What's The Ideal Cocker Spaniel Diet?

The ideal Cocker Spaniel diet should consist of a healthy balance of nutritional foods to make sure your pet gets all the nourishment his little body needs. A healthy diet will not only help to keep your best friend trim, it can help him to live a longer, healthier and happier life too!

What Should A Cocker Spaniel Diet Consist Of?

The Cocker Spaniel diet should include protein, carbohydrates, fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals to ensure your dog eats a wide variety of nutritious food to help keep him fit and healthy.

Golden cocker spaniel with funny look on his faceWhat's for dinner Mum?


Protein helps your dog to build strong bones and toned muscles and also helps to keep him fit and healthy.

Animal protein can be found in good quality meat and fish, and should be included in the Cocker Spaniel diet; for example, salmon, turkey, chicken (without the skin or bones), beef, or lamb. Don't forget to trim off any excess fat.

Protein can also be found in eggs, vegetables and cereals.


Fats are an essential part of the diet.

They help to protect your dog's internal organs, maintain healthy skin, shining coat and clear eyes.

Fats also help to keep his bones and joints strong and supple and can offer some protection against arthritis.

You no doubt already know that Cockers are prone to obesity, making the need to carefully manage our pet's intake of fats a priority.

Too much fat in Fido's diet is not good for his arteries. It can raise cholesterol levels and will almost certainly make him overweight! 

Essential oils and fats can be found in meat, (chicken/lamb/beef - animal fats) fish, (cod-liver oil) and vegetables (olive oil, sunflower oil).

Carbohydrates & Fiber

A healthy Cocker Spaniel diet should also contain enough carbohydrates to give him the boundless energy he needs to remain active all day long.

Good carbohydrates, those that slowly release energy throughout the day, can be found in many fruits and vegetables, and in grains such as rice, barley or oatmeal.

Carbohydrates such as rice and wheat, can also provide your dog with the fiber he needs to help with digestion and can help to keep his bowels regular.

Vegetables provide fiber too, but it's best to stay away from those that produce lots of gas. Instead, stick to beetroot or pumpkin - a couple of tablespoons should be enough. Don't overdo it or you may regret it!

Vitamins & Minerals

Essential vitamins and minerals are also very important for your Cocker Spaniel's health and some manufacturers include additional vitamins and supplements in their dog food.

If your pet's diet it completely balanced, you won't need to supplement his diet at all. Too many vitamins and minerals can actually cause your dog harm, so play it safe and take expert advice from your vet first.

Benefits Of A Healthy Cocker Spaniel Diet

There are many health benefits to be gained from a nutritious, well-balanced Cocker Spaniel diet, such as:

  • boosting and protecting your Cocker's immunity,
  • protecting him against illness and disease,
  • helping to reduce food allergies,
  • building strong bones and good muscle tone,
  • aiding good digestion and elimination,
  • ensuring your Cocker's skin is healthy and his coat is gleaming.

A healthy, nutritious diet can improve your pet's immune system, strengthen his bones and and develop well-toned muscles, in fact a healthy diet will improve his overall health. 

And whilst you might pay a little more for a better quality diet for your Cocker Spaniel, his improved health is well worth it, however, there is an additional payback.

You'll probably find that you need to visit the vet much less often (more money in your pocket!) because your pet's immune system is strong, and his general health is much better. 

A Good Diet Can Help To Maintain Your Cocker's Weight

A healthy diet can also help to keep your pet's weight stable.

Like most dogs, Spaniels are always ready to eat (no matter what time of day it is!) making them prone to obesity.

They're also at risk of getting a little pudgy as they grow older and become more sedate, but if your pet's food is good quality and highly nutritious he won't need to eat so much, which will help to keep the weight down.

We can help to keep our pets trim by being more aware of the tit-bits and treats we feed our pets between meals. They're so easy to overlook, but can soon add up, calorie wise, and before long our dogs are beginning to look a little chubby!

There's room in the Cocker Spaniel diet for treats, especially if your pet is 'in training' and you're using treats or morsels of cooked lean chicken as a reward, but generally treats need to be strictly limited otherwise you'll end up with an overweight dog!

If I feel that Max has had more than his fair share of treats anytime, I usually reduce his daily food allowance a little to make up for it. I'm careful not to do this too often though, because I'd rather he had his (nutritional) food than the empty calories in some dog treats.

Cocker Spaniel Diet & Growing Puppies

Growing puppies have different nutritional needs to those of an adult dog.

Because their little bodies are still growing and their minds developing, they need different levels of protein, fats, carbohydrates and vitamins and if you look at the ingredients labels on adult dog food packet and compare them with the label on food prepared for puppies, you'll see the difference for yourself.

So if you're feeding a puppy it will need an entirely different diet.

The Cocker Spaniel Diet & Aging Dogs

As our dogs age they become less active which means they no longer burn off as many calories as they need to in order to maintain a healthy weight.

Sleepyhead cocker spaniel lying on cushionLeave me alone, I'm sleepy!

Over time these unburned calories will inevitably show as fat on your pet who will become increasingly overweight if it's not managed.

It's not easy for an older dog to lose weight, especially if he can't exercise as much as he used to, so it's better to take action as soon as you feel it necessary.

You could try gradually reducing the amount of food an older dog eats to compensate for his increasingly sedate lifestyle or alternatively you could switch him over to a low-calorie food specially formulated for older dogs - they're usually labelled as 'light' or 'senior'.

The senior Cocker Spaniel would probably also benefit from additional Omega oils 3 and 6 in his diet to help strengthen and ease the movement of his creaky old bones.

There are many reliable dog foods on the market which cater to the senior Cocker Spaniel diet.

The Cocker Spaniel Diet: Wet Or Dry Dog Food?

Do you feed your Cocker wet or dry dog food? There's pro's and con's to both, so in the end it all boils down to your (or your dog's!) personal preference.

Dry Dog Food (Kibble)

  • Kibble, which are small or bite-sized dry biscuits (like those in the photo), are a complete meal. It contains everything your dog needs, except water.
Red cocker spaniel eating kibble from a stainless steel bowl
  • The biscuits are available in various flavors: lamb, salmon, rabbit or chicken and the kibble will probably contain rice or oatmeal, essential oils, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Dry food doesn't smell, it's easy to use and it's clean.
  • An open bag of kibble won't 'go off' in a hurry.
  • Kibble is better for your Cocker Spaniel's teeth as the rough, crunchy texture can help to remove plaque before it has a chance to build up and harden.
  • A dry food diet may seem more expensive than other dog food, but because it's a complete meal and there's no waste, it can end up being very good value for money.

Puppies sometimes find it difficult to crunch kibble and refuse to eat it, much preferring the softer, smellier, wet dog food.

If your puppy isn't keen on kibble, simply moisten it with a little warm water 5 or 10 minutes before dinner time. It will soften and make it easier for him to eat. Gradually reduce the amount of water you add to the kibble until you can serve it dry.

Always make sure your puppy has plenty of fresh drinking water because kibble contains only a very small amount of moisture.

Tinned Dog Food (Wet)

There are many owners that prefer to feed their pets on wet dog food. I've never fed Max on tinned wet food, for the following reasons:

Canned dog food can still offer a healty diet for your cocker spaniel
  • Tinned dog food is not always as nutritious as we're led to believe. In addition, certain tinned dog foods are meant to be mixed with biscuits to add extra nutrition to bring the food up to a 'complete' meal.

    Always check the ingredients label (see below) just to make sure that it contains the correct level of nutrition your pet needs.

  • Tinned dog food can be messy, can sometimes smell, (although it may smell delicious to your dog!) and often needs to be refrigerated after opening.
  • If your dog doesn't eat all of his meal, whatever's left in the bowl will quickly dry out and become inedible (not to mention getting the bowl clean again!) - it can also attract flies!

Personally, I prefer to feed Max kibble - not only because it provides him with the essential nutrients and vitamins he needs (particularly after being neutered), but because it's easy; kibble needs no preparation, it's clean, and it doesn't smell!

Most important of all, Max loves it!

Ingredients of a Healthy Cocker Spaniel Diet

Whatever type of dog food you choose to feed your pet it's probably wise to check the manufacturer's ingredients label to understand what's in it and to be certain that it closely matches the nutritional values recommended by your vet.

Generally, the more expensive the food, the better quality ingredients it will contain.

If the percentage of protein, carbohydrates, fats, etc, is not listed by the manufacturer, the order of listing on the label will usually indicate the main ingredients.

For example, the food will probably contain a higher percentage of the first listed ingredient, the second on the list the next highest and so on.

The label should also indicate whether or not vitamins and supplements have been added. Extra vitamins and fatty acids such vitamin E and Omega 3 and 6, are good, especially for puppies and lactating bitches.

If you are in any doubt about the dog food ingredients listed on manufacturers food packaging, why not have a quick word with your vet?

Cocker Spaniel Diet & Home Made Dog Food

Cooking for your pet can be very enjoyable (and it's always appreciated!) but the best bit is that by making your own home made dog food you know exactly what goes into it - hopefully, nothing but good wholesome fresh food!

Whilst we're on the subject of homemade dog food, did you know that there are many poisons lurking in your kitchen in the form of every-day human foods?

If you plan on making your pet's food from scratch why not take a look at the information in the previous link and bring yourself up to speed with what's safe and what isn't safe to feed your pet?

In the meanwhile, you'll find a great selection of home made dog food recipes here for you to try and we'd love to hear from you if you have a favorite recipe of your own that you'd like to share with us!

How Much Should I Feed My Cocker Spaniel?

Because dogs and puppies are all different, they don't have the same nutritional needs. Their needs differ depending on their age, weight, and their lifestyle so it's important to follow the advice of your vet or the feeding instructions on the dog food manufacturer's labels.

Your cocker spaniel's diet is very important if he's to stay healthy.

I especially recommend you take care with portion sizes to make sure you don't overfeed your pet. I was so guilty of this!

Max was beginning to look a little pudgy not so long ago so I weighed his daily allowance (according to the manufacturer's recommendations) to make sure I wasn't overfeeding him, which of course I was!

I now use a plastic cup with a line marked on it and pour his kibble up to that line. It saves me from weighing his food each day and I'm very strict about sticking the correct measure. I feed him twice a day, so he get's half a cup in the morning and the other half at night.

I've stopped rewarding him with food treats every time he's good; I now reward him with praise and a cuddle 3 times out of 5 - the other 2, I reward him with a few pieces of his kibble (taken from his cup).

If you're feeding a puppy, it's necessary to follow a different routine because puppies need to eat little and often and their diet will differ to an adult's.

If you're feeding an adult dog, I recommend you feed him twice each day - morning and late afternoon - simply divide his daily food allocation into two portions.

Important Note About The Cocker Spaniel Diet:

All dogs have different nutritional needs depending on their age, lifestyle, and health, so it's really important to speak to your vet for advice on the correct diet for your pet.

Dog Food Aggression

While we're on the subject of food, I'd like to mention a condition called dog food aggression. This is where your Cocker begins to guard his food, quite aggressively and will growl or attack anyone near his food.

If this condition isn't addressed quickly, it can easily get out of hand and become very dangerous. I recommend you read this article on dog food aggression to understand the signs of food aggression and what you can do about it.

Cocker Spaniel Diet: Summary

Feeding our pets well, with good quality, nutritional food (human grade if you can afford it) will help to boost your pet's immunity and can help to fight off illness, disease, food allergies, and will help to keep him fit and healthy.

You'll also see an improved appearance (clear skin, shining coat, and sparkling eyes, etc) and you may seen an improvement in behavior too.

No matter how your Cocker Spaniel's diet is made up, make sure he has plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits; carrots, broccoli, spinach, apples and blueberries, because they're very good for him.

Don't give him citrus fruits as they contain citric acids and oils which can cause sickness and diarrhea problems for him. Even the smallest piece of orange, lemon or lime, could give your dog a nasty tummy ache!

By spending a little more on your pet's food you will be helping to make sure he has a healthier life and because your dog is more healthy you won't need so many trips to the vet, which means more money in your pocket - result!

» » Cocker Spaniel Diet

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