Cocker Spaniels are simply adorable with their soft brown eyes and fluffy ears. They are firm favorites as family pets. They have truly sweet personalities and are very keen to please. There are two main types which are the American Cocker Spaniel and the English Cocker Spaniel. The breeds are actually very similar and are both around 20 to 30 pounds in weight.
The distinctive thing about the breed is their long, silky coat which can be in several color combinations. It requires a lot of grooming and diet plays a big part in keeping it healthy. You also need to feed them a diet that will fuel their active lifestyle because they are a basically a sporting dog.
The best dog food for Cocker Spaniels will provide them with all the protein and energy they need together with balanced nutrients to keep their digestive system healthy and their coat shiny. To get you started, here is our guide to the best dog food for Cocker Spaniels.
Best Dog Food for Cocker Spaniels Buying Guide
Ingredients to Look for in Best Food for Cocker Spaniels
There are plenty of options for feeding a Cocker Spaniel but you will want to get the very best food that you can afford for your much-loved pooch. To keep your Cocker Spaniel in the best health and to keep their coat looking at its best, here are some ingredients to look out for.
- Ask your vet. If you have not had a Cocker Spaniel before, you should always seek Cocker Spaniel dog food recommendations from your vet.
- Protein content. Cocker Spaniels need a high protein food, it needs to be at least more than 20 percent. Protein is essential for forming lean muscle mass in an active breed.
- Protein source. An animal protein source from a high-quality source is preferable. Look for something like free-range chicken or free-roaming lamb. Fish protein is an excellent alternative.
- Low carbohydrates. Cocker Spaniels do not need a high carbohydrate content. The carbs that are in the food need to be nutritious and easy to digest. Peas and sweet potatoes are excellent examples.
- Allergies can cause skin and digestive issues in Cocker Spaniels. Look out for foods that have excluded common allergens such as wheat, soy, and corn. Artificial additives are also best avoided.
- Friendly bacteria are needed by your dog’s gut to help them digest their food and to get the maximum nutritional benefit from their diet. Probiotics are cultures of friendly bacteria. Look out for names such as Lactobacillus on the ingredients list.
- Fatty acids. Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are essential to keep that gorgeous Cocker Spaniel coat in fantastic condition.
Cocker Spaniel Diet and Nutrition
The correct diet can play an important role in keeping your dog healthy. Here are a few things that you should know about Cocker Spaniel diet and nutrition.
Cocker Spaniel Puppy Nutrition
To choose the best food for Cocker Spaniel pups, you should always consult a vet or experienced breeder about what to feed your pup. In general, a Cocker Spaniel pup between 2 and 6 months of age will need 150 – 250g a day of food, split into several regular meals. This can be gradually reduced to 130 – 190g per day over a few months and at 12 months a dog is considered an adult.
Free-feeding a Cocker Spaniel pup is not recommended because they will gorge themselves and grow too rapidly. This is bad for their bones and can cause joint problems in the future. The balance of minerals (including calcium) is very important so it is vital that you get a special Cocker Spaniel puppy food.
Cocker Spaniel Adult Nutrition
The feeding regime for an adult dog will depend on their activity levels and size. In general, an adult will need 175 – 260g each day. Some vets recommend that it is split into two meals a day.
Avoiding Obesity in Cocker Spaniels
This is a major dietary concern in this breed. It is essential that you balance your dog’s calorie intake with their exercise. Diets that are high in protein but lower in carbohydrates suit them best. Also, foods that have plenty of fiber will make them feel full but will not give them too many calories.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Cocker Spaniel Coat
Cocker Spaniels are known for having a gorgeous shiny coat and you will want to do all you can to keep it that way. You can look for added Omega 3 and Omega 6 on the ingredients list.
Alternatively, they may be in the food because they naturally occur in ingredients. Foods that are naturally rich in fatty acids include oily fish (salmon) and fish oils and flaxseed.
Cocker Spaniel Allergic Triggers
All dogs can suffer from food allergies and sensitivities and Cocker Spaniels are no exception. The best dog food for cocker spaniel with allergies is one that has limited ingredients, especially when you are starting an elimination diet. Typical foods to avoid include all grains (including wheat and corn), soy, eggs, and dairy products. Some dogs need to avoid chicken or at least chicken by-products. Others need to avoid meat altogether and need food where the protein is provided by fish.
Food to Avoid Feeding Your Cocker Spaniels
There are some foods that you may want to avoid feeding your Cocker Spaniel.
- Meat by-products. Many dog owners prefer to avoid foods that have meat by-products. This includes the cheaper parts of the carcass and it is difficult to know exactly what is in them. Instead, opt for high-quality meat or fish sources of protein.
- Corn, wheat, and soy. Some Cocker Spaniels suffer from food allergies and sensitivities. Get used to reading ingredients lists because what is NOT included is as important as what is on the list. Formulations that have no corn, wheat or soy are best for dogs with allergies.
- Excess carbohydrates. Cocker Spaniels need a food with a small amount of easy-to-digest carbohydrates. Foods that are packed with low-quality carbohydrates (that are usually provided by grains) can trigger allergies and digestive problems and can make your dog put on weight.
- Cheap fillers have little nutritional value and are there just to pad out cheaper brands. Premium dog foods do not contain them.
- Artificial additives. The more natural a dog food is, the better. It will be based on the type of food that dogs eat in the wild and will work in harmony with your dog’s body. Artificial ingredients are more likely to trigger allergies and reactions.
Common Cocker Spaniel Health Problems
Cocker Spaniels are usually healthy dogs who grow to a maximum of around 17 inches tall. The female adults weigh around 26 to 32 pounds and the males weigh around 28 to 34 pounds. They are moderately active and live for 12 to 14 years. As with all breeds, there are some health conditions that you should look out for. If you suspect that your Cocker Spaniel has any of these conditions, it is important that you see your vet right away.
Cocker Spaniels can suffer from primary hypothyroidism where the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone to keep a dog healthy. Dogs with hypothyroidism often have coats that are dry and brittle. They also put on weight and can have joint issues.
If your dog is diagnosed with hypothyroidism by your vet, they will be able to advise you on the best diet. You may need to look out for a food that has Omega oils and specific vitamins to support a healthy coat. Diet can also help with weight control.
- Hip Dysplasia
Cocker Spaniels are one of the breeds that can suffer from hip dysplasia. It is a developmental orthopedic condition where the hip ball and socket joint does not form correctly and arthritis sets in. It is a genetic disease so always check that your pup’s parents have been tested. It causes lameness and eventually, the affected pooch has problems getting up. It is vital that you don’t overfeed a growing Cocker Spaniel pup because one of the risk factors for the disease is rapid growth and too much calcium in the diet. You need a specially formulated best dog food for Cocker Spaniel puppies.
- Ear disorders
Deafness is a common issue in Cocker Spaniels. They have floppy ears and long hair which provides a perfect, moist environment for pathogens to grow.
You will need to be vigilant and check their ears regularly. If you notice any problems (redness, pain, smell, swelling), alert your vet right away. A balanced diet will provide all the nutrients your dog needs to boost their immune system and fight infections.
- Eye Problems
Unfortunately, Cocker Spaniels can inherit or develop several eye problems:
- Cataracts. These are more common in older dogs. The eye lens becomes cloudy and the dog loses their vision.
- Eyelid abnormalities. This is also sometimes called a cherry eye. It is most often seen in younger dogs and is a swelling in the corner of the eye.
- Dry eye. This is also called keratoconjunctivitis sicca or KCS. The tear glands do not produce enough moisture and the eye becomes sore, itchy and prone to infection.
- Retinal Dysplasia. This is when there are deformations of the retina. In dogs, it is usually a genetic disease.
Your Cocker Spaniel will need an annual eye examination and you should get in touch with your vet immediately if you have any concerns.
Cocker Spaniels can suffer from obesity as they love to beg for food and many owners give in! Obesity can cause metabolic and digestive disorders, back pain, heart disease, and joint disorders.
A healthy diet with plenty of fiber can help. It will make your pooch feel full up without delivering too many calories. A healthy, active lifestyle is also important.
Wet Food vs. Dry Food for Cocker Spaniels
Cocker Spaniels require a high-quality diet that meets all their nutritional needs and that will not trigger allergies and sensitivities. Both wet and dry foods are capable of supplying this and the choice comes down to personal preference. It has to be a joint decision made by you, as the owner, whilst taking your dog’s tastes into account.
Here are some of the advantages of a dry food kibble:
- Kibble is not as messy as wet food. It won’t get stuck in your Cocker Spaniel’s lovely coat and is easier to clear away if they spill it.
- When you open a bag, you can simply reseal it and it will keep for weeks.
- The rough texture scrapes plaque off teeth and is better for dental health.
- It isn’t as smelly.
Not all dogs like kibble and puppies, in particular, can struggle to chew them. It is important to always provide plenty of water with the dried food.
Our Top Pick
Merrick Grain Free Dry Dog Food – this will provide all the protein that your Cocker Spaniel will need thanks to the deboned salmon and salmon meal which are the primary ingredients. It is totally grain free but full of healthy vegetables including sweet potatoes. The vegetables provide plenty of fiber to help prevent obesity.
The Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids look after your dog’s coat and the glucosamine and chondroitin will help with healthy joints. It is suitable for dogs on an elimination diet.