There are two recognized types of Cocker Spaniels: American Cocker Spaniel and English Cocker Spaniel. They are very similar in their breed standards and care requirements. Both weigh in at 20-30 pounds and have a life expectancy of up to 14 years. Feeding the best dog food for Cocker Spaniels is a big part of taking care of these canines.
Multiple color combinations are possible, but they all have a long, silky coat that requires dedicated weekly grooming and a diet that ensures a healthy, shiny coat. Furthermore, despite their small size, they are members of the sporting dog group, and this needs to be addressed through diet as well.
Both English and American Cocker Spaniels are generally healthy dogs. There are a few common breed-associated health issues that can potentially be helped by an appropriate therapeutic diet. The below five dog food brands are my commonly vet recommended choices for pet owners who visit my veterinary practice with their Spaniels.
Finding the right diet for your Cocker Spaniel isn’t a one-time thing. It’s a subject that you’ll need to revisit as your dog progresses through life. Puppies need a much different diet than adult dogs, and senior dogs will also need a diet that caters to their unique needs. I will address these points with my below recommendations, too.
The Best Dog Food for Cocker Spaniels’ Health
Before switching your dog to any new diet, always consult with a veterinarian. Remember that no article on the internet, including this one, can replace a consultation with a vet.
1. Skin and Ear Disorders
Cocker Spaniels often suffer from skin and ear disorders. The most of these are atopic (allergic) dermatitis, pyoderma, yeast infections, Vitamin A responsive dermatosis and food allergies. If you have a Cocker Spaniel that suffers from a skin or ear disorder, it is important to see a veterinary dermatologist as soon as possible.
While your regular veterinarian is able to do a lot for your dog, Cockers sometimes need specialist care when it comes to diagnosing their unique skin conditions. If your Cocker Spaniel does not have a current issue or does not have food allergies, it is a good idea to support their skin the best you can.
Select a food that is less likely to stimulate an allergic response, such as diets containing “novel” proteins like duck, kangaroo or fish. Fish-based diets are fantastic for supporting skin health, as they naturally contain essential omega-3 fatty acids.
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Small Breed
When I need to recommend the best dog food for Cocker Spaniels with skin and ear disorders, I reach for Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Small Breed. Natural Balance has a new version of their awesome sweet potato and fish formula.
The kibble size and texture are made specifically for smaller mouths, like those of the Cocker Spaniel, in mind. The limited ingredient recipe is gentle on sensitive stomachs and reduces the likelihood that your pooch will be allergic to any of the ingredients.
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Canned
If you are concerned about potential food allergens and want to stick to grain-free in a canned formula, Natural Balance again does not disappoint with Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Canned. While not a “hypoallergenic diet”, its ingredients are grain-free, high-fiber and contains salmon oil for superior skin support compared to other brands out there.
Cocker Spaniels with atopic dermatitis, without food allergy, can benefit from feeding a limited ingredient diet with the right support vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. Natural Balance delivers by fortifying its Limited Ingredient Diets with zinc, Vitamin E, Vitamin C and Yucca schidigera extract for joint support.
Hypothyroidism is relatively common in the Cocker Spaniel. They tend to suffer from primary hypothyroidism, which means that the thyroid tissue does not secrete enough thyroid hormone into the body. Dogs that suffer from this condition often have dull, brittle hair coats, weight gain, pattern hair loss around their midsection, joint issues and exercise intolerance.
While hypothyroidism can be successfully treated with thyroid hormone supplementation, their skin issues often need a boost from enhanced nutrition. Hypothyroid dogs often benefit from omega-3 rich diets, like those mentioned above from Natural Balance.
Royal Canin Weight Control Small Formula
If your hypothyroid Cocker Spaniel has difficulty controlling their weight, I would recommend Royal Canin Weight Control Small Formula as the best dog food for Cocker Spaniels in this category. Royal Canin is a trusted name in the dog food world and their weight control formula supports overweight Cocker Spaniels in a few ways.
High fiber keeps your dog feeling fuller for longer, potentially cutting down on begging behavior as you cut down the calories. This formula also supports healthy digestion with the inclusion of prebiotics. A synergistic blend of antioxidants Vitamin E, lutein, taurine and Vitamin C will support your Cocker’s immune system.
3. Hip Dysplasia
Cocker Spaniels are small to medium sized dogs, but can still suffer from hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a developmental orthopedic disease in which the “ball and socket” joint of the hip does not form properly. Genetics play a large part in the development of the disease, and it is important to ensure that your pup’s parents had their hips “certified” – the current best method being the PennHip technique.
While screening is helpful in eliminating the genes in breeding stock, it is still possible for Cockers to develop hip dysplasia. Even though there is a genetic component to this disease, there are significant nutritional risk factors that play a part during puppyhood. These risk factors are rapid growth and excess dietary calcium intake.
To be safe, don’t overfeed your pup and use a recommended breed and age appropriate puppy food. It’s always important to feed the best dog food for Cocker Spaniels in any stage of life, but especially during the puppy stage when their body is growing and developing so quickly.
The Best Dog Food for Puppy Cocker Spaniels
Cocker spaniel puppies are some of the cutest, most energetic balls of fluff you will ever see. They can seem like bottomless pits but don’t be tempted to give them second helpings. Cocker Spaniels are prone to obesity and hip dysplasia, so feed them carefully and keep their body condition score on the lean side.
Natural Balance Limited Ingredients Diets Puppy Formula
Cocker Spaniel puppies need to start out on the right paw when it comes to nutrition. I recommend Natural Balance Limited Ingredients Diets Puppy Formula as the best food for Cocker Spaniels in the puppy stage for a number of reasons.
First, its unique ingredients are less likely to cause an allergy issue, second, it contains excellent nutrition. Like the other Limited Ingredient Diets, it is grain-free and fortified with omega-3 rich salmon oil.
The Best Dog Food for Cocker Spaniel Adult
Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Cocker Spaniel Adult
If your Cocker does not have a health issue that could be helped by a particular diet, it is good to stick with a trusted brand, such as Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Cocker Spaniel Adult. Royal Canin has done a lot in developing nutrition tailored to certain breeds, including the Cocker Spaniel.
It not only provides trusted nutrition, it has a specifically-made kibble shape and texture. This special kibble optimizes how your dog picks up and chews his food – making digestion more efficient. More efficiency means feeding less, and feeding less can mean less of a hit to your pocketbook.
Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Stomach and Skin Formula
If you can’t find Royal Canin’s Cocker Spaniel diet, or it is out of your price range, Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Stomach and Skin Formula is another great option as the best dog food for Cocker Spaniels in this stage of life. Since Cocker Spaniels have a tendency to have more sensitive body systems, it is good to select an adult formula that supports their needs.
Purina Pro Plan is an affordable but quality way to provide essential nutrition for your adult Cocker. Highlights include omega-3, omega-6 and zinc, as well as oatmeal and rice for slow-releasing energy.
The Best Dog Food for Senior Cocker Spaniels
Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind Adult 7+ Small Breed Formula
If your senior Cocker Spaniel is still active and going strong, it is important to fuel them with aging changes in mind. For normal, healthy Cocker seniors, I recommend Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind Adult 7+ Small Breed Formula.
Purina Pro Plan provides excellent nutrition at affordable prices. They have a tasty, easily digested formula that is perfect for active seniors.
It contains a moderate amount of protein (30%) with brain-boosting antioxidants and DHA omega fatty acids. Purina’s flat, triangular and small kibble design is easy for small dogs to pick up, chew and digest.
Hill’s Prescription Diet Metabolic + Mobility Stew
As some Cockers get older, they begin to suffer from age-related problems, such as joint pain and dental disease. If your senior is having a few health issues, consider the best dog food for Cocker Spaniels that will support them on multiple fronts.
It is best to talk to your veterinarian about Hill’s Prescription Diet Metabolic + Mobility Stew as it is available by prescription. Hill’s Science Diet has been a trusted source of prescription diets for decades. This particular formula serves older Cocker Spaniels well due to its unique ingredients.
It contains joint support glucosamine as well as high levels of omega-3 fatty acids for skin health. Many dogs that are on this food are also overweight. The high fiber content promotes healthy weight loss in overweight individuals or can be used to maintain a healthy weight. The vegetable and tuna recipe will tempt even the pickiest of pooches.