What can a Cocker Spaniel eat?

Most dogs, Cocker Spaniels included can eat a variety of foods, but there are some foods that are dangerous to feed to dogs and some which, although safe for humans, are potentially lethal for dogs.

As a spaniel owner I know just how greedy some spaniels can be and, for that matter, how fussy others can be too.

It is important to know what can a Cocker spaniel eat. An ideal diet for your Cocker Spaniel will consist of animal based protein, carbohydrate, fats, vitamins and minerals and a healthy source of fiber. This type of diet will help to keep your spaniel fit and healthy.

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Protein is an important part of your Cocker Spaniel’s dietary needs. A good source of protein will help your dog to develop stro0ng muscle and bones and will help him to stay fit and healthy.

All dog foods contain protein but not all protein sources are the same. Many foods contain large amounts of cereal and get their protein from cereal ingredients, which is not ideal for your spaniel.

The best type of protein for a dog is animal derived protein, such as that which comes from chicken, lamb, beef, turkey and fish. If you choose to feed your dog meats than always make sure that, in the case of turkey and chicken or any other poultry, that all bones are removed.

Dogs also enjoy eggs and these are also a good source of protein for your spaniel.


A good dog food for your Cocker Spaniel should contain a good source of carbohydrate which will provide your spaniel with his energy needs for the day.

Healthy carbohydrates can be obtained from grains such as rice and barley and also from fruits – and there are some that are safe for your dog to eat ( not all are safe ).

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Many pre-packed dry dog foods contain rice which is combined with healthy protein sources such as chicken. Theses are widely available from feed merchants, supermarkets and online.


Fat is important in your Cocker Spaniel’s diet. A good source of fat will help your dog to retain a healthy coat, good skin and healthy eyes. Fats can also help your dog to stay mobile and supple.

Spaniels can have a propensity to gain weight and become tubby so it is important to watch out for the types of fats that we feed him and to manage his diet properly.

A good dog food will contain the right types of fats for your dog and, generally, as with protein sources, the best fats for your dog will come from foods that are based on meat, fish or poultry.

Minerals & Vitamins

It’s important that your spaniel’s diet contains the correct levels of vitamins and minerals and most dog food manufacturers add the essential vitamins and minerals to their dog foods to ensure that your dog gets everything that he needs in the right proportions.

If you feed your spaniel a good quality food and help him to have a healthy, balanced diet then there will be no need to give him any additional supplements.

It’s not a good idea to give your dog any extra tablets or medicines without the advice of your vet and, if you feel that he needs extra, then you should seek professional advice before you make any decisions.

Keeping your Cocker Spaniel healthy

If you feed your Cocker Spaniel a good quality, balanced dog food then you reduce the risk of him becoming unwell.

By choosing a good quality food and feeding properly you will help your spaniel to stay healthy and fit.

As with many things, with dog food you often get what you pay for, and, quality foods that are meat based, tend to be more expensive than others.

It’s important that you make the investment as it will help your dog to stay fit and well.

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Feeding good dog food will keep your spaniel in good condition

Spaniels can get fat and controlling your Cocker Spaniel’s diet will be something that you will have to take seriously. Like all gundogs, spaniels can be greedy, although nothing like Labradors, and, if your Cocker isn’t very active, then he can pile on the weight, which can become a serious problem.

Using a good quality food will mean that your spaniel will get all of the nutrition that he needs from a small amount of food. Although a good food will cost, you’ll be feeding less of it, so the long term value for money will be advantageous.

I feed Boris and Nimrod ( who are my two male Cocker Spaniels) treats. They often have something during the day.

Often these treats are something like the Pedigree Dentastix, which they enjoy, and which are designed to clean your dog’s teeth and maintain healthy gums.  So there’s a health benefit too.

Sometimes, we’ll also give them meat leftovers, such as the skin from roast chickens that we cook or if we have a joint of meat then we’ll give them some.

We’ll normally mix this into their meal and reduce the amount of dog food that we put in the dish.

Cocker Spaniel Puppies diet

All dog puppies grow quickly, in fact, dogs are one of the fastest growing animals which means that your Cocker Spaniel puppy will need a different diet to an adult dog.

If you are feeding a Cocker Spaniel puppy, then you need to look for specific puppy food that will address his need for extra protein, carbohydrate and vitamins.

There are many good quality puppy foods that are available from reputable manufacturers that can be purchased widely.

Feeding Older Cocker Spaniels

As with humans, as your spaniel gets older the chances are that his activity levels will reduce and he will be more sedentary. This is not true of all dogs, but, the reality is that he will slow down, and this is perfectly normal.

This reduction in activity will mean that it becomes more difficult for your spaniel to burn off calories and, if as owners, we are not careful about his diet, then he will put weight on and it will be tricky to get it off.

Thankfully there are now dog foods available that cater for the older dog they are frequently labelled and sold as being for ‘senior dogs’ or as ‘low calorie’ foods.

Most of the major dog food manufacturers produce good quality food for older dogs.

Should I feed wet or dry dog food to my Cocker Spaniel?

Should you feed wet or dry food to your Cocker Spaniel?

I feed both – my two Cockers enjoy the variety and I’m comfortable with that.

I use a dry food – my food of choice for my Cocker Spaniels is Eukanuba – I feed the puppy version to Nimrod and Adult Eukanuba to Boris.  Nimrod will make the switch when he is about a year old.

They both do well on Eukanuba, which is meat based feed.

I mix their dry food with wet meat based food. They both enjoy raw meat, tripe based, which I buy frozen from Pet’s at Home, which is a supermarket type store here in the UK.

Spaniels do well on raw food and, although it really stinks, they love tripe.

You can get frozen, raw tripe on Amazon, I’d recommend it as spaniels love it and do well on it and it’s ideal for dogs that might be a bit fussy, they love it. Raw Paws Frozen Tripe is great and you can check the latest price here.

The only downside with raw food is that you really need to freeze it, once de-frosted it needs to be used immediately before it goes off.

How much should I feed my Cocker Spaniel?

Like all gundogs, Cocker Spaniels can be greedy but, like people, all dogs are different and one spaniel can have different dietary needs to his litter mate, so you have to be prepared to adapt and monitor your spaniel’s food intake.

The obvious answer is to consult the feeding instructions on the manufacturer’s packaging or, if you are getting advice from your vet, then to follow that advice.

For Nimrod and Boris, I use a cup to measure out their food carefully. My suggestion would be that you try a similar method and maybe weigh out your spaniel’s food as well to get a clear idea of how much to feed.

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Bear in mind that an active dog, such as one that is working or in regular competition or training, will need more food than a dog which leads a less active lifestyle.

It’s also worth considering that a dog which lives outside in a kennel, will, in colder weather, require a more substantial feed daily than his cousin who lives in the house.

In terms of feeding frequency, again, consider how active your dog is.

With my spaniels I generally feed them twice daily, giving them two small meals.

With puppies the feeding timetable will be much different, puppies need more frequent feeding to meet their growth needs. Typically you’ll feed a spaniel puppy a meal four times a day.

Always be guided by the manufacturers guidelines and, if in any doubt, get professional advice from your vet.

Is there anything that I shouldn’t feed my Cocker Spaniel?

never feed your cocker spaniel

There are plenty of foods that, although safe for humans, you should never feed to a Cocker Spaniel or other dog.

Dogs can be greedy and they are all opportunists when it comes to food. If your spaniel is offered food or finds it ‘lying around’ then, whether it is good or bad for him, there is a fair old chance that he’ll eat it.

You need to be careful what he has access to as there are several foods that can make your spaniel unwell, or, worse still, prove fatal.

Never Feed your Cocker Spaniel….

 Dogs are great at getting under your skin and seeking out your ‘soft spot’. I don’t know how they do it but they are expert beggars for food and treats.

There are lots of foods that you dog should not eat.

Some foods are unbelieveably dangerous – there are some common foods that will surprise you.


Candy, gum, toothpaste, baked goods, and some diet foods are sweetened with xylitol.

Xylitol can cause your dog’s blood sugar to drop and it can also cause liver failure.

Early symptoms include vomiting, lethargy, and coordination problems. Eventually, your dog may have seizures.

Liver failure can happen within just a few days.


Dogs like begging for food but not all foods are good for your dog.

Avocados, for example, have a compound called Persin which can cause vomiting or diarrohea in dogs.

Persin is in the Avocado leaves, seed, and bark, as well as the fruit.

Also, the avocado seed can become stuck in the intestines or stomach, and obstruction could be fatal.


Alcohol is dangerous for dogs and it has the same effect on a dog’s liver and brain that it has on humans.

But it takes a lot less to hurt your dog. A small amount of alcohol can induce vomiting, diarrohea, coordination problems, breathing problems, coma, even death.

And the smaller your dog, the worse it can be.

But..you can get dog beer bones which are perfectly okay for your dog.

Onions and Garlic

Onions, garlic and other items from this plant group can be fatal to dogs.

They can destroy his red blood cells, causing anaemia and can cause poisoning.

Look for signs like weakness, vomiting, and breathing problems.

Coffee, Tea, and Other Caffeine

Caffeine can be fatal to dogs.

Watch out for coffee and tea, even the beans and the grounds. Keep your dog away from cocoa, chocolate, colas, and energy drinks.

Caffeine is also in some cold medicines and pain killers.

If you think your dog has had caffeine then you should contact your vets as soon as possible.

Grapes and Raisins

Simply put keep them away from your dog.

Just a single grape or raisin can be fatal.

Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs. And just a small amount can make a dog sick. Vomiting over and over is an early sign. 

Remember that many cakes, cookies, buns etc contain raisins and just s small quantity can be fatal to your dog.

Milk and Other Dairy Products

Dogs are lactose intolerant. If you give your dog milk then chances are he’ll have an upset tummy with bad results.

If you want to give your dog milk then choose a lactose free product such as goat’s milk.

Remember that ice cream and other dairy products contain lactose. Best to avoid them.

Macadamia Nuts

Keep your dog away from macadamia nuts and foods that have macadamia nuts in them. Just a small quantity of macadamia nuts can make a dog sick.

Look for symptoms like  muscle shakes, vomiting, high temperature, and weakness in his back legs. Eating chocolate with the nuts will make symptoms worse, maybe even leading to death.


Chocolate is really bad for dogs. Chocolate contains theobromine which is found in all kinds of chocolate, even white chocolate.

The most dangerous types  are dark chocolate and unsweetened baking chocolate.

Chocolate can cause a dog to vomit and have diarrohea. It can also cause heart problems, tremors, seizures, and death.

Keep chocolate away from dogs, dogs like chocolate but chocolate does not like dogs.

Take care at Easter and Christmas when there is probably a lot more chocolate around than normal and remember not to put chocolate on or under Christmas trees ( even if it is in a box ) cardboard is defenceless against canine teeth.

Just a small amount of chocolate can result in very serious problems for a dog.

Fat Trimmings and Bones

Fat trimmed from meat, both cooked and uncooked, can cause pancreatitis in dogs.

And, even though it seems natural to give a dog a bone, she can choke on it.

Bones can also splinter and block or cause cuts in your dog’s digestive system.

If you give bones make them large ones. 

Never give chicken, poultry or similar bones – ever.

Sugary Foods and Drinks

Too much sugar can do the same thing to dogs that it does to people.

It can make your dog overweight and cause damage his teeth.

JUst as with people too much sugar can cause canine diabetes.

Keep These Out Of Reach Of Your Spaniel

Human Medicine

Human medicines should never be given to dogs.

Just as you would not take your dog’s medicine so your dog should never have yours.

It can make them very unwell.

You need to keep all medicines away from your dog and out of his reach.

Your dog should only ever have medicine that has been prescribed by your vet.

Ingredients such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen are common in pain relievers and cold medicine.

And, they can be deadly for your dog.

Care in the Kitchen with your dog

The kitchen can present risks to your spaniel and you should ensure that everything is away where he can’t get it or out of reach.

Kitchens can contain a variety of items from cleaning products to foodstuffs that are unsafe for your dog and it is best not to take any chances.

The simple solution is to keep everything away from your dog and, other than his food and water dish there should be nothing else within his reach.

House Plants

Often forgotton about, plants present a risk, particularly to puppies who explore with their mouths.

If your dog lives in the house then either move your plants to places where the dog cannot get to them or simply get rid of the plants.

Often poisonous plants pose a risk if chewed or eaten. Best not to take any chances.

Tobacco Products

Horrible stuff. Bad for humans and bad for dogs. Stop smoking and using it as it’s bad for your spaniel.

If you’ve struggled to quit in the past, stop being selfish and think of your dog.

It might help.

Medications and Vitamins

Human medicines, health supplements, minerals, vitamins etc – they can all be toxic to dogs and should be kept well out of the way of your spaniel.

If, by chance, your dog consumes your medicines etc – then don’t wait, get the advice of your vet straightaway.

Household Chemicals

Be careful with household chemicals, bleach, cleaning products, paints etc.

Many of them, just as they would be injurious to humans, can and are dangerous to dogs.

Just as you would keep them away from children so you should keep them away from your dog.

Dogs can be curious and will drink things if left around, if your dog drinks anti freeze for example, it can kill him.

Don’t take any chances.

Lawn and Garden Supplies

Weedkillers, fertilizers, pesticides – just as they are dangerous to people, they are dangerous to dogs.

You can’t tell your dog to keep off ( as you can with humans ) so, you need to act responsibly and keep him away from any treated areas.

Always follow the manufacturers instructions.


Glue – dogs can pick up tubes and other containers. Glue contains a range of dangerous chemicals and if your dog swallows glue then all sorts of nasty things can happen.

If this does occur, get him to the vet asap.


Whether you’re trying to get rid of fleas on your pet or mice in your house, insecticides and pesticides can be dangerous for pets.

And if flea medication is labeled for dogs only, don’t use it on cats or other animals or humans — it can be toxic to them.


Always feed your dog a diet that is suitable for dogs. Meat based protein is important for development and health, fish is suitable as a treat too.

If you are in any doubt about a food then the best option is to not feed it until you have got professional advice from your vet.

There are many foodstuffs that are dangerous to dogs so it is wise to be cautious and only feed recognised dog foods.

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Last update on 2022-03-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API