Prospective owners of cocker spaniels are always advised to enter into pet ownership with an open mind that cocker spaniels are naturally predisposed to certain health problems that can be hereditary, congenital or can arise from other external factors including lack of care.
Needless to say, it is important to be aware of different cocker spaniel health problems so that preventive measures can be taken at the earliest and knowledge about the various ailments can help in arriving at plausible solutions through proper consultation with the veterinarian and research on the issue.
Cocker spaniels are quite prone to congenital deafness, which is caused due to degeneration of blood supply to the inner ear, around three to four weeks after birth in most cases. It is associated with white pigmentation and is irreversible. It can affect one or both ears and it has been recommended that cockers with this ailment should not be bred. They become a bit difficult to train because of this problem but the important thing is to find out about resources where dogs have even been taught sign language to communicate.
It has to be taken into consideration that two types of autoimmune diseases are also included in cocker spaniel health problems and cockers have a high risk of developing them. However both illnesses have treatments that can successfully save the dog’s life when they are meted out to it on time. They include Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia (AIHA) and Autoimmune Thyroiditis. The former is a medical condition in which the immune system attacks its own blood cells. The causes possibly include bacterial infections, medications and vaccines while the symptoms include pale complexion, fatigue, jaundice and sometimes a swollen abdomen due to an enlarged liver. Treatments with steroids and, in severe cases, chemotherapy drugs prove to be effective. The latter is a problem where the immune system forms antibodies which attack it own T3, T4 and thyroglobulin substances that form the thyroid hormones. The treatment for this is the same as the treatment for hyperthyroidism except that thyroid antibodies are included.
Cocker spaniel health problems also include skin problems. The most common among them is Primary Keratinization or Primary Seborrhea and it is caused by the overproduction of skin cells leading to greasy and scaly skin which emits a foul odor. The treatment includes concurrent administration of retinoids that are Vitamin A derivatives and antifungal medication. Food allergies are also a major cause of skin problems among cocker spaniels and symptoms include itching in the ears and feet along with redness, bumpiness and swelling and a more severe form is manifested through gastrointestinal disorders.
Cocker spaniel health problems also include problems relating to the eyes where cocker tend to develop problems like glaucoma, cataracts, cherry eyes and Distichiasis. Treatments are carried out according to the problem and intensity.
Cocker spaniels also tend to suffer from Hip dysplasia or abnormal development of the hip joint.
There are many cocker spaniel health problems that may crop up during the dog’s lifetime. It is thus crucial that the owner must maintain a healthy environment for the cocker by giving a wholesome nutritious diet and sufficient exercise and must seek veterinary help at the slightest sign of an impending health problem.