Procedure Spotlight

My Dog Has Cherry Eye. Now, What Should I Do?

By the Veterinarians at Story Road Animal Hospital in San Jose, CA

If you’re reading this, chances are your dog’s veterinarian has diagnosed your dog with a condition called Nictitans Gland Prolapse, which is commonly called Cherry Eye, and you are wondering what you should do.

First, don’t panic. This is not a life threatening emergency, but it is a serious condition which will likely get worse if not properly treated by a veterinarian.

Here at Story Road Animal Hospital in San Jose, we’ve successfully treated many pets who had Cherry Eye. The veterinarians and staff have put together this article with answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Cherry Eye.

Please keep in mind that only a licensed veterinarian can legally diagnose any animal medical or behavioral issue.

What is Cherry Eye in Dogs?

Basically, it is your dog’s third eyelid gland which has come loose from where it should be attached and sort of “pops out” (prolapses) at the inside corner of the lower eyelid area of your pet’s eye. This blob of third eyelid gland tissue is usually somewhat round in shape and red in color (like a cherry) giving it the name.

Is Cherry Eye Painful for My Dog?

While this does not appear to cause pain, if left untreated it can develop into more complicated (and oftentimes painful) conditions and serious infections.

What Causes Cherry Eye?

When the nictitating membrane responsible for holding your dog’s third eyelid gland in place gets damaged, torn, or otherwise loses its anchoring grip which allows the tear gland to pop-out. Once out into the open, the gland tissue can become irritated, dry, or swollen and turn red.

Will Cherry Eye Go Away on Its Own or Without Treatment?

No. Surgery is almost always necessary. However, in certain cases and when caught early, your veterinarian may prescribe a treatment plan first targeting the inflammation. Bringing your pet in for an evaluation as soon as possible may give you and your veterinarian more treatment options in addition to or instead of surgery.

Which Dog Breeds Are More Prone to Cherry Eye?

Cocker Spaniels, French Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, English Bulldogs, Bloodhounds, and Beagles tend to be predisposed to this condition. However, it can happen in all dog breeds and in some cats, too.

Can Cats Get Cherry Eye?

Yes. Although, it is quite rare.

How Does The Vet Correct Cherry Eye?

As noted above, when caught very early your veterinarian may prescribe treatment options related to reducing inflammation. However, most often your pet will need surgery in order to properly re-attach the membrane and save the important tear duct.

In the majority of Cherry Eye surgeries we are able to save the pets’ tear ducts. However, there are certain cases in which the entire tear duct must be removed. Again, promptly bringing your pet in for an evaluation gives us more treatment options.

Are you concerned your pet may have Cherry Eye or would you like to get a second opinion? Please give us a call, complete the contact form here, or walk-in during regular business hours.

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