Making a decision about what and when to feed your cocker spaniel puppy can seem daunting at first. Friends and family may offer conflicting advice based on their own experiences as dog owners. Your best bet is to discuss it with the breeder and your vet.
Choosing Your Puppy's Food
Before you bring your puppy home, talk to the breeder about the food they have weaned the puppy with. Baysway Kennels, cocker spaniel breeders, suggest that you buy some of the food the breeder uses and only feed the puppy with that until he feels settled in his new home with you. As the breeder points out, any sudden changes in the type of food tend to cause diarrhea. Once the puppy is well-established in his eating routine, you can start to introduce the food you want to use. Baysway suggests a transition period in which you mix the new brand into the old brand until at the end of seven days the puppy is only eating the new brand. One thing worth noting: if your puppy does develop an upset stomach, add a little plain yogurt to his food or feed him something bland like chicken and boiled rice for a few days.
As a new puppy owner you may be anxious about how often to feed and whether to feed before or after walking your pup, especially in the mornings. Baysway suggests that an 8-week-old puppy should have four small meals daily. You can reduce this to three meals from age 4 months to 8 months and from then on two meals a day. Once your puppy has reached his first birthday, you can safely feed him only once a day, although many owners prefer to stick to two meals, usually in the morning and early evening. In some ways, giving two meals may stop you from giving your puppy treats, especially when you are at your evening meal.
Daily Calorie Requirements
Fortunately veterinarians have worked out the exact amount of calories your cocker spaniel puppy needs daily. There should be a serving guide on your pet food pack. Use a measuring cup to make sure you're not under- or overfeeding your pup, which might happen if you use your hand. Two of your partner's handfuls are unlikely to be the same as yours given the difference in size between men and women's hands. Also, remember that male and female dogs need different amounts. Female cockers need slightly fewer calories per day than males. For example, a month-old male needs 208 calories per day and a female 194 calories. A year-old male needs 884 calories and a female 803 calories. As an example, 1 cup of Purina Puppy Chow contains 431 calories, so you should give your month-old cocker 1/2 cup of food a day to meet his caloric requirements.
Regularly weigh your puppy to check that he is eating a balanced diet and is an ideal weight for his breed. At 12 months a male should weigh around 26 lbs and a female about 23 lbs. A rule of thumb for judging if your puppy is at an ideal weight, is that you should be able to feel your puppy's ribs, but not be able to see them.
Based in London, Eleanor McKenzie has been writing lifestyle-related books and articles since 1998. Her articles have appeared in the "Palm Beach Times" and she is the author of numerous books published by Hamlyn U.K., including "Healing Reiki" and "Pilates System." She holds a Master of Arts in informational studies from London University.