Cocker Spaniel Health Problems & Lifespan

Cocker Spaniel Facts

Cocker Spaniel Health Problems Cocker spaniels are divided into two groups - American Cocker Spaniel and English Cocker Spaniel. American Cocker Spaniels are smaller with a slightly smaller head and shorter nose than English Cocker Spaniels.

Both Cockers originated as hunting dogs, but over the years, the American Cocker has become primarily a pet while the English Cocker has remained a hunting dog.

Originally bred for hunting birds, the American Cocker is the smallest of 26 dog breeds in the sporting group. It is a popular breed in the U.S.A. (ranked 29th in 2017 according to AKC Dog Registration Statistics).

Cocker Spaniel Lifespan

The average lifespan of Cocker spaniels is from 12 to 15 years.

Unfortunately, Cocker spaniels are susceptible to certain health problems, as listed below.

Common Cocker Spaniel Health Problems

Cocker spaniels are prone to numerous eye problems. If you have a cocker spaniel, therefore, take good care of his/her eyes. Give the eyes a thorough check regularly. Pay particular attention to any abnormal reddening, eye discharge, bulging, and signs of pain such as squinting and avoiding being touched.

Common eye problems that tend to affect cocker spaniels include:

In addition to eye problems, cocker spaniels also tend to have ear problems, the most common ones being:

  • Ear infections: Due to their long flappy ears, cockers are prone to ear infections. As well, food allergies, another common health problems for the cockers, also predispose them to ear infections.
  • Deafness: There have been reports of congenital deafness in American Cocker spaniels.

    Most instances of congenital deafness are caused by the degeneration of blood supply to the inner ear or cochlea three to four weeks after birth. This type of deafness is permanent and may affect one or both ears. A puppy that fails to be woken up by a loud noise is likely to have bilateral deafness.

    This type of deafness is associated with white pigmentation (i.e. white hair, blue eyes).

Other Cocker Spaniel Health Problems

Other cocker spaniel health problems include the following:

  • Hypothyroidism: Cocker spaniels are prone to hypothyroidism, a deficiency of the thyroid hormone. Dogs with this disease show an array of symptoms, such as recurring skin and ear infections, joint pain, weight gain, weakness and lethargy, and more.

    Read our article on Dog Hypothyroidism for more information.

  • Dislocated Kneecap: Dislocated kneecap, or patellar luxation, is a hereditary problem in which the leg bones are malformed. This results in the kneecap being repeatedly pulled out of position.

    When the kneecap is dislocated, the dog will limp with the affected leg lifted off the ground. He will constantly stretch the leg out behind him, trying to click the cartilage back into place.

    Understandably, this condition causes pain and, if left untreated, osteoarthritis will usually result.

  • Food Allergies: Quite a few cocker spaniels have food allergies. They show allergy symptoms all year, with itchy skin, ear infections, and digestive issues.

    To find out which food item(s) your dog is allergic to, you need to do something called an "elimination diet". Read this page to find out more.

  • Primary Seborrhea: Cockers are also susceptible to primary seborrhea, which is a heredictary skin problem. Signs include greasy hair, red, itchy inflamed skin, and sometimes ear infections.
  • Auto-immune hemolytic anemia (AIHA): AIHA is a blood disorder that occurs when red blood cells are destroyed by the immune system faster than the rate at which new ones can be produced, resulting in anemia. The Cocker Spaniel is susceptible to this blood disorder, which occurs most commonly in middle-aged dogs. The condition of AIHA may be mild and hardly noticeable, or it may be sudden in onset and severe.

    Cocker Spaniel Health Problems Symptoms of AIHA are usually vague and indistinct, such as poor appetite, weakness, listlessness, and lethargy. The dog may have a rapid heartbeat and rapid breathing.

    If you examine his gums, you may notice that they are pale, or they may be yellowish due to jaundice as a result of the breakdown of red blood cells.

    Reduced red blood cell counts means reduced oxygen being transported to the organ tissues. Most dogs that die with this condition do so in the first few days due to kidney, liver, or heart failure, or because of a bleeding problem.

    Conventional treatment includes the use of corticosteroids to slow the destruction of red blood cells. Sometimes, chemotherapy drugs may be given as well. Most forms of AIHA are treatable but, as mentioned above, death may occur due to blood loss and/or organ failure.

Health Supplements for Cocker Spaniels

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Recommendations for Your Cocker Spaniel!

(FTC Disclosure: If you make a purchase via a link on this page, I may receive a small commission, at no added cost to you.)

Good natural shampoo for skin conditions such as seborrhea.

This product contains effective ingredients for yeast infections in the ear, such as witch hazel, tea tree oil, and echinacea.

This eyewash is excellent not only for cleansing but also for promoting healing of sore, inflamed, and infected eyes. Good for eye conditions such as dry eye, conjunctivitis, and other eye infections.

References:

  • Canine Inherited Disorders Database - American Cocker Spaniel (www.upei.ca/~cidd/breeds/cockerspaniel2.htm)
  • Dog Breed Facts - Hereditary Diseases (www.dog-breed-facts.com/articles/hereditary-diseases.html)