Are Cockapoos Healthy?
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All dogs from a larger gene pool are less susceptible to genetic health problems, and cockapoos are no exception. Any mixed-breed dog will be less likely to inherit genetic diseases than a purebred dog. However, since the Cockapoo breed comes from crossing two purebred dogs (the cocker spaniel and poodle), they do have some propensity for developing the most common ailments of each parent breed.
What Are The Cockapoo Common Health Problems?
On the Cocker Spaniel side, some of the most common cockapoo health problems your dog might be prone to are the following cockapoo health problems:
- Hip Dysplasia
- Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)
- Heart Conditions/Cardiomyopathy
- Ear problems
- Luxating patella
- Lumps (would need investigating as to what they are)
On the Poodle genetic side, your Cockapoo might be prone to:
- Eye problems (cataracts, glaucoma, PRA)
- Liver/Kidney Disease
- Ear Infections
What Are These Cockapoo Diseases?
The following will briefly describe some of these cockapoo diseases, so you will know what symptoms to look for in your Cockapoo.
Lymphoma in people and dogs is the term doctors use to describe cancer that stems from lymphocytes, which are a type of white blood cell.
There are many types of lymphoma, but Multicentric Lymphoma is the most commonly diagnosed. This lymphoma occurs in the lymph nodes.
Most often, the way to check your dog for lymphoma is to feel the peripheral lymph nodes, which are:
- On the underside of the neck on either side
- On the front of the chest on either side
- Up behind the bottoms of the ears
- Up inside the armpits
- Up inside of the back legs
- On the backs of the knees
When petting your dog, push a little deeper and rub in a circular motion with the thumb and forefinger to gently palpate for the lymph nodes in the area where the lymph node is located, and you will then know what a normal lymph node feels like. You can even hold them between two fingers. Normal lymph nodes are circular, slippery, and soft and will slide back and forth between your fingers. This way, you will know when your dog’s lymph nodes are enlarged.
Make sure you are familiar with how your entire dog’s body usually feels because you will know immediately if something is wrong.
Note: When a dog gets sick with an infection, her lymph nodes will swell moderately–just like ours do when we are sick. This is normal, and you should not be alarmed. This is a normal immune response to cockapoo health problems.
Diseases of the Eye
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is an eye disease known to be seen in poodles and leads to rapid blindness. You will know if your dog has the symptoms of Progressive Retinal Atrophy if she is/has:
- Having trouble seeing in the dark or dim lighting
- Bumping into things
- Dilated pupils, which make the eyes appear shinier than normal
Glaucoma is a disease in which the pressure inside the eyeball (intraocular pressure) causes pain and vision impairment. Symptoms that you might notice if your dog is developing glaucoma are:
- Eye pain–squinting, rubbing the eye, turning her head away from you if you go to pet her near her eye
- Watery discharge from the eye
- Swelling/bulging of the eye
- Loss of appetite
- A bluish/white cloudy covering over the eye
Glaucoma is manageable with eye medications
Cataracts develop when the eye’s lens becomes cloudy and white, which can cause blindness. Cataracts can be treated with medication and surgery and are associated with certain diseases, like diabetes. You will know if your dog has cataracts if:
- The part of the eye that used to be black is now white or turning white
- Loss of vision/blindness
We have also written another article on cockapoo eye care which could be worth reading.
Canine Hip Dysplasia
This is one of the most common cockapoo health issues and is a painful malformation of the hip joint in which the ball-and-socket joint doesn’t fit quite right. The top of the femur is the ball, which is supposed to fit snugly into the hip socket, but with hip dysplasia, the socket is much more shallow than it should be. This causes abnormal wear and tear of the ball joint, in which the formerly rounded ball part gets flattened and squares off, and then it doesn’t fit in the socket at all, eventually, which is very painful for the dog. Veterinarians diagnose CHD by examining an X-ray to identify cockapoo medical issues like this.
Signs To Look Out For
- Having a hard time getting up from a laying down position
- Hips sway when walking, or a “bunny hop” gait
- Loss of muscle mass in the thighs from non-use
- When you put one hand on the hip joint and with the other hand, you move the leg back and forth, and you feel a grinding or grating feeling of a bone rubbing against another bone
To prevent this, many cockapoo puppy breeders have the mother and father dog’s hips X-rayed and certified by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals before breeding. Seek out these breeders to purchase your Cockapoo puppies from as it will help prevent cockapoo medical issues in the future.
Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)
This cockapoo health issue is a spine disease that often happens in smaller dogs with long backs and short legs. An intervertebral disc acts as a shock absorber between each bony vertebra in the back. In IVDD, the middles of the discs, generally composed of soft, spongy, watery material like a gel, begin to dehydrate and harden. This is painful for the dog and may even cause paralysis.
Signs of Intervertebral Disc Disease
- No appetite
- Yelping or whining when picked up or moving
- He doesn’t want to negotiate stairs
- Tense, rigid abdomen
- Not wanting to go for a walk or jump for a treat or toy
- Holding the head down
- Arching the back
- If you turn your dog’s foot over so that the top of the foot is on the floor, and the dog leaves it there (loss of reflexes)
To prevent IVDD or lower the risk substantially, if you have a smaller Cockapoo, don’t encourage vertical jumping; make sure she is at an ideal weight. If you have high furniture, make her some stairs or a ramp so that she doesn’t have to injure her back jumping on and off of it; and use a harness to walk her instead of a collar.
Specifically, Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) is one of the relatively common cockapoo health problems and many other dog breeds. In this cardiac disease, the heart’s walls wear thin, which decreases the efficiency of the heart’s contracting. This leads to Congestive Heart Failure, which is ultimately fatal.
Signs of DCM are:
- Exercise intolerance
- No appetite
- Laboured breathing
- Cold feet
- Appearing pot-bellied
Diet has a lot to do with preventing heart disease in dogs. A low-salt diet is essential, and supplements like taurine, L-carnitine, Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin B, and Magnesium do the heart good and slow disease progression.
This affects many older dogs, but Poodles have a genetic predisposition for liver disease, and Cocker Spaniels have a genetic predisposition for kidney disease, so your Cockapoo is at a slightly higher risk than a mixed breed dog.
Watch out for the following warning signs of liver/kidney disease:
- Loss of appetite
- Drinking excessively
- Urinating excessively
- Jaundice—a yellow tinge to the skin, gums, and conjunctiva surrounding the eyes
- Pot-bellied appearance
- Bad breath that smells like urine
- Lethargy and increased sleeping
Many foods are specifically designed to help your dog deal with her liver and kidney disease. These diets are low in protein and phosphorus and may include supplements like milk thistle to support liver health issues.
Another one of the cockapoo health problems is a neurological disorder that causes seizures and can be inherited by some Cockapoos and Poodles. Epilepsy is estimated to affect about 0.75 per cent of all dogs and is treatable with medication.
Seizures are characterized by the following:
- Loss of consciousness
- Convulsions—jerking, twitching, stiffening
- Loss of bowel and bladder control
- Chomping/chewing on the tongue
- Foaming at the mouth
- Paddling motions with legs
- Walking in circles
- Excessive drooling
- Attacking an imaginary object
Before a seizure, your cockapoo might seem confused, stare into space, bump into things, or walk-in circles. After a seizure, dogs are generally disoriented and shaky, and their vision may be temporarily adversely affected. Also, they may be scared, aggressive, or try to hide. Remember that your cockapoo is not fully conscious after a seizure, which is why she is acting strange or aggressive. Normal behaviour will resume shortly. Do not try to keep your dog still during a seizure. Keep her away from stairs or anything she could fall off of and wait. You may want to record the seizure to show to your veterinarian so that she knows what type of seizure your dog is having and how to treat it.
How Can I Reduce the Risk of My Cockapoo Having a Genetic Disorder?
The risk of nearly all diseases in dogs has a lot to do with diet. When you feed your cockapoo a diet that is specific to her needs according to her breed predispositions and her existing cockapoo health problems, you will substantially reduce the risk of your cockapoo having future diseases and slow the progression of any current diseases. Many diets are specifically tailor-made to treat certain diseases now. Also, one study found that young dogs with developing joints often running on hard surfaces (frozen ground) had a higher incidence of hip dysplasia, so you may want to purchase your Cockapoo in the springtime when the ground is softer and kinder to developing hips.
Final Thoughts On Cockapoo Health Problems
Remember that these are only the possible ailments that could affect your cockapoo. It is always worth pointing out that any of these might affect your pet insurance, and you should take proper care of your cockapoo.
It is always better to be informed about what might happen in the future regarding cockapoo illnesses so that you will know what symptoms to look out for in your dog. The basics are still the same for cockapoo genetic problems to live a healthy life—a healthy diet, exercise, fresh water at all times, regular vet appointments, playtime enrichment, and lots of love!
If you want to know what the most common reasons cockapoos usually die from then you can read that here.
Mike is the proud owner of a 7-year-old Cockapoo named Luna. He loves to share stories, tips and information about owning a Cockapoo. With over7 years of experience as an owner, Mike is passionate about helping others own and care for their dog.