Cherry Eye in Chihuahuas: Top 9 Symptoms & Treatment

Chihuahuas, the pint-sized pooches with personalities bigger than their bark, sometimes face a peculiar problem that’s more eye-catching than their sassy struts – cherry eye. No, it’s not a new canine fashion trend or a fruit-themed eye accessory. It’s a health issue, and while it might sound like a cute name for a quirky indie band, “Cherry Eye in Chihuahuas” is something every Chi parent should know about.

cherry eye in chihuahuas

What Is Cherry Eye in Chihuahuas? A Peek Behind the Peeper Problem

Cherry eye occurs when a gland in your Chihuahua’s third eyelid decides to pop out and say hello. It’s like a tiny, red, fleshy mass that suddenly appears, giving your pooch a look as if they’ve tried to do their own makeup – and failed spectacularly.

Why Do Chihuahuas Get the Cherry Eye?

Chihuahuas, along with other brachycephalic breeds (a fancy term for dogs with cute, squishy faces), are more prone to developing cherry eye. Why? It’s all in the genes. Like inheriting grandma’s vintage earrings, only less glamorous and more bothersome.

What Are The Symptoms of Cherry Eye in Chihuahuas: Spotting the Uninvited Cherry

Keep an eye out (pun intended) for a red lump in the corner of your Chi’s eye. It might look alarming, as if they partied too hard the night before, but don’t panic. Cherry eye is not typically painful, but it can cause irritation, swelling, or even dry eye if left unchecked – much like your reaction to chopping onions, but less teary.

Here is a list of possible symptoms:

Visible Prolapse: The most apparent manifestation is the presence of a reddish flesh-like swelling at the inner corner of the eye. This is the prolapsed gland of third eyelid.

Eye Discharge: In some cases, there may be increased tearing or a mucoid discharge from the affected eye.

Eye Rubbing or Scratching: The dog may often paw with its foot or rub the eye because it is irritated or uncomfortable with it.

Squinting: Excess squinting or blinking in a Chihuahua shows that it doesn’t feel good or has pain.

Redness and Swelling: It is possible to have redness and swelling surrounding the prolapsed gland in the eye area.

Dry Eye Symptoms: Failure to eliminate this symptom may lead to dry eye conditions that manifest in the form of discharge and infection.

Change in Behavior: In case the condition is disturbing the dog, it could lead to irritability and low activity, especially if the pain is involved.

Appetite Changes: At times, even eye pain can reduce the dog’s appetite.

Avoidance of Light: The dog may be more sensitive to light and avoid bright places.

How do you treat cherry eye in Chihuahuas?

Here’s where it gets a bit more serious. The go-to remedy for cherry eye is usually surgery, where a vet can tuck the rebellious gland back into place. Think of it as a tiny eye tuck for your tiny friend. Non-surgical methods, like massage or medication, are like trying to convince your Chihuahua to stop barking at the mailman – well-intentioned but often futile. Treating cherry eye in Chihuahuas, or any breed, typically involves a surgical procedure.

Cherry eye refers to the abnormal protrusion of the gland of the third eyelid or nictitating membrane, which may appear as a pink bump in the corner of the eye.

Here is a more detailed overview of the treatment process:

Veterinary Examination:

A veterinarian’s comprehensive assessment is vital in ascertaining cherry eye and ruling out other eye conditions.

Surgical Repositioning:

Surgical repositioning of the prolapsed gland is the most common and effective treatment for cherry eye. In this procedure, the gland is very cautiously tucked back into its usual position and held. The gland must be left intact since it produces tears and removing it may result into keratoconjunctivitis sicca.

Tracking Procedure:

Tacking involves suturing the gland back in place. The goal of this method is to maintain the functioning of the gland.

Pocket Technique:

Another surgical approach involves the formation of a conjunctival pocket into which the gland is placed in such a way that the conjunctival tissue covers it to provide the necessary support. The procedure shows reasonable reliability and keeps the gland active.

Postoperative Care:

Recovery is dependent on post-surgical care. Some of these may include antibiotics and anti-inflammatory eye drops. Additionally, the dog should also be fitted with an Elizabethan collar as a precaution to guard against its efforts to rub or scratch at its eye.


Post-surgery regular visits to the veterinarian is imperative to avoid recurrence and assess any complication.

Non-Surgical Approaches:

Non-surgical management could include massage and topical medication in minor cases, or where surgery is impossible. Nonetheless, these approaches are often more limited.

cherry eye in chihuahuas

Can cherry eye in Chihuahuas correct itself?

The instances where cherry eye may self-correct are usually influenced by the following factors:

Age of the Dog:

The gland prolapse is usually temporary in younger dogs and puppies. It partly results from the fact that the ligaments holding the gland in place have not yet had time to develop and could strengthen as the dog matures.

Degree of Prolapse:

In most cases, minor prolapses where glands have moved out their normal positions partially are more likely to be self – corrected than severe ones.

Underlying Causes:

The cherry eye may go away if the underlying problem is resolved e.g., if it is a result of temporary factors such as swelling, inflammation, or irritation. For instance, if the prolapse is related to the eye infection or irritation, treating the primary condition may result in the gland resuming the normal position.

Spontaneous Repositioning:

However in very few cases, this gland may revert back to the normal position spontaneously. Nevertheless, in the case where this occurs, there is still the possibility of recurrence.

Manual Repositioning:

In some light cases, gentle manual massage may make the gland go back to its normal position. Nevertheless, this should only be tried with the approval of a veterinarian so as to cause minimal irritation or further damage.

cherry eye in chihuahuas

What happens if cherry eye in Chihuahuas is left untreated?

The consequences of untreated cherry eye include:

Chronic Dry Eye (Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca):

Chronic dry eye is one of the major risks of untreated cherry eye. It results from inadequate or blocked tear secretion as a result of reduced function or damage to the prolapsed gland. Chronic dry eye can lead to eye discomfort, redness, and increased risks of eye infections and corneal damage.

Repeated Irritation and Infection:

As a result, the gland is exposed more easily, and this causes conjunctivitis as well as eye infections. Despite, such recurrent infections are painful for the dog and may result in serious ophthalmic complications if untreated.

Damage to the Gland:

In addition, this prolonged exposure will eventually result in damage or atrophy of the gland. A damaged and irreparable gland will not produce sufficient tears to combat the effects of dry eyes.

Conjunctival Scarring and Pigmentation:

Scarring and pigmentation changes could occur in the conjunctiva due to chronic exposure and irritation; this condition might affect both eye’s vision and the entire health of the eye.

Behavioral Changes in Chihuahuas:

Left untreated, cherry eye in dogs will cause pain or discomfort and may lead to pawing or rubbing of the eye, causing an injury to the eye.

Aesthetic Concerns:

Apart from being no health issues, the continuous look of cherry eye could be distressing on part of the owner and might influence the dog’s aesthetics.

Prevention: Can We Stop the Cherry Before It Pops?

While there’s no guaranteed way to prevent cherry eye, keeping your Chi’s eyes clean and healthy can help. Regular check-ups with the vet are like taking your car for a service; it might not prevent every issue, but it sure helps catch them early.

Living with Cherry Eye: Life Goes On

If your Chihuahua does end up with cherry eye, don’t fret. It’s not a catastrophe, and with proper treatment, they’ll be back to their sassy, sauntering selves in no time. They might not appreciate the temporary pirate look, but they’ll forgive you eventually, especially if treats are involved.

Chihuahua Cherry Eye: Keep an Eye Out for Your Tiny Sidekick

In the end, Cherry Eye in Chihuahuas is a bit like an unexpebehacted plot twist in a soap opera – dramatic, a bit inconvenient, but usually solvable with the right intervention. Keep an eye on your Chi’s eyes and don’t hesitate to consult your vet if you spot anything amiss. After all, these spirited little companions deserve all the care to keep them strutting confidently – with or without an unwanted cherry on top.

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