Nutrition for the Cocker Spaniel

Learn how to properly feed the skin they're in.

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Page 3 of 5

Too Much of a Good Thing
Another dietary concern for Cocker owners is the breeds tendency to gain weight.

If your dog starts to bulk up, consider temporarily switching to a lower-fat food. Other tips for helping a Cocker lose weight include reducing portions; adding unsalted green beans, puffed rice or plain rice cakes to the diet to help the dog feel full; and increasing the amount of exercise. Consult a veterinarian about weight-reducing plans before changing your Cockers food and activity level. Its important to make certain that the new diet will meet your dogs nutritional requirements and that the dog is healthy enough to tolerate additional exercise.

How Much Is Enough?
Dr. Carey advises Cocker owners to consider a dogs activity level when deciding how much and what kind of food to offer. Caloric distribution is a fancy way of describing where the energy is coming from in the diet. There are only three nutrient groups that contribute energycaloriesto the diet. They are protein, fat and carbohydrates. Fat contains twice as many calories as carbohydrates or protein.

When you have a hard-working dog, such as a Cocker retrieving in the field, competing in agility or playing for hours with kids, you need to bump up the percentage of fat calories in their food. About 40 to 50 percent should come from fat and about 30 percent from protein to maintain muscle. To properly process their food, they should have about 20 percent of their calories coming from carbohydrates. Active dogs need more calories from fat, which is concentrated and easy to use.

When you have a dog that is overweight or is middle-aged and slowing down, the formula changes. Protein should supply about 25 to 30 percent of their calories, carbohydrates about 45 percent, and the remainder should come from fat. What you are doing is shifting the source of energy from fat to carbohydrates, which are harder to use. A dogs body has to work more to get calories from carbohydrates, making it easier to control their weight, Dr. Carey says.

A Cockers nutritional needs change with age too. Some older dogs fat reserves are depleted, so they are using body proteinsmusclefor calories, which is not good, says Dr. Carey. Activity helps keeps their muscles toned, but older dogs get less active, and their exercise doesn't give them the same degree of benefit as when they were younger. The amount of protein that a dog eats in its senior years is directly related to the amount of protein produced by its body. If you have an older dog without kidney disease, keep providing the normal amount of protein to help maintain muscle mass.

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Janet   Bethlehem, PA

3/27/2012 2:18:08 PM

good article, thank you

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