It isn't always about looks. Though you no doubt want your English cocker spaniel to look its best, grooming can serve another purpose. A clean and well-groomed cocker spaniel is more likely to be a healthy cocker spaniel. Through grooming, you can help prevent infections and illness, as well as identify potential problems such as fleas, ticks, sores or lumps. With long, curly coats, cockers are a breed that requires frequent grooming.
A cocker spaniel's coat can tangle. It can also collect leaves, dirt, twigs or burs. Brush your English cocker spaniel every two or three days to keep its coat clean and mat free. You should keep your cocker's fur from matting because mats can trap warmth and moisture, causing sores or yeast infections. Use a pin or slicker brush and comb your spaniel's fur from the head down toward the tail. Brush one side at a time. Take small sections of fur in your hand and brush through them thoroughly before moving onto another section. Always brush your cocker spaniel before you bathe it, as existing tangles or mats can get tighter after washing.
Less active cocker spaniels can be bathed once every three months, but dogs that spend time in fields, rivers or mud puddles should be bathed more frequently. Use lukewarm water when you bathe your spaniel, as hot water can cause skin irritation. Use a no-tear dog shampoo and conditioner to wash your dog. Rinse thoroughly to ensure that you remove all residue that could cause skin irritation. Use a towel to dry your cocker spaniel after bathing, and let it continue to dry naturally until it is fully dry. Thoroughly dry the insides of your cocker spaniels long ears with a soft towel. Moisture can become trapped in the ear and cause infections.
Just like you, your cocker spaniel should have teeth that are plaque-free and pearly white. Plaque can leak bacteria into your spaniel's system and cause illness. Purchase a dog toothbrush from your local pet store, along with some toothpaste formulated for dogs. Don't use your own toothpaste on your spaniel's teeth since human toothpaste can be harmful to dogs. Brush your cocker spaniel's teeth at least once a week. Provide bones and chews to help chip away plaque and clean between your spaniel's teeth as well. Some toys are designed specifically to help keep your dog's teeth clean. You can find these at pet stores.
When your cocker spaniel's nails get too long, they can be painful to walk on. You should trim your spaniel's nails whenever they are long enough to click against the floor as your dog walks. Use a set of nail clippers that are meant for medium sized dogs. Choose guillotine or scissor-style clippers -- whichever you feel most comfortable with will work. If your spaniel has white nails, trim them just below the dark or pink spot inside the nail. For spaniels with black nails, trim a little at a time from the tip of the nail upward until you see circles in the clippings. This means you are nearing the quick -- a bundle of nerves that will bleed if cut -- and it is time to stop.