Springer Spaniel health problems

Ear problems

Springer Spaniels are famous for their long and floppy ears but these can be troublesome and cause a few problems for your dog.

Be on the watch for head shaking or scratching, a foul odour from the ears or if your dog’s ears seem painful to touch.

By monitoring and treating ear infections early you can reduce the likelihood of eardrum damage that can lead to deafness. The earlier you can diagnose these conditions, the less discomfort and potential damage your dog will suffer.

Thorough ear cleanings are essential at least once-a-week with Spring Spaniels to keep infections at bay, and for managing chronic, allergic based inflammation known as otitis. Start from puppyhood if possible and keep those floppy ears dry.

Be sure to evaluate your dog’s ears for odour, discharge, pain, or redness. If any of these symptoms are present, put down the cotton ball and contact your vet an appointment. Once the underlying cause of infection or irritation is found, you and your vet will be able to agree on the right treatment.

Springer Spaniel

Dental disease

Your dog’s breath should be neutral smelling and should not have an unpleasant odour from their mouth. Dental disease usually starts with a build-up of plaque, which eventually hardens and forms tartar. This can then lead to inflamed gums, tooth loss, and other health issues.

Your dog’s oral health can have a direct impact on other parts of their body and cause diseases in some of their most vital organs.

Cleaning your dog’s teeth is key to keeping them healthy, with a variety of different toothbrushes, pastes and mouth rinses available to buy. The right diet and certain chew toys can help, too.

Springer Spaniels are more likely than other dogs to have problems with their teeth and gums, so properly looking after them can help to prevent any health issues.


Obesity can be a significant health problem in Springer Spaniels. Obesity is a serious disease that puts dogs at risk of developing other health problems and is likely to reduce their lifespan compared to other, healthier dogs.

To help your dog retain its leaner frame, it’s important to provide your pet with the correct diet, the right amount of exercise, and regular veterinary check-ups.

Eye problems


Glaucoma is a condition of increased pressure in the eye that rapidly leads to blindness if left untreated. Glaucoma can be caused by genetics, infection, inflammation, injury or tumours and is a condition that affects Springer Spaniels.


A cataract is an imperfection in the lens of a dog’s eye which reduces vision and eventually leads to blindness. Cataracts can develop due to old age, diabetes, other eye diseases or simply due to the dog’s genetics. Symptoms include:

  • Cloudiness of the eye(s)
  • Excessive discharge from the eye
  • Sensitivity to bright lights
  • Pain caused by the underlying issue
  • Loss of vision

If you suspect your dog is showing any of these symptoms, then contact your vet immediately so you can get the right treatment and halt the deterioration of your pet’s eyesight.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a genetic disease that affects a dog’s ability to see, as it causes progressive blindness. PRA is not painful, but also not curable. In dogs with the bad gene, early symptoms such as night blindness or dilated pupils usually begin around three to five years of age. A genetic test is available for this condition.

Heart disease

Springer Spaniels are prone to multiple types of heart diseases. These diseases will have different causes, but most share similar signs. Diagnosis requires several testing methods like x-rays, ECG, or an echocardiogram. A vet will also listen for heart murmurs or abnormal heart rhythms during an examination.

Providing your dog with proper dental care, weight control and the right diet can all go a long way in preventing heart disease.

Signs to watch for: weakness or lethargy, fainting or collapsing, laboured breathing, or coughing.

Patient ductus arteriosus

Springers are susceptible to a condition called Patient Ductus Arteriosus (PDA), in which a small vessel that carried blood between two parts of the heart does not close as it should shortly after birth. This results in too much blood being carried to the lungs, causing fluid build-up and strain on the heart.

Watch for coughing, fatigue during exercise, weight loss, shortness of breath, and weak hind limbs. Have your pet examined by a vet; they may recommend to surgically close the problematic valve.


Diabetes mellitus is one of the most common hormonal diseases in dogs and while any breed can be affected, Springer Spaniels are at an increased risk. Diabetes is a serious condition and one that requires diagnosis and treatment as early as possible.

Symptoms include increased eating, drinking and urination, along with weight loss. Treatment requires a serious commitment of time and resources.

Well-regulated diabetic dogs have a good chance of living happy and active lives.

Bleeding disorders

There are several different breeding disorders that can affect dogs, each with its own cause and they all range in severity. A pet can seem normal until a serious injury occurs or surgery is performed, and then severe bleeding can result. Springers are particularly prone to some relatively rare blood diseases, such as Haemolytic Anaemia and thrombocytopenia. Monitor for whitish or yellow gums, instead of the normal bright pink colour. These diseases can be tested for.

Phosphofructokinase (pfk) deficiency

Also known as glycogen storage disease, this is a genetic defect that affects the body’s metabolism of glucose. Symptoms appear anywhere from 2-3 months to several years of age and include exercise intolerance, anaemia, fever, and muscle disease. Fortunately, DNA testing is available to help diagnose this life-limiting disease. Keep a watchful eye, especially during your Springer’s early years.

Bone and joint problems

Elbow and Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a partly inherited condition, where the ball and socket of the hip do not fit or develop properly, leading to loss of function. There is no cure for hip and elbow dysplasia, but it can be managed with lifelong treatment and proper care.

Controlling a dog’s diet, exercise and pain relief are all ways to give a dog suffering from this condition a relatively normal life.

To prevent dogs from developing elbow and hip dysplasia, provide them with age-appropriate exercise and a healthy diet from the start. It’s important that dogs who have this condition are not bred from.

Bone Pain

Springers can suffer from a painful inflammation of the long bones in the legs called Eosinophilic Panosteitis. It usually starts around six to ten months of age and shifts from leg to leg. Diagnoses can be made on examination and X-ray. It usually causes no permanent damage but does require pain medication. Rehabilitation exercises may also be required.

Neurological problems

Several neurological diseases can afflict Springers. Symptoms include seizures, imbalance, tremors, weakness or excessive sleeping. If you notice any of these signs, please seek immediate veterinary care.


Epilepsy is a chronic condition in dogs that is often inherited and causes uncontrolled body movements due to abnormal electrical activity in the brain, with symptoms showing between six months to six years of age. There is no cure for epilepsy but it can be managed once they are on the right medication.

Rage Syndrome

Also known as Springer Rage, this is a dangerous form of dominance aggression that is thought to be a form of epilepsy. Springers with this condition will have sudden and unexpected episodes of extreme aggression which can happen without a specific trigger. After the incident, the dog is completely unaware of what has happened and has no recollection as to what they have done.

Affected dogs may respond to anti-seizure medications but should never be used for breeding.

Skin problems


Seborrhoea is a common skin disease that can cause dry, flaky skin (called seborrhoea sicca) or greasy/oily skin (called seborrhoea oleosa).

Both forms can make your pet uncomfortable and itchy, and skin infections are more likely to occur. Underlying risk factors include Hypothyroidism, allergies, and Cushing’s disease, amongst others.

Auto-immune skin disease

Pemphigus foliaceus is a superficial skin disease that more commonly affects Springers. It often starts around four years of age and causes crusts and hair loss, usually on top of the nose and inside the ear flaps. Some dogs can get it on their footpads and toenails. Bacteria easily invade these damaged areas, leading to secondary skin infections. There is no cure, but there are effective treatments.

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