Dog Health Insider

The Dog Owners Guide To Canine Cherry Eye

Cherry Eye In Dogs

Canine cherry eye is as you can see from the picture a very upsetting condition. Just like humans dogs have tear glands and your dog’s tear gland wraps around the cartilage of the third eyelid. However, when the attachments on the underside of the third eyelid become weak this will allow the tear gland to become prolapsed (as you can see from the picture). The tear gland is actually still the same size but it will start to bulge from beneath the eyelid causing the ‘pink’ cherry like appearance.

Unfortunately the bulge can lead to secondary problems as they eye starts to become irritated leading to conjunctivitis becoming a recurrent problem.

Some breeds are more prone to canine cherry eye including Cocker Spaniels, Boston Terriers, Bulldogs and Beagles. This condition can also be inherited (i.e. a predisposed weakness in the connective tissue). It is also more common in younger puppies.

Due to the fact that the tear gland affected is responsible for a large amount of your dog or puppy’s tear production alongside redness and inflammation the eye can also become dry (as the amount of tears being produced stops or is limited).

Treatment For Canine Cherry Eye

Treatment for canine cherry eye will normally involve the vet prescribing antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs. Treatment may also involve the gland being completely surgically removed but this will result in your pooch having to have eye drops administered for the rest of his life. Conventional treatment for the condition will now involve surgery to place the gland back in it’s correct position to where it was before the problem developed.

Causes Of Canine Cherry Eye

As previously mentioned it is possible as the tear gland becomes affected that the eye becomes dry leading to Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (dry eye). This condition occurs when the tear gland stops producing enough tears leading to dryness and ultimately a dry cornea. One of the classic symptoms of Dry Eye (and one that I used to see in my Shih Tzu Oliver) is a build up of thick mucopurulent discharge (this is because the actual tear film contains a thin mucus layer).

Due to this thick discharge also appearing in symptoms of Conjunctivitis it is possible that the two health problems can become confused with Dry Eye sometimes treated as if it was Conjunctivitis.

Other causes of Dry Eye can include:

1. Your pooch may have been born without tear glands although this is very rare – it is more common is small breeds.

2. If your dog’s third eyelid has to be removed then Dry Eye might develop.

3. If the tear glands have become damaged through injury or illness the this can cause the condition. For example Distemper, conjunctivitis,Addisons disease, and bacterial blepharitis can lead to Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca.

4. Another cause of the eye problem can be due to the nerves of the lacrimal glands becoming damaged. Interestingly then the tear glands are also activated by a facial nerve that passes through the middle of the middle ear. Consequently any middle ear infections can affect the tear glands (causing problems with tear production). Of course as previously mentioned canine cherry eye is another potential cause of the condition.

Treatment for Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca

The old style treatment (and one that has been used for many years) is the constant application of eye drops (or artificial tears). However this treatment has now been replaced by a new treatment that helps to stimulate tear production (this is through a drug called Cyclosporin being administered – this also needs to be for the life or your pet but it is highly effective in treating the condition).

Below we have listed a collection of pages we have devoted to common eye problems in dogs…


Glaucoma… This serious condition should be treated as a medical emergency as it can cause blindness in very little time.


A guide to a collection of common eye problems… This is a complete guide and probably the most comprehensive guide on the Internet.


Cataracts… is a condition that can lead to blindness. Learn all about this condition on this page.


We bet you didn’t know…

1. The eyes are lubricated by the Lacrimal glands which help to produce tears. The tears not only help to stop the eyes from drying out they also contain very important immune substances that help to protect the eye from infections. Each of your dog’s eyes have two Lacrimal glands.


2. A common misconception is that dog’s see in black and white. Dogs are able to see in color but they have problems telling the difference between green, orange, red and yellow (dogs are classed as red and green color colorblind). Basically when your dog sees any of these colors they all appear as the color yellow. An example of this in action would be when you throw a red ball for your dog to retreive when you are out for a walk. Your dog may run straight past the ball as the red ball and green grass will all appear yellow to your dog (so the ball is invisible).


3. Cherry eye is more common in younger dogs. In fact it is seen more often in dogs aged under the age of two years old. There is some evidence to suggest that the condition can be hereditary (caused by a genetic weakness in the connective tissue).


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