Cherry Eye in French Bulldogs
What It Is
Cherry eye in french bulldogs (or any dog) is referred to medically as the prolapse or eversion of the gland of the nictitating membrane. Put simply, a fibrous membrane located in the lower inside corner of a dog’s eye becomes disconnected or the connecting material loses strength and allows the membrane to protrude from your dog’s eyelid. The protruding mass will remain in place until the condition is treated, giving the appearance of a cherry sticking out of the corner of your dog’s eye, hence the common referential name. What causes the connective tissue of the nictitating membrane to weaken or separate entirely is not well-known, although the condition is highly treatable by nearly any veterinarian. Many veterinarians speculate that genetics plays a sizable role in how cherry eye develops in various breeds.
Why Cherry Eye is a Serious Concern for French Bulldogs
Cherry eye is not lethal or fatal in French Bulldogs but it can cause an extreme amount of discomfort for your Frenchie. Often, dogs will claw at their eye with their dew claw, leading to corneal ulcers. Cherry eye almost always causes dry eyes and can be very itchy, causing inflammation and discomfort, and even severe pain for your dog. This is especially true in brachycephalic breeds like French Bulldogs, pugs, and Boston Terriers. The protruding eyes and shortened muzzles of these breeds naturally exposure them to more eye problems than other breeds. Like any French Bulldog eye problem, it is critical that you get your dog to a veterinarian as quickly as possible. Your vet will likely prescribe a round of ocular antibiotics, regular twice-daily under-eye massages, ophthalmic ointments, an eye lubricant specifically for canines, and some NSAIDs to help with pain.
French Bulldog cherry eye symptoms are very obvious. Your Frenchie will paw and scratch at their eye. Their eye will appear dry, red, and irritated, too. Cherry can occur in one eye or in both eyes. Here are some very common cherry eye symptoms in French Bulldogs:
- Eye redness (conjunctivitis)
- Swelling around the eyes
- Excessive tear production – signs of eye drainage
- Abnormally dry eyes – insufficient tear production (yes, both too dry or too moist)
- Rubbing/pawing at the eyes
- Vision impairment
French Bulldog Cherry Eye Causes
Cherry eye is most prevalent in younger French Bulldogs. Normally, cherry eye will occur in dogs under two years of age. Some veterinarians speculate that cherry eye is genetic but no proof of that claim exists. Veterinarians do not agree entirely on what causes cherry eye in French Bulldogs. The condition is not fully understand, particularly the role of the nictitating membrane. That said, the condition is wholly treatable.
French Bulldog Cherry Eye Solutions
Cherry eye can be corrected using both surgical and non-surgical methods. Simple massage techniques can relieve the protrusion but will require constant veterinary monitoring. Surgical solutions include an attachment procedure in which the fleshly membrane of the everted tissue is anchored back to more hardy tissues in the lower corner of the eye socket. We recommend keeping a bottle of canine-only eye lubricant in your dog’s medicine cabinet to help with dry eyes. Remember, always take your French Bulldog to a veterinarian if you see any sign of eye problems. Many eye problems in french bulldogs can cause blindness.
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