English Springer Spaniel Diet Tips

English Springer Spaniel Diet Tips

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English Springer Spaniels need a protein-packed diet to fuel their high energy personalities. Learn more about how to improve your Springer's nutrition here.

The English Springer Spaniel's origin as a hunting dog is reflected in the breed's muscular build and high energy level. These medium-sized dogs need a healthy, protein-rich food to maintain their wavy coats and active lifestyles. While these dogs know exactly how to use their big brown eyes to beg you for tidbits, avoid giving way and overfeeding your Spaniel. For long life and good health, your feeding goal should be a lean, muscular dog.

Daily Calorie Requirements

The English Springer Spaniel ranges in weight between 44 and 55 pounds. The National Research Council of the National Academies recommends that inactive dogs of this weight be fed approximately 989 calories per day. A healthy, active English Springer Spaniel should eat about 1,353 calories per day. The more muscular field Spaniels bred and used for hunting may need more calories while older dogs with limited mobility will need fewer.


English Springer Spaniels require a diet with a whole meat protein as the primary ingredient. Look for food containing whole meats or meat meals such as chicken, turkey, fish, or lamb as the primary protein source contained in the food. These meats should appear first in the ingredient list, which are listed by weight, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Healthy carbohydrates such as barley, brown rice, or oats also contain some additional protein for your dog. Fats from poultry, safflower, or flax seed oil should also be included in the food to provide energy. Lastly, fruits and vegetables in the food provide good sources of fiber for your Spaniel.

Avoid commercial foods that add sugars to your Spaniel's diet. Meat by-products are harder to digest than whole meat proteins, and shouldn't be a major ingredient. Natural preservatives called mixed tocopherols contain vitamin E, and may be preferable to controversial chemical preservatives that include ethoxyquin, butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydroxytoluene, according to the FDA.

Some English Springer Spaniels are genetically prone to seborrhea, a condition that can cause itchiness and flaking of the skin and an oily coat. To help ease this condition, look for dog foods that contain Omega-3 fatty acids.

Feeding Choices

Either canned or dry commercial dog foods can provide your English Springer Spaniel with proper nutrition. Commercial dog foods are regulated by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, which defines the meaning of the terms found on the label, and by the Food and Drug Administration. Generally dog foods labeled "complete and balanced" contain the proper balance of nutrients for dogs.

Springer Spaniels love to chew. Dry food can help satisfy this need, as well as help keep teeth clean. Because it doesn't spoil, dry kibble also can be put inside puzzle chew toys to keep your dog busy during the day.

To tempt a finicky Spaniel to eat, you can mix dry food with some canned food to add a more potent and appetizing aroma. Just note the calorie and serving recommendations provided by the manufacturer on the label, and make sure the two foods mixed together do not add up to more than your dog's daily ration requirement.


Divide your English Springer Spaniel's daily ration into two or more meals per day. Measure the food carefully to prevent your dog from becoming obese. Feeding time is a good time to focus on your dog's overall health and condition. Look at your dog and consider whether your English springer spaniel is gaining or losing weight. To encourage an underweight spaniel to gain weight, warm canned dog food for a few seconds in the microwave to enhance the aroma for your dog.

To prevent spoilage, remove and refrigerate any leftover portions of canned food after 15 minutes, even if it is mixed with dry food. Serve the remainder of the food at your dog's next feeding time.


English springer spaniels can easily become overweight if they are given too much food and too little exercise. This breed is genetically prone to hip dysplasia; obesity can worsen this and other joint issues, and can cause a variety of other health problems. The English Springer Spaniel needs daily exercise to burn off energy and calories. If your dog is inactive, cut the calories and increase the exercise. If you cannot easily feel the outline of your dog's ribs under the skin, the dog is overweight. If you cannot discern the dog's waistline, your English Springer Spaniel is obese. A dog who is obese may require a diet dog food or one designed for senior dogs.


Like other deep-chested breeds, the English Springer Spaniel is at some risk of bloat, also called gastric torsion and volvulus. Bloat is a frequently fatal condition that involves a buildup of gas that expands the dog's stomach. Volvulus occurs when the gas buildup causes the stomach to turn. Blood flow to the area is cut off, as are the normal escape routes for the gas. Bloat is a true medical emergency.

Routine feeding practices can help minimize the risk of bloat developing. Avoid free-feeding your dog dry food. Feed your English Springer Spaniel two or more smaller meals rather than one meal per day. Feed your dog at the same times each day. Don't use a raised bowl to hold your dog's food and water, and always have a plentiful supply of fresh water available to your dog so that the dog will not consume large quantities of water at meals. Finally, never exercise your dog strenuously just before or after a meal.

Consult your veterinarian about the advisability of other measures that may help prevent bloat, such as feeding dog foods that contain probiotics.

Food Allergies

Some English Springer Spaniels are prone to food allergies. If your spaniel has skin problems or vomits the food you are feeding, take the dog to a veterinarian to determine the cause. If a food allergy is suspected, your veterinarian may suggest testing your dog for a number of weeks with a hypoallergenic veterinary diet containing an unusual protein, such as venison or fish, and one unusual carbohydrate, such as potato. If symptoms clear up, you then may be able to determine what food is causing them by adding one food at a time back into the diet until symptoms recur. Consult your veterinarian before undertaking such a process.

More on Dog Nutrition

What To Look For In Active Or Working Dog Food
Which Protein Is Best For Dogs?
10 Of The Best Rated Dog Foods

References & Resources

Gambrills Veterinary Center: Laparoscopic Gastropexy
Bio-Medical Services: Pet Allergy Clinic Reference Guide
The English Springer Spaniel Club: Guidelines to Feeding Your English Springer Spaniel
U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Pet Food
U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Pet Food Labels -- General
American College of Veterinary Surgeons: Gastric Dilatation/Volvulus Syndrome in Dogs
ASPCA: Allergies
The Merck Veterinary Manual: Seborrhea: Introduction
VetInfo: Seborrheic Dermatitis Treatment for Dogs
The Whole Dog Journal Handbook of Dog and Puppy Care and Training; Nancy Kerns, et al.

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional advice due to what you may have read on our website.

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