Treatment Options for Dog’s Cherry Eye

Cherry eye is painful for your dog and increases the risk of more serious conditions like conjunctivitis or keratoconjunctivitis sicca, commonly referred to as “dry eye”. If you suspect your dog has cherry eye, take them to the vet immediately.

Cherry eye is a common and treatable condition in dogs.

Cherry eye is a condition where the third eyelid protrudes from the eye. The third eyelid is normally inside the eye and only becomes visible when your dog opens its eyes in bright light.

Cherry eye is not a serious condition and does not affect your dog’s vision, but it can be uncomfortable for them if their tear ducts are blocked by swelling or inflammation. Your dog may also have some mild discomfort from the redness around their eyes due to irritation and inflammation caused by excessive tearing.

What causes cherry eye?

Cherry eye is a condition in which the third eyelid protrudes from the inner corner of an animal’s eye. The third eyelid is a thin, transparent membrane that covers most of the inside corner of your dog’s eyes and keeps them moist. It has a small gland that produces a liquid that lubricates their eyes, but once this gland becomes enlarged, it can block your dog’s vision and cause discomfort.

The cause behind cherry eye is not known for sure but experts believe it may be related to:

  • An injury to your dog’s face or head
  • Congenital deformities such as cleft palates
  • Infections like conjunctivitis

How is cherry eye diagnosed?

Your veterinarian will examine your dog’s eye and check for a prolapsed gland by gently pressing around the eye. If an eyelid is swollen, it may be difficult to do this; in that case, it would be best to wait until the swelling goes down before examining the dog’s eyes. The vet will also check for any damage from the prolapse or any signs of infection such as redness or discharge from one or both eyes.

If cherry eye is present but surgical correction is not an option because of your dog’s age, temperament or other factors (see below), then treatment with antibiotics may help ease symptoms and prevent complications such as inflammation or scarring from occurring.

Is cherry eye serious?

You should know that cherry eye is not a serious condition. It is a minor medical condition in which the third eyelid of your dog’s eye bulges out. While it can be uncomfortable for your dog, it does not affect your pet’s vision or hinder its ability to see. If you suspect that your dog has cherry eye, it is important to visit an experienced veterinarian so that he or she can determine if any underlying health issues are contributing to this condition.

How is cherry eye treated?

Cherry eye treatment is typically surgical, and the cost of this procedure can vary between veterinarians. It’s important to find a vet who uses a surgical technique that’s comfortable for your dog, based on their personality.

Cherry eye surgery has been shown to be successful in most cases. However, it doesn’t always resolve the problem permanently—dog owners should be prepared for periodic recurrence of cherry eye as their pet ages or experiences trauma or irritation from other sources (such as injury).

The risks associated with surgery include pain and/or swelling after the operation; infection; inflammation around the eye; excessive bleeding during or after surgery; corneal damage due to improper placement of stitches (this may require subsequent treatments); damage to nerves or muscles around the eyelid causing drooping eyelid(s); scarring around eyes causing permanent cosmetic changes in appearance (e.g., sunken eyes).


Cherry Eye is not an emergency, but it is a condition that should be treated as soon as possible to avoid further complications. After diagnosis, your vet will recommend either surgical or medical treatment depending on the severity of the condition and the age of your dog.

A minor cherry eye can often be managed with over-the-counter ointments and other topical medications; however, if these methods fail then surgery may be necessary to treat severe cases (cherry eye surgery recovery time varies from dog to dog). For some dogs, removal of the gland itself may be required for long term relief from chronic symptoms.