syringomyelia in cavaliers. After the post-mortem the  dogs are individually cremated and their ashes returned to their owners: Cavalier Collection Scheme


Rupert’s Fund

Free MRI scans for eligible dogs

Researchers are interested in cavaliers of age 6 or more that are believed to be clear for SM. These would be dogs that either have never been MRId and show no signs of SM, or dogs that were scanned clear at a younger age, which continue to show no symptoms. Priority is given to dogs that come from a background considered most useful to the overall genome project, as determined by the researchers. Siblings or closely related dogs are considered especially valuable. Dogs need to be able to get to one of a group of specific scanning centres in the UK.




MRI scans of cavaliers are of the greatest importance to CMSM research but it must be possible to compare one result against another. The results all need to be graded according to the same criteria.

The Companion Club has set up their Health Fund to encourage members to help cavalier health research by submitting their scans to the official grading scheme set up by the British Veterinary Association and the Kennel Club.

Any member who has paid their current subscription and is planning a low cost MRI or who has an existing MRI that is suitable for submission to the BVA/KC CMSM Scheme can apply for a £100 voucher which will be redeemed when that member supplies us with a copy of the official lilac result certificate. The voucher is available for a named cavalier only and will be valid for 6 months from the date of issue.

(NB Existing scans that are found to fall outside the criteria set by the Scheme are returned and the submission fee refunded by the BVA, so there should not be any financial loss to the member if a historic scan is found to be unsuitable for grading.)

Priority will be given to members who are scanning their cavalier prior to breeding from them in accordance with the Cavalier Club Breeding Protocol (ie not before the age of two and a half years).

We cannot reimburse anyone who has had their cavalier graded through the BVA/KC Scheme prior to the official start date of the Club’s Scheme. Free Rupert’s Fund scans will be eligible if not already submitted for official grading through RF.

Applicants for vouchers should submit their name and the name and age of their dog to the Companion Cavalier Club Health Representative, Margaret Carter: and their request will be considered as soon as possible by the Committee, whose decision will be final.