4 Common Health Problems in Cocker Spaniels

Learn about common cocker spaniel health problems. By: Ray Larabie

Cocker spaniels, as with all dog breeds, have a variety of common health issues. Every pet owner of these dogs needs to understand these frequent problems as well as the symptoms.

1. Deafness

Deafness is an increasing problem with the cocker spaniel.

Unfortunately, some puppies at or around 1 month old will experience the erosion of blood supply to their ears. The puppy can eventually become deaf in one or sometimes both of its ears.


This is often the result of a genetic flaw and related to a cocker being white in coat color or having blue eyes. Those two traits are considered mismarks by breed standard, and the puppy should be spayed or neutered to prevent furthering the health issue.

2. Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia

Autoimmune hemolytic anemia in cocker spaniels is running rampant through the breed.

The symptoms at first seem like the dog is simply tired. However, when you take the time to look carefully at the white part of the eye, it will appear yellow. Upon taking a closer look at the gums, you’ll see they are pale and nearly white. If your pet’s midsection looks bigger than it normally should be, that could mean the liver is enlarged. This is another sign of the disease.

Treatment starts with steroids, but if the steroids don’t work, chemotherapy is an option. Autoimmune hemolytic anemia in cocker spaniels is usually treatable, and those diagnosed with this usually have a good prognosis.

3. Liver Problems

Cocker spaniels also have a predisposition for liver issues, which almost always result in the diagnosis of chronic hepatitis. The causes can be viral or bacterial. They can even be the result of medicines prescribed by a licensed veterinarian. The causes are endless.

4. Canine Hypothyroidism

Dog thyroid gland illustrationMany breeds of dogs have a high incidence of hypothyroidism, and the cocker spaniel is included in the mix.

This is a hormonal disease. In essence, the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroxin. Thyroxin is essential to the growth, development and maintenance of protein levels, carbs and lipid metabolites.

The symptoms are varied, but usually the first indication is that the puppy appears to be getting fat. The dog no longer wants to participate in the activities it enjoyed in the past. Skin problems also become apparent. The owner might notice hair loss or just the hair becoming thinner in areas and increased scratching without fleas present. Flaking and dry-appearing skin, even though the coat feels greasy are also symptoms.

Thyroid hormones usually relieve many of the symptoms within one month. Treatment is usually oral and is quite successful.

Cockers are wonderful dogs. The health of the parents is the key to the quality of the puppies. And on that note, here’s a video of a bunch of cocker spaniel puppies playing together. Squeee!

book-cover-smallest1Do you have a cocker spaniel? Tell us about it in the comments below. If you enjoyed this article, you’ll love Pets Adviser’s email newsletter. It’s free to sign up, and you’ll be among the first to get alerts about major pet food recalls. New subscribers also get instant access to our 40-page ebook — which has “secrets every cat and dog lover should know.” Learn more here.

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  • http://www.healthyhepper.com Anna

    Wow, I didn’t know that dogs could get hepatitis. Thanks for all the information.