Dog Health Problems And Illnesses

Help keep your dog healthy by understanding the type of diseases and health problems he may come up against, such as ear infections, skin allergies, fleas and ticks, as well as common dog illnesses to which Cocker Spaniels may be prone.

Your Dog's Health

Cocker Spaniels are generally healthy dogs, but every breed has certain hereditary health concerns which may affect them at some point in their life.

Poorly orange roan cocker spaniel wearing an Elizabethan dog cone. His little pink tongue is peeking out of his mouth.Copyright: J T Poling at

In addition, all dog breeds are susceptible to one or two general dog illnesses, for example; eye problems, ear infections, kennel cough, skin allergies, dog bloat, and the occasional injury. 

Happily, many dog health problems can be avoided by providing our Cockers with a good quality diet, lots of exercise, weekly grooming, and of course, regular check-ups with his vet. 

By keeping a watchful eye on our pets for early signs of illness we can nip emerging problems in the bud to help keep our dog healthy and in tip-top condition!

Dog Health Problems: Hereditary and Common Illnesses

Dog Health Problems

Our Cocker's health is very important to us (and to them too!) so we ought to be aware of any potential dog illnesses that may or may not rear their ugly head.

Please be assured, your dog isn't going to suffer all of the health issues listed below. I've listed them because they are typical health problems associated with the Spaniel breed and could affect your Cocker.

  • Auto-Immune Diseases (AIHA)
  • Patella Luxation
  • Epilepsy
  • Pancreatitis
  • Familial Nephropathy (fatal kidney disease)
  • Canine Hip Dysplasia (abnormal development of the hip joint)
  • Hypothyroidism (can cause skin problems, obesity, and epilepsy)
  • Skin problems such as seborrhoea
  • Allergies caused by food, irritants, or inhalants
  • Ear infections
  •  (Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), Glaucoma, Cataracts etc)
  • Submissive or excited urination.

Thankfully, there are many responsible breeders who test their dogs for some of the above conditions before they breed which not only helps to produce strong, healthy puppies, it also minimises the risk of breeding puppies with unnecessary health problems.

Dog Parasites: Fleas and Ticks

It's almost inevitable that at some point your Cocker is going to pick up canine parasites, such as ticksdog fleas or ear mites

It's an understatement to say they're not very nice, especially if you're squeamish about bugs and 'crawly things'. 

Black and white illustration of a hook flea.Copyright: Wikipedia

You may be horrified if you discover them on your pet, however, it's a fact of doggy life and we must learn to deal with them.

Ticks and fleas can pass on Lyme disease and can cause skin problems, tapeworms and allergies.

If you want to keep your dog healthy, prevention is always better than cure.

You can protect your Cocker with a tick or flea treatment which can be prescribed by your vet or bought at good pet stores. There are also natural flea controls if you prefer a less 'medicated' alternative.

Learn more about these wee beasties and, should your dog become infested, learn how to get rid of them from your pet and your home for good!

Dog Health: Cocker Spaniel Ears

Your Cocker Spaniel's ears may be beautiful but their pendulous design is flawed because they don't allow enough air to circulate around the entrance to the ear canal.

Black, tan, and white cocker spaniel puppy lying on a pink cushion, looking very tired.Copyright: JulesInKY at

This means bacteria can breed easily and as a result, Spaniels can often have recurring ear infections. This isn't much fun for your dog because an infection can mean a lot of pain and discomfort for him!

In serious cases, and especially if left untreated, an ear infection could lead to your dog losing his hearing. 

That's why it's essential to clean your Cocker’s ears at least weekly to help fight infection and excess bacteria. It doesn't take long to do, a couple of minutes is all you need.

Knowing what symptoms to look for will help you to stay ahead of the game and keep your dog healthy.

Learn how to check your Cocker Spaniel's ears so that they stay clean and free from bacteria and infection. 

Dog Health and Anal Glands

Sometimes dogs can have problems with their anal glands (also known as anal sacs). You'll probably know about it because of the smell, and boy do they smell! 

Your Cocker’s anal glands can be found to the left and the right of his anus. They are small pea-like scent glands which, if not functioning properly, can cause unpleasant problems for your Cocker.

Is this dog healthy? You bet he is!Copyright: Andrea Izzotti at

Problems with anal glands are fairly common in dogs, particularly where their diet is poor or the dog is overfed.

(A poor diet usually results in soft poo which isn't solid enough to exert sufficient pressure on the glands to empty them).

Where they're not working properly, your dog's anal glands may become impacted and/or infected, and will need to be cleared.

If you're not too sure about doing this yourself (or you're a bit squeamish!) your vet or groomer can teach you how to clear and express your boy's anal glands so that when you decide you feel confident enough, you can do it yourself!

Dog Health Issues and Dog Breath

One of the most common signs of a health problem for your pet is Halitosis, or dog breath as it's commonly known!

If your dog has bad breath, it’s possible he's indulging in a disgusting habit called Coprophagia but it's more likely to be a symptom of poor dental hygiene which has resulted in gingivitis, or periodontal disease.

Bad breath could also be a sign that you have a constipated Cocker Spaniel!

Dental chews and brushing your dog's teeth on a regular basis can help to keep bacteria at bay and improve his oral hygiene. By the way, if you plan to brush your Cocker's teeth, I recommend brushing his puppy teeth from an early age so that he becomes perfectly happy with the feel of a toothbrush in his mouth.

If your dog's dental hygiene is good, but his breath is very bad, it may be a sign of something more serious, in which case it would probably be a good idea to book an appointment with his vet to rule out any underlying illness.

Dog Health Care: Poisoning

If we took care to lock away all substances that could be toxic to our dogs, accidental dog poisoning could easily become a thing of the past. It's as simple as that!

Unfortunately, many Cockers are still accidentally poisoned in and around our homes every day and in many different ways.

Black, tan, and white, American cocker spaniel with ears swaying gently - gorgeous!Copyright: Vkarlov at

In the home, there are many household cleaners that are very harmful to our dogs, for example; bleach, kitchen and bathroom sprays, oven cleaners, etc.

The garage also holds many substances which could be hazardous to our pets, such as rat poison, antifreeze, (this is particularly dangerous as it smells and tastes good to dogs!) paint thinners, turpentine, and oil or petrol in cans – just waiting for a bored Cocker Spaniel looking for trouble!

Even your garden, the local woods or parkland where you walk your dog can hold many hidden dangers that could make your Cocker Spaniel very sick if he ate them.

We all know how difficult it can be to keep a close eye on what our pets pick up when they're off the lead.  Dogs have accidentally eaten poisonous mushrooms, many with serious consequences, and if you're not aware of which plants can be toxic to dogs, well, that's just another accident waiting to happen!

Even some of the foods we eat can be very harmful for our pets - foods such as grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, and even chocolate!  And while we're on the subject of chocolate, this is a particularly toxic food for dogs, especially if it's good quality chocolate with high levels of cocoa.

The only chocolate that's safe for dogs is the specially produced chocolate drops for dogs which are available in most supermarkets and pet stores.

Don't wait until it's too late. Lock away, or put well out of reach, anything that may accidentally harm your pet.  

Keep your dog healthy!

Is It Right To Neuter A Healthy Dog?

Most vets will recommend we have our dogs neutered as they maintain that castrating a dog (or spaying a bitch) can prolong their life and can help to reduce canine health problems.

Here, I explore the benefits and pitfalls of neutering a dog as well as some of the myths surrounding castration and spaying.

Just for the record my Cocker, Max, is neutered.

Is An Overweight Dog Healthy?

Is an overweight dog healthy? Probably not!

Overweight dogs tend to be more prone to health problems (such as diabetes) and problems related to their joints, so it's important to keep an eye on your Cocker's weight, especially after he's been neutered.

Cockers also have a tendency to become overweight as they move into their older years so I recommend changing your pet onto a 'lighter' kibble (with less protein), cut down on his treats and keep up the exercise.

If you're worried about dog diabetes because your pet is overweight, take a look at the classic symptoms of diabetes to help you decide whether or not there's a problem. As always, don't try to diagnose diseases or health problems yourself, speak to your vet.

Dog Health Insurance

I thought I'd mention pet health insurance here.

Let's face it, with consultation, medication, treatments, x-rays, and surgery costs, (to name but a few) our vet bills can soon mount up and become very expensive - particularly if you don't yet have dog health insurance!

If you've recently acquired a little Cocker puppy it's likely that your breeder has already insured the pup for up to 6 weeks, so don't let it lapse, act now to ensure you have continuing puppy health insurance.

There are several things you should know before renewing or taking out pet insurance so I thought it might be helpful to cover it here to help you understand exactly what your insurance quote should cover.

And don't forget to check the small print, not just to see what's covered, but more importantly, to discover what’s not covered!

More Pages You Might Like

Two adult cocker spaniels (one chocolate-brown and white, and one black and tan) posing for the camera against a plain white background.Learn How To Groom Your Cocker Spaniel

Grooming Your Cocker Spaniel regularly will help you spot signs of ill health before they become a serious problem.

Keep your dog healthy by nipping potential problems in the bud!

Although we might think your puppy eating his poop is a disgusting habit, it’s fairly common in the doggie world.

Follow this link if you'd like to learn why dogs eat poop and what you can do to help him break the habit. 

Cocker Spaniel Rage Syndrome. Sounds scary huh?

Don't worry, this condition is much rarer than people think. It's definitely recommended reading though!

Learn how to keep your dog healthy and understand which dog diseases and illnesses your pet may have to deal with during his lifetime - forewarned is forearmed!

Please Note:

Our dog's health is very important to us and is high up on our agenda, but it's essential that when we believe our pet is unwell we don't try to diagnose symptoms ourselves.

Yes, we need to be aware of dog health concerns, dog illnesses and symptoms and their remedies, but we must always consult a qualified veterinary if we're at all worried about our pet's health.

Photo Credits for Dog Health:
1. J T Poling at -
2. Wikipedia -
3. Julesinky at
4. Andrea Izzotti at
5. Vkarlov at