Dog Health Care: Keep Your Cocker Healthy!

Help keep your dog healthy by understanding the type of health problems he may come up against and being prepared for them. Health issues include ear infections, skin allergies, fleas and ticks. Other dog illnesses common to Cocker Spaniels include auto-immune disease (AIHA), Kidney disease and Pancreatitis.

Keep your Cocker Spaniel healthy!

Your Dog's Health Is Important!

Cocker Spaniels, like 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.

An orange roan cocker spaniel wearing an Elizabethan dog cone.If you take care of your dog's health, he will live a long and happy life!

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 their vet.

By watching our pets for early signs of illness, we can nip emerging problems in the bud to help keep our dogs healthy and in tip-top condition!

Dog Health Problems: Hereditary and Common Illnesses

Dog Health Problems

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

Please be assured that your dog may not be troubled by all the health issues listed below. I've listed them because they are typical health problems associated with the Spaniel breed and could affect your dog's health.

  • 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, many responsible breeders test their dogs for more serious conditions before they breed. This helps to produce strong, healthy puppies and 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 creepy crawlies.

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 cause skin problems, tapeworms and allergies.

Prevention is always better than cure if you want to keep your dog healthy.

You can protect your Cocker with a tick or flea treatment prescribed by your vet, or you can buy flea control at good pet stores. There are also natural flea treatments 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 Flickr.com

This means bacteria can breed quickly, 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 severe cases, and especially if left untreated, an ear infection could lead to your dog losing his hearing.

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

Knowing what  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 to keep them clean and free from bacteria and infection.

Dog Health and Anal Glands

Sometimes dogs 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 correctly, can cause unpleasant problems for your Cocker.

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

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

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

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

If you're unsure about doing this yourself (or you're a little squeamish!), your vet or groomer can teach you how to clear and express your boy's anal glands. When you decide you feel confident enough, you can do clear your dog's anal glands 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, the cause may be indulging in a disgusting habit called Coprophagia. However, your Cocker's dog breath is more likely to be a symptom of periodontal disease or poor dental hygiene, which has given rise to gingivitis.

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

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

If your dog's dental hygiene is good, but his breath is terrible, it could signify something more serious. In this 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 quickly 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 Fotolia.com

In the home, many household cleaners 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. Poisons such as rat poison, paint thinners, turpentine, oil and petrol (in cans) sit lurking, just waiting for a bored Cocker Spaniel looking for trouble!

Antifreeze is incredibly hazardous, and because it smells and tastes good to dogs, spills are often lapped up enthusiastically with severe consequences.

Even your garden, the local woods or the 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 in their mouths when they're off the lead. Dogs have accidentally eaten poisonous mushrooms, many with severe consequences.

Many plants are toxic to our dogs. If your Cocker is an occasional plant eater (aren't they all?), well, that's just another accident waiting to happen!

Even some foods we eat can harm our pets - 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 safe for dogs is the specially produced chocolate drops, which you can pick up 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 recommend having our Cocker Spaniels neutered because they believe castrating a dog (or spaying a bitch) can prolong their lives and help reduce canine health problems.

Here, I explore the benefits and pitfalls of neutering a dog and some 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 often have more health problems, such as diabetes and issues related to their joints.

And because Cockers tend to put on weight after being neutered, keeping an eye on your dog's weight after he's been fixed is essential.

Cockers also tend to become overweight as they move into their older years. To help counteract this increase in weight, I recommend changing your pet onto a 'lighter' kibble (with less protein), cutting down on your dog's treats and keeping 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. 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 a few), vet bills can soon mount up. They can become costly - particularly if you don't yet have dog health insurance!

If you've recently acquired a little Cocker puppy, your breeder will have already insured the pup for up to 6 weeks. It's important not to let it lapse; act now to ensure you have continuing puppy health insurance.

You should know several things before renewing or taking out pet insurance. I thought it might be helpful to cover it here to help you understand 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 important to us, as caring owners, and is high on our agenda. It's essential that when we believe our pet is unwell, we don't try to diagnose the symptoms ourselves.

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

Photo Credits for Dog Health:
1. J T Poling at Flickr.com - https://www.flickr.com/photos/92755733@N00/430533569
2. Wikipedia - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:HookeFlea01.jpg
3. Julesinky at Flickr.com
4. Andrea Izzotti at Fotolia.com
5. Vkarlov at Fotolia.com