Pet Wellness Guides > Cocker Spaniel Health Issues: Prevention and Treatment - Pet Insurance Review

Cocker Spaniel Health Issues: Prevention and Treatment

Posted: 05/15/2023 | BY: Jenna Bruce | Categories: Dog , Ear infection , Health problems , Pet care

Cocker Spaniels are known for their extraordinary good looks. Those eyes… that luxurious coat… the long, soft ears make Spaniels one of the prettiest dogs that exist. But these pups also happen to have really happy and easy-going personalities, which makes them a joy to have around. If you’re thinking of getting a Cocker Spaniel or already have one, it’s important to know they, like other dog breeds, have certain health problems they’re prone to. Keep reading to learn all about Cocker Spaniel health issues including how to treat and prevent them!

Cocker Spaniel Health Issues

Ear Infections

I just mentioned those long, beautiful Spaniel ears. It’s one of their most distinctive traits, if not THE most distinctive. Historically Cocker Spaniels were used as hunting dogs, and their long ears helped them direct scents from their surroundings to their nose. While pretty and functional, their ears can cause them a bit of trouble.

Their long ear flaps continually cover their ear canal, creating a dark, moist space where bacteria and yeast can thrive. This is why it is so important for Spaniel parents to check their pup’s ears (do they smell yeasty or off?) and clean them regularly. 

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a genetic condition where the ball and socket hip joint does not develop normally leading to chronic dislocation of the joint. While hip dysplasia is more common in larger breeds, such as the Great Dane and German Shepherd, dogs of all sizes can develop it.

Dogs with this condition often limp, refuse to go on their daily walks, and may even begin to refuse to play their favorite games. Should your pup show any of these signs, it’s important to get her in to see the vet as soon as possible. While hip dysplasia cannot be cured, it can be effectively managed through diet, therapy and gentle exercises. 

Cocker Spaniel Health Issues

Luxating Patella

Another joint issue commonly found in Cocker Spaniels is luxating patella. This medical term refers to the dislocation of the kneecap. In mild cases, the kneecap pops out and then back in on its own every so often. Pups that develop grade 3 or grade 4 luxating patella will have a kneecap that has dislocated and will permanently stay dislocated. 

Spaniels with mild luxating patella often limp or walk a few steps, then lift their affected leg up in the air to give it a rest. 

Mild cases of this condition can often be managed through gentle exercises and physical therapy. More severe cases will typically require surgery to correct.

As a genetic condition, meaning a dog is born to this predisposition, there is no way to prevent luxatingpatella. Your best bet is to always pay attention to your pup so you can notice any early signs and get her treatment.

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Eye Disorders

First their lovely ears make them susceptible to ear infections and now those beautiful brown eyes can also be impacted by common eye disorders. Cocker Spaniels often develop hereditary cataracts. These appear as cloudy spots in your pup’s eyes. Cataracts often develop later in life but they can actually manifest in Spaniel puppies as well.

Progressive retinal atrophy is another common eye disorder where the cells in the dog’s retina develop abnormally. This condition more often than not leads to blindness. As a hereditary condition, there is nothing pup parents can do to prevent it.

Luckily, these hereditary eye conditions do not cause your pup any pain. And dogs tend to do very well with limited vision or even complete blindness, as their other senses kick in and help them navigate their environment. 

 Separation Anxiety

Most dogs suffer from separation anxiety, as dogs are very social creatures and want to be around their family (pack) at all times. Certain breeds, however, experience separation anxiety far more severely.

Cocker Spaniels want to be around their humans. When they are left alone for long periods of time, they can become anxious and, as a result, destructive. 

If you think your pup may be experiencing severe separation anxiety when you’re away, speak to your vet. It might be that your pup would benefit from medication to help keep her calm.


Cocker Spaniel health issues include hypothyroidism, which is a deficiency of the thyroid hormone. This auto-immune condition is thought to be caused by environmental factors such as eating a diet of highly processed commercial dog food.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism include recurring skin and ear infections, weight gain, joint pain and lethargy. If your pup shows any signs, get her in to see the vet. Yor pup may need medication, or her problem might be resolved through a change in diet.

Auto-immune Hemolytic Anemia (AIHA)

AIHA is a blood disorder that develops when red blood cells are destroyed by the dog’s immune system. The blood cells are destroyed faster than new ones can be produced, which leads to anemia. Cocker Spaniels are one of the breeds predisposed to this condition and it generally develops in middle age. 

AIHA can be so mild that you see no signs of it and your dog is not really affected by it. It may also be sudden and severe. Signs of the condition include rapid breathing, rapid heartbeat, poor appetite, lethargy and weakness. You may notice her gums are also pale. 

Most forms of AIHA are treatable with either steroids to slow the destruction of red blood cells, and sometimes even chemotherapy drugs. Those cases that come on suddenly and severely can lead to death if not caught in time. If you ever see any of the signs listed above, get your fur baby to the vet ASAP.

With the right care and nutrition, Cocker Spaniels often live between 12 to 15 years. Though they may be predisposed to the health issues on this list, it doesn’t mean your dog will develop any of them. It’s simply important for you to be aware of what could happen and know what signs to look for so you can get your precious pup the care she needs should she develop any of these health issues.

Pet Insurance Can Help

Cocker Spaniel health issues can be mild and they can be sudden and severe. In either scenario, you want to have peace of mind knowing you will be able to afford whatever care your pup requires. Pet insurance helps you pay for costly vet bills that you might not otherwise be able to pay.

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  1. “Cocker Spaniel Dog Breed Health and Care”
  2. “Cocker Spaniel: Breed Diseases”
  3. “All About American Cocker Spaniels”



The information contained on this blog is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your pet's health care or treatment plan.

The authors of this blog are not veterinarians and do not claim to be experts in pet health. The information provided here is based on our own experiences and research, as well as information from reputable sources. However, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information.

We encourage you to do your own research and consult with your veterinarian before making any decisions about your pet's health.

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