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RSPCA warns about need for dog grooming after neglected cavaliers suffer with severely matted fur

February 12, 2020

A shocking case of animal neglect involving four Cavalier King Charles Spaniels has prompted a reminder from RSPCA South Australia about the high-care needs of some popular dog breeds.

Following a tip-off in May last year, RSPCA South Australia inspectors seized the four dogs from a squalid property in regional South Australia.  All four dogs were suffering multiple health ailments including severely matted and dreadlocked coats, ear infections, mouth infections and ingrown nails.

Two of the dogs required the extraction of more than 20 rotten teeth each, and all four required intensive veterinary care, which is ongoing for one of the dogs. The nails on one dog were so overgrown they had rotated and begun to grow out laterally, while an overgrown nail on another dog had pierced the footpad, resulting in an infection.

The defendant pleaded guilty to 13 counts of Ill Treatment of an Animal and last week received a 3-month suspended prison sentence, with a $500 good behaviour bond for two years. The Magistrate prohibited the defendant from having any animals for five years.

After months in foster care, all four dogs were adopted into new homes.

RSPCA South Australia chief veterinarian Dr Brad Ward said the case should serve as a wake-up call to people who are considering acquiring a dog that has high grooming requirements.

“All dogs require regular washing and grooming to keep their skin and coats healthy, but some breeds have greater grooming needs than others,” Dr Ward said.

“Though they are very attractive dogs, Cavalier Spaniels definitely fall into that latter category and anyone thinking of getting a long-coated breed like that needs to seriously weigh up the time required for washing, clipping and grooming.”

RSPCA South Australia’s veterinary team has also been treating several dogs with grass seeds embedded in their skin, ears and eyes. Unless promptly removed, these seeds can result in permanent loss of hearing and eyesight, as well as serious skin infections.

Due to the risks of both grass-seeds and snakes, Dr Ward advises against walking dogs in overgrown areas during the summer months and recommends checking animals for grass-seeds as part of a regular grooming routine.

RSPCA is the only South Australian charity with legal power to investigate animal cruelty – but inspectors rely on the public to be their eyes and ears. That’s why RSPCA has again launched its Combat Cruelty campaign, which asks South Australians to take the pledge to combat cruelty.


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