Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Written by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years Leslie Kasperowicz

Melanie Musson is the fourth generation in her family to work in the insurance industry. She grew up with insurance talk as part of her everyday conversation and has studied to gain an in-depth knowledge of state-specific car insurance laws and dynamics as well as a broad understanding of how insurance fits into every person’s life, from budgets to coverage levels. She also specializes in automa...

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Reviewed by Melanie Musson
Published Insurance Expert Melanie Musson

UPDATED: Nov 17, 2020

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Cherry eye in dogs is a condition that involves the gland of a third eyelid which is known as the nictitating membrane.  

The nictitating membrane, which is located in the lower eyelid, acts as an additional shield for the dogs’ eyes.

Cherry Eye in Dogs

Cherry eye occurs when the connective tissue that holds the gland becomes loose or damaged.  

The damage affects the nictitating membrane’s tear gland which then slips forward and produces a visible red mass in the inner corner of a dog’s eye which is why it is called Cherry eye.

Cherry eye is more common in puppies than adult dogs and is usually caused by a hereditary weakness in the gland’s connective tissue.

If left untreated, cherry eye can lead to a significant decrease in tear production as well as many other eye problems.

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Symptoms of Cherry Eye

rottweiler puppy with cherry eye

Some of the common symptoms of Cherry eye are the following:

  • Reddish, protruding mass of tissue in the eye
  • Swelling and Irritation
  • Excessive tear production
  • Squinting
  • Trouble with vision
  • Pawing and rubbing the eyes
  • Dry eyes

Related: 10 Things You Must Know Before You Buy Pet Insurance

What Causes Cherry Eye in Dogs?


The most common cause of cherry eye is genetics.

Cherry eye is known as a congenital disorder which can be passed on throughout generations.

Congenital conditions are inherited conditions that are present at or even before birth which is why it cherry eye is common in puppies.

Damage to the connective tissues

If your puppy or dog has had any type of eye disorder or an accident that weakens the connective tissue to the nictitating membrane, then cherry eye can also occur.

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Breeds More Prone to Have Cherry Eye

The following breeds are more pre-disposed to cherry eye:

  • Beagles
  • Boxers
  • Bulldogs
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Lhasa Apsos
  • Mastiffs
  • Newfoundlands
  • Poodles
  • Saint Bernards
  • Shih Tzusa
  • West Highland Terriers

While breeds with shorter muzzles are at a higher risk to develop a cherry eye, the condition can occur in any dog and at any age of his life.

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Treatment of Cherry Eye

It is important to treat cherry eye as soon as possible to minimize permanent damage to the eye or third eyelid gland.

Your vet will examine your pet’s eyes and determine the best course of treatment depending on the severity of the condition.

Medication for Cherry Eye

In some cases, cherry eye will just correct itself on its own, but this is rarely the case.

When the cherry eye is not as severe and is caught in the early stages, a closed-eye massage with prescribed antibiotics and steroids can help clear up the condition.

Topical medication, recommended by your vet, can help with the inflammation that occurs with cherry eye and to help with secondary infections that might occur.


There are two different surgeries that are utilized to correct cherry eye.

Surgical replacement of the third eyelid

The most common and safest surgery is for the vet or ophthalmologist to suture the tissue so that it is back in place.   The goal is to have the eyelid back encased in the conjunctiva of the eye where it should be positioned.

Surgical repositioning of the eyelid

Another surgery which is harder for a vet to perform is to reposition the eyelid surgically to the eye.  The goal is to create a new pocket or envelope to hold the eyelid in place permanently.

The risk here is that the suture might cause a problem for the eye in the future.

Surgical removal of the tear gland

The final option, that is usually the last resort, is to completely remove the cherry-eye tear gland.  This is the last option because then the gland is incapable of ever producing tears.

With this surgery, dogs will need lifelong treatment of the eye with artificial tears since dry eyes and other secondary issues can occur without the production of tears or lubrication of the dog’s eyes.

Can Pet Insurance Help with Cherry Eye?

Pet insurance can help cover the costs of surgery and medication necessary to treat the cherry eye.

However, your dog must not yet have cherry eye or the condition will be considered pre-existing and won’t be covered.

If you have a breed that is pre-disposed to this condition, it’s best to insure your dog while he is still a puppy so this or any other health issue that your dog might develop is covered.

The costs of treating cherry eye can range anywhere from $500 to $1,500 per eye.  And with pet insurance, up to 90% of these costs can be covered.

Plans, like Healthy Paws, can help not only with the cost of surgery but the on-going medication, follow-up visits and treatment that is necessary to keep the cherry eye from re-occurring.

Living and Management with Cherry Eye In Dogs

If you can catch the disease in the early stages, the prognosis is very good.

The most important thing you can do is keep up with your vet visits and as always if you see anything unusual in your dog’s eyes, take your pup to the vet immediately.

Dogs with cherry eye tend to get the condition in both eyes which is why it’s imperative to look out for the signs.

If you are looking for a pet insurance provider that will cover cherry eye or any other dog health issues, our top 10 pet insurance companies is a great place to start!


Other articles you may find helpful: 

Is Exotic Pet Insurance Necessary? 

The Best Pet Insurance By State 

What Is Pet Insurance?

Fun Facts, Dog FAQ, And Unsolicited Dog Advice

5 Training Commands to Save Your Dog’s Life

The Ultimate Guide to Safe Foods for Dogs

Dog Health Problems

Dog Breeds


Cat Health Problems

Cat Breeds


We get it, your dog is like your child and when your puppy or dog has health problems it is scary. Luckily there is pet insurance companies that will help you pay for any veterinarian care they made need. Checkout the best puppy and dog pet insurance companies and learn about common puppy health issues and ailments in older pets


Common Health Problems:

Acral Lick Granuloma in Dogs

Alopecia in Dogs

Antifreeze Toxicity in Dogs

Aortic Stenosis in Dogs

Arthritis In Dogs

Bladder Stones in Dogs

Boxer Cardiomyopathy

Cataracts In Dogs

Cherry Eye in Dogs

Chronic Active Hepatitis in Dogs

Collie Eye Anomaly In Dogs

Constipation in Dogs

Cruciate Ligament Tear in Dogs

Cryptorchidism in Dogs

Cushing’s Disease in Dogs

Degenerative Myelopathy | Spinal Cord Disease In Dogs

Dementia in Dogs | Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

Demodicosis In Dogs

Dental Problems in Dogs

Diabetes In Dogs

Dog Comedones (Schnauzer Bumps)

Dog Diarrhea: What Can You Do To Help?

Dog Ear Infections

Dystocia in Dogs

Ectropion in Dogs

Elbow Dysplasia in Dogs

Entropion In Dogs

Eye Problems in Dogs

Fleas in Dogs

Gallbladder Obstruction in Dogs

Gallstones in Dogs

Gastroenteritis In Dogs

Glaucoma in Dogs

Heart Murmurs In Dogs | How To Identify Them

Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Hot Spots On Dogs

Hyperparathyroidism In Dogs

Hypothyroidism In Dogs

Intervertebral Disc Disease In Dogs

Nasal Solar Dermatitis In Dogs

Patellar Luxation in Dogs

Progressive Retinal Atrophy In Dogs

Renal Failure in Dogs

Seizures in Dogs

Wobbler Syndrome In Dogs

The Dog Flu – Symptoms & Treatment for Canine Influenza

Dog Biting Nails