Cocker Spaniel Eye Problems

Cocker spaniels are known to be genetically prone to several eye problems, even leading to loss of eye sight among them and therefore it becomes very necessary that one should take good and observant care to notice any symptoms before hand in the dog so that timely diagnosis and treatment can be given.

Cocker Spaniel Eye Problems can be caused and manifested due to a plethora of reasons including allergies, infections and diseases and it becomes necessary to first be on a lookout for signs. These signs can vary from form to intensity and include redness, inflammation, constant squinting, extra morning discharge, a bulging or sunken eye, crusting around the eyelids, eyes appearing to be cloudy or milky, production if mucus, apparent loss of vision due to perceived actions, irritation, constant pawing at eyes and extra production of tears.

The common Cocker Spaniel Eye Problems that occur can be read as below.

‘Entropion’ is a condition in which inward rolling of the bottom eyelid causes hair to rub against the eyeball leading to extensive irritation. It can be hereditary or congenital and can be corrected by surgery.

‘Distichiasis’ occurs when there is irritation in the eyeball due to abnormal hair growth from the oil glands of the dog’s eyelids. There are no immediate symptoms when the hair is soft or fine but in case of irritation and constant rubbing by the dog to relieve itself, redness, inflammation and squinting ensues. Treatments are offered by the vet according to the severity of the problem in which a course of antibiotics may be prescribed after removal of the abnormal hair manually or through electrolysis.  ‘Ectopic Cilia’ is similar to Distichiasis but, in this case, the hair grows from the inner surface of the eyelid. This can be very painful for the dog and can even cause corneal ulcers.

A very common problem in cocker spaniels, though at the initial stages it is supposed to be only a cosmetic problem in nature is the ‘Cherry eye’ or the ‘Prolapsed third eyelid gland (PTEG)’. It is caused when the third eyelid of a dog that is a tear gland protrudes out of its normal position and appears as a red swelling in the eye. This can be removed through corrective surgery, the latest recommendation being surgical suturing of the gland back into its place.

‘Dry eye or Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca’ occurs due to lack of tear production causing dryness plus irritation, leading to infections, injured corneas and even blindness. This also occurs when cherry eyes in dogs are operated and the tear gland is surgically removed. This is also one of the reasons why veterinarians now recommend suturing the gland instead of removal.

One of the hereditary Cocker Spaniel Eye Problems includes ‘Cataracts’ in which the eyes become cloudy or milky in appearance and leads to impeding of the vision. If left untreated it can lead to loss of eyesight and can be corrected on time through surgery.

‘Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)’ is also an inherited dog eye problem to which cocker spaniels may be prone, and which leads to eventual blindness. Symptoms include dilated pupils, night blindness and difficulty in low light, a loss of confidence when walking down stairs, and a slight glowing or shining to the eyes. Unfortunately there is no treatment in this case as yet.

The most concerning of all Cocker Spaniel Eye Problems is ‘Glaucoma’ in which abnormal increase in eye pressure due to drainage problem in the eye causes eyeball enlargement eventually leading to loss of sight. Symptoms include protruding eyeballs, redness and sensitivity to light. Treatment involves medication or surgery depending on the type but it is likely that the cocker might lose its eyesight despite treatment.

‘Conjunctivitis’ or ‘pink eye’ is basically inflammation of the membrane connecting the eyelid to the eyeball, arising due to allergies or bacterial, fungal and viral infections. It is one of the most common eye problems in cocker spaniels and is quite painful. Symptoms include redness, weeping, swelling of the eyelid and a yellowish green discharge. The cocker keeps rubbing its eyes with its paws to relieve itself. As it can be contagious, precautions must be taken so that it is not spread to other dogs and the veterinarian may prescribe antibiotic eye drops or ointment depending on the cause of the eye problem.

‘Eyelid tumors’ or ‘cancers’ are usually found in middle aged to older dogs and can be treated with surgery. Delaying surgery can cause them to grow and harm the eyelid completely. It is important to note that dogs with reoccurring conjunctivitis and discharge should be examined for growing tumors.

There are a few things that can be incorporated into the cocker spaniel’s grooming routine and daily life in order to avoid Cocker Spaniel Eye Problems including cleaning and inspection of eyes, using eye drops and other medication only on the veterinarian’s prescription, keeping the environment clean and avoiding removal of any foreign substance in the dog’s eye without a veterinarian.