Pet Health

Cherry eye in dogs: All you need to know

October 18, 2011

cherry eye in dogs

Have you ever noticed a strange red bulge in the corner of your pet’s eye and does it like more or less look like a cherry. If yes, then your dog has been infected with Cherry Eye. It is a general term for a prolapse of the third eyelid of the nictitating membrane of dogs. This leads to the development of a red bulge in the internal corner of your dog’s eye.


A dog’s eye possesses three eyelids; an upper, lower and a third eyelid, which we can barely see. The third eyelid’s main function is to protect the dog’s eyes. It operates as a wipe, ensuring that the eye is protected from dust and debris. The third eye lid also has a tear gland, which produces over 35% of the moisture to the dog’s eye. At times this gland in the third eyelid slips out of place and forms a lump, which seems to us as red or pinkish blob. This lump developed is known as cherry eye.

It is usually found in infantile dogs between the age of 6 weeks to 2 years. It is more frequently found in Bloodhounds, Bulldogs, Newfoundlands, Cocker Spaniels, Shar Peis, Beagles, Neapolitan Mastiffs as well as Miniature Poodles, among others. Cherry eye is also found in some breeds of cats, such as the Persian and Burmese cats.


There is no clear reason for the slipping of the tear gland, but it is more likely to affect one eye at first. Later after some months it may affect the other eye as well. There are as such no symptoms for this but you may note a thick or watery expulsion from your dog’s eye or a pinking bulge in the corner of the eye. You can also observe redness in the lining of their eyelid or your dog might start pawing at his eye.

Sometimes due to unclear reasons, the connective tissue surrounding the tear gland becomes weak and starts to move around. This motion infuriates the gland thereby leading to swelling that generates a mucous or clear discharge. There are chances of cherry eye getting cured on its own with a span of some weeks, but it is always recommended that it’s better not to be late. If it doesn’t get cured on its own, the swelling in the eye increases with time, making it more difficult to reposition it. It also leaves a greater possibility of redevelopment of cherry eye. If left unattended, cherry eye may lead to more severe eye problems later on. You should get your dog to vet for examination as soon as you observe that the gland has moved out of place.


The vet treats cherry eye under local anesthesia. They just push the gland back in to its place. Some vets may choose to remove the third eyelid, which is not recommended at the first place. Get a second opinion if required as removal of the eyelid permanently can badly affect proper tear production, which maintains the moisture in eye and prevent it from getting dry. It is recommended that the third eyelid must be removed only and only as a last alternative because it may affect your dog’s eye health as they grow old.

During surgery, the vet removes a small part of the gland and tucks the rest carefully to the inside of the third eyelid. Dogs that have got this type of surgery have positive chances of getting recovered soon. But there is a very low chance of the gland slipping back again. It depends on how swollen the gland was and the type of surgery carried out and so on. That’s why quick medical treatment is important.

If your dog happens to get affected with cherry eye, the other eye should be observed with close attention and its better if you get both the eyes surgically treated at the same time. Post surgery, you will need to be careful that you dogs eye doesn’t get dry. Symptoms that can be a sign of dry eye include a thick pus like discharge from the eye, redness on the eyelid’s lining or a cloudy cornea.

Things to avoid

There is no clear answer found to the question why dogs get affected with cherry eye. But it is found that it could be cause of some kind of bacterial infection, sun damage, cancer, dermatitis fungal infection or may be a result of your pet’s weak immune system. In every case, cherry eye is found to be hereditary, so it is suggested not to get a dog that might have developed this condition.

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