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Cherry Eye in Dogs and Cats

Vet Talks 2 min read
Black and white mixed breed dog with a cherry eye looking happy while standing outside

Cherry eye is a disorder that affects the third eyelid, also known as a nictitating membrane (NM). In this disorder, the gland of the third eyelid thickens and slips out of its proper place. This results in a red, swollen mass sticking out of the edge of the membrane, next to the lower eyelid. The third eyelid gland contributes to 30-50% of tear production. It has a protective function by releasing immunoglobulins (a protein that possesses antibody activity) to the eyelid, protecting it from infections.

Diagram using an English bulldog to show the anatomy of the eye in relation to a cherry eye in dogs and cats

What Causes Cherry Eye?

Cherry eye in dogs and cats is a genetic disorder. The exact cause is still unknown.

What Breeds of Dogs and Cats are Prone to Cherry Eye?

Young dogs, brachycephalic (smushy-faced) breeds, and toy or teacup varieties are prone to cherry eye. American Cocker Spaniels, Lhasa Apsos, Beagles, Pekingese, and English Bulldogs are at higher risk for this condition.

It is less common in cats than in dogs, however, some flat-faced breeds such as Burmese, Himalayans, and Persians, are prone to this condition.

Treatment Options

As cherry eye is a genetic condition, there are no known preventative measures to avoid it.

Depending on the severity of the cherry eye, treatment may not be necessary. When it is first diagnosed, your veterinarian may recommend anti-inflammatory eye drops to help reduce the swelling. If there is discharge or signs of a bacterial infection, your vet may also prescribe an antibiotic eye medication. However, if it is chronic and is causing problems for your pet, your veterinarian may recommend surgery to preserve the eyelid.

Natural Support For Cherry Eye

Supplements with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties may help.

Supplements with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties may help pets suffering from this condition. Here are some supplements that I recommend:

OcuLove is our oral supplement formulated specifically to support eye health from the inside out. It contains herbs that have anti-inflammatory and infection-fighting properties. Some of the herbs are also known to have antioxidants properties and promote circulation around the eye.

Turmeric supports circulation around the eyes and is also rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties.

Stimmune contains herbs with antibiotic-like properties that help fight infections caused by bacteria. It is a natural aid to promote healthy immune function and help with allergy symptoms. Stimmune also contains anti-inflammatory properties that may help decrease inflammation caused by irritation of the third eyelid.


If you have any questions about cherry eye, your pet’s health, or how herbal supplement can help, let us know! Contact our team of pet experts now by clicking the button below.

Dr. Amanda Nascimento DVM, MVSc, PhD

Dr. Amanda Nascimento DVM, MVSc, PhD

Dr. Amanda completed her undergraduate degree in veterinary medicine in 2010 and graduate studies in veterinary pathology (MVSc. 2012 and PhD 2016) at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of São Paulo. She completed her post-doctoral training at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine – University of Saskatchewan in 2018. Dr. Nascimento will be hosting her own blog series and sharing her knowledge with our extended NHV family.

Published: March 17, 2022

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