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Unveiling Cherry Eye: Understanding and Treating the Condition in Chihuahuas and Other Small Dogs

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

(I don't have a photo of this condition, but I am looking for one)

Chihuahuas are a charming and popular small dog breed known for their big personalities. However, like any other breed, Chihuahuas may experience various health issues, one of which is cherry eye. This blog post aims to shed light on this eye condition, its causes, symptoms, and potential treatment options for concerned Chihuahua owners.

What is Cherry Eye?

Cherry eye, scientifically known as a prolapse of the gland of the third eyelid, is a common ocular condition observed in dogs, including Chihuahuas. The third eyelid, also known as the nictitating membrane, is responsible for tear production and eye lubrication. When this gland becomes swollen and protrudes, it can create a cherry-like appearance in the corner of the affected eye, hence the name "cherry eye."

Causes of Cherry Eye:

While the exact cause of cherry eye remains somewhat unclear, veterinarians believe it is primarily due to a weakening of the connective tissues that hold the third eyelid gland in place. Factors that can contribute to these weakened tissues include genetics, immune system abnormalities, and anatomical abnormalities in the eye structure.

Signs and Symptoms of Cherry Eye in Chihuahuas:

If your Chihuahua is suffering from cherry eye, you may notice the following signs and symptoms:

1. Red and swollen fleshy mass in the corner of the eye resembling a cherry (caused by the protruding gland).

2. Watery or irritated eyes due to inadequate tear production.

3. Rubbing or scratching the affected eye.

4. Blinking excessively.

5. Conjunctivitis (inflammation of the conjunctiva) may develop if the condition is left untreated.

Treatment Options for Cherry Eye:

When it comes to treating cherry eye in Chihuahuas, it is essential to consult a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and guidance. Here are a few commonly recommended treatment options:

1. Medical Management: In some cases, veterinarians may prescribe eye drops or ointments to reduce inflammation and prevent dryness. While medicine may help control symptoms temporarily, it is unlikely to resolve the condition without intervention.

2. Surgical Intervention: For more severe cases or if the medical management approach fails, surgery is often recommended. The surgical procedure, known as a "gland replacement" surgery, involves repositioning the prolapsed gland back into its proper place and securing it to prevent recurrence. This procedure typically has a high success rate and minimal complications.

Prevention and Long-Term Eye Health:

While there is no surefire way to prevent cherry eye in Chihuahuas, certain practices may contribute to maintaining good eye health:

1. Regular Eye Examinations: Routine eye examinations by a veterinarian can help identify potential eye issues early on, allowing for prompt treatment and intervention.

2. Avoiding Eye Trauma: Protecting your Chihuahua's eyes from accidental injury by avoiding rough play or exposure to hazardous materials can reduce their risk of developing cherry eye.

3. Proper Nutrition: Providing a well-balanced diet can support your Chihuahua's overall health, including their eye health. Consult your veterinarian for recommendations on the best diet for your furry friend.


Cherry eye can be a concerning condition for Chihuahua owners, but with early detection and appropriate treatment, it can often be effectively managed. Remember, if you notice any abnormalities or symptoms in your Chihuahua's eyes, it is crucial to seek professional veterinary care to ensure the best outcome for your beloved pet.

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