Cherry Eye In Dogs – What is it and how to treat it?

Jan 17, 2022 FunnyFuzzyUKTeam

Canines have a third eyelid, dubbed the nictitating membrane. This eyelid is positioned diagonally at the eye's inner corner. The tear film, which is composed of water, oil, and mucus, lubricates the eye. Each eye contains two glands, one positioned just above the pupil and one in the third eyelid. It is estimated that the gland in the third eyelid produces between 30% and 60% of the total tear film water; hence, it is critical to preserve this gland's function. This article discusses a disorder that impairs the function of the third eyelid gland, resulting in a decrease in tear film production.

What Is Cherry Eye?

You may sometimes get a peek at the third eyelid in the regular dog eye. It may be noticeable when your pet sleeps or awakens from a nap. Some owners may notice it when their pet recovers from surgery and anesthesia. When the third eyelid gland swells and migrates away from its normal location, owners may notice a red, swollen lump adjacent to the lower eyelid. As a result, the phrase "cherry eye" was coined.

Who Gets Cherry Eye? What Causes Cherry Eye?

Cherry eye is most often found in puppies between six months and two years. The most often afflicted breeds include cocker spaniels, bulldogs, beagles, bloodhounds, Lhasa apsos, mastiffs, and Shih Tzus. Although it is uncommon in cats, it has been documented in Burmese and Persian breeds. Recognize the signs and symptoms to look for to help in rapid diagnosis and treatment.

While the specific etiology of the cherry eye is unknown, the relationship with certain dog breeds and other studies implies, at the very least, that a hereditary susceptibility exists. Practically speaking, the third eyelid does not retain its normal location inside the eye under this circumstance. This may have a relationship and correlation with connective tissue or ligament abnormalities. In certain people, excitement and shock may also play a role in predisposing them.

How to Treat Cherry Eye in Dogs

When a cherry eye is identified for the first time, your veterinarian may offer anti-inflammatory eye treatments to decrease swelling. If there is an accompanying discharge, antibiotic eye medicine may also be administered. If the cherry eye continues to bother you, surgery will be the next step. The optimal therapy entails relocating the gland to its normal place. However, if this does not work, the gland may need to be removed.

While various drugs may be provided to aid in treating cherry eye, surgery is almost always necessary. Your veterinarian may prescribe a topical lubricant to keep the eye and the third eyelid moist and hydrated temporarily. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory creams will be applied to the affected area to treat any related infection and pain/inflammation, respectively. Before surgical treatment, infection and inflammation should be treated.

Surgical options

Numerous surgical procedures and treatments have been used to treat cherry eyes in dogs throughout the years. We understand today the critical need to use a surgical procedure that precisely restores and fixes the third eyelid softly in its normal spot, rather than just excising (chopping off!) the eyelid. Surgical replacement provides the best treatment for preserving the gland's tear production. On the other hand, removing the gland increases the risk of getting dry eye (keratoconjunctivitis sicca) in the eye. This is a painful and sight-threatening illness for the dog, and treating it may be costly.

Historically, the most common treatment for the cherry eye was to remove the third eyelid gland. This is not the definitive therapy to understand the gland's actual function to make tear film. A thick yellow discharge develops when the third eyelid gland is eliminated, and the upper eyelid gland becomes insufficiently tear-producing. The eye generates a blinding pigment layer to defend itself when this occurs. The term keratoconjunctivitis sicca, simply dry eye, refers to this disorder.

How to maintain healthy eyes for your dog

If you believe your dog has a cherry eye, it is critical to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible. While this is not a medical emergency, it might develop health problems over time.

Cherry eye, if left untreated, may cause damage to the tear ducts and chronic dry eye. Additionally, the gland may swell with time, obstructing blood flow. As the swelling increases your dog's discomfort, he may scratch or paw at the eye, increasing the risk of injury and infection.

During your first veterinary appointment, your physician may prescribe dog-safe cherry eye drops to help decrease inflammation. Additionally, these drops may supply critical moisture for comfort and eye health. However, eye drops do not treat cherry eyes.

Typically, the veterinarian-recommended therapy for cherry eye in dogs is eyelid preservation surgery. The gland should be repositioned surgically rather than excised since this retains the gland's critical function of tear generation. With a simple operation, your veterinarian should maintain and adequately relocate the tear gland.

While it may be tempting to postpone surgery, ointment and simple remedies will not address the underlying condition, and your dog will almost certainly need surgery later. Regrettably, there is currently no method to prevent your dog from having cherry eyes. However, there are strategies to maximize your pup's chances of wellness. Provide her with nutritious food and plenty of exercise to help her maintain a healthy weight. Make an appointment with your veterinarian to ensure your pup is current on all preventive care and vaccines, and communicate with your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your dog's eye health.


Is there a red lump in the corner of your dog's eye? It might be cherry eye—a prolapse of your dog's third eyelid's tear gland.

If you find your dog has cherry eyes, schedule an appointment with your family veterinarian immediately. Early treatment of dog cherry eye might assist safeguard your dog's eye health in the long run. In many situations, modest surgery will be required to realign the gland to its usual place.

If you find your dog has cherry eye, schedule an appointment with your family veterinarian immediately. Early treatment of dog cherry eye might assist safeguard your dog's eye health in the long run. In many situations, modest surgery will be required to realign the gland to its usual place.

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