Cherry Eye: Causes, Treatment & Cost

Cherry eye, a red bulge in the corner of a pet’s eye, is actually caused by a prolapsed tear gland. It’s a common condition that most often affects dogs but can also be seen in cats from time to time. 


The bulge may cause itchiness and discomfort, which could prompt a cat or dog to try and scratch or rub the area and could lead to a scratched or damaged cornea. And while cherry eye in dogs and cats may not be painful, it could lead to dry eye, corneal ulcers, conjunctivitis and other eye problems if it goes untreated.


To avoid these and other potential hazards, surgery to correct cherry eye is recommended. At Dr. Kelly’s Vet, cherry eye surgery is among the most common surgeries our mobile surgical unit performs. But, before scheduling a surgery, it’s beneficial to learn a bit more about cherry eye, what causes it, how much the surgery may cost and how long it may take a dog or cat to recover from it. 


What causes cherry eye?

Dogs and cats, unlike humans, have three eyelids. The third lid is a membrane containing ligaments that keep the animal’s tear duct in place. When those ligaments give way, the tear duct “pops out” or prolapses. 


Which breeds are prone to cherry eye?

Cherry eye, which usually develops at a young age, is most often experienced by certain breeds of dogs. While it can develop in cats, most often domestic shorthair, it is primarily a condition dogs encounter and one that is rarely seen in cats. Certain breeds, such as those known as brachycephalic, are more prone to experiencing cherry eye. Those flat-faced and short-nosed breeds, such as shih tzus, pugs and bulldogs experience cherry eye more often than other breeds, but beagles and cocker spaniels are also susceptible. 


How does surgery correct it?

Cherry eye surgery repositions the animal’s tear gland by suturing it below the eyelid. In most cases, that one surgery cures the ailment. However, in some instances a second attempt is needed. 


What is the cost of cherry eye surgery?

Animal owners expect surgery to be expensive, which is why we, at Dr. Kelly’s Surgical Unit, do our best to offer affordable pet surgery. While the cost of cherry eye surgery elsewhere can cost up to $1,000 per eye, according to industry research, we charge $500-$600 per eye for cherry eye surgery. 


If your dog or cat is experiencing what appears to be cherry eye, please take the time to have the animal examined by a qualified veterinarian. At Dr. Kelly’s Vet, we perform more than a dozen surgeries each day on our mobile surgical unit, and we’re happy to answer any questions you have about cherry eye, provide a consultation for suspected cherry eye and discuss surgical options to correct cherry eye.


Dr. Kelly’s Surgical Unit is a trusted veterinary team serving the Phoenix, Peoria and Tucson metro areas, with accessible locations in each market, offering highly specialized surgery, quality spay and neuter procedures, and accessible  dental care for pets. Contact us to learn more about our specialized services and our accessible appointments.   

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