Canine cherry eyes, or otherwise known as canine nictitans gland prolapse, is a common eye disorder that affects a number of dog breeds. This condition occurs when the nictitans gland (also known as the third eyelid) becomes swollen and protrudes out from under their upper eyelid. The appearance resembles a pink-colored “cherry ” near their inner corner of their eye.
Cherry eyes aren’t usually painful and are not a serious condition, but they should be treated to prevent complications such as ulceration and infection. Treatment usually involves the swollen gland being surgically removed, although sometimes topical medications could be prescribed. Surgery is usually successful in correcting the problem.
If left untreated, canine cherry eyes can cause excessive tearing, irritation, and occasionally, vision impairment. It is also important to note that this condition is not contagious and does not spread from one eye to the other.
If you think your dog has cherry eyes, it’s important to get veterinary attention as soon as possible to reduce their risk of further complications.
Symptoms of Canine Cherry Eyes
Canine cherry eyes can be easily identified due to the visible “cherry” protruding from under their upper eyelid. Other symptoms include:
- Excessive tearing
- Vision impairment
While this condition is usually not painful, it should be treated as soon as possible to reduce their risk of further complications. If left untreated, canine cherry eyes can lead to ulceration and infection.
Diagnosing Canine Cherry Eyes
Diagnosing canine cherry eyes usually involves your veterinarian doing a physical examination. During the exam, the vet will check for signs of swelling or protrusion in their third eyelid. They can also use a special magnifying device to get a closer look at the eye. In some cases, additional tests can be ordered such as blood work or x-rays to rule out any underlying conditions that may be causing the condition.
Stages of Canine Cherry Eyes
The first stage is associated with mild to moderate swelling in their third eyelid. This stage can cause excessive tearing, irritation and occasionally, vision impairment.
In the second stage, the third eyelid becomes more swollen and protrudes further out from under the upper eyelid. It can also become discolored. At this stage, treatment is needed to reduce the risk of further complications.
In this stage, the third eyelid has become ulcerated and infected. Treatment is needed in order to prevent long-term damage to their eye or even blindness.
Treating Canine Cherry Eyes
When canine cherry eye is diagnosed, treatment is needed to reduce the risk of further complications. Treatment usually involves the swollen gland being surgically removed, although sometimes topical medications can be prescribed. Surgery is usually successful correcting the problem. It’s important that follow-up visits with a veterinarian are made after surgery to ensure that the condition has been properly treated.
Preventing Canine Cherry Eyes
While there is no guaranteed way to prevent cherry eyes, there are some steps that can be taken to reduce the risk that your dog will develop this condition. These include:
- Regularly checking your dog’s eyes for signs of swelling or irritation.
- Keeping your dog away from any foreign objects or irritants that could cause eye irritation.
- Regularly clean your dog’s eyes with a wet cotton ball or soft cloth.
- Making sure your dog is up to date on all their necessary vaccinations and that they’re eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise.
- Visiting the veterinarian if you notice any signs of eye irritation, swelling or redness in your dog’s eyes.
It’s important to keep in mind that cherry eyes can have long-term effects on your dog’s vision if left untreated. If your dog has any signs of a third eyelid protrusion, be sure to get veterinary attention as soon as possible. Depending on the severity of the condition, your vet can recommend topical medications or surgery. While this condition can’t always be prevented, following the above steps can help reduce the risk of them developing cherry eyes.