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Cherry Eye in Dogs: Causes Symptoms and Treatment Options

Cherry Eye in Dogs

As a pet owner, it is important to understand the various health issues that your furry friend may face. One of the conditions that can affect dogs is cherry eye, also known as a prolapsed nictitating membrane or third eyelid gland.

What is Cherry Eye and its Anatomy? The nictitating membrane, also known as the third eyelid, is a thin layer of tissue in the corner of a dog’s eye.

It has a gland that produces up to 50% of the tear film, which lubricates and protects the eye. When this gland pops out of place, it causes a red mass in the corner of the eye, known as cherry eye.

Causes of Cherry Eye

Cherry eye can occur due to a genetic predisposition caused by the laxity of tissues in the area. Certain breeds, such as Bulldogs, Cocker Spaniels, and Beagles, are more prone to this condition.

Additionally, facial structures can also contribute to the development of cherry eye in dogs.

Symptoms of Cherry Eye

The most obvious symptom of cherry eye is the appearance of a red mass in the dog’s eye. This mass can be swollen and irritated, causing the eye to have a diminished glossy appearance.

Cherry eye can also cause discomfort and pain in the eye, which can lead to excessive rubbing or scratching.

Diagnosing Cherry Eye

If you suspect that your dog has cherry eye, a veterinary professional will need to perform an eye workup. This typically involves an eye exam, which includes the use of a fluorescent stain to check if there are any corneal injuries.

Additionally, tear production will be tested to ensure that the gland is properly functioning.

Treating Cherry Eye

The treatment for cherry eye can vary depending on the severity of the condition. For mild cases, eye drops or artificial tears may be recommended by the veterinarian.

These drops will help lubricate the eye and decrease inflammation. In more severe cases, surgery may be required.

Cost of Cherry Eye Treatment

The cost of treating cherry eye can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. An eye exam may cost up to $300, while cherry eye surgery can cost up to $2,000 or more.

Surgical Options for Cherry Eye

If surgery is necessary, there are two main options available: removal of the third eyelid or tacking the gland back into place.

Removal of the Third Eyelid

Removal of the third eyelid is a more invasive option for the treatment of cherry eye. It involves the complete removal of the gland from the dog’s eye.

While this option can be effective, it can also have harmful effects, including a higher risk of dry eye due to the loss of tear production.

Tacking the Third Eyelid Back into Place

Tacking the third eyelid back into place is a less invasive option for treating cherry eye. This procedure is usually performed by a veterinary ophthalmologist and involves repositioning the gland and securing it in place using a small stitch or suture.

This procedure has a higher success rate and does not have the same risks associated with gland removal. In conclusion, cherry eye is a condition that can affect dogs of all shapes and sizes.

Typically occurring as a red bulge in the corner of the eye, this condition can range from mild discomfort to more serious problems that require surgical intervention. As a responsible pet owner, it is important to seek appropriate medical attention for your furry friend if you suspect that they have cherry eye.

Prevention of Cherry Eye

While there is no guaranteed way to prevent cherry eye, it is possible to take steps to reduce the likelihood of the condition occurring in your dog. Understanding the breed predisposition and any influencing factors can help in this regard.

Predisposition in Certain Breeds

Some dog breeds are more prone to developing cherry eye due to genetic predispositions. Breeds with looser skin, such as Bulldogs and Shar Peis, are more likely to develop the condition.

While there is no way to prevent this inherited trait, it is important for owners of these breeds to be aware of the potential for cherry eye and to monitor their pet’s eyes accordingly.

Influence of Facial Structure

Another factor that can influence the likelihood of cherry eye in dogs is the facial structure of the breed. For example, breeds with short, flat faces, such as Pugs and Boston Terriers, are more prone to eye-related issues due to their anatomy.

Breeds with deep-set eyes, such as Basset Hounds and Bloodhounds, may also experience eye problems due to the way their eyes are positioned in their skull.

Preventative Measures

While not a guaranteed prevention method, keeping a close eye on your dog’s eye health can help catch any issues early on. Regular check-ups with your veterinarian can help identify any potential problems, including cherry eye.

It is important to be aware of any changes in your dog’s eye appearance or behavior and to seek medical attention promptly, if necessary. In addition to regular check-ups with your veterinarian, there are other preventative measures that you can take to reduce the likelihood of cherry eye.

These include:

1. Good Nutrition

One of the most important things you can do for your dog’s overall health is to ensure that they are getting proper nutrition.

Feeding your dog a balanced diet with all of the necessary vitamins and minerals can help maintain healthy eyes and prevent any potential issues related to deficiencies. 2.

Avoiding Eye Irritants

Exposure to eye irritants, such as smoke or dust, can increase the likelihood of eye-related problems. Avoiding these irritants can help maintain healthy eyes and reduce the risk of cherry eye.

3. Consistent Grooming

Regular grooming can help reduce the buildup of dirt and debris around your dog’s eyes, which can contribute to eye infections and other issues.

Keeping the fur around the eyes trimmed can also prevent entry of foreign objects into the eye. 4.

Maintaining Appropriate Playtime

While playtime is essential for a dog’s overall health, it is important to be mindful of the type of play. Roughhousing and excessive rubbing of the face can put strain on the eyelid and increase the risk of cherry eye.

Encouraging more gentle forms of play can help prevent this. In conclusion, while there is no guaranteed way to prevent cherry eye in dogs, taking preventative measures can significantly reduce the likelihood of the condition occurring.

This includes being aware of the breed predisposition and any influencing factors, as well as regular vet check-ups, good nutrition, avoiding eye irritants, consistent grooming, and appropriate playtime. In summary, cherry eye is a condition affecting dogs that occurs when the gland within the third eyelid pops out of place.

While no guaranteed method to prevent the condition exists, owners can take steps to reduce risks such as good nutrition, consistent grooming, and avoidance of eye irritants. The treatment for cherry eye may vary depending on the severity of the condition, and surgery is an option that carries varying risks.

It is crucial for pet owners to seek prompt medical attention for their dogs if they suspect they have cherry eye. By understanding the breed predisposition and any influencing factors, pet owners can maintain their pet’s overall eye health and reduce the likelihood of any potential issues.

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