Many people are concerned about cherry eye in dogs so let us know all the details regarding this condition, from its symptoms to its treatment. We all know that the eye is a vital sensory organ for vision. It is delicate, and the veins associated with the eyes are fragile and gentle.
The eyes are protected by “eyelids” and “eyelashes”. They together form a shield that safeguards our eyes from foreign particles and injuries.
Human beings have two functional eyelids. As per the researchers, they did have a third eyelid called “plica semilunaris” which is now a vestigial organ. Meanwhile, certain living organisms like birds, camels, cats, dogs, etc still have a functioning third eyelid which is called a “nictitating membrane”.
What Is a Nictitating Membrane?
The “nictitating membrane” or “third eyelid” is a semi-transparent fold of skin that is located in the inner corner of the eye. It is more prominent in certain organisms like reptiles, birds, gorillas, and canis and Felis species.
Functions of the Third Eyelid
- The third eyelid ensures double protection of the inner parts of the eyes, such as the cornea, iris, etc.
- It keeps the eyes clean and moist all the time.
- It helps in clearing the debris found in the nook and corner of the eye.
- It contains IgA antibodies (made up of plasma cells) in their subcutaneous region which prevent infection.
- It frames the tear film and safeguards the ocular region.
Nictitating Membrane in Dogs
All breeds of dogs possess nictitating membranes. It is only partially visible due to its inward-facing position. If you keenly observe your dog’s eyes, you will find the eyelid in the form of a triangular filmy tissue around the inner corner.
They are delicate and prone to various infections. One of the most common infections that occurs in the nictitating membrane is the “cherry eye” infection.
What Do You Mean by “Cherry Eye” Infection?
The “cherry eye” infection, also known as “adenitis”, occurs due to the inflammation of tear glands present in the nictitating membrane. The inflammation, in turn, causes protuberance of the third eyelid. The medical term for the infection is “prolapsed nictitating membrane”.
It usually affects young dogs (up to 2 years of age). Certain breeds of dogs are more prone to this infection when compared to others. The breeds include English cocker spaniel, Bullmastiffs, English, and French bulldogs, Beagles, etc.
Unlike other diseases, it is easy to detect and is completely curable. There are many ways to find out whether your puppy is suffering from cherry eyes or not. Some of them are listed below.
Symptoms Associated With “Cherry Eye” Infection
- A reddish-pink bulge around the inner corner of the affected eye (sometimes it affects both the eyes).
- The affected eye becomes dry and itchy. Sometimes, painful itchiness also occurs.
- At times, excess tears are produced in the affected eye.
- Persistent squinting and blinking of eyelids.
- There are chances to notice a pus-like discharge from the protruded region.
- Constant pawing of eyes by your dog is itself a clear symptom of this infection.
Causes of the Infection
Cherry eye in dogs is mainly caused due to “genetic disposition”. Genetic disposition is a genetic attribute that makes the person or organism more likely to suffer from genetic diseases through mutation and other causes.
However, the various causes for this infection are still unconfirmed. In certain cases, excessive friction around the tear film makes the eyes more prone to infection.
Treatment For Cherry Eye in Dogs
Prognosis: Surgical replacement of the affected nictitating membrane is the most efficient method to cure cherry eye in dogs. It reduces the risk of infection. This is the most recommended treatment as it provides an immediate cure and also prevents the infection from spreading across other parts of the eyes. However, if severity increases, the entire gland is surgically removed.
However, if identified at the earlier stage of the infection, there are chances to get treated without surgery but it is seen rarely, as most of the cases require surgery to get treated.
How to Prevent Cherry Eye in Dogs?
- As I mentioned above, this is a congenital infection. So, there are not any preventive measures specifically meant for preventing cherry eye in dogs.
- However, certain steps have to be followed regularly. If your dog feels uncomfortable or if your dog scratches its eyes too often, immediate actions have to be taken.
- Do not experiment on your dog’s eyes by following random home remedies as soon as you see redness. It could lead to other problems.
- Consult your veteran ophthalmologist before using saline solutions.
- Make sure your dog doesn’t paw its eyes too often, as it could lead to infection and pus formation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Safe to Adopt a Dog With Cherry Eyes?
It is safe to adopt a dog with cherry eyes only after a DNA test to check whether its DNA carries the causative gene or not.
How Contagious Is Cherry Eye in Dogs?
It is not contagious to human beings and other organisms, but there are chances of the offspring of the infected animals developing the same infection. Hence, it is always advisable to consult your veteran before buying or adopting one.
Does the Treatment Cost Too Much?
As the treatment involves surgical procedures, it is a bit expensive when compared to other treatments. However, the cost varies from region to region and from veteran to veteran.
What Are the Risks Involved?
The risk factors vary depending upon the stages of the infection. If found early, it can be treated with no risks. If left untreated, it causes excessive dryness of the eyes, which in turn leads to vision impairment. So, do not fail to observe every change occurring in your dog.
Cessation | Cherry Eye in Dogs
The cherry eye in dogs is not as dangerous as it sounds. It is completely curable if found early. So, as owners of the dogs, it is our responsibility to take utmost care of the dogs, especially during their pre and postnatal periods.
Dogs require constant care and nurturing. Hence, think twice or thrice before you adopt one and do so if you are ready to take its responsibility and take care of it. Always consult your veteran before taking important decisions regarding your dog’s health.