Cherry Eye in Dogs: Causes & Risk Factors

Dogs can get a condition known as cherry eye, where their eyes swell up and turn red. In this post, our Sharpsburg vets explain the causes and treatment of cherry eye.

Understanding Cherry Eye in Dogs

Your pet has a third eyelid, known as the nictitating membrane, serving to shield their eye from dust and maintain moisture. "Cherry eye" arises when the gland of this third eyelid protrudes, causing it to invert or flip.

Cherry eye can result in reduced eye lubrication, leading to dryness, pain, and discomfort. In severe cases, a prominent cherry eye may hinder your pet's ability to fully shut their eye, resulting in prolonged exposure of the cornea and potential additional harm to the eye.

What causes cherry eye in dogs?

Certain breeds exhibit a higher predisposition to cherry eye. The stability of the third eyelid is maintained by fibrous connections. In specific breeds, there's a suspicion that these connections are weaker, increasing the likelihood of gland prolapse.

Additionally, environmental allergies can prompt swelling of the third eyelid gland, potentially leading to prolapse in some pets.

Is there treatment for cherry eye?

Cherry eye repair surgery preserves and replaces the prolapsed third eyelid gland so that the third eyelid is once again functional.

Before surgery, our veterinary team will perform a thorough pre-surgical examination to ensure that your pet is a good candidate for anesthesia. It is strongly recommended that your pet receives pre-anesthetic blood work to ensure that no health concerns go undetected.

How do you care for a pet after cherry eye surgery?

  • Keep your pet in a quiet and comfortable space
  • Offer food & water after surgery
  • Resume normal feeding the day after surgery
  • Do not feed your pet junk food, table scraps, or milk
  • Make your pet wear a cone
  • Give all medications as directed
  • Limit your pet’s activity and keep them clean
  • Do not bathe your pet or have it groomed during the recovery period

Complications of Cherry Eye Surgery in Dogs

The eyes usually heal a few weeks after surgery, however, some patients may experience a re-prolapse of the third eyelid gland and require additional surgery. Other complications of cherry eye surgery include:

  • Lethargy lasting more than 24 hours
  • Severe pain, depression, or weakness
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Labored breathing
  • Infection of the surgical site
  • Inflammation of the gland lasting more than a few weeks
  • Injury to the eye

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Are your dog's eyes looking swollen or puffy? Contact our Sharpsburg pet hospital today if you have any questions about your pet's health.