PetMeds® Cherry Eye in Dogs

One of the most common eye problems seen in especially young dogs is the appearance of a swollen and protruding third eyelid.  While this can occur in any breed, we do see it more commonly in certain breeds, especially Cocker Spaniels and Shar-Peis. The swollen third eyelid actually looks like a small tumor as it is red and often engorged with blood and can cover much of the eye (from its origin at the inner corner of the eye near the nose).  While it most typically occurs in one eye, some dogs can eventually have both sides affected. Although cherry eyes may appear unsightly, they can be treated with surgery, or managed with eye drops and antibiotics.

Because of its swollen and red appearance, this condition is often commonly referred to as a “cherry eye.”  While it is alarming in appearance, most dogs are not bothered at all by the swelling.  Since this third eye lid is a major source of tears for dogs, chronic protrusion can lead to a reduced tear production in the eye and the eventual development of a condition known as dry eye. In the past, many veterinarians often removed this third eye lid, but since a significant number of dogs developed dry eye after surgery, the standard of treatment for this condition is to now surgically replace the swollen third eyelid back in place, rather than removing it.

For those clients who can’t afford the surgery or need to wait, then I simply have clients use artificial tears several times a day keep the eyes moist, and use topical antibiotics as needed for any secondary infections. If needed, prescription drugs like Optimmune or Cyclosporine are often prescribed should a pet develop the complication known as dry eye, which often appears as a thick mucous covered eye that is red and inflamed.  The important point I want to make to clients is that this condition is not health threatening and can certainly be managed in the above manners, depending upon the pet and the given client’s financial constraints.

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  1. My lhasa apso had cherry eye and it stayed out for 6 days. My vet put him on BNPH ointment and after one dose, the cherry eye regressed. Surgery was averted.

  2. I just recently adopted a beagle who has been diagnosed with dry eye. He was severely neglected by his previous owners and developed an ulcer and both eyes are now inflamed. The ulcer has since cleared and now he’s only on neopolydex drops and cyclosporine ointment. I’ve been told he will need cyclosporine forever. Is this really the only option? Aren’t there terrible side effects? Not to mention the expense…

  3. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMarch 31, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    No real side effects from topical cyclosporine. In old days we just used artificial tears several times daily to eyes and topical antibiotics if they became infected or inflamed. . Some clients will still use that as an option.

  4. I read your blog when I was in Quebec. I bookmarked your site and read your post again when I reached CA after I purchased my new ed online computer. The site is excellent and looks the best in new!

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  5. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianAugust 12, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    Thanks for your kind comments on our service. Please pass along to your friends and relatives.

  6. Can I get BNPH ointment from you or do I have to see a vet?

  7. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianSeptember 18, 2013 at 12:39 am

    You need written script from vet.

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