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What Causes Cherry Eye In French Bulldogs?

What Causes Cherry Eye In French Bulldogs?

Unfortunately, our little fur babies are prone to health problems, and a common one for French Bulldogs is Cherry Eye. It is never nice seeing your little one in pain or feeling ill. This is why it is so important to understand your pup’s health risks and how you can treat and prevent them in the first place.

We have various guides that can tell you all you need to know about Frenchies. From how big French Bulldogs get to their eating needs, grooming requirements, and more.

This guide will tell you everything you need to know about the dreaded Cherry Eye and how it is caused. This way, you will be better prepared and can help your French Bulldog should it ever get it.


What is Cherry Eye?

You will have likely seen your doggo’s third eyelid while it was sleeping. It is a red membrane in their eye, and when exposed, it looks like your Frenchie’s eyes have rolled back into its head. You can also spot it post-surgery when your pup wakes up from the anesthetic.

A dog’s eye has this nictitating membrane to fight off infection and protect the eye from dust and debris. It also produces 40% of their tears.

French Bulldog Cherry Eye is a health issue where your dog’s tear gland slips out of place. Cherry Eye occurs mostly in younger doggos, but it can happen at any stage of their lives.

If your French Bulldog has Cherry Eye, you must address it immediately. If you treat it in the early stages, it will not have any major effect on your pup. However, if you leave it untreated for too long, it can cause loads of problems. Untreated, tear production will decrease, and the eye might close completely. This can lead to eye infections, dry eye, pain, blindness, or pigmentation.


The Causes of Cherry Eye

French Bulldogs can get Cherry Eye because they have a third eyelid. This eyelid is called the nictitating membrane, and a tear gland is attached to it at the base, producing a dog’s tears. Their third eyelid is also there to protect and clean their eyes.

French Bulldogs are very prone to Cherry Eye. If you can see your doggo’s third eyelid, then it’s a sure sign that your French Bulldog has contracted Cherry Eye.

There is no set cause for Cherry Eye in French Bulldogs, but vets have some ideas on what can cause it. Cherry Eyes are only common in certain breeds, and it is believed that it is genetic and is a congenital defect. Cherry Eye is believed to be passed from the parents to the pups.

When the eye tissue that holds the nictitating membrane in place starts to weaken, it will slowly pop out of its place. Cherry Eye is common in French Bulldogs as they are susceptible to weakened tissue fiber.

Other reasons include their cartilage being turned inside out in their third eyelid, prolapsed fat in their eye, or abnormal cells in their third eyelid. If you are worried that your doggo has it, you should take them to the vet to get a proper diagnosis and treatment.

The following are some other common causes of French Bulldog Cherry Eye:


Certain breeds are genetically predisposed to tissue fiber weakness. Sadly, the beloved French Bulldog is one of those breeds. The French Bulldog’s third eyelid is highly susceptible to Cherry Eye compared to other dogs.


Puppies under the age of two are more prone to Cherry Eye. However, older Frenchies can develop it too. Cherry Eye appears between the ages of three months and two years for most Frenchies.

When your pup is past this age, you can probably stop worrying so much about it; your adorable French Bulldog should be in the clear then. However, it can occur at any stage in their life, and you will notice that your Frenchie’s eye is red and swollen.


The Symptoms of Cherry Eye

It is pretty easy to notice French Bulldog Cherry Eye; it is characterized by intense swelling, and the mucous membrane is exposed to debris and dehydration. A part of their third eyelid gland is continuously protruding.

In some cases, their tear gland will drop to its usual place, but this means that you likely won’t notice that your pup has Cherry Eye. French Bulldog Cherry Eye can get very big and cover most of your pup’s eye, and in other cases, it can be so little that you won’t even see it.

The following are the most common symptoms of Cherry Eye to look out for:

  • Squinting
  • Your dog’s eyes look very red
  • Dry eyes
  • Pawing of their eye
  • Excessive tear production
  • A swollen eye or swelling around their eyes
  • Discharge


Diagnosing Cherry Eye

We know that Cherry Eye is not the only thing that can cause eye problems. If you notice any of the symptoms listed above, contact your vet immediately to get a diagnosis. French Bulldog Cherry Eye is quite easy to diagnose.

First, the vet will do a full exam of your dog’s eyes, and then they might perform more diagnostics to check the overall health of your Frenchie’s eyes. If your dog is developing Cherry Eye, you will likely notice a decrease in tear production, so the vet might do a Schirmer tear test to measure your doggo’s tear production.

The results of this test will indicate if your dog is suffering from dry eye. The vet can also perform a fluorescein stain test to check their eyes for cornea scratches. Scratches can be incredibly painful and quickly turn into an infection, ulceration, and perforation if left untreated.


Treating Cherry Eye

There are various treatment methods for French Bulldog Cherry Eye. Treating the condition is generally quite simple, but it depends on the case’s severity. The following are some of the most common ways to treat French Bulldog Cherry Eye:

Non-surgical options

In some cases, Cherry Eye may disappear independently without needing treatment. However, this rarely happens, and you will likely need to take your fur baby to the vet to determine the best treatment plan for them. Untreated Cherry Eye can lead to loads of issues, so get it fixed before you have bigger problems on your hands.

Should the vet decide that surgery is unnecessary, they will likely prescribe your dog corticosteroid anti-inflammatory eye drops or topical antibiotics. You need to be sure that you use dog-safe eye drops.

If you catch Cherry Eye in the early stages, then the following treatment methods should be effective enough:

  1. Topical Antibiotic Eye Medication
  2. Anti-Inflammatory Eye Drops
  3. Massage

The vet generally prescribes topical antibiotics when there is a large amount of discharge in your pup’s eye. Eye drops will reduce inflammation and swelling, protect the eyes from secondary infections, and relieve any discomfort and pain your pup may feel. And in mild cases, the vet may be able to massage your dog’s gland back into place.

Surgical options

Are the non-surgical options not doing the trick? Then you may need to consider Cherry Eye surgery. The following are common surgical options:

  • Imbrication Method: This method is fairly new. The surgeon will remove a wedge of tissue from the gland. This type of surgery tends to be quite tricky, and the surgeon must remove the right amount of tissue.
  • Tucking method: This is the most common method. The surgeon will place a permanent stitch in your dogs eye to pull the gland back to its original place.
  • Removal of the affected gland: The surgeon may completely remove the nictitating gland. This is the oldest method used to treat Cherry Eye. This method is not ideal, as your dog will not be able to produce tears once the gland has been removed. You will need to use eye drops every day post-surgery. Due to medical advancements, this method is not used as often anymore.

Recovery Post-Surgery

If you and the vet have decided to take the surgical route to treat Cherry Eye, then you need to note some things crucial for your doggo’s recovery. Your dog must wear a cone or e-collar for a few weeks after surgery. This will stop your pet from touching and irritating the surgery site.

A cone or e-collar ensures a good, speedy recovery and decreases the chances of infection. You must take your doggo for a few check-ups with the vet. Your dog may also need pain medication to make their recovery more comfortable.


How to Prevent Cherry Eye

Since we don’t know exactly how a dog can develop Cherry Eye, there is no way to guarantee that your Frenchie won’t get it. However, there are certain things you can do to keep your dog as healthy as possible and protect them from Cherry Eye.

Choose a quality breeder

If you are getting your fur baby from a breeder, be sure to do a lot of research beforehand. The breeder should give you details on the pup’s parents and a complete health report. Your dog’s family history may be completely free from the dreaded Cherry Eye, but this does not mean your doggo won’t get it. Unfortunately, anything is possible.

Check the eyes regularly

You must also keep your dog’s eyes as healthy as possible. You should check your dog’s eyes regularly and use eye drops when required. The best preventative measure is to ensure that your pup’s eyes are strong and healthy. This way, they can fight off infection or not pick up on any issues at all.

Barksinthepark is here to help you be the best pet parent you can be and having a good understanding of how your dog can develop Cherry Eye, what it is, and how to treat it can help you look after your dog and ensure that they stay healthy or get treated immediately.



Are dogs in pain with Cherry Eye?

Your Frenchie’s Cherry Eye likely isn’t painful, but they may rub or scratch it as it can be quite itchy and uncomfortable. They will only feel pain in extreme cases and after surgery.

How long does a Cherry Eye last?

Your doggo’s eye may be inflamed for 1-2 weeks before it returns to normal. 7-10 days of routine ointment application and around ten days of antibiotics will ensure a speedy recovery and good healing.