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Should I Buy a Dog With a Cherry Eye?

Although a dog with a cherry eye should be monitored closely by a vet, they can still live normal lives.

Before purchasing a dog with cherry eyes, one would have to understand the treatment, the care, and the financial responsibility involved with owning a dog with this condition.

This article will give you more information on this condition and how it is treated.

Is Cherry Eye Bad for Dogs?

As with any condition that involves the eye, it is crucial to seek proper veterinary care to prevent further complications and damage. Cherry eyes can cause multiple problems, including chronic dry eye, incomplete closure of the eye, and even blindness. 

Have you ever had an eyelash stuck in your eye? It’s pretty annoying and uncomfortable, isn’t it? I imagine this is how a dog with cherry eyes often feels. Since the tear gland has been affected by the cherry eye, your dog’s eye can no longer produce tears. 

This can cause a sandpaper-like feeling each time they blink. Your dog may rub his or her face on the carpet or paw at the affected area. It’s best to keep them from doing this. It can cause more irritation and increase the risk of infection.

Diagnosing a cherry eye is relatively easy, considering the red protruding mass coming from the corner of your dog’s eye is fairly noticeable. Your veterinarian may also perform a series of tests, including a Schirmer tear test to ensure your dog does not have dry eyes. 

However, if your dog is diagnosed with dry eye, it can easily be managed. Keep in mind that dry eye is a lifetime condition and must be treated appropriately. Ophlamalic medications are available to treat dry eyes, and these typically come in an eye drop form or an ointment. 

They provide lubrication to your dog’s eye since he or she can no longer make tears, and this will give them immediate relief. Depending on the severity of your dog’s dry eye, you may need to apply the drops or ointment a couple of times throughout the day to keep your dog’s eye lubricated. 

Is Cherry Eye Contagious in Dogs?

Cherry eye is caused by inflammation in a tear gland in the third eyelid resulting in the prolapse of the nictitans that cause a “red bump” in the corner of the dog’s eye

Although unpleasant to look at, this condition is not contagious to humans or other animals. Even though this condition is not contagious, some dog breeds are predisposed to developing cherry eye. 

Is Cherry Eye Contagious in Dogs?

These dogs are known as Brachycephalic breeds (with wide, flat faces). Cherry eye is more common in young dogs under one year, especially in these breeds: Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Beagles, Saint Bernards, Mastiffs, Poodles, Lhasa Apsos, Cocker Spaniels, Pekingeses, and Shih Tzus. 

Dogs that are predisposed to cherry eye are more likely to have a relapse even after surgical repair. 

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Cherry eyes can happen in felines, too, but it is scarce. The symptoms in cats are the same as in dogs; red protruding mass, pawing at the affected eye, and excessive squinting. As with dogs, surgical repair is the only treatment to correct cherry eye in cats. 

Can The Cherry Eye in Dogs Correct Itself?

Unfortunately, the cherry eye almost always requires treatment to be corrected. The sooner, the better. Your veterinarian will discuss the proper treatment that best fits your pet’s needs. 

Most of the time, surgery is required to fix your dog’s cherry eye and preserve the eye’s health. There are a few surgical techniques that can be used to correct cherry eye. 

The Tucking Method

‘The Tucking Method’ consists of your vet permanently placing a single stitch to tuck the third eyelid back into its original spot. The most common complication with this method is the stitch becoming undone, and a second or third stitch may be required. If this does not work, your vet may suggest a different route.

The Imbrication Method

The second is ‘The Imbrication Method’. Your veterinarian will remove a piece of tissue directly from the gland. This method is more challenging because it is often difficult for the vet to determine how much tissue to remove. 

Once the tissue has been removed, dissolvable sutures are placed to tighten the gap where the tissue was removed. This causes the gland to go back to its original spot, fixing the cherry eye. Complications can occur with this method as well, such as inflammation and improper suturing, causing the cherry eye to return. 

Removal of the Third Eyelid

The third method used to be the most popular way to correct the cherry eye is the complete removal of the third eyelid (nictitating gland). This method is no longer the preferred treatment since the third eyelid is the main source of tear production. 

However, this method does permanently correct the cherry eye since the gland has been removed; there is no chance of it prolapsing again. The most common complication with this method is dry eye.

If the upper eyelid does not supply adequate tears, this can cause keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye). If dry eye occurs, your veterinarian will prescribe ocular drops and ointment to provide lubrication and comfort for your dog. 

What Happens if The Cherry Eye is Left Untreated?

Cherry eye is not life-threatening but is very painful for the dog and should be corrected as soon as possible. 

Let’s say you decided surgical treatment was just too extensive for your pet, and you choose to leave it untreated. What would happen? If the cherry eye is left untreated, it could cause eye infections, chronic dry eye, incomplete closure of the eye, and even blindness. 

The only way to permanently fix a cherry eye is surgical correction. The treatment for correcting cherry eye often depends on several things. 

First, your veterinarian may not have enough experience to complete this tedious surgery and refer you to a specialist. Second, the overall health and age of your pet play a significant role in this decision. Putting an elderly dog under anesthesia is a big risk, especially if they have underlying health conditions besides cherry eye. 

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However, this does not mean it can’t be done. Your dog will just require more monitoring while under anesthesia. Upon successful completion of the surgery, the nictitating gland returns to normal function within weeks. Discuss with your veterinarian the best route for you and your pet. 

Should I Get My Dog’s Cherry Eye Fixed By a Vet?

Yes, the only way to correct a cherry eye is to surgically reposition the gland back to its original state or completely remove the affected tear gland. As I said, if left untreated, it could cause more damage to your dog’s eye and vision. 

If your veterinarian suspects an infection, they may prescribe oral and ointment antibiotics before the operation. Your veterinarian may also refer you to an ophthalmologist who specializes in ocular repair and treatment. 

The recovery time for this operation is typically 7 to 10 days before you see improvement in the eye. You should expect some swelling around the eye before it returns to its normal appearance, as with any operation. 

Should I Get My Dog Cherry Eye Fixed By a Vet?

After your pet has the procedure, they will be prescribed oral antibiotics and ointment antibiotics for 5 to 10 days to ensure no infection occurs. Your dog will be required to wear an e-collar for a week to prevent him or her from rubbing and scratching at the surgical site as it heals. 

Absorbable stitches are typically used, and you do not have to take your dog back to the vet to have them removed. However, if a suture comes undone, it could scrape your dog’s cornea causing corneal ulcerations. 

Approximately two weeks after the surgery, your vet will want to recheck your dog’s eye to ensure it has healed properly and has not become infected. Your dog may also be required to have ocular checkups with the veterinarian ophthalmologist every year. This is to ensure the nictitating gland does not prolapse again. 

How Much Does It Cost to Fix a Cherry Eye On a Dog?

This typically depends on your vet clinic and how much they charge for this procedure. Veterinary ophthalmologist specialists can charge anywhere from $2,500 to $4,000 for this surgery. 

Now, this depends on the severity of the cherry eye and the health of your pet too. The success rate of this procedure is generally 90% successful. The remaining 10% at risk of the gland prolapsing again could include, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Beagles, Saint Bernards, Poodle breeds, Lhasa Apso, Mastiffs, Cocker Spaniel, Pekingese, and Shih Tzus. Persian and Burmese cats are also predisposed to cherry eye. 

In the event the gland prolapses for a second time, your veterinarian will recommend a different surgical technique in correcting the cherry eye. Most times, a stitch is not anchored properly, resulting in the gland slipping out and the cherry eye returning. 

In summary, knowing the treatment and financial obligations of buying a dog with cherry eyes is a personal decision. It is best to seek veterinary care as soon as possible as this condition is very uncomfortable for your dog.