Cherry eye is an unpleasant but non-threatening hereditary condition that affects several dog breeds. Many pet parents worry when they see the famous symptom cherry eye is known for protruding from their pet's eye. The prognosis is usually good, but your dog will require veterinary care. Below, we deep dive into this inherited condition and the causes of cherry eye in dogs.

Cherry eye: Understanding this hereditary condition

Unlike humans, dogs have three eyelids. Known as the nictitating membrane, it's located inside the lower eyelid. It acts as an additional protective layer for your dog's eyes. Within this membrane is a gland capable of producing tears to lubricate the eye. All dogs are born with this third eyelid. However, only some are prone to developing cherry eye.

Breeds such as Boston terriers, bulldogs, cocker spaniels, bloodhounds, and more are at a higher risk of developing this hereditary dog condition. While it doesn't look very appealing, this condition doesn't cause your furry friend any pain or discomfort. But it will require treatment as cherry eye can lead to other more worrying complications if left untreated.

Cherry eye: Symptoms and causes

But what are the causes of cherry eye in dogs, and what symptoms should pet parents look for? Let's start by examining the symptoms. There's one clear telltale sign your dog has cherry eye. If you notice a red or pink swollen mass developing in the corner of your dog's eye near their nose, this is cherry eye.

Typically, you'll also notice the following:

  • they scratch their eye more;
  • dry eye;
  • discharge;
  • swollen eyelid;
  • excessive blinking.

Cherry eye happens when the gland within the third eyelid thickens and slips out of place. This is due to a weakness in the connective tissue around the gland. The causes of cherry eye in dogs include a genetic predisposition, physical trauma, age, or excessive eye scratching. Dogs up to the age of one year and who are predisposed experience cherry eyes the most. Once you understand the causes of cherry eye in dogs, you must consider medical treatment options.  

What treatment options are available for cherry eye?

A veterinarian assessment is essential if your dog has symptoms of cherry eye. During an emergency checkup, a vet will examine the red mass and determine the best way to correct the prolapse. In some cases, a dog may be prescribed a course of anti-inflammatory eye drops to reduce swelling. But in most cases, they'll need corrective surgery. Treatment is based on the causes of cherry eye in dogs.

During a surgical procedure for dogs, the veterinarian will do one of two things: remove the gland entirely or they'll tack it into place. It's normal for your dog to have swelling around the eye after this procedure. Any swelling or pain will resolve in a few days. However, your dog can experience a relapse. Cherry eye can occur in dogs multiple times, even with prior surgery.

Pet insurance for dogs: Does it cover cherry eye treatment?

Not all pet insurance for dogs will cover you for hereditary conditions, but, thankfully, Wagmo does. Our pet insurance with wellness plan helps dog owners access affordable pet health care. When you sign up for a plan, our team will reimburse you for the costs of cherry eye treatment. This includes medications, surgeries, and after-care appointments.

Being a pet parent can be challenging, but the costs of dog ownership don't have to be a burden. Sign up for Wagmo's pet insurance for dogs plan today to give you and your pooch the best chance at leading a happy and healthy life—no matter what comes your way. Read our FAQs to learn more, or take our pet insurance quiz today.