So I wake up one morning and to my surprise my own little rescue puppy from the South, “Dixie”, is greeting me with the signature pink bulging bump from the corner of her eye known as cherry eye.
So what is cherry eye anyway? Technically, it refers to the prolapse of the nictitating membrane of the third eyelid. This gland is responsible for about 30% of the dog’s tear production.
Cherry eye is known to be more common in certain breeds and certainly seems to be at least a partially hereditary condition. It is claimed that the prolapse occurs because of weaker connective tissue around the gland.
Left untreated, cherry eye can cause chronic irritation of the eye and remain as an unsightly red bulge in the corner of the eye.
The usual treatment is surgery, which I have assisted with a handful of times while I worked as a veterinary technician. Success rate and cost of surgery will vary depending on the veterinarian performing the procedure.
When confronted with the issue myself, I thought if it popped out it must be able to pop back in, and after a little research it seems that others have also managed to massage their dogs’ cherry eyes back into place. Most recommend using some kind of an eye lubricant. Since I caught my dog’s cherry eye early and her gland and eye was still very moist – I did the technique without lubricant thinking that the lubricant might also make it pop back out easier. So, if I was able to get it back in easy without the foreign lubricant I did, since the tears of the eye does act as a natural lubricant.
Researching that the best known reason as to why cherry eye occurs is because of weakened connective tissue around the gland, I immediately placed Dixie on a supplement, Agility, which is designed to support the connective tissue of JOINTS – which I figured couldn’t hurt in supporting any of the body’s connective tissue. It is important to note that no company, to my knowledge, that manufacturers joint supplements has done any research or makes any claims about the effectiveness of these supplements on the connective tissue associated with the eyes and other non-joints.
The result: Within 4 days I had to massage the cherry eye back in 3 times. I also massaged for a few days afterwards just to seal the deal. I maintained her on the joint supplement and 7 weeks later still no sign of cherry eye. Her eyes look good as new! You can see the video below of the last time I massaged in the cherry eye. Remember I am not a veterinarian and there are risks to doing this yourself, including damaging the cartilage around the eye. Consider this post an alternative and something best discussed with your veterinarian. I would be interested in any feedback from others who have had success with a similar plan.
Update: Over 5 years later and still no recurrence!