This 6 week old cocker spaniel

Cocker Spaniel eye infections

When I bought my first Cocker, I made all the mistakes. I bought him from a local newspaper ad for a friend. He is an adorable little black we named Buddy. When we took him in for his first visit, our vet said "I love Cocker Spaniels. They keep me in business." I guess that sort of sums it up.

Buddy was 2 months old, so I thought his comment was cynical. He wasn't talking about our little guy. Over the next 3 years, I learned he was probably right. There are shots, worming, health checkups, and visits from his head to his tail, not to mention grooming and training.

As time went on, I picked up some knowledge and a few tools. Since then, the costs have gone down, while enjoyment has gone up.

Vets are good for general health advice, but there are eye specialists in most towns and cities. If you suspect your Cocker has serious problems, you might consider a specialist. Eye problems are common enough that most reliable kennels have their breeders' eyes certified.

Blindness, cataracts, and night blindness occur in some Cockers. Treatment of these serious ailments require the services of a specialist. Watchful care can keep minor problems from becoming big problems.

Most Cockers have a discharge from the eyes. In the light colored breeds, this can be seen as a staining down the sides of the nose. In healthy eyes, this is limited to a few 'eye boogers' that can be wiped away with a damp cloth, daily. If this discharge builds up, bacteria begins to grow, which can infect the eye. Bimonthly, a wash rag with anti-bacterial soap, or no-tears shampoo, can be used to wash this area. Cleanliness is the best treatment for this condition.

Facial hair on many Cockers must be trimmed away from the eyes. Short hair is easier to keep clean. When we brought home Breezie, her eyelashes and whiskers had grown until they were constantly rubbing her left eye. She was in constant pain, and there are several spots on the lens of the eye. Monthly grooming of the muzzle not only elevates this problem, but also makes her more attractive.

Occasionally, problems will crop up. Watch for heavy blinking, soreness, redness, excessive rubbing or an odor. Most times this is a simple infection that can easily be cured.

Many Cockers have "droopy" lids. This is part of that mournful, sad eyed look many people associate with the Cocker. The droopy lower lid allows foreign material to be trapped under the lid and encourages infections. Good kennels have had success in breeding this condition out of their lines. This condition can be surgically repaired. In this plastic surgery, a small piece of the lower lid is removed, tightening the lid. Cleanliness helps keep this from being a major problem in most cases.

On your next visit, ask your vet if he/she can examine the eyelids for internal lashes. An odd occurrence, some lashes will turn, or grow, inward. Left untreated, these cause constant irritation and frequent infections, leading to serious eye problems. Your vet will sedate the pet and cauterize the lashes. This is a minor surgery, with only a mild risk.

Eye infections sometimes happen. These can be identified by an increase in discharge, often accompanied by an odor. Other symptoms might be redness, "sleepy" eyes, lethargy, rubbing with the paws, or a "sad" reaction in a normally happy pet. Your vet might prescribe a salve. This is applied to the corner of the eye and rubbed in. Once treatment begins, a noticeable change occurs in the first couple days. Follow the instructions carefully for the full period of treatment. If the infection isn't gone at the end of treatment, or if it returns in the next few weeks, get advice from your vet before resuming treatment. It is likely there is another cause for the problem.

Eye salves often contain steroids, so they must be used sparingly. Excessive use of steroids can cause serious eye problems, including blindness.

Occasionally I'll notice the start of an eye infection. When it first starts, three or 4 applications of the medication will clear it up. The trick is to keep the eyes clean so infections don't start. With 2 dogs in the house, I'm still on the same little tube of medication that was prescribed over 3 years ago.

Everyone who has had a Cocker knows that ears bear watching. The ear canal is a breeding ground for infection. As ear wax builds up, it gives bacteria a growth medium. Cocker ear flaps are styled with long fur, which weighs them down, keeping air from reaching the ear canals.

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