There are several health issues that go with the breed. You might get lucky and get a Cocker with absolutely perfect health, but if you're going to get into Cockers you need to be aware of the chance that your Cocker might deal with one or more of these common Cocker health issues:
- Cherry eyes (prolapsed gland of the third eyelid). Primarily a cosmetic issue, if you treat it quickly. Can cost several hundred dollars for surgery.
- Glaucoma and cataracts. These are serious eye conditions which can lead to blindness. Sadly, I do hear from quite a few people with an older Cocker who is blind. Extremely expensive surgery can sometimes improve the vision of a dog with cataracts, but I suspect most dogs with cataracts are allowed to go blind. Glaucoma treatments must be done over the lifetime of the dog, and get very expensive. (Suggestion: If you buy a puppy from a breeder that does CERF testing to their adult dogs, your puppy will be much less likely to have eye problems as an adult.) For owners of blind dogs, the Blind Dog Rescue Alliance has compiled a list of sources of financial help.
- Conjunctivitis (eye infections). Very common in Cockers. Not as serious or expensive as some of the other Cocker eye problems, but your vet will make a fair amount off of this, too.
- Distichia (misplaced hair along the edge of the eye, which grow towards the eye and irritate it). Severe cases can require surgery, which can cost several hundred dollars.
- Ear infections. If you never do the preventive maintenance required, your Cocker could get such serious ear infections that his hearing could be threatened. Left untreated, ear infections can get out of hand and surgery can be required. However, if you're willing to do the work to keep the hair trimmed around the ear canal area, and if you use a good ear cleaner on a weekly basis, you can totally prevent ear infections.
- Skin problems such as Seborrheic dermatitis. Oily skin, flaky skin, stinky skin. Difficult problems to treat. Skin problems can also arise from food allergies, environmental allergies, and from flea infestations.
- Excited urination or submissive urination. Compared to other breeds, Cockers are more likely to lose bladder control when happy or frightened. Of course, most Cockers do not do this, but some do... and it can be a VERY frustrating problem to live with.
- Autoimmune diseases. Cockers seem to be more prone to autoimmune diseases than most other dog breeds. This is extremely serious stuff... often fatal within a matter of days. Due to concerns that over-vaccinating can cause autoimmune problems, many university veterinary programs now recommend vaccinations every three years rather than yearly. Learn more >>
- Chiropractic Care. Read Winston's story about how this Cocker is back to his old self thanks to a caring chiropractor.
For a helpful guide on what kind of food might be best for your furkid, check out this Website: http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/
For health warnings about what NOT to feed your Cocker or any pet, see:
Finally, read What To Do If Your Pet Has Ingested Something Harmful.