Cherry Eye in Beagles – Causes, Treatment, and Tips for Management

Unlike humans, who have two eyelids, our Beagles (and dogs in general) have three. This third eyelid – known as the “nictitans” or “nictating membrane – arises from the inner corner of the eye and covers the dog’s eye diagonally.

In breeds like Beagles, Bulldogs, and Cocker Spaniels, the lacrimal gland of the third eyelid has weak fibers holding it together. This sometimes causes the gland to protrude, resulting in a condition known as Cherry Eye.

In this guide, we’ll cover the causes and treatment of cherry eye and also discuss some other FAQs on the topic.

What Causes Cherry Eye in Beagles?

As mentioned above, cherry eye in Beagles usually has genetic causes. The breed is predisposed to this condition because their ligaments or fibers holding the lacrimal gland are weak or tend to stretch. 

Due to this, the lacrimal gland protrudes out from the lower eyelid resulting in a cherry-pit-like swelling or protrusion. The condition is also seen in breeds like Bulldogs, Cocker Spaniels, Lhasa Apso, Basset Hounds, Newfoundland, etc.

Sometimes, trauma or injuries can also damage the delicate tissues holding the lacrimal gland in place, resulting in a cherry eye.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Beagle Cherry Eye

As mentioned above, Beagle owners typically see a protruding red or pink mass in the corner of their pet’s eye near the nose. It appears like a pink-red cherry pit and is unmistakable. Sometimes, the swelling may come and go, but it usually worsens if left untreated.

Affected dogs tend to paw their eyes and might also have a thick discharge. If left untreated, the condition can result in “dry eye” since the nictating membrane cannot produce tears. This can be extremely uncomfortable for your dog and, worse, could result in eye infections. 

Over time, the cherry eye could also result in partial or complete vision loss. If your pet paws the eyes, it could result in corneal scratches. Your dog is also at risk of losing the affected eye, so it is important that you get it treated right away.

Cherry eye is typically seen in Beagles under the age of 2 years. In some dogs, both eyes can be affected.

How is Cherry Eye Diagnosed?

Your vet will examine your Beagle’s eyes thoroughly and might also perform some diagnostic tests to diagnose cherry eye.

Suppose your Beagle is not producing adequate tears. In that case, your vet might use the Schirmer Tear Test to ascertain exactly how much tear production is occurring in both eyes. The vet might also conduct the fluorescein stain test to ensure there are no scratches on the corneas. Please note that corneal scratches can result in ulcers and eye infections, which can be very difficult to treat.

What is the Treatment for Cherry Eye?

Your vet will recommend surgery to replace the prolapsed gland back in its place. Sometimes, vets refer patients to specialized veterinary ophthalmologists. 

In some dogs, the gland cannot be replaced back in its normal position or may be severely infected. In such cases, vets recommend surgical removal of the lacrimal gland. This is usually the last resort, as gland removal can impact tear production, and your Beagle will need monitoring and care for life.

What is the Best Cure for Beagle Cherry Eye?

There are no medicines or home remedies for cherry eye in Beagles, and surgery is the only alternative. Please note that many times, surgery may not guarantee 100% success. Some dogs may even require repeat or revision surgery.

Remember that time is of the essence. Cherry eye surgery is most likely to be successful in the initial stages of the prolapse before the gland has a chance to get infected.

That is why it is important to see your vet immediately as soon as you notice a red cherry-pit-like swelling on your Beagle’s eye.

What Precautions to Take After Cherry Eye Surgery?

Your vet will give you a list of precautions to take after the procedure. Here are some general tips:

  • Use an Elizabeth collar around your dog’s neck to prevent them from rubbing the treated eye. Your pet will need to wear the collar for at least 7-10 days.
  • Go for any follow-up visits as asked by your vet.
  • Give your Beagle the pain medicine and eye drops prescribed by the vet.
  • If your Beagle’s lacrimal gland has been removed, you will need to take precautions to prevent dry eye. Your Beagle will also need eye drops and regular eye check-ups for the rest of their life after the surgery.

Is Cherry Eye Contagious?

Beagle cherry eye is not contagious. It won’t spread from one eye to the other (although, in some dogs, both eyes may get affected at the same time or one after the other). It also does not spread from your Beagle to other pets and neither to humans. 

It is very important to buy your Beagle from a reputed breeder who will refrain from breeding Beagles that have been treated for cherry eye.

How Much Does Beagle Cherry Eye Surgery Cost? 

The average cost of cherry eye surgery in Beagles in the USA is around $550 per eye. This cost can vary from state to state and also depends on the veterinary practice and the veterinarian expert performing the surgery. The cost can also depend on the extent or degree of cherry eye in your pet.

How Can You Prevent Cherry Eye in Beagles?

Cherry eye is not preventable, and there is nothing one can do to stop it. Since the condition may be genetic, you might want to speak to your breeder before buying your Beagle and ask if the parent dogs have had the condition.

There are no vaccines, eye drops, homeopathic remedies, or special diets to prevent the cherry eye. In general, you can take care of your Beagle’s eyes by preventing traumatic injuries. Make sure your dog does not paw the eyes, which could cause the delicate fibers of the third eyelid to tear.

Key Takeaways – Cherry Eye in Beagles 

Cherry eye in Beagles results in a cherry-pit-like swelling in the corner of the eye due to prolapsed tear gland. 

It generally affects young Beagles. If left untreated, it can result in various complications and even cause blindness. Surgery is the only treatment for the condition. Please see your vet right away if you suspect that your Beagle has developed cherry eye.