Cherry eye: A Common Condition in Several Dog Breeds

Cherry eye: A Common Condition in Several Dog Breeds

Cherry eye is an obvious condition that should not be left to “resolve” itself.

My first experience with a condition called “cherry eye” occurred about 20 years ago. I had heard of cherry eye but never had a pup in one of my litters develop it so no first-hand experience. Well you know what they say – when it rains, it pours.

A dear friend of mine owned a gorgeous female lhasa apso and though I tried to discourage it, she was determined to breed her just once – for the experience she said. She was not a breeder or handler, Missy was just a family pet, and my friend got the litter she wanted from her. Tragically, not terribly long after Missy delivered her four babies she was killed in an accident. The pups were not old enough to be on their own, and my friend was beside herself in grief over Missy. She was also overwhelmed with what needed to be done for the pups. I stepped in and took her pups since this has happened to me a few times (mother rejection, illness etc.).

The pups did fine and nearing the eight-week mark (the time I told my friend I would be comfortable with her attempting to sell them) I noticed something happening in each one of the pups involving their eyes. It was diagnosed by my vet as cherry eye. Every pup in the litter developed it.

Cherry eye is a condition that affects the third eyelid of a dog. Interestingly enough some cat breeds are also susceptible to it. The third lid becomes irritated and the result is a large swelling usually involving the tear duct that may or may not induce discharge. A veterinarian should treat cherry eye – the longer cherry eye is allowed to continue the larger the swelling will become and the harder to rectify. The condition itself can be painful for the dog and is very unsightly.

Most treatments for cherry eye will involve some sort of surgery, which could be as minor as just replacing the tissue around the tear duct to complete removal of the third eye lid. Removal of the lid is a last resort and usually only done if the cherry eye is left untreated and the tear duct cannot be repositioned.

Cherry eye is more common in lhasa apsos, bulldogs, cocker spaniels, shar-peis, beagles, miniature poodles and Pekingese. Typically, it occurs in younger dogs, from six weeks to 2 years of age.