Cocker Spaniel Diet: What Does Your Dog Need to Thrive

June 8, 2022

We all know that a dog needs a healthy and balanced diet to stay fit and healthy. But what does that actually look like and how can we ensure that we are feeding our Cocker Spaniel everything they need?

For many dog owners, these can be tough questions to answer confidently.

It's common to see dog owners just opting for store-bought commercial food to meet their dog's nutritional needs. There is no shortage to choose from. However, not all of these foods are equal.

Most will have at least the minimum requirements but there are better and worse options. It can be hard to know which one is will best for you without doing a lot of research.

There is good news though.

We've done the leg work and pulled together everything you need to know about healthy Cocker Spaniel diets.

Keep reading to learn what to look for in high-quality dog food, the types of food available, and how optimal nutrition changes as your Cocker Spaniel ages.

By the time you finish reading this article, you will be equipped with all you need to know to make an informed choice about feeding your Cocker Spaniel.

What Nutrition Does a Cocker Spaniel Need?

Cocker Spaniels require a balanced diet to stay healthy.

As omnivores, dogs can digest both meat and vegetables. Though do keep in mind vegetarianism is not an option for a dog's diet. It should always be meat-based.

But aside from protein what else should a balanced dog diet have? Well, the other key parts of a dog's diet include carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals.

Let's dive into each part in more depth.


18-30% of your dogs diet

Protein is the most important component of a Cocker Spaniel diet. It supplies your dog with amino acids that help keep your dogs body functioning properly keeping joints and building and repairing muscles.

Dogs also need it to grow hair, form new skin cells and keep their immune system strong.

It can come in several forms. The main proteins seen in dog food are chicken, pork, beef, salmon, lamb, turkey, or duck. I have seen more uncommon options such as venison, pheasant, or wild boar. It's nice to give your Cocker a change now and again.

If you are feeling particularly adventurous there is even a brand of dog food which uses insects for protein!

When looking at dog food check out the ingredients section on the packaging and look for whole protein very high on the list. Make sure it is between 18% and 30% of the food.

Aside from the proteins mentioned above, you might see meat by-products mentioned. These are okay too. A whole protein is going to be preferred over supplemental ones though.

Some lower quality dog foods might have "poultry by-product" or meal meat. While it's still protein try to avoid these and go with a food that says a whole protein instead. These are higher quality foods.


30-60% of your dogs diet

Carbs are the second most important part of a Cocker Spaniel diet. They are a healthy source of energy for your dog. Some can also provide fibre which is great for your dogs digestive system and can help prevent obesity. Barley is a great example of dietary fibre in dog food.

There are a wide array of carbohydrates used in dog food. They mostly come from grains or plants. When looking at packaging keep an eye out for barley, whole oats, brown rice, whole wheat, whole corn, or sweet potato. These are the ones you want.

As a good rule of thumb if you see the word 'whole' that is a good sign.

On the other side if you see corn (not whole), wheat (not whole), white rice, or potato you will want to avoid this dog food as these are classed as high glycemic carbohydrates. Very commonly seen in commercially made dog food.


5-20% of your dogs diet

Fats are another important part of a dogs diet. They are the most concentrated form of energy in a dogs diet. If fact, they provide twice as much energy as protein or carbs do. A key requirement for any active dog.

Your Cocker Spaniel will get some of this from meat and carbs in their diet but you will also find fats on the ingredients list. Key fats to watch out for on packaging include sunflower oil, canola oil, fish oil, flaxseed oil, or olive oil.

While dogs produce fatty acids on their own. Their diet does need to contain omega 3 and omega 6.

Omega 3 is fish oil. It helps a dogs skin and coat and can also improve mobility for stiff joints. Omega 6 also supports healthy skin but also improves the immune system.


Under 1% of a dogs diet

Vitamins might make up a very small part of your Cocker Spaniels diet but it's a very important one. A vitamin-rich dog food plays a role in keeping your dog healthy. It supports stronger bones and teeth, a healthier coat, eye function, and increases their energy.

Many quality dog foods come with vitamins. Look out for 'complete and balanced' on the packaging. This means you don't need anything else.

The most common vitamins seen in dog foods are vitamins A, B D, E, and K. If you don't see any on the ingredients list you could consider supplements, or better dog food. Speak to your vet before adding supplements.


2-4% 0f your dogs diet

A Cocker Spaniel diet also needs a small number of minerals. These contribute to muscle function, cell function, and nutrient metabolism.

They are sometimes referred to as 'trace minerals' on packaging given their small quantities. The main ones to look out for are calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, iron, or zinc gluconate.

Dry vs Raw Dog Food

How Do Dog Food Options Take Care of These Nutritional Needs?

So, now we have established what a Cocker spaniel diet should contain from a nutritional standpoint.

Next, let's take a look at the food options you have available to meet your dog's needs.

There are so many options when it comes to feeding your Cocker Spaniel. To break it down to its core components it basically comes down to three categories of dog food.

The options are :

  • Dry food
  • Wet food
  • Raw food

It could also be a combination of more than one of these. As long as your dog is fed a proper high-quality diet that is all that matters.

So, what a good diet looks like with each of these options?

Dry Food

With its affordability and ease of storage, dry dog food is the most popular option amongst dog owners.

There are many dry foods to choose from on the market and generally speaking, any of these will meet the minimum requirements for your dogs nutirtion. There are better and worse options though.

Look for food which says 'complete and balanced' and lists many whole ingredients on the packaging. Kibble is a staple of any good dog diet.

Wet Food

If your dog could choose between dry and wet food they would certainly pick the wet one. Smells and tastes are more intense.

Most wet foods will again meet the basic requirements of your Cocker Spaniels diet. Check the ingredients to be sure it ticks all of the boxes for adding this to your dogs diet.

On the down side it can lead to softer stool, and a lot more packaging to dispose of.

Some owners feed their Cocker a combination of both wet and dry food.

Raw Food

Raw feeding is exactly how it sounds. It's a diet where you give your dog raw ingredients. Many who choose this option do so for it being more natural for a dog over kibble.

A raw dog food diet is made up from raw meat, organs, and a combination of other foods such as fruit or vegetables. Dogs of all ages can be on a raw food diet.

As you are picking the ingredients you place in meals you can make up the above percentages quite easily. For this reason, a raw diet can be nutritionally sound.

There has not actually been any research that proved raw food was a better option for the dogs health. Some believe it gives your dog more energy and supports their overall health.

Some vets have advised that you don't give you dog a raw food diet if you have small children in the household.

Cocker Spaniel Puppy Eating

Cocker Spaniel Puppy Diet

Nutritional requirements are a little different for a puppy than for an adult Cocker Spaniel. They require puppy specific foods which support their constant growth.

The job of making sure your puppy has a good diet will start the moment you get them home.

It's likely the breeder has given you some dry food which the pup was eating while living at the breeder's home. This reduces any problems relating to a food change and keeps something consistent for the little pup who just left its mum.

Their stomachs can also be quite sensitive so best avoid food changes for a while at the start.

Can I Give My Puppy Adult Dog Food?

No. Puppies need to be given puppy food. This food is designed for developing dogs as outlined above.

Puppy food has a higher level of protein and fat to help your dog keep pace with their growth. Adult dog food also doesn't have quite as many minerals or vitamins.

If you do choose to feed your puppy adult dog food you can stunt their growth.

Senior Cocker Spaniel Diet

Just like puppies senior dogs need special nutrition. The senior stage of a dogs life begins around age 11. Typically you will find that senior dog foods have a higher percentage of carbohydrates and a lower amount of protein and fats.

How Many Times a Day Should a Cocker Spaniel Eat?

An adult Cocker Spaniel should eat twice a day. Some do feed a dog once per day but its better for digestion if you spread the meals out to twice per day.

My Cocker Spaniel gets her food at 8am and 8pm. Kind of breakfast and dinner. You can adjust your dog's own meal schedule to suit your own needs. Just stay consistent.

Is This Different for Puppies?

Yes. Puppies need to be fed three to four times a day from eight weeks old. At one year old this drops down to two meals a day.

How Much Food Should you Feed your Cocker Spaniel?

The amount of food your Cocker Spaniel needs will vary on a wide range of factors. These include weight, age, build, or activity level.

Of course, larger dogs will need to eat more than smaller ones and very active dogs will need more energy to keep up with their activities.

See the guidelines of the food packaging for a clear idea of what you should feed. Generally, a Cocker Spaniel will require around 1.5-2.5 cups of food per day.

Keep an eye out if your dog is leaving any food after they finish eating. If so, remove it and adjust the portion size. On the other side if your Cocker still appears hungry check you have the right portion size.

As a rule of thumb, you should be able to feel but not see their ribs without pushing hard. If you can't they might be a little overweight. Feel the ribs too clearly or visually and they are underweight.

I've never seen a Cocker Spaniel leave food though. They will likely overeat if you allow it.

Can I Switch my Dogs Food?

Found a more nutritious food for your Cocker Spaniel? Yay!

You can definitely switch it over from the old one.

Don't switch over instantly. Cocker Spaniels have sensitive stomachs. Quick changes in their diet can lead to vomiting, diarrhoea, and less interest in food. This will pass in time but there is a way to avoid this step.

The right way to do this is gradual. Start on day one going 75% old 25% new, and adjust by 25% a day until you are 100% new food.

Gradually adjusting the food allows your Cocker's stomach to get accustomed to the new food. The only exception to this rule is if you are changing to a raw diet. You can just make the swap right away if this is the case.

What's the Deal with Treats?

Treats can be good. They are great motivations for your dog and a nice reward for good behaviour.

Please bear in mind that treats are extra and not part of their balanced diet. Be careful not to give too many and try to give healthy treats. It can be difficult to resist the urge to give scraps of food at dinner or when preparing meals. Set the tone for this early.

Cocker Spaniel Food Allergies

Dogs can have allergies to food. Usually, this manifests as itchy skin which can be quite irritated.

If you are seeing this reaction in your dog you will want to start adjusting common allergens from your dogs diet. The most common offenders are chicken, egg, pork, lamb, fish, and dairy.

Keep an eye on your dog for a few weeks after changing to a new food with a new protein in case of any reaction.

Also, be sure to book an appointment with the vet if you think your dog might have a reaction.

Dog Food Options

How to Pick a New Dog Food?

So, after all of this, you should be well equipped to make a smart decision on Cocker Spaniel nutrition.

When picking a dog food consider the staples of a good diet outlined above are present in the right quantities. Taking time to read the label carefully can really pay off.

If you have a puppy or senior dog take this into account when buying a new food too. Selecting the right one for them will make a difference. Especially for puppies.

If you know of anything your dog is allergic to or intolerant of it's an opportunity to screen for that too.

Also, look into where the food was manufactured. You'll want it to be from a country with high-quality control standards. Think USA, West Europe, UK, Australia. This will cut down on the chances that there are poor quality ingredients used.

If you are buying an American dog food you should also look for this phrase: '(Name of product) is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles.'

There are very strict legal requirements when it comes to how it is produced and what it contains.

Lastly, if you see a dog food labelled 'complete and balanced' it means it provides your pet with everything they need in the right proportions. You won't need to supplement their diet with anything else.

Keep to these tips and your Cocker Spaniel's diet will be outstanding.

Cocker Spaniel with Food (1)


The ideal Cocker Spaniel diet is balanced and varied with high-quality ingredients which ensure your dog remains happy and healthy for many years to come.

There are many factors to consider when choosing what to feed your dog. Ensure your Cocker Spaniels have a good mix of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. Each of these plays an important role in dog health.

Steer clear of low-quality foods. While these might be cheaper you really do get what you pay for here. Foods with whole ingredients are the best. If you can afford it then any premium dog food will be very worthwhile buying.

While it's hard to not give too many treats to your little friend do your best not to. These are outside of their normal intake and not necessary for a healthy dog.

As always if you have any concerns about your dog's diet you should speak with your vet or a dog nutritionist.

Allan  Noble
Hi, my name is Allan! I am the owner of Spaniel Advisor and I've got over seven years experience of owning Spaniels.  
I hope this article was helpful for you! 
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