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Health Issues with Cocker Spaniels

Every breed comes with its share of health concerns and so does the cocker spaniel. The most common of these are ear infections but the health issues can include deafness, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, thyroditis, hepatitis to mention a few. Some of these health issues are genetic and some are viral and most of them are treatable. Let’s explore the more common health concerns in cocker spaniels.

Ear infections

Those floppy ears that define the cocker spaniel come with some problems of their own. Those ears cover the ear canal which prevents ventilation to the inside of the ear. The inside of the ear stays moist which are ideal conditions for ear infections to settle in. It is quite easy to detect, all you have to do is lift the ear and if the inside is red, smelly or has discharge then it is quite likely your cocker has an ear infection. They will also display outward signs as rubbing their ears on the carpet or other surfaces. The remedy for ear infection is you can try treating it yourself but the safest thing to do is take your dog to the vet for the proper diagnoses.


Congenial deafness in cockers is not that common and it usually happens three to four weeks after birth. The cause is usually due to the degeneration of blood supply to the inner ear or what is known as the cochlea. Unfortunately, this type of deafness is permanent and may be present in one ear or both. Deafness in cockers is usually associated with white pigmentation, especially if your cocker has white hair and blue eyes.

Autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA)

Unfortunately cocker spaniels have a predisposition to AIHA. This is when the dog’s own immune system attacks its blood cells. This disease is usually comes with another underlying disease such as systemic lupus erythematosus. The real cause is unknown but researchers think that it is possibly due to a bacterial infection, medications or vaccines. Cocker spaniels are usually affected with the acute form of AIHA.

Autoimmune thyroiditis

Cocker spaniels have a high rate of autoimmune thyroiditis. This is where a cocker’s immune system forms antibodies that attack substances that are crucial for forming thyroid hormones. The diagnoses for this disease are like that of Hypothyroidism except this disease will include the presence of thyroid antibodies in the blood.

Chronic hepatitis

The causes of this disease in cocker spaniels could be from viruses, bacterial infection and some medications. This disease covers several diseases all having to do with the liver. This condition exists in some breeds of dogs and the cocker spaniel is one of those breeds that are on the list. The first signs of this disease may be loss of appetite, vomiting, weight loss, depression, listlessness, increased drinking and urination. As the disease worsens there will be signs of jaundice, coagulation problems, extreme weight loss and neurologic abnormalities.


This disease is simply means the underproduction of thyroxin, a hormone produced by the thyroid gland. This hormone is very important at controlling the growth and development of the dog and maintaining the normal proteins, carbohydrates and lipid metabolism in their body. This disease usually presents itself when the dog reaches the age of between two and six. The most common signs are weight gain, listlessness and some skin disorders. This can be treated with medication such as a thyroid supplement. The outlook for this disease can be reversed once treatment is started.

Skin problems

Cocker spaniels can develop food allergies. This is presented with itching of the ears and feet and redness and swelling of the skin can be detected. They can actually develop colitis from this disease. An examination of the dog’s diet must be done to evaluate what your dog is allergic to. Primary Seborrhea is also another skin condition common in cocker spaniels. This is caused by an overproduction of skin cells including oil cells. This condition usually presents itself on the trunk, back and ears and appears as greasy and scaly with a foul odor.

Regardless of what problems come along with cocker spaniels they are so worth having. Most of these problems can be easily overcome and some of them can be completely reversed. All breeds come with their own health problems and some of them make the health problems in cocker spaniels look very minor.

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