What Is The Best Dog Food for an English Springer Spaniel?
The Ultimate English Springer Spaniel Food Buyer’s Guide
English Springer Spaniels are part of the great Spaniel family of dogs that dates back nearly 2,000 years. They are hunting dogs used for flushing and retrieving game, especially birds.
By the 16th century they were already divided into water and land spaniels. The land spaniels were later further divided based on size and function. English Springer Spaniels and the smaller Cocker Spaniels at one time came from the same litters and were only separated based on size but they eventually became separate breeds. (Today the Cocker Spaniel is also separated into American Cocker Spaniels and English Cocker Spaniels.)
English Springer Spaniels are also closely related to Welsh Springer Spaniels. Welsh Springers are a relatively rare breed today, but English Springers are one of the most popular Sporting breeds. Today they are the 28th most popular breed in the United States. English Springers are friendly, playful, obedient dogs and usually make very good companions. They are affectionate and easy-going. They are medium-large, active dogs so they need plenty of exercise. They have a medium-long coat so plan on regular brushing.
Quick Look : Top 5 Best Dog Foods For Pointers
If you aren’t already confused by the multitude of Spaniels, English Springer Spaniels fall into several categories such as show and field. There are also differences between the American and British versions of the breeds. AKC English Springer Spaniels should be a medium-sized dog with males about 20 inches tall at the shoulder. Females are about 19 inches tall at the shoulder. A well-proportioned male dog of this height should weigh about 50 pounds. A well-proportioned female dog that is 19 inches tall at the shoulder should weigh about 40 pounds. ESS measured from the point of the shoulder to the point of the buttocks are slightly longer than tall. British dogs generally weigh a little less. Dogs from field bloodlines usually have lighter bones and are a little smaller and lighter in weight.
English Springer Spaniels are alert and attentive. They have plenty of stamina and they need a moderate amount of daily exercise. Dogs from field lines make excellent hunting dogs but you can count on all Springer Spaniels enjoying the outdoors.
According to the National Research Council of the National Academies, an active adult English Springer Spaniel weighing 50 pounds requires an average daily caloric intake of 1312 kcal. Dogs that have been spayed/neutered, or that are older, may need slightly fewer calories. Some dogs may need more calories depending on their level of activity and their individual metabolism. For example, if you hunt with your English Springer Spaniel (50-lb dog doing light training work), you might need to feed him somewhere around 1457 kcal. Growing puppies consume more calories than adult dogs and so do young adult dogs. A young Springer Spaniel puppy (4-12 months) weighing 20 pounds needs an estimated 733 kcal per day. You always need to adjust your dog’s food intake based on his activity level and other factors.
Since ESS are a medium-sized dog, you can generally choose dog foods that aren’t labeled for a specific size or breed. Unless a dog food specifically states that it’s made for a certain size dog (Toy/small or large breed, for example) you can usually feed it to dogs of all sizes, including medium-sized dogs. There are far more dog foods of this kind than foods made for dogs of specific sizes so you will have a wide selection of foods from which to choose.
The same is true of puppy foods. You can choose a puppy food that is made for all puppies. You can switch to an adult formula when your dog reaches about 90 percent of his adult size.
Feeding Your English Springer Spaniel
According to several sources English Springer Spaniels can be prone to having sensitive digestive systems and food allergies. Allergies can occur in any breed or kind of dog. If your dog has a food allergy symptoms usually include itching, scratching and sometimes hair loss and sores (from scratching). Skin infections can also occur as a secondary issue after the skin becomes irritated. The most common food allergens for dogs (in order) are: beef, dairy products, chicken, lamb, fish, chicken eggs, corn, wheat, and soy. However, dogs are individuals so if your dog has a food allergy he might be allergic to something else in the food. Dogs can also have food sensitivities. Symptoms of a food sensitivity include vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence, and an upset stomach (gurgling sounds). If your English Springer Spaniel has a food allergy or food sensitivity, it’s a good idea to work with your veterinarian to identify the offending ingredient(s) so you will know what items to avoid in the food you feed.
You should do your best to watch your Springer Spaniel’s weight. Being overweight is unhealthy for all dogs. While young ESS are very active, Springer Spaniels can become less active as they get older and put on pounds, especially if they don’t get as much exercise as they once did. Be careful that you are not overfeeding your dog, especially as he gets older and exercises less.
As with any dog, you should feed your ESS a good quality dog food. Food that is high in animal protein is a good choice.
Adult Springer Spaniels usually do well eating two meals per day. You can feed ESS puppies 3-4 meals when they are very young, then move to three meals per day as they get older. By they time they are about a year old they should be eating two meals per day. According to the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association, the AKC parent club for the breed, bloat is not especially common in the breed, but it can occur. Feeding several small meals per day is believed to help ward off this dangerous condition.
English Springer Spaniel Health Problems
You can find out more information about English Springer Spaniel health issues by visiting the web site for the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association. The club has a long, long list of health issues that can occur in the breed, however unlikely. They also discuss the primary health problems in the breed.
English Springer Spaniels are subject to hip dysplasia. According to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), ESS are ranked 83rd in hips among all breed (good). Owners have submitted results for over 16,000 ESS since 1974. In that time some 13.1 percent of dogs have been dysplastic. In the last five years (2011-2015), with 813 x-rays submitted, 8.5 percent of dogs have been dysplastic. This suggests that hips in the breed have significantly improved over the last 40 years through using hip screening before breeding.
English Springer Spaniels are also subject to a number of eye problems. These problems include retinal dysplasia, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), and eyelid defects such as entropion. ESSFTA recommends that breeders have dogs checked annually by a veterinary ophthalmologist and certified that their eyes are normal.
Some English Springer Spaniels have had issues with “Rage”. This is a form of aggression or temperament problem. It’s a serious but, fortunately, rare issue that occurs in various Spaniel breeds from time to time. If you are considering getting an English Springer Spaniel you should try to meet the puppy’s parents, siblings and related dogs. Talk to the breeder about temperament. This is especially important if you have children.
Seizure disorders can occur in English Springer Spaniels but, according to the breed club, they are rare. Seizures can happen in any breed or individual dog. Unfortunately, breeders are sometimes reluctant to discuss them because of the stigma attached to having a dog or dogs with seizures. Ask a breeder if any of their dogs have had seizures.
Along with food allergies, Springer Spaniels can also have other allergies (fleas, dust, pollen) that trigger a skin reaction. If a dog is itching and scratching many people jump to the conclusion that it’s because of the dog food but it can be due to some other allergic reaction. This is another reason to see your veterinarian if your dog seems to be having an allergic reaction, especially if your dog’s symptoms are seasonal. If he only itches in the spring or summer, his dog food probably isn’t the problem.
ESS can also have seborrhea either in small patches or over large parts of their body. This can cause itchy, scaly, thickened skin with a greasy feel and an odor. It’s not unusual for a dog to develop a secondary skin infection.
With their lovely long ears, ESS are also prone to ear infections. The long ears can block off air flow to the ear canals, allowing any moisture in the ears to encourage the growth of bacteria. It’s important to clean your Springer Spaniel’s ears regularly and be sure to dry them after cleaning. If your dog goes swimming, make sure you dry his ears afterwards.
Ingredients to Look for and Some to Avoid
As with most dogs, when choosing a food for your ESS you should look for a food that has good sources of protein and fat.
Ideally you will select a dog food that features two or three meat proteins in the first several ingredients listed. Both whole meats and meat meals are good sources of protein. Whole meats refer to foods such as whole chicken, beef, fish, and lamb. Some people don’t like meat meals as much as whole meats but they are a concentrated form of the meat in which the moisture has been removed. They contain several times as much protein as a whole meat. Meat meals are usually quite acceptable as one of the first ingredients in a good quality dog food. They are used by many good dog food brands.
Many dog foods today, even some of the most expensive and highly touted, use lots of plant proteins such as lentils and peas. These foods often have high protein percentages on the label. When you read the guaranteed analysis it’s important to consider how much of the protein in the food comes from meat and how much comes from plants. Your dog is able to digest meat protein more easily than plant protein. Meat protein is a much more natural source of protein for your dog than plant protein.
Dogs also need good sources of fat. You should look for named fat sources such as chicken fat. Other named fats also provide needed nutrients such as fish oil which can provide omega-3 fatty acid to help keep the skin and coat healthy. Puppies can benefit from DHA which is Docosahexaenoic acid. This is a specific form of omega-3 fatty acid that helps with brain and eye development. Older dogs seem to benefit from medium chain triglycerides which feature medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs). These have been found to help older dogs feel and act younger. They are often made from a combination of coconut oil and other oils.
If you want to avoid corn, soy, and wheat in your dog food, your Springer Spaniel may still be able to eat an alternative grain such as barley or oats. Or you can feed a grain free dog food that uses an alternate source of carbs that is low glycemic such as sweet potatoes. You don’t have to feed a dog food with an excessively high percentage of protein but it’s a good idea to keep the carb percentage low to moderate.
If your English Springer Spaniel has a food allergy or food sensitivity, you may need to work with your veterinarian to identify the food triggers unless they are very obvious. There are lots of good foods with alternative meat proteins today as well as limited ingredient diets which we will discuss below.
Recommended Dog Food For An Adult English Springer Spaniel
English Springer Spaniels should be able to eat most good quality dog foods. If your dog has a food allergy or food sensitivity you will need to try to avoid foods with ingredients that are triggers for your dog.
We are suggesting a variety of foods here for ESS. We have selected foods without corn, wheat, and soy. You may have to try a couple of foods to find which one is best for your dog. You should also keep in mind that your dog’s diet needs can change as he grows and ages so you may have to change foods to suit him.
Best Dog Foods for English Springer Spaniel Adults
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Nulo has only recently become a nationally-known brand and we’re happy to include it here. Their foods have 80-84 percent animal-based protein, meaning they have one of, if not the highest, amount of animal-based protein of any dog food. Nulo is also one of the few companies using probiotics that seem to actually survive the manufacturing process. (Check their site to read more.) Their foods are also low carb and low-glycemic. They don’t use corn, wheat, soy, no potatoes, tapioca, glutens or GMO’s. And no poultry or meat by-products and no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. The first five ingredients in this food are: Deboned Salmon, Turkey Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal, Whole Peas, and Sweet Potato. It has 30 percent crude protein, 16 percent crude fat, 4.5 percent crude fiber, and 10 percent moisture. It has 424 kcal/cup. This food is AAFCO-approved for maintenance. We think the ingredients look good and many dogs will love Nulo Freestyle foods. You can also check out their Medal Series of foods – also grain free.
We also really like Fromm Family Foods, especially their Gold and Four-Star product lines. Their Adult Gold formula has duck, chicken meal, and chicken as the first three ingredients. It has 24 percent crude protein (for those who like a lower protein percentage) and 16 percent crude fat, and 3.5 percent crude fiber, with 408 kcal/cup. It is AAFCO-approved for growth and maintenance. The food includes salmon oil – a great source of omega-3 fatty acid for healthy skin and coat; probiotics, and prebiotics. No corn, wheat, or soy. The food is also made at the family’s own facilities in Wisconsin. The Fromm family has been making dog food and dog products for over 100 years and they have a great reputation. The food includes brown rice and pearled barley in the first five ingredients. It does contain oatmeal and potatoes so if you are trying to keep the carbs very low you may not like this food. However, we think the ingredients are good quality and many English Springer Spaniels will do well on this food.
We have heard great things about Victor dog food from lots of people. Victor is made by Mid America Pet Food. Mid America is a family-owned and operated company located in east Texas. According to the company, more than 80 percent of the ingredients used in their foods come from a 200-mile radius of their facility. They currently have six highly active and sporting dog formulas; five formulas for normally active dogs; and five grain free formulas. All of their foods are free of corn, wheat, soy, gluten, and grain by-products. They use no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. The Yukon River Salmon formula has 32 percent crude protein, 15 percent crude fat, and 34 percent crude carbs. Seventy-six percent of the protein in the food comes from fish. We think this is a food you might consider for your ESS, or check out one of Victor’s other formulas. People who feed Victor seem to love it for their dogs.
We found this food when we were looking at bestsellers on Chewy.com. It looks like people have identified a really nice food from Merrick. The first five ingredients in this food are Deboned Beef, Lamb Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas, and Potatoes. This recipe is an all life stage food with 422 kcal per cup ME (metabolizable energy) on an as fed basis (calculated). It has 70 percent meat ingredients, 30 percent vegetables, vitamins, and minerals. It is grain free – no corn, soy, or wheat. No gluten. No poultry by-products, no artificial preservatives. No ingredients from China. It has 38 percent crude protein and 15 percent crude fat, with 3.5 percent crude fiber. It also has glucosamine and chondroitin added, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Merrick uses local growers from Texas, where the food is made. We think this is good quality protein and other ingredients for English Springer Spaniels that need good nutrition for an active lifestyle. Not everyone will like a protein percentage this high but if you do, give this food a try.
Exciting news if you like Acana. Champion Pet Foods has completed their new kitchen in Kentucky and they are now reformulating some of their dog and cat foods to reflect what is now “regional” to the Kentucky area. So, it’s still the same award-winning company – and it looks like Orijen will still be made in Alberta, Canada. But Acana will be made in Kentucky. We’ve had a chance to review the Acana dog and cat foods and there are some changes in the meat proteins but the foods still look great. If you visit the Acana web site you can view the old and new formulas to see the changes (we really like being able to compare the formulas). The current (old) Grasslands formula, for example, is heavy on lamb, duck, whitefish, and lentils. The new formula (due any time) will feature goat meal and catfish meal, in addition to the lamb and duck. The current formula has 31 percent crude protein, 17 percent crude fat, 5 percent crude fiber, and 10 percent moisture. The new formula has 33 percent crude protein, 17 percent crude fat, 6 percent crude fiber, and 12 percent moisture. The food has 70 percent animal protein ingredients and 30 percent vegetables, fruits, and botanicals. No grains, potatoes, or tapioca. If you’re looking for a very good grain free dog food for your ESS that is low in carbohydrates, we think that the Acana foods are a good choice.
Best Dog Foods for English Springer Spaniel Puppies
English Springer Spaniel puppies can usually begin eating a puppy food after they are weaned or they can eat a good all life stage food. Some people like to feed a puppy food for a few months and then switch over to an all life stage food when their puppy is a few months old. If you have questions about how to feed your puppy, we recommend talking to your puppy’s breeder. They usually have the most experience with raising Springer Spaniel puppies and can guide you, especially when it comes to avoiding hip dysplasia.
Puppy foods should have a calcium to phosphorus ratio of about 1.2 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus, though there is some slight room for variation such as 1.5:1.2. (Dry Matter Basis) It’s also important that dog and puppy foods do not have an excess (or deficiency) of calcium since this can affect bone growth.
Here are some of the puppy foods we like for English Springer Spaniel puppies. Note that an All Life Stage food can also be fed, as long as the nutrients are appropriate for your puppy.
VeRUS Puppy Advantage Chicken Meal, Oats and Brown Rice Holistic Formula
VeRUS Puppy Advantage is an excellent holistic food for medium breed puppies. The first ingredient is chicken meal followed by easy-to-digest ground oats and ground brown rice. The formula contains DHA for proper brain development, omega-3 fatty acid from fish oils, non-Chinese sourced vitamins and chelated minerals. The food also includes a freeze-dried live probiotic that is unique among dog food manufacturers. The chicken used in their food is cage-free, U.S.-grown and guaranteed to be antiobiotic-free. VeRUS has none of the undesirable ingredients that are sometimes found in pet foods. We really like this puppy food for ESS puppies. Any dog lover who may be concerned about chemicals or additives in pet foods should check into VeRUS.
Canidae Grain Free Pure Foundations Puppy Formula
We like this food for puppies. Canidae Grain Free Pure Foundations Puppy Formula is a limited ingredient food with nine ingredients plus vitamins and minerals and probiotics. It’s grain free with probiotics to help digestion; antioxidants for a healthy immune system; and omega 3 and 6 to support healthy skin and a beautiful coat. The first five ingredients are chicken, menhaden fish meal, lentils, peas, potatoes. The recipe is supposed to be especially good for puppies with sensitive digestion. The food has 30 percent crude protein, 12 percent crude fat, 4 percent crude fiber, and 10 percent moisture. This food checks in at 520 kcal/cup, so it’s high in calories but active, growing puppies can usually burn them off. Just remember that you don’t need to feed a lot of food with these very nutrient-dense foods. If your Springer Spaniel puppy does well on this puppy food, Canidae has some good adult foods – both grain free and foods with grains.
Best Dog Foods for the Senior English Springer Spaniel
It’s not unusual for many medium-sized dogs to live into their teen years. For example, Whippets are one of the breeds with the longest lives and often live to be 12 to 15 years old. Parson Russell and Jack Russell Terriers are also long-lived, medium-sized breeds that can live to be 15 years. Poodles can also be very long-lived. This means that you will probably need to consider what kind of food to feed your English Springer Spaniel as he gets older. As your dog ages it’s a good idea to plan an annual senior check-up with your vet. Many older dogs begin to put on pounds as they become less active. For this reason, most senior dog foods have fewer calories and they can skimp on protein. You should watch your older dog’s weight as he gets older to make sure he doesn’t become overweight. In some cases you can simply cut back on the portions of his regular dog food to help him stay fit or increase his exercise.
On the other hand, very old dogs often start to have some problems metabolizing nutrients, including protein. It can become hard for them to keep good muscle tone and weight as they age. For this reason, you may wish to avoid many dog foods labeled “senior.” These foods are often formulated for older dogs that have gained weight. Instead, look for a senior dog food that we like which has lots of protein. As long as your older dog doesn’t have any problems with his kidneys or with phosphorus, there is no reason to avoid higher protein levels.
Orijen Senior Dog
Orijen Senior provides plenty of excellent quality protein for your older ESS. This food features free-run chicken and turkey, wild-caught fish, and nest-laid eggs. It helps keep older dogs in good muscle even as they become less active. Made of 80 percent meats and fish, the food is low-glycemic and has low carbs to help keep your older dog’s blood sugar steady. The food also contains natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin to keep your English Springer Spaniel’s joints healthy. The food is 38 percent crude protein and 15 percent crude fat. It checks in at 445 kcal per 250ml/120g cup. We think this is a very good food for senior dogs who often need extra protein as they get older. (We know Orijen is expensive but this food really stands out for senior dogs.)
Another senior food we like a lot is Bright Mind 7+ from Purina. Whether you normally like Purina foods or not, we have heard nothing but positive comments about this food, especially for elderly dogs that might be slowing down and starting to withdraw. The food addresses some of the cognitive issues that older dogs can have.
Best Dog Foods for English Springer Spaniels with Skin Problems/Allergies
As mentioned earlier, ESS can have some skin problems. Avoiding dog foods that contain glutens may help some dogs. If your dog needs to avoid common proteins, you can try this food.
Wild Calling! Xotic Essentials Rabbit Meal Recipe
Any dog suffering from skin problems or food allergies may benefit from Wild Calling!’s Xotic Essentials recipes. Formulas like their rabbit meal recipe use exotic meats that are rare in today’s pet food market so your dog hasn’t eaten them before – less chance of having an allergic reaction. The foods are also highly digestible. Wild Calling! also uses what they call LITe (limited ingredient technology). They don’t use any of the ingredients commonly found in most dog foods such as chicken, grain, gluten, egg, yeast, corn, wheat or soy. If your Springer Spaniel has a food allergy, he may benefit from Wild Calling! The foods are formulated for rotational feeding and they offer several Xotic Essentials recipes, such as kangaroo and bison, so your dog doesn’t get over-exposed to one kind of meat protein. This is an All Life Stage food. We think that dogs with skin problems and food allergies can definitely benefit from these recipes.
Best Dog Foods for English Springer Spaniels with Sensitive Stomachs
We’ve already mentioned that some ESS are susceptible to food sensitivities that affect their digestion and excretion. If your dog has a sensitive stomach it can be an indication of a food sensitivity, which is different from a food allergy. A dog with a food sensitivity will have gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting or diarrhea. Or it could be something more serious.
A dog with a sensitive stomach can often be helped by feeding the right dog food. Sticking to a limited ingredient diet food with as few ingredients as possible can reduce the chance of your dog having a bad reaction to something in the food.
We recommend Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Sweet Potato & Fish Formula Small Breed Bites Dry Dog Food. This food is grain free with limited ingredients. It has good quality, alternative ingredients that are easily digestible for a dog with a sensitive stomach. And it contains no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. The first five ingredients are: Sweet Potatoes, Salmon, Salmon Meal, Canola Oil, and Potato Fiber. It has 21 percent crude protein, 10 percent crude fat, 4.5 percent crude fiber, and 10 percent moisture. It has 380 kcal/cup and it’s an all life stage formula. If your dog can’t eat some of the ingredients in this food, Natural Balance has other recipes that you might check.
Best Dog Foods for Overweight English Springer Spaniels
If your ESS becomes overweight, it may be due to overfeeding and not enough exercise. You can help your dog lose weight by cutting back on his portions and encouraging him to get more exercise.
If your Springer Spaniel needs to lose more than one or two pounds, however, you may need to consider a weight control dog food.
We do not recommend a weight control dog food for a puppy or a very old dog. These foods generally have fewer calories and may have some other differences in nutrients that make them inappropriate for growing puppies or older dogs who need special nutrition.
If you have a Springer Spaniel who needs to lose weight we recommend Merrick Grain Free Healthy Weight Recipe. We like the fact that this food has 32 percent crude protein. The crude fat percentage is between 8 and 11 percent with 5 percent crude fiber so your dog should not feel like he’s starving. It is AAFCO-approved for a maintenance diet. The food has 3,210 kcal per kilogram or 360 kcal per cup ME (metabolizable energy) on an as fed basis (calculated). It is grain free and made from 55 percent beef and poultry. And it contains no corn, wheat, or soy and no ingredients from China. The first five ingredients in this food are: Deboned Beef, Chicken Meal, Potatoes, Peas, and Sweet Potatoes.
If your dog needs to lose weight, you should proceed slowly. No crash dieting. You should aim for your dog to lose no more than 3 to 5 percent of his body weight per month or about one percent each week.
English Springer Spaniels are affectionate, friendly, playful, active, and eager to please. They make wonderful family dogs whether you live in the suburbs or have acres for a dog to enjoy. These beautiful Sporting dogs are one of the most popular dogs in the United States today and it’s easy to see why. Look for a good breeder and discuss any concerns and you should be able to find a wonderful English Springer Spaniel as your companion.