What Causes Cherry Eye in Dogs, and How to Correct It

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Cherry eye in dogs isn’t a life threatening condition, but if left untreated can cause your dog eye problems later on. If you’ve ever seen a red bulge in the corner of your dog’s eye, you’ve seen firsthand what cherry eye looks like. What causes cherry eye in dogs, and how is it treated?

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A dog’s eye has three eyelids: an upper and lower lid, as well as a third eyelid we seldom see. The importance of the third eyelid is to give added protection to the dog’s eyes. It acts like a wipe to help keep the eye clear of dust and debris and has a tear gland that produces around 35% of the moisture to the dog’s eye. Sometimes the gland in the third eyelid, located in the corner of the eye next to the dog’s nose, slips out of place and bulges. We see it as a red or pinkish blob, and this bulge is what’s called cherry eye.

Why it slips out of place is not clear, but if it happens in one eye, more than likely it will happen in the other, although it can be months later. What you want to pay attention to in your dog’s eye is any watery or thick discharge, a red or pink blob in the corner of their eye, any redness in the lining of their eyelid or if your dog is pawing at his eye.

For unknown reasons, the connective tissue around the tear gland becomes weak and starts to move around. Movement irritates the gland which leads to swelling that can produce a mucous or clear discharge. It’s possible cherry eye will correct itself within a couple of weeks, but it’s best not to wait.

If it doesn’t correct itself, the longer the gland is out of place, the more swelling there is. This makes it harder to reposition it, and there’s a greater chance it will happen again.

Left untreated, cherry eye can lead to more serious eye problems later on. You need to have your dog examined by your vet as soon as you notice the out-of-place gland.

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