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All dogs are born with a tear producing gland within the third eyelid. This gland produces 60% of the eye’s tears and is vital to keep the eye healthy. Cherry Eye is a painful eye condition in dogs where this gland prolapses (pops out) and stops working properly. This guide will take you through the causes, symptoms and treatment for Cherry Eye and what you should do if your pet develops the condition.

What is Cherry Eye

Cherry Eye is a prolapsed gland in your dog’s third eyelid. This is a painful condition for your dog and requires immediate attention. If left untreated, the gland can become permanently damaged causing Kerato-Conjunctivitis Sicca which requires life-long medication. At this point, the eye would be at significant risk of developing vision-threatening problems such as corneal ulcers and/or pigmentary keratitis.

Third Eyelids in Animals

Many animals have a third eyelid, usually hidden behind the lower eyelid. The third eyelid sweeps across the cornea, similar to a windscreen wiper, moistening and cleaning the surface of your pet’s eye. At the base of this third eyelid is a tear gland held in place by a small ligament. If the ligament is damaged, the gland can move out of place and become visible. This prolapsed gland is known as Cherry Eye.

Causes of Cherry Eye

Cherry Eye doesn’t have any particular causes, although is more likely to develop in certain dog breeds such as:



English Bulldog


Cocker Spaniel

st. bernards

Saint Bernards

Great Danes

yorkshire terrier

Shih Tzus

Bull Mastiffs

Chinese Shar Pei

Shar Peis

Symptoms of Cherry Eye

Unlike some other eye conditions in dogs, Cherry Eye is very easy to spot. The prolapsed gland will look like a red or pink small bump sitting in the corner of your dog’s eye. This can happen very quickly and in the early stages, can pop back in and out before prolapsing permanently.

You might find that your dog is pawing or rubbing at their eye more often, or may not be able to close their eye. It can happen in one or both eyes, but will usually develop before one or two years of age.

When to Contact Knutsford Vets

Like with all eye conditions, it’s important to contact your veterinarian as soon as you spot the issue. Left untreated, eye conditions can become severe and painful, and in extreme cases, could leave your dog blind.

If you think that your dog has Cherry Eye, call Knutsford Vets immediately on 01565 337999.

Treatments for Cherry Eye


Surgeries where the gland is completely cut out (we do not recommend this) result in KCS 50% of the time, usually between 6 months and 3 years post-surgery.

Dry Eye

Studies have shown, 43% of dogs left untreated develop KCS (dry eye).

Treatment for Cherry Eye

The success rate of this procedure is 95%, but a very small percentage of dogs sometimes require multiple surgeries to correct the problem.

Post-Operative Care and Outlook

After surgery your dog will need to wear a buster collar to ensure that their eye can heal undisturbed. You may also be given eye drops to keep the eye moist, as well as antibiotic eye drops to prevent infection. Anti-inflammatories may be prescribed to settle any swelling.

It is important to note that if your dog has had Cherry Eye in one eye, they are at risk of developing it in the other. It is also important to keep your dog’s eyes moist. Check their tear production and use hydrating eye drops as necessary.

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