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Pet Care. Pet Training. Pet Stories.
Pet Care. Pet Training. Pet Stories.

Red Lump in Your Dog’s Eye? Learn About Cherry Eye

04/03/2016 by Colleen Williams
April 3rd, 2016 by Colleen Williams

Updated April 17, 2020 


If your dog looks like he’s got a red bump under his eye, he may have a condition called “cherry eye.”  Cherry eye is a common condition when a dog’s third eyelid (tear gland) moves out of its normal position and is exposed in the corner of the eye as a pink or red swelling.

Many mammals have this third eyelid, located inside the lower eyelid, as it provides an additional protective layer for the eye, especially during hunting or fighting.

Cherry Eye Cause

Though it’s still not completely understood why dogs develop this condition, weakness of the ligament to this gland is considered to be hereditary. The gland of the third eyelid is normally anchored by a ligament to the lower inner rim of the eye. If this attachment is weak, the gland may slip out of place.

The third eyelid gland produces up to 50 percent of the watery portion of the tears. Without adequate tear production, your dog is much more likely to develop “dry eye,” which can seriously impair vision.

Cherry eye is most often seen in young dogs and can occur in any breed of dog, but is most commonly seen in these breeds:

  • Beagle
  • Bloodhound
  • Boston Terrier
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • English Bulldog
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Neapolitan Mastiff
  • Pekingese
  • Shar Pei

Diagnosing Cherry Eye

Cherry eye can be diagnosed by the appearance of the affected eye during the veterinary exam. And sometimes this condition can occur in both eyes.

As its name would indicate, cherry eye appears as a red swollen mass on the lower eyelid. Other symptoms include a thick discharge and your dog pawing at his eye. It may be large and cover a portion of the cornea or it may be fairly small, according to VCA hospitals.

Sometimes, the condition may just show up periodically and then return to its normal position under the eyelid. You’ll want to consult with your vet at any sign of cherry eye.

In some situations, your veterinarian may want to do further diagnostic tests such as eye staining and a biopsy to check for abnormalities in the tissue, such as cancer.

Cherry Eye Treatment

Treatment of cherry eye is a surgical procedure where your veterinarian will “tack” the third eyelid back in its normal position. Once the procedure is completed, you’ll have to apply eye ointments to your dog’s eye(s) according to a schedule.

The ointments contain steroids that help reduce the size of the gland, and your dog will have to wear the dreaded e-collar (also known as the cone of shame) to keep him from rubbing his eye. In most cases, this procedure is very successful.

Pet parents report that if it’s diagnosed early, surgery can be relatively complication-free without reoccurrence of the condition. The surgery is usually a one-day procedure with quick recovery times. The gland returns to normal function within a few weeks of surgery.

Approximately five to 20 percent of cases may experience the third eyelid collapsing again and requiring additional surgery. And many pets who have cherry eye in one eye will eventually experience it in the opposite eye. In severe or chronic cases, there may be no option other than removal of the gland, especially if the function is severely diminished or absent.

If you see a red bump under your dog’s eye, schedule an appointment to take your dog to your veterinarian as there could be permanent damage to the eye or third eyelid gland.