Understanding KCS in Cocker Spaniels

Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment of Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca


CockerSpaniel.org Volunteer Staff

2/19/20243 min read

Causes of KCS in Cocker Spaniels:

KCS in Cocker Spaniels is primarily caused by an immune-mediated destruction of the lacrimal glands, which are responsible for producing tears. Other factors that may contribute to the development of KCS include:

  1. Genetics: Cocker Spaniels may have a genetic predisposition to KCS, making some individuals more susceptible to the condition.

  1. Underlying Health Conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as autoimmune disorders or viral infections, can affect tear production and contribute to the development of KCS.

  1. Medications: Some medications, particularly those that affect the immune system, can impair tear production and increase the risk of KCS as a side effect.

Symptoms of KCS in Cocker Spaniels:

The symptoms of KCS in Cocker Spaniels can vary in severity but often include:

  1. Excessive Blinking: Dogs with KCS may blink more frequently than usual in an attempt to alleviate eye discomfort.

  1. Eye Redness: The eyes may appear red or inflamed due to irritation and inflammation caused by dryness.

  1. Thick Discharge: A thick, mucoid discharge may accumulate in the corners of the eyes, particularly upon waking or after periods of sleep.

  1. Squinting or Rubbing: Dogs may squint or rub their eyes frequently in response to discomfort and irritation.

  1. Corneal Ulcers: Chronic dryness and inadequate tear production can lead to the development of corneal ulcers, which may cause pain, redness, and decreased vision.

Diagnosis and Treatment:

Diagnosing KCS in Cocker Spaniels typically involves a comprehensive eye examination by a veterinarian, which may include:

  1. Schirmer Tear Test: This diagnostic test measures the quantity of tears produced by the eyes. A reduced tear production indicates KCS.

  1. Fluorescein Staining: Fluorescein dye may be used to detect corneal ulcers or other abnormalities on the surface of the eye.

  1. Ophthalmic Examination: A thorough examination of the eyes, including assessment of tear film quality, corneal health, and ocular surface integrity.

Once diagnosed, treatment for KCS in Cocker Spaniels aims to increase tear production, alleviate symptoms, and prevent complications. Common treatment options include:

  1. Artificial Tears: Lubricating eye drops or ointments are used to supplement natural tear production and provide relief from dryness and discomfort.

  1. Topical Medications: Anti-inflammatory medications or immunosuppressive drugs may be prescribed to reduce ocular inflammation and promote tear production.

  1. Cyclosporine Eye Drops: Cyclosporine is a medication that helps stimulate tear production and reduce inflammation in the lacrimal glands. It is often used as a long-term treatment for KCS.

  1. Surgical Options: In severe cases of KCS that do not respond to medical treatment, surgical procedures such as parotid duct transposition or placement of a temporary or permanent lacrimal gland substitute may be considered.

Prevention and Long-Term Management:

While KCS cannot always be prevented, there are steps Cocker Spaniel owners can take to help reduce the risk of this condition:

  1. Regular Veterinary Care: Schedule routine eye examinations with a veterinarian to monitor your Cocker Spaniel's ocular health and detect any signs of KCS or other eye conditions early.

  1. Genetic Screening: If you plan to breed Cocker Spaniels, consider genetic testing to identify dogs that may carry the genetic predisposition to KCS. Responsible breeding practices can help reduce the prevalence of this condition in future generations.

  1. Environmental Factors: Minimize exposure to environmental factors that may exacerbate dry eye symptoms, such as dust, wind, smoke, or dry air.


Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS) is a common and potentially debilitating eye condition that can affect Cocker Spaniels. By understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for KCS, Cocker Spaniel owners can take proactive steps to promote their pet's ocular health and well-being. Early detection, prompt veterinary care, and appropriate management are key to minimizing the impact of KCS and ensuring a good quality of life for affected dogs. If you suspect your Cocker Spaniel may have KCS or any other eye-related concerns, consult with a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.


Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS), commonly known as dry eye, is a chronic and potentially painful eye condition that affects dogs, including Cocker Spaniels. This condition occurs when there is a deficiency in the production of tears, leading to dryness, inflammation, and irritation of the eyes. While KCS can affect any breed, Cocker Spaniels are among the breeds more predisposed to this condition. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for KCS in Cocker Spaniels is essential for early detection and effective management.