Home Treatment for Cherry Eye in Cocker Spaniels
Health Eye Conditions

Home Treatment for Cherry Eye in Cocker Spaniels: Simple Remedies at Your Fingertips

Cherry eye in dogs, particularly Cocker Spaniels, is a condition that many pet owners encounter.

This ailment involves the prolapse of the nictitating membrane’s gland, also known as the third eyelid, resulting in a distinctive red bulge in the corner of the eye.

While it can be alarming at first glance, cherry eye is generally not a painful condition for dogs, but it does require attention to prevent secondary complications.

Cocker Spaniels are among the breeds predisposed to this eye issue due to their genetic makeup, making it a relatively common health consideration for owners of this affectionate and expressive breed.

Managing cherry eye in its early stages can often be done through simple home treatments.

These methods may include gentle massage to encourage the gland to return to its normal position or the application of prescribed ointments to reduce inflammation.

It is important to note that while home treatments can be effective for minor cases, they are not a substitute for professional veterinary care.

Persisting or recurrent cases of cherry eye may require surgical intervention to correctly reposition the gland or, in some cases, to remove it entirely.

Understanding Cherry Eye

Cherry eye in dogs is a noticeable and treatable condition that primarily affects the nictitating membrane or the third eyelid.

The issue arises when there’s a prolapse of the gland present in the third eyelid, which can lead to inflammation and discomfort for the affected canine.

Identifying Cherry Eye Symptoms

When a dog develops cherry eye, you may notice a red swelling emerging from the corner of the eye, which is the gland of the third eyelid that has popped out of its normal position.

This condition often results in inflammation and can cause symptoms such as:

  • Pawing at the eye, indicating discomfort or pain
  • Excessive squinting or blepharospasm
  • Eye discharge, varying in color from clear to pus-like
  • Swelling around the eye area

Some dogs may only show the red bulge without other symptoms, but any sign warrants veterinary attention.

Causes and Breeds at Risk

Cherry eye is typically the result of a genetic predisposition, which affects the connective tissue’s strength that holds the gland in place.

Breeds commonly affected include:

  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Bulldogs
  • Beagles
  • Shih Tzus
  • Lhasa Apsos
  • Boston Terriers
  • Terriers

It’s crucial to monitor these breeds closely for early signs of cherry eye to address the condition promptly.

While the exact cause behind the weakening of the ligament is not well-understood, genetics are believed to play a significant role in this condition.

Diagnosing Cherry Eye In Cocker Spaniels

When a Cocker Spaniel presents with a red swelling in the eye, it’s crucial to determine if it’s cherry eye, as timely and appropriate treatment can help prevent further complications.

Veterinary Examination

A veterinarian will first look for the hallmark sign of cherry eye in dogs, which is the appearance of a red mass protruding from the dog’s third eyelid.

This condition may affect one or both eyes.

The vet will often perform a physical examination to assess the eye’s condition, checking for symptoms such as epiphora (excessive tear production), conjunctivitis (inflammation of the conjunctiva), or dry eye which can occur secondary to cherry eye.

In some cases, additional diagnostic tests may be carried out to evaluate the extent of the prolapse or to identify any other underlying issues.

Differentiating from Other Eye Problems

Cherry eye can often be confused with other ocular problems. Here’s how it is differentiated:

  • Conjunctivitis: While conjunctivitis may cause redness and swelling, cherry eye is specifically identified by the protrusion of the gland.
  • Infection: An infection usually comes with discharge and may affect different parts of the eye.

    Whereas, cherry eye is a prolapsed gland without pus-like discharge.

  • Dry Eye: This can be a complication of cherry eye if left untreated, but dry eye by itself doesn’t cause the characteristic cherry-like swelling.

A clear diagnosis by a veterinarian is critical before proceeding with home or clinical treatment, ensuring that the condition is indeed cherry eye and not another ailment requiring different management.

Non-Surgical Treatments

When a Cocker Spaniel develops cherry eye, engaging in non-surgical treatments can be a practical first step, particularly when the condition is caught early.

These treatments range from medications to gentle home remedies and massage techniques, offering relief and potential reduction of the prolapsed gland.

Medication Options

Medications such as eye drops and ointments can help manage symptoms of cherry eye in Cocker Spaniels.

They often aim to reduce inflammation and control tear production.

Veterinarians may prescribe topical medications that contain steroids to diminish inflammation or antibiotic drops to prevent or treat secondary infections.

In some cases, oral medications may be necessary to address underlying conditions contributing to cherry eye, especially when genetic factors are at play.

Home Remedies and Massage Techniques

Some pet owners have found success with home remedies and massage techniques as an interim measure for cherry eye.

The goal of massage is to encourage the gland of the third eyelid to return to its normal position.

A common massage technique involves using a clean finger to gently apply pressure on the affected area, promoting repositioning of the gland.

Ensuring that the dog does not suffer from dry eyes is important; so, maintaining adequate tear production is crucial.

This approach can be particularly beneficial in young dogs and brachycephalic breeds like pugs, although it’s not always a permanent solution.

Surgical Intervention

The approach to treating cherry eye in Cocker Spaniels through surgical intervention can range from suturing techniques to gland removal, depending on severity and the individual needs of the dog.

Veterinary consultation is crucial to determine the best method for each case.

Deciding When Surgery Is Necessary

Surgery becomes a necessary option when a Cocker Spaniel suffers from cherry eye, characterized by the prolapse of the third eyelid gland.

Severity of the condition often calls for immediate veterinary attention to prevent complications such as infections or potential agonizing pain.

They should be evaluated by an ophthalmologist who can ascertain the extent of the condition and recommend the appropriate course of action, taking into account whether there is a recurrence after initial treatments.

Owners should also consider whether they have pet insurance to cover the procedure.

Understanding the Different Surgical Methods

There are primarily two surgical techniques practiced to manage cherry eye: the tucking method and the pocket technique.

  • The tucking method involves suturing the prolapsed gland back into place.

    This method aims to preserve the gland’s function and reduce chances of recurrence.

  • The pocket technique requires the creation of a small pocket in the conjunctiva to tuck the prolapsed gland into, which is then closed with stitches.

Both methods require the patient to be under anesthesia and come with varying recovery periods and considerations for post-operative care, including monitoring for infection or suture reaction.

Surgical removal of the gland is less favorable as it increases the risk of dry eye and should only be a last resort.

It is worth noting that proper attention to post-operative care is vital to minimize the risk of recurrence or complications like infections.

Follow-up appointments will ensure the recovery process is on track, and that any arising issues are addressed promptly.

Post-Operative Care and Management

After a Cocker Spaniel undergoes surgery for cherry eye, attentive post-operative care is crucial for a smooth recovery.

Post-surgery, the delicate eye area will need time to heal, and veterinarians typically prescribe a regimen that includes medication to manage inflammation and prevent infection.


  • Steroids and Antibiotics: May be prescribed to reduce inflammation and ward off bacterial infections.
  • Artificial Tears or Ointment: These keep the eye lubricated and help in managing dry eye, a potential post-surgery complication.

Confinement and Exercise Restrictions

Owners must ensure their dogs have a quiet place to recuperate.

Activity should be limited – no rough play or vigorous exercise – to prevent any strain on the healing eye.

The Elizabethan Collar

The use of an Elizabethan collar is highly recommended to prevent the dog from rubbing or scratching at the eye, which can lead to complications or recurrence of the prolapse.

Monitoring for Complications

Close monitoring for signs of eye problems, such as persistent redness, discharge, or the return of the cherry eye, is important.

Any unusual symptoms should prompt a consultation with the veterinarian.

Follow-Up Appointments

Regular follow-up appointments are necessary to assess the eye’s healing process and to adjust treatment if needed.

These visits are also the ideal time to discuss the long-term management of eye health, including the potential need for lifelong eye drops or ointments, to maintain eye moisture and function.

By adhering to these guidelines, owners can help their Cocker Spaniels recover effectively from cherry eye surgery and minimize the risk of future eye issues.