Cocker spaniels can be wonderful dogs with friendly personalities and the best of house manners. Unfortunately, the breed does have a increased risk of certain health conditions. This is not to say your spaniel will definitely come down with these conditions but rather that you should keep an eye out for the signs of them. This way, you can hopefully catch the disease or ailment and start treatment as early as possible, leading to a healthier and happier pet.
Many cocker spaniels develop cataracts as they age. Essentially, this means the lens of the eye becomes opaque and thickened, which impairs the dog's vision. By the time you can visually see the lens clouding, the cataracts have been progressing for a while, so it's important to be on the lookout for earlier signs such as:
- No longer being sure which way to run when a toy or stick is thrown.
- Failing to make eye contact with you like he used to.
- Bumping into walls and furniture.
- Reluctance to go outside at night or venture into a dark room.
If your vet confirms that your dog does have cataracts, he or she may recommend cataract surgery, in which the lens of the eye is replaced with an artificial one. Without this procedure, your dog will eventually go completely or nearly blind.
This is another eye condition that cocker spaniels are known for. Entropion occurs when the lower eyelid begins to droop or fold inward. This can cause the eyelashes to rub on the eye, leading to tearing, irritation, and even scratches on the cornea. If you notice that your dog's lower eyelid looks strange or that his eyes are often irritated, ask your vet about entropion. It could lead to eye infections if left untreated, but thankfully, it is correctable with a simple surgery in which the eyelid is turned outwards and sutured.
Most smaller dog breeds are prone to kidney stones, and cocker spaniels are no exception. These are hard balls of calcium or other minerals that build up in the kidneys, causing the dog intense pain as they try to urinate. Symptoms include whining in pain during urination, blood in the urine, straining to urinate, and general irritability. Your vet can often break up kidney stones with a laser, making them easier to excrete. If prone to kidney stones, your dog may need to be on a special diet in order to prevent them from coming back. Feeding moist food and encouraging your dog to drink more can be a good preventative measure, too.