Best Dog Food for Cocker Spaniels in 2021

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cocker spaniel dog

Ah, Cocker Spaniels, the original “family’s best friend” — even before the now well loved Golden Retriever. These super affectionate and smart dogs became popular during WWII, becoming family friends and lap dogs.

However, behind that sweet exterior is a sporting dog that could hunt all day. 

So, to provide for all this energy, what’s the best dog food for Cocker Spaniels?

Because they expend their energy easily, they’ll need slightly more protein than other dogs their size. However, these pups have an ability to gain weight easily that’s then hard to lose — so they’ll need a lower calorie diet and lots of playtime. 

That’s why my top choice for Cocker Spaniel dog food is Merrick Real Texas dry dog food. It’s a higher protein formula, without extra fat or calories that can cause obesity. 

I’ve also reviewed 10 other great dog foods — including dry and wet foods, a human grade option, and even a dog food for Cocker Spaniels with joint issues. 

Our Best Dog Food for Cocker Spaniels

  1. Merrick Real Texas Grain-Free Adult Dry Dog Food (Best for Adult Cocker Spaniels)
  2. CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Puppy Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food (Best for Cocker Spaniel Puppies)
  3. Nutro Natural Choice Small Breed Senior Dry Dog Food (Best for Senior Cocker Spaniels)
  4. ORIJEN Regional Red Grain-Free Dry Dog Food (Best for More Active Cocker Spaniels)
  5. Go! SENSITIVITIES Limited Ingredient Venison Grain-Free Dry Dog Food (Best for Cocker Spaniels with Food Sensitivities)
  6. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free Canned Dog Food (Best Wet Food)
  7. Ollie Fresh Customized Dog Food (Best Fresh Dog Food)
  8. American Journey Grain-Free Dry Dog Food (Best Budget Dog Food)
  9. Royal Canin Cocker Spaniel Adult Dry Dog Food (Best for Weight Loss)
  10. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Healthy Mobility Small Bites Dry Dog Food (Best for Cocker Spaniels with Joint Issues)

10 Best Dog Foods for Cocker Spaniels Reviewed 

Each of these dog foods meet the AAFCO nutrient profile guidelines for dogs. Once you’ve committed to changing your dog’s food, consult with your veterinarian on the best way to switch. 

Best for Adults

Merrick Real Texas Grain-Free Adult Dry Dog Food

Merrick Real Texas Beef + Sweet Potato
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Beef, Lamb Meal, Salmon Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes
  • Key Feature: High protein and high fiber dog food made with real beef 

Due to common health issues, like joint problems and obesity, Cocker Spaniels need the best dog food to provide them energy — with vitamins that will protect their joints and without all of the extra calories. 

Merrick Real Texas Adult dog food checks off every box of what your dog needs. First, it’s made with deboned beef as the number one ingredient, helping to maintain healthy muscle tissue and energy levels. 

This food is also less than 400 calories a cup, making it a great lower calorie option for smaller dogs that can easily gain weight. 

It’s developed with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to help promote heart health and healthy skin, plus glucosamine and chondroitin are important added minerals that help support the joints and keep them lubricated. 

Sweet potatoes, peas, and apples provide fiber for digestive health, antioxidants for immune support, and vitamin E for healthy and itch-free skin. 

This kibble is made in the US in Hereford, Texas. It’s made without poultry ingredients, corn, wheat, soy, gluten, and artificial preservatives.


Best for Puppies

CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Puppy Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food

CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Puppy Chicken, Lentil & Whole Egg
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Menhaden Fish Meal, Lentils, Peas, Potatoes
  • Key Feature: Puppy food with probiotics and omega fatty acids for growth support

Give your pup a great start in life with CANIDAE Puppy Limited Ingredient dog food. This formula includes just nine simple and wholesome ingredients, without the additives and fillers that are most commonly known to cause allergies or sensitive tummies. 

Chicken is the first ingredient, providing a protein rich base that naturally includes glucosamine for joint and muscle retention. 

Chicken fat and flaxseed then offer healthy omega fatty acids, providing a healthy energy source. These acids also help with joint, heart, and brain support, keeping these systems regulated and lubricated. 

While this formula is grain-free, it does include potatoes and peas to provide fiber and easily digestible carbohydrates. 

After cooking the recipe, Canidae adds their “HealthPLUS proprietary blend” which includes probiotics and antioxidants. These help manage the digestive system and boost the immune system. 

There’s never any corn, wheat, soy, or artificial ingredients such as flavors, colors, or preservatives added to Canidae’s formulas. On top of that, this dog food is made in the US in Canidae’s Texas facility.


Best for Seniors

Nutro Natural Choice Small Breed Senior Dry Dog Food

Nutro Natural Choice Small Breed Senior Chicken
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Barley, Split Peas, Brewers Rice
  • Key Feature: Non-GMO dog food high in calcium for senior Cocker Spaniels 

Cocker Spaniels can live long lives — often up to 18 years. Because small dogs are considered seniors at around 8 years old — even though they never lose their energy — you could be feeding your pooch senior dog food for almost a decade. 

And choosing high quality dog food for seniors is key to keeping your friend around for a long time. 

Nutro Natural Choice dog food is specifically designed with small breed senior dogs in mind. 

First, it includes essential antioxidants like beta-carotene and lutein to support your dog’s immune system. Then, it includes other supplements like calcium to maintain strong bones, glucosamine to aid in healthy joints, and vitamin E to keep coats shiny and healthy.  

This recipe is made with chicken as the first ingredient, providing a high quality source of protein. It also naturally includes chondroitin, which helps rebuild cartilage that protects older joints. 

Whole grain barley and brown rice provide natural fiber to support healthy digestion and keep your senior dog regular. And dried pumpkin and coconut are added for natural flavor, enticing your good boy to eat all of his food. 

This formula is also non-GMO and doesn’t include any chicken by-product meal, corn, wheat, or soy.


Best for Active Dogs

ORIJEN Regional Red Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Orijen Regional Red
  • First 5 Ingredients: Beef, Wild Boar, Goat, Lamb, Lamb Liver
  • Key Feature: High protein dog food for active Cocker Spaniels 

If your Cocker Spaniel is super active or spends most of their time outside, feeding them more protein to sustain their energy and activity is essential. ORIJEN Regional Red Grain-Free dog food made with active dogs that need to maintain their muscles in mind. 

This kibble starts with raw ranch-raised beef, wild boar, boer goat, and grass-fed lamb. These animal proteins, including the organs and bones, offer 38% Crude Protein — perfect for supporting high activity or daily work. 

And, because they’re frozen at peak freshness, they’re naturally preserved and won’t cause illness due to parasites. 

To add to that great start, pinto beans and lentils provide additional plant based protein and also supplement fiber and iron for healthy digestion and energy. They’re also naturally high in amino acids for an exercise boost. 

Plus, pollock oil naturally provides omega fatty acids for joint support, as well as DHA for robust brain function. 

Orijen is made in the US with the world’s finest ingredients. It’s also grain free, chicken free, and doesn’t include any corn, wheat, or soy. 


Best for Food Sensitivities

Go! SENSITIVITIES Limited Ingredient Venison Grain-Free Recipe Dog Food

Go! SENSITIVITIES LID Venison Grain Free
  • First 5 Ingredients: De-Boned Venison, Venison Meal, Tapioca, Peas, Pea Flour
  • Key Feature: Limited Ingredient and chicken free diet for Cocker Spaniels with sensitivities

Cocker Spaniels are notorious for having food allergies, including beef, dairy, wheat, chicken, and eggs. Because of this, you may feel limited to the type of food you can buy your dog. But have no fear, Go! SENSITIVITIES Limited Ingredient dog food is the perfect balanced diet for allergies.

It has only 10 ingredients, not including vitamin and mineral supplements, so you can feel safe feeding your pup a dog food clear of allergens. 

This formula starts with venison, offering a protein that’s perfect for sensitive tummies. And one that still provides healthy omega fatty acids and glucosamine to protect your dog’s joints. 

It also has added ASC + MSC certified marine microalgae oil — a natural and sustainable oil rich in omega-3 fatty acids to support skin and coat health, as well as brain development.

Peas, lentils, and chickpeas provide fiber for digestion, B vitamins for sustaining energy, and egg free beta-carotene for eye health.  

This recipe is made without added grains, gluten, chicken, potato, wheat, corn, and soy. It’s also crafted by a team of pet nutritionists that focus on unique dietary needs like allergies and sensitivities. 


Best Wet Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free Canned Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Beef & Chicken Grill Canned
  • First 5 Ingredients: Beef, Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Potatoes
  • Key Feature: Grain-free and high protein wet food 

One of the biggest negatives to wet dog food is that it lacks extra protein and fat due to the added broth or water for processing — usually ending up somewhere around 80% water content. 

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free wet dog food changes that. 

It starts with high-quality protein from grilled beef and chicken, and boasts a healthy dose of protein at 10% per can — higher than most other canned dog foods. 

By including these two main proteins, this food also includes higher levels of iron, B vitamins, and glucosamine. These provide extra energy, immune support, joint aid, and muscle retention. 

Potatoes and flaxseed are added for fiber and other vitamins — including vitamin C to help with iron absorption and immune support, and magnesium for strong bones. 

Other vitamins are supplemented too, including potassium and folic acid — reducing risk for heart disease and providing anti-inflammatory properties. 

This is a grain free recipe, and doesn’t include any gluten, by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, or artificial preservatives.


Best Fresh Food

Ollie Customized Dog Food (Lamb Recipe)

Ollie Lamb
  • First 5 Ingredients: Lamb, Butternut Squash, Lamb Liver, Kale, Rice
  • Key Feature: Human grade dog food customized specifically for your dog

Raw and fresh dog food has become more popular over the years, most especially because many dog owners only want the best of the best for their pets. But creating a dog food that is full of the proper nutrients isn’t easy, nor is it convenient. 

However, you don’t have to make your own customized dog food for your Cocker Spaniel. Instead, let Ollie do it for you! Rather than buying pre-made dry or wet food, they’ll provide fresh and human grade food based around your dog’s specific needs. 

First, you’ll answer a few questions in their quiz — including your pup’s weight, activity level, body type, and potential allergens. This is easy and takes less than 5 minutes to complete. 

After you finish, Ollie will calculate the perfect diet for your dog. 

The lamb recipe starts with fresh lamb, and also includes real kale and rice for roughage and to keep your dog regular. But, there are other recipe options — including beef, chicken, turkey, or even all four.

Ollie ships their food every two weeks, keeping everything fresh and tasty. And, each shipment also includes a feeding guide, storage container, and scoop. This will help you store the food easily, and know the exact portions to feed your Cocker Spaniel.


Best Budget Food

American Journey Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

American Journey Lamb & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain Free
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Lamb, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Peas, Chickpeas
  • Key Feature: Budget friendly dog food high in protein and fiber

American Journey Grain-Free dog food was made with your wallet in mind. Not only is it a great value, but it’s also budget conscious. 

However, that doesn’t mean that they skimp on quality. Far from it.

In fact, this recipe starts off with real deboned lamb. This protein is a fantastic source of iron (more than chicken and fish), and B vitamins for energy and digestion. It’s also a great protein option for dogs that may have a sensitivity to beef and chicken. 

Sweet potatoes, peas, and chickpeas are added as well. These provide extra protein, but also include a healthy dose of fiber to regulate the digestive tract. Sweet potatoes are also high in calcium — helping keep your dog’s teeth and bones strong. 

Salmon oil and vitamin E support brain and eye function, provide support to the joints, and keep your dog’s coat shiny and shed-free. 

This recipe is grain-free and doesn’t include any corn, wheat, or soy. 


Best for Weight Loss

Royal Canin Cocker Spaniel Adult Dry Dog Food

Royal Canin Cocker Spaniel Adult
  • First 5 Ingredients: Brewers Rice, Brown Rice, Chicken By-Product Meal, Oat Groats, Chicken Fat
  • Key Feature: Cocker Spaniel specific dog food designed for weight loss 

Sometimes, Cocker Spaniels need dog food that helps them lose weight and maintain their ideal body size. Royal Canin Cocker Spaniel breed-specific formula is tailor-made for overweight dogs, and offers the proper nutrition they need to be at their best. 

This specialized kibble is designed specifically for your dog’s broad muzzle and square jaw, making it easy for them to pick up the food and chew. 

They also focus on the Cocker Spaniel’s heart, ear, and joint health. The formula supplements vitamin A, EPA and DHA from fish oil, and manganese — all for these systems, and to also help the body form stronger connective tissue to protect the joints. 

Brewer’s rice, brown rice, and oat groats provide high fiber content and vitamin E. These help regulate the digestive system as well as nourish the skin — which can help if your Cocker Spaniel often suffers from environmental allergies.


Best for Joint Health

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Healthy Mobility Small Bites Dry Dog Food

Hill's Science Diet Adult Healthy Mobility Small Bites Chicken
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Brewers Rice, Whole Grain Sorghum, Brown Rice, Whole Grain Wheat
  • Key Feature: Dog food high in omega fatty acids and EPA for Cocker Spaniels with joint issues 

Joint issues like hip dysplasia are common amongst Cocker Spaniels. And while weight loss can help prevent many of those issues, their genetic makeup and build makes them more prone. Because of this, dog food like Hill’s Science Diet Adult Healthy Mobility may help provide even more protection. 

This formula was created to help prevent joint and mobility issues, and to help support the joints right away using natural sources of glucosamine, chondroitin, EPA, and omega fatty acids to help maintain healthy cartilage. 

It also contains a balanced set of minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium to promote strong bones and muscles that nurture the joints. 

This recipe starts with chicken meal and chicken fat, offering sources of fatty acids for mobility support — reducing the risk of injury or lameness. Brown rice and pearled barley also provide fiber and B vitamins, boosting cognitive function and digestion. 

It’s made in the US with natural and global ingredients. And, while it does include grains and soy, it is free of corn. 


cocker spaniel laying down

How to Choose Food for Your Cocker Spaniel 

Cocker Spaniels don’t need too many specific requirements for protein, fat, and carbs. However, they do need a slightly larger dose of certain vitamins because they are more prone to certain disorders.

Here’s what to know before choosing your Cocker Spaniel’s food. 

Moderate Protein

Cocker Spaniels are active dogs, but not active enough to need a lot of extra protein (usually). Because of this, the average 22% Crude Protein that’s recommended for adult dogs is perfect for them. 

However, the quality is important. Dogs can absorb more vitamins and nutrients when the source is from high-quality animal protein — things like beef, fish, venison, or lamb. 

Meat meals are decent sources as well, especially if you’re on a budget. 

Healthy Fats

Cocker Spaniels don’t need a high fat diet, but they do need all of the nutrients that healthy fats offer — like DHA, omega fatty acids, and glucosamine. This helps support their slightly fragile joints and muscles, while also keeping their energy up. 

Focus on healthier fats like fish oils (specifically salmon) and flaxseed oil. Chicken fat and egg yolk work well, too, if your Cocker Spaniel isn’t allergic. 

Whole Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates help regulate digestion, support heart and brain health, and provide energy. But dogs don’t need as many simple carbohydrates as humans do.

Instead, focus on complex and easier to digest carbs, like oats and sweet potatoes. Legumes like beans and lentils are great sources as well, but their higher calorie content may be too much if your Cocker Spaniel gains weight easily. 

Fiber

Luckily, Cocker Spaniels don’t typically have gastrointestinal issues or sensitivities that may affect their digestive tract. As long as your dog isn’t allergic to many ingredients, they can handle the regular amount of fiber that commercial dog foods include. 

Vitamins and Minerals

Most dog foods already provide a healthy amount of vitamins and minerals that dog’s need to function. But for Cocker Spaniels, there are a few nutrients that should have more focus. 

The most important vitamins and minerals to focus on are vitamin E, glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega fatty acids. These help protect against common disorders like obesity (and diseases associated with it), joint issues, and patellar luxation. They can also soothe the skin and make your dog’s coat shiny if they have allergies. 

Calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus should be supplemented too, for bone and muscle support. These can be natural sources or add-ons in dog food. 

Ingredients to Avoid

When it comes to choosing the best food for your dog, there are ingredients that should be immediate deal breakers. These additives can cause digestive issues, allergic reactions, or even heart failure. 

To protect your furry friend’s health, avoid unnatural and artificial preservatives like BHT, BHA, and Ethoxyquin. Additional additives, like artificial colors and flavors, should be avoided as well. 

Due to their potential allergies, corn, soy, and wheat can be avoided when possible. But if they don’t negatively affect your dog, they’re okay in smaller doses. 

Common Cocker Spaniel Health Issues 

Cocker Spaniels are not known for being the healthiest dogs on the block. But, even with health problems, they can live long and fulfilling lives — upwards of 15 years for those that are taken care of.

Here are some common health issues that you should know about. 

Obesity

Obesity is one of the most prevalent health issues amongst Cocker Spaniels. While they are part of the sporting dog group, they’re usually adopted as family pets — which means lots of food and being spoiled. 

But obesity can bring on a slew of other problems as well, including joint issues, heart disease, and liver disease. So it’s best to make sure your Cocker Spaniel maintains a healthy weight. 

How can you do this? For one, feed them two meals a day within their calorie limit, and don’t overfeed. Also, don’t free feed and allow them to eat whenever they want. Regular feeding can prevent most obesity cases. 

If you notice your dog is gaining weight while you’re following the above steps, talk to your veterinarian about the best ways to help your dog lose and maintain a healthy weight. 

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is usually worsened due to obesity, and can mostly be avoided through the proper diet. But be aware that it’s also common with senior dogs, so weight management is especially important around that time. 

This disorder happens when the thigh-bone doesn’t fit snugly into the hip joint, and then snaps or breaks. When this happens, limping, pain, and even arthritis can occur. 

To help prevent dysplasia, focus on keeping your Cocker Spaniel at a healthy weight. Also, as they get older, make sure to feed them a dog food formula that is higher in glucosamine, omega fatty acids, and DHA to strengthen their joints and muscles. 

Patellar Luxation

Patellar Luxation is a common disorder amongst smaller breeds, including Cocker Spaniels. This disorder happens when the kneecap is dislocated from the knee joint. It’s usually congenital (or present at birth), and affects female dogs more than males — but it can also happen due to injuries or accidents.  

If you notice that your dog is clumsy, slow learning when it comes to walking, or tends to drag one of their legs, they may have Patellar Luxation. 

Usually, this disease is treated by surgery (if severe), or with steroids and narcotics for more moderate levels. However, even with surgery or medication, glucosamine, vitamin C, and vitamin E have been shown to help with the pain and protect the kneecap joints.  

Ear Infections

Due to their long and floppy ears and hairy ear canals, Cocker Spaniels can become a breeding ground for yeast and bacteria — setting them up for regular ear infections. 

A common reason for an ear infection is allergies, which lowers your dog’s immune system. This can lead to itchiness, redness, and discharge — all of which can make your dog scratch their ears. 

One of the best ways that you can avoid many ear infections is by knowing your dog’s allergies, and by giving them the proper food and care that doesn’t affect them negatively. Your pup’s vet may also recommend a cleaning solution to use in their ears on a regular basis. 

Prevention is key, because getting an ear infection can cause your dog pain and even hearing loss if not caught right away. 

Food Allergies

Food allergies affect many dogs, including some Cocker Spaniels. If you notice your dog swells, gets itchy or red skin, or is constantly rubbing on walls or furniture, chances are that they have allergies. But of course, you can always get them tested by their veterinarian. 

The most common allergens for Cocker Spaniels are beef, dairy, wheat, chicken, and eggs. Luckily, food allergies are easy to avoid. Many commercial dog food brands offer allergen-free foods without grains and without certain proteins.  

Skin issues

Cocker Spaniels are also prone to skin issues like primary seborrhea — a skin disorder in which the sebaceous glands of the skin produce excessive sebum. This often causes scaly, flaky, itchy, and red skin. This is a genetic disorder and isn’t curable, but there are many ways to treat it. 

First, your dog will need to be officially diagnosed by your veterinarian. After this, you’ll most likely receive medicated ointments to use when flare ups happen. Diet wise, a dog food with omega fatty acids and chondroitin can help ease itchiness and flaky skin as well.

cocker spaniel grass

Cocker Spaniel Feeding Guide

Even though Cocker Spaniels are part of the sporting dog group, making them highly active, they don’t need as much food as you may think. In fact, they can easily gain weight if not fed properly, so it’s important to calculate your dog’s specific caloric needs based on their lifestyle. 

Here is what you need to know about feeding your Cocker Spaniel. 

Puppies

Puppies usually need slightly more calories, fat, and protein during their growing stage. However, Cocker Spaniel puppies need slightly less than other puppies in their dog group.  

These pups only need about 25–28 calories per pound of their ideal adult weight. The average Cocker Spaniel is about 30 pounds, so you would feed your puppy 700–750 calories a day. 

Your pup will need to eat around 3 times a day. Focus on smaller feedings (around 250 calories per meal), so they don’t overeat and cause digestion issues.

No matter what, make sure to purchase the best dog food specifically for the puppy stage. These formulas focus more on nutrients puppies need, like DHA for brain development and glucosamine to protect their joints and muscles. 

Adults

Cocker Spaniels reach maturity at around 12 months, and can switch to adult food around this time. However, their calorie level will typically stay at the same 25 calories per pound of their ideal weight. 

Since a healthy weight is 30 pounds, they will stay at 700–750 calories a day. 

However, you can switch to feeding twice a day once your dog reaches adulthood, since their digestive system is now mature. Frequent feedings can also help keep gastrointestinal issues at bay. 

Seniors

Senior Cocker Spaniels need more nutrients in their food, like omega fatty acids for additional joint support and fiber for a healthy digestive system. But, due to their slowing metabolism, they don’t need as many calories. 

For your senior dog, you’ll need to lower their calories to about 20–25 calories per pound of weight. So the average senior Cocker Spaniel will eat about 600 calories a day — split across two meals. 

Wet or Dry Food for Cocker Spaniels?

Both wet and dry food have their benefits. Wet food is a great way to boost hydration, while dry food can support dental health and is more budget friendly. 

The choice is truly up to you as a pet owner. If your dog isn’t picky, dry dog food can work well for them. But if they’re older, need more hydration, or are even missing teeth, wet food is a better choice. 

Our Verdict

Cocker Spaniels need a little more dietary support than other dogs to keep them at their best and healthiest. But, luckily, these happy and social pups can live for almost two decades — and usually don’t need a special diet like raw, high protein, or grain-free to thrive. 

Merrick Real Texas is the best dog food that provides them with real ingredients, including beef and sweet potatoes. These naturally support their vitamin needs and help them keep healthy joints and muscles, without over-supplementing and causing weight gain. 

While your Cocker Spaniel may be naturally active, they deserve to be spoiled with a tasty food that’s good for them. All of the foods on this list can provide both nutrition and flavor to keep you and your pup happy. 

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AUTHOR
Kim Studdard is a freelance writer for many websites in the pet universe. When she isn't spending time with her family and pets, or saying "Look a dog" everytime she sees one, you'll find her reading a book or traveling the U.S.

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