Did you know dogs actually have three eyelids? They have an upper and lower lid as well as a third eyelid. Though we barely ever see the third eyelid, it gives added protection to their eye and helps keep it free from debris and dust. But, sometimes the gland in that third eyelid – located in the inner corner – slips and bulges causing a red or pink blob. This is known as a cherry eye.
Why Dogs Get Cherry Eye
Although it is largely unclear why dogs get cherry eyes, if it happens to one eye it will most likely happen to the other. The connective tissue located near the tear gland will become weak and begin to move around. This will irritate the gland, cause swelling, and produce a discharge. Some cherry eyes correct themselves, but it is usually recommended you contact your veterinarian.
Vets don’t necessary understand why dogs develop cherry eye, but it could be caused by a parasite, a bacterial infection, sun damage, dermatitis, cancer, or an issue with their immune system. It’s also hereditary and see in breeds like Newfoundlands, Bulldogs, Cocker Spaniels, Shih Tzu’s, Lhasa Apso’s, and Neapolitan Mastiffs, among others.
If your dog has any thick or watery discharge, a pink or red blob located in the corner of their eye, or any redness in their eyelid lining as well as excessive pawing at their eye, they may be suffering from cherry eye.
Luckily, cherry eye is not life-threatening if treated quickly. To treat cherry eye, the dog will be put under local anesthesia in order to put the gland back in place. Sometimes the vet will remove the third eyelid but it is not always recommended as it could affect tear production. Dogs without a third eyelid can develop “dry eye” and should be removed as a last resort.
Dogs who get their glad put back in place often fully recover. During this procedure, the vet will remove a smart part of the gland, tuck it inside the third eyelid, and tack it into place.
Though they may look scary, cherry eyes are often harmless and fully treatable. If you think your dog may be developing a cherry eye, contact your veterinarian!
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