The Challenge Of Dealing With Cherry Eyes In Bulldogs

Last Updated on February 10, 2022 by Griselda M.

Cherry eyes in bulldogs pose a risk to a certain number of dogs from this breed and can even have severe consequences if left without treatment. Bulldogs are known to be more prone to some health issues due to their breeding history. 

Looking for the best ways to care for a bulldog with cherry eye requires some research. It’s always best to catch issues like this early on and even prevent further discomfort. Cherry eye can extend into other health conditions, adding yet more problems to your bulldog’s health. 

What Is Cherry Eye?

Unlike humans, all dogs have a third eyelid that is located in the bottom corner of the lower eyelid. This is the part of the eye that can turn red and swollen with irritation. It looks very similar to a cherry, hence the name cherry eye. 

The medical way to describe this is prolapsed nictitating membrane or gland. This gland can essentially come out of place or get pushed out, resulting in red inflated mass. It may not be extremely painful to your dog in the beginning, but that can soon change.

cherry eyes in bulldogs

The Function Of A Third Eyelid

While sleeping, a dog’s eyes can, in some cases, appear to roll back into their eye sockets. The visible white part of the eye is what gives this impression, due to the third eyelid covering the eye. During deep sleep, the two regular eyelids can slightly open on occasion and the third one closes. 

Apart from covering the eye, the nictating gland produces tears and helps in keeping the eyes moist and clean. The function of this gland plays a part in the health of the eye, producing 40% to 50% of tears. Tears prevent irritation while also delivering nutrients to the cornea, preventing infection, and treating surface damage when need be. 

What Causes A Cherry Eye In Bulldogs?

Ordinarily, the third eyelid gland is held in place on the lower inside edge of the eyelid. This gland can be present in both eyes and thus increases the risk of developing cherry eye in both.

There is no exact cause for why cherry eye occurs, but it’s most likely due to genetic inheritance. Weak tissue in the eyelid can also be a potential cause for cherry eye. Typically, young puppies are more at risk from this, but bulldogs are susceptible to it later in life as well. 

What Are The Symptoms Of Cherry Eyes In Bulldogs?

The greatest noticeable symptom of cherry eye is the red swollen lump that gives it its name. At first, the dogs may not seem too affected by it, but as tear production lowers, irritation starts. This can cause your dog to start scratching at their face, increasing the amount of irritation and risk of infection.

Other abnormal symptoms of cherry eyes in bulldogs may include a leaking discharge from your dog’s eye. The blob itself can swell too much as to prevent proper eyesight and maybe even disorient the dog. Lack of lubrication of the eye can have additional complications such as infections known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca.

Treating Cherry Eyes In Bulldogs

The fact that this health issue is so common may prompt many to ponder can Bulldogs live with cherry eye? As it, stands left without treatment, cherry eye may not pose an immediate threat to their lives. 

Cherry eyes in bulldogs home reatmentsh3

For cherry eye in dogs, home treatment could be an option if caught in very early stages. Treatment with a massage at home in a downward-diagonal direction could potentially replace the gland in its proper place. Sometimes the cherry eye can even correct itself, but this is a rare occurrence. 

Cherry Eyes In Bulldogs Surgical Treatment

The conventional treatment for cherry eyes in bulldogs is by way of surgery. This method usually implies either placing the gland back in place or removing it. Putting the gland back requires a method by the name of “pocketing” which sutures the issue around the prolapse. 

Taking the glad out entirely is one older method of dealing with cherry eyes in bulldogs. Today this procedure is not the standard one, as it can have unfavorable side effects. Without this gland, the eye sees less tear production which will lead to dry eyes. 

Cherry Eyes In Bulldogs – Post-surgery Care

Sensitivity around the eye that has recently just been under surgery is only natural. Pain and discomfort are sure to follow and trying to keep your dog from scratching it will require preparation. A cone might be necessary to prevent them from picking at the eye. 

Pain medication can also be something that your dog may need after surgery, and the vet will prescribe it. Eye drops can be extremely helpful in maintaining the eye moist, before and after surgery. Special formulation eye drops with anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties help regulate any further development of infections. 

Preventing any activity that can put pressure on their eye like jumping, or running is advisable. Opting to use a harness instead of a collar while out on walks is another advisable. This way it can reduce the amount of pressure it may exert on their eyes. 

Learn more about Bulldog Eye Infections Explained

Additional Preventative Measure For Cherry Eyes In Bulldogs

Entirely avoiding the formation of cherry eyes in bulldogs may not be an easy achievement, especially since this is congenital. Prevention of this issue goes as far as simply catching very early on and minimizing your dog’s discomfort. 

If one eye displays cherry eye, it’s quite possible that the second one will also do the same. Preemptively preparing for this will make the possibility that much less unexpected if it indeed happens. 

Conclusion – Cherry Eyes In Bulldogs

Treating cherry eyes in bulldogs is entirely doable, with the right advice and care from your vet. As common as cherry eye is, surgery and modern technology have developed well to deal with them. 

It’s important to keep an eye out for any potential cherry eye emerging and prepare as best as possible. Surgery and care after the procedure are the best ways to ensure your dog’s future comfort. 

Read more about How Much Does Bulldog Cherry Eye Surgery Cost?


What causes a cherry eye in Bulldogs?

No exact cause can be found as to why this happens, but theories stem from weak eye tissues to congenital problems. The structure of the French bulldog’s eyes contains a third gland that is passed down congenitally. This gland can become prolapsed and inflamed, looking very much like a cherry.

Can Bulldogs live with cherry eye?

At first, cherry eye does not seem to bother a bulldog. But prolonged exposure would dry out the eye, and in some cases can cause blindness. So even though a bulldog can live with cherry eye, it would not be comfortable and not without side effects.

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