Cherry Eye French Bulldog: What It Is & How To Treat It

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Coming home to see your French Bulldog with cherry eye (a red mass in the corner of their eye) can be enough to send you into a panic, but it’s a more common situation than you might think. 

If your French Bulldog does have cherry eye, there’s no cause for immediate panic. In fact, it usually is not too painful for your Frenchie. Keep reading to learn what cherry eye is and when to seek medical attention. 

What is cherry eye?

French Bulldog with Cherry Eye
What cherry eye may look like

Cherry eye, also known as red eye, can be common in French Bulldogs. 

You might hear your vet refer to this as a nictitans gland prolapse, but it’s more often called cherry eye due to the red and inflamed mass resembling a cherry.

Unlike humans, who only have two eyelids, dogs have a third eyelid that gives their eyes extra protection and a gland that produces a majority of their tears. Sometimes, the ligament that connects the gland in place will detach from the dog’s orbital bone and prolapse (bulge or flip out). This leaves your French Bulldog with a red lump in the corner of their eye. 

The most obvious symptom is the red lump in the corner of your dog’s eye, but other symptoms include frenchies excessively scratching or pawing at their face, squinting, discharge, and abnormally dry eyes or excessive tear production. 

What causes cherry eye?

The exact cause of cherry eye is unknown, but vets do agree certain breeds like French Bulldogs are genetically prone to the condition. Additionally, cherry eye is more common in young dogs under two years old.

How common is cherry eye? 

Cherry eye is a common eye condition in French Bulldogs, but as we’ve mentioned before, certain breeds are more susceptible to cherry eyes than others. You’ll notice that most of the breeds that are prone to cherry eye are breeds with shorter muzzles. 

These breeds include:

  • French Bulldogs
  • English Bulldog
  • Boston Terrier 
  • Lhaso Apos
  • Pekingese
  • American Cocker Spaniel 
  • Cane Corso
  • Boxer

Cherry eye is also more common in dogs under two years of age, but dogs of all ages are still at risk of developing cherry eye. 

Additionally, while you might be most concerned about your French Bulldog, in rare cases, cherry eye can show up in cats as well. 

Can I prevent cherry eye?

Just like the exact cause of cherry eye is unknown, it’s still unknown if there’s a way to prevent cherry eye. 

That being said, since cherry eye is thought to be genetic, you might find it beneficial to ask your breeder if your new puppy’s parents have a history of cherry eye. While understanding your pup’s family medical history is important, a lack of cherry eye in the parents doesn’t guarantee your puppy won’t even experience it. 

The good news, though, is that cherry eye is not transmittable to other people or animals in your home. 

What home remedies can be used to treat cherry eye?

Since cherry eye is a super common condition, there are plenty of home remedies out there. That being said, you should consult your vet before attempting any home remedies. 

Some people claim the best at-home remedy for cherry eye is leaving it alone since it does not cause extreme pain to the dog, but this can do more harm than good. Once a cherry eye becomes visible, it won’t fully go away on its own. Leaving cherry eye untreated can lead to pain, damaged tear ducts, or even loss of vision. 

Warm Washcloth

The most common home remedy for cherry eye is a warm washcloth

Before attempting this remedy, make sure you and your French Bulldog are in a calm and relaxed state. Use the warm, wet washcloth to gently massage the cherry eye toward the inner corner of your dog’s eye. 

While this is a common remedy, it’s not a permanent solution, and the cherry eye may poke back out in time. 

Anti-inflammatory Eye Drops

Technically not an at-home remedy since you’ll most likely require a prescription for anti-inflammatory eye drops, eye drops are still a less invasive remedy than surgery. 

While these eye drops can reduce swelling, it is likely only a temporary fix for cherry eyes. 

Home remedies are good for treating the symptoms of cherry eye and temporarily reducing the swelling; the only way to fully cure cherry eye is surgery. 

When should I seek professional care? 

Cherry eye is not considered a medical emergency, but you should still consult your vet as soon as you notice it. Cherry eye that is left untreated can cause chronic dry eye, increased risk of infection, or permanent vision damage. 

As we mentioned above, your vet may start by prescribing anti-inflammatory eye drops. This will help with the swelling but won’t get rid of cherry eye altogether. Eventually, the cherry eye will be back. 

The most effective treatment for cherry eye is a minimally invasive surgery to reposition the eye gland. Note that this surgery will not remove the eye gland, only reposition it back where it should be. If the surgery goes well, your dog will need to be reseen in 2-4 weeks. 

In most cases, surgery is enough to prevent cherry eye from coming back. In rarer cases, your dog may develop cherry eye again and require further surgery. 

If you’re a brand new paw-rent to a French Bulldog, it can be scary seeing cherry eye. If you see cherry eye in your dog, the most important thing to do is remain calm – it’s not considered a medical emergency and is most likely not causing your pup extreme pain. Call your vet when you first notice a cherry eye, and be sure to prevent your dog from scratching too much at their eye until you can seek medical care. 

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