Cherry eye in puppies can be a distressing thing to see. For those who don’t know what it is, it comes nowhere close to being as blissful as a cherry on top of a cake. Actually, it can be rather worrying for their owners. If you think you’ve got a puppy with cherry eye, you’re in the right place. 

In this article, we’ll talk you through everything you need about a puppy with cherry eye. From what cherry eye in puppies look like, to what causes them, and how you can help your puppy’s swollen eyes? 

If you’re here, you might as well take a look for more tips and advice on training and looking after your puppy. In the Zigzag puppy training app, you’ll find your personalised puppy training journey, as well as our team of wonderful puppy coaches who are always happy to dig you out of the hole you get stuck in. 

brown puppy face
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What does cherry eye in puppies look like?

Okay, get ready for a visual. Cherry eye in puppies looks like a large pink or red lump coming out of the tear duct area of a puppy’s eye. It can also look like the corner of the eye is bulging. Cherry eye makes itself quite visible in puppies, although sometimes it will start off small. 

Here’s the symptoms you should look out for: 

  • A small pink mass or blob at the corner of the eye. This is the third eyelid protruding from the tear duct.
  • Dry eyes – these are caused by a lack of tear production
  • A discharge around the eye
  • Excessive blinking
  • Lots of pawing and scratching at the eye due to irritation

What causes cherry eye?

Cherry eye in puppies is caused by the nicatins gland, which sits behind your dog’s third eyelid, prolapsing or moving out of place. When this happens the gland causes the third eyelid to protrude and look like a red blob.

Here’s a few reasons your puppy might get cherry eye:

Cherry eye in puppies can be caused by physical trauma

If your puppy has a swollen eye caused by physical trauma or an injury this can cause the eye to be irritated and the nicatins gland to swell up – resulting in cherry eye.

Breed can be a contributing factor for cherry eye in puppies

Some types of dogs such as Bulldogs and Spaniels seem to suffer more with cherry eye due to their skull, eye socket shape or ligaments in the eye, which may be weaker.

Puppies are more susceptible to cherry eye than adult dogs

Many cases of cherry eye occur in puppies under a year of age, poor little things. This is when the ligaments on the third eyelid are weakest, so the nicatins gland is able to push it out. 

Cherry eye in puppies can be caused by scratching or pawing

If your puppy rubs or paws at their eyes, this can damage the nicatins gland and cause  swelling that ends up in cherry eye. 

black pug puppy on bed
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How can I help puppy swollen eyes?

If you’ve noticed that your puppy has a swollen eye, then you should pay your vet a visit. Even though dogs tend to discover the world with their noses most, their eyes are precious and we wouldn’t want to advise a DIY treatment without you seeing a vet first. 

Here’s some tips on how you can help a puppy with swollen eyes:

  • If your puppy has a swollen eye, take pictures and keep track of how it looks after trying out some home remedies. This will let you see whether the swelling is getting better or worse, and will give you a sign of what to do next.  
  • Check their eye in case there is anything stuck in it. Sometimes foreign things like grass seeds can cause a swollen eye, but you can carefully remove this at home. 
  • Is your puppy tired and has a bloodshot eye? Yep, not the same as cherry eye. But make sure they’re getting enough sleep. Puppies need to sleep a lot!  
  • Let your puppy get some rest and take things easy. If you have a particularly energetic puppy who runs around a lot, consider some puzzle toys or brain games that you can play with your puppy at home – they’re also great for letting them play on their own.
  • Remove any collars or harnesses that your puppy wears indoors so that they can relax. Nothing more annoying than a clinking collar every time you move.
  • Avoid wrestling-type physical games or playing with other dogs until the swelling has gone down. Consider low energy training games – they’ll get the job done.
  • Some owners have reported success with a warm compress and eye drops to help with a puppy’s swollen eye.
  • You can use a saline wash to clean the swollen eye, but make sure to use plenty of treats so that your puppy feels as comfortable as possible.
  • A puppy swollen eye can be caused by an allergic reaction. Using an appropriate dose of antihistamine is suggested for this.
french bulldog on carpet
Photo by Kindred Hues Photography on Unsplash

Your vet will be the best person to tell you whether a home treatment, like the ones we suggested above, are suitable or not.

When you see your vet about your puppy’s cherry eye, they may want to wait and see how it develops, as some puppies will grow out of it as their eyes develop, and they physically mature. They may also discuss surgery with you to prevent the cherry eye from recurring or want to refer you to a dog ophthalmologist.

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little bit more about cherry eyes in puppies, and what to do if your puppy has a swollen eye. If your puppy is experiencing any other problems like cloudy eyes, watery eyes, scratching or itching at their ears then we hope our guides help you learn a bit more about them.

If you’re ready to start having the best behaved, most well adjusted and confident dog around town and be an owner that everyone comes to for tips then download the Zigzag puppy training app today. We’ll help you on your puppy training journey and teach you about Life Skills, socialisation, how to leave your puppy home alone as well as teach you all the tricks along the way and we’ll give you the support of our amazing puppy coaches to be at the end of the phone, or Whatsapp or email, whichever you prefer.