Most common health problems in English Cocker Spaniels, plus health care and feeding.


My Complete Health Care Program for your English Cocker Spaniel

If you want to AVOID health problems in your English Cocker, you'll find my health care program very valuable.

It's called "11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy."

Raise your dog the RIGHT way, feed him the RIGHT food, give him the RIGHT vaccinations, avoid unnecessary veterinary expenses, and help him live a longer, happier, and more comfortable life.

If your Cocker Spaniel already HAS a health problem, I'm sorry to hear that. You should immediately begin my health care program, and you may be able to restore his good health – or at least make him much more comfortable. Let me help!

My best-selling dog health book


English Cocker Spaniel dog breed

English Cocker Spaniel Health Care & Feeding

By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2017


Quick list of English Cocker Spaniel health problems

A number of serious eye diseases are the major concern, as they can progress to blindness.

Skin problems caused by itchy allergies and seborrhea are common, along with chronic ear infections.

Epilepsy is a serious concern in English Cocker Spaniels. Heart diseases and thyroid disease are becoming real concerns.

A severe hereditary kidney disease claims the lives of too many young English Cocker Spaniels.

Orthopedic diseases include loose knee joints (luxating patella) and bad hip joints (hip dysplasia), both of which can cause lameness and pain and may require expensive surgery. Intervertebral disk disease is pretty common in Cockers, as well.

(See more health problems below.)


Preventing health problems

Some health problems are inherited. For example, if both parents of your English Cocker Spaniel have certificates proving they were tested and cleared of hereditary eye diseases, luxating patella, and hip dyslasia, your English Cocker has less risk of developing those conditions.

Other health problems can be prevented, or partially prevented, by the ways you raise your dog. If you're serious about doing everything you can for your Cocker Spaniel, my best-selling book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to raise your English Cocker Spaniel puppy (or adult dog) in all the right ways. It will help you be your dog's health care champion!


Here are my dog health tips for raising a healthy English Cocker Spaniel puppy or adult dog:

Obedience instructor and author Michele Welton Dog Health Care – The Sensible Way
Read my advice on daily health care so your English Cocker Spaniel lives a long, healthy life and seldom needs to see the vet.


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Real homemade dog food The Best Dog Food For Feeding Your English Cocker
Food is the #1 foundation for good health. The best diet for feeding your dog is real food. Real chicken, turkey, beef, fish....these are not just "people foods" and I'll tell you why.


Natural dog foods for your English Cocker Spaniel. The Second-Best Dog Food For Your English Cocker
If you can't feed homemade dog food, here are your next-best choices.


Information on booster shots for your English Cocker Spaniel. Vaccinations and Booster Shots: Needed or Not?
How many vaccinations does your English Cocker Spaniel puppy really need? Does your adult Cocker Spaniel need yearly booster shots? The vaccination guidelines have changed! Find out what some vets aren't telling you.


Information on spaying your English Cocker Spaniel. Spaying Your Female Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of spaying your female dog.


Information on neutering your male dog. Neutering Your Male Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of neutering your male dog.


Information on choosing the best vet for your English Cocker Spaniel. The Type of Veterinarian I Recommend
Is your veterinarian really the best choice for your dog? Learn about the differences between vets who practice conventional, holistic, and alternative veterinary medicine.


Assisi Loop Assisi Loop Review: How I Helped Treat Inflammation and Pain
Does your dog suffer from arthritis, hip dysplasia, disk disease, colitis, a skin wound? My honest review of a veterinary device you can use at home to help reduce inflammation and pain.


Complete list of English Cocker Spaniel health problems

The English Cocker Spaniel Club conducted a health survey that included almost 2500 dogs. The average lifespan was reported as 12 years old – not a very long lifespan for a smallish dog.

Eye diseases are the major concern in English Cockers, especially progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), which can appear at 3-7 years old, and cataracts, which can appear between 1.5 and 8 years old and often progress to blindness. Fortunately, a simple DNA test is available for PRA in English Cocker Spaniels, so you can find out at any time whether your dog has the disease, carries the disease, or is completely clear of it.

Other eye diseases in English Cockers include cherry eye, persistent pupillary membranes, eyelash abnormalities, eyelid abnormalities (entropion and ectropion), glaucoma, dry eye, and retinal dysplasia.

Skin diseases such as allergies (which cause itchy skin and often lead to pyoderma) and seborrhea are common in the breed, along with ear infections due to the narrow ear canals and profuse hair inside the ear canals.

Epilepsy is unfortunately common in English Cocker Spaniels, and heart disease (cardiomyopathy and patent ductus arteriosus) is becoming a concern.

Hormonal/endocrine system diseases are fairly common, especially hypothyroidism, Addison's disease, and Cushing's disease. According to the Michigan State University Thyroid Database, up to 17% of English Cockers have low thyroid levels.

A severe kidney disease claims the lives of many young English Cocker Spaniels.

Several blood-clotting diseases (von Willebrand's, factor II deficiency, and thrombocytopenia) occur in English Cockers.

Orthopedic diseases in English Cocker Spaniels include luxating patella (common), hip dysplasia (less common), and intervertebral disk disease. The Orthopedic Foundation of America evaluated the hip X-rays of 7500 English Cockers and found about 6% dysplastic.

A bizarre neurological syndrome known as Rage Syndrome can occur in English Cocker Spaniels, where an affected dog suddenly becomes violently aggressive. In many Cockers, it appears to be related to extreme dominance, where the dog believes that he is in charge of the household and somebody in the family does something that "challenges" his leadership and causes him to explode. However, other affected Cockers are good-natured and well-behaved right up until the moment they flare out of control. Some affected Cockers have abnormally low amounts of serotonin (a calming brain chemical). Whatever the cause, drugs and behavioral modification seldom work and euthanasia is often the only thing you can do.

Cockers who are poorly bred, poorly socialized, or poorly trained can display dominance or aggression without it being Rage Syndrome. In these cases, behavior modification CAN bring the dog under control. Also note that epilepsy can cause behavioral abnormalities, and since epilepsy can be controlled with medication, it's important to consider epilepsy as a possible cause whenever an English Cocker Spaniel displays sudden aggression.

Another neurological disease in English Cockers is Adult-Onset Neuropathy, which causes progressive weakness until the dog can no longer move around.

Other health issues in English Cockers include autoimmune hemolytic anemia, lupus, lysosomal storage disease, deafness (inherited deafness in particolored puppies with a lot of white on their head), and liver disease.

Short toe anomaly is an odd defect where the outside toe of an English Cocker Spaniel's front foot stops growing at about 3 months old, so that the other three toes end up longer.


To help you train and care for your dog

book cover To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.

book cover My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.

book cover My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.