Dealing With a Cherry Eye In French Bulldogs: Causes, Treatments, And What You Can Do

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Reviewed by Alexandre Beaumont
Cherry Eye in French Bulldogs
Poor Ralphy got a cherry eye!
Credit ๐Ÿ“ธ:ย @Ralph

Frenchies can suffer from a fair share of issues โ€“ but nothing you and your furry friend can’t deal with, like a cherry eye!

But first, what’s a cherry eye in French Bulldogs?

A Cherry eye happens when a Frenchie’s tear gland pops out of place. Vets don’t know what causes it, but most believe it has to do with genetics. There are several treatments and surgeries to deal with the issue.

One of my Frenchies has this problem. I did a fair amount of research to rest easy knowing it’s not a big deal โ€“ but something you have to take care of soon enough.

I’ll explain all about it below!ย 

What’s Cherry Eye In French Bulldogs?

Cherry eye is a little red thing that sticks out of your Frenchie when something has gone wrong with one of its eyelids. 

Eyelids are a tricky subject for dogs. Humans (me, you, and your neighbor, as long as he’s not a werewolf) have two eyelids โ€“ dogs, Frenchies included, have three.

That third eyelid is called a nictitating membrane. It’s the one in charge of protecting your dog’s eyes from dirt and debris.

Every third eyelid comes with a tear gland. Unfortunately, that gland can pop out of place and stick out. 

That gland sticking out is what we call cherry eye!

Frenchie Cherry Eye Symptoms

You can easily diagnose cherry eye in your French Bulldog by looking at their eyes. Do you see a red gland sticking out? That’s it!

So, sure, you don’t have to be a vet to spot a cherry eye โ€“ but you may miss its symptoms if you’re not careful.

Cherry eye symptoms include:

  • Reduced eyesight
  • Dry eyes
  • Excessive scratching
  • Squinting

So, if you see your Frenchie squinting like he’s Clint Eastwood in a Western, you should get a closer look and check if they have cherry eye.

Fortunately, this ailment is not painful for your French Bulldog โ€“ but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take it seriously: you need to act fast if you want non-surgical treatments to work (I’ll detail how to deal with cherry eye in the second half of this article).

What Causes Cherry Eye?

Cherry Eye In French Bulldogs
Woody is giving us all the puppy eyes!
Credit ๐Ÿ“ธ: @Tudorhouse Veterinary

Vets don’t know what causes cherry eye. Most agree it boils down to genetics, so it’s likely to be hereditary. 

In other words, certain French Bulldogs may be predisposed to this condition. 

But how does cherry eye happen in French Bulldogs? It’s difficult to say! It probably has to do with weak tissue fibers that can’t hold the third eyelid’s gland in place. 

Weak fibers could malfunction randomly, or something could trigger them to malfunction. In that scenario, allergies could be the culprit.

Is Cherry Eye Common In Frenchies? 

Cherry eye is a common ailment in French Bulldogs โ€“ but that doesn’t mean your Frenchie will go through that!

French Bulldogs (and similar dogs) are more likely to suffer from cherry eye than others. It has to do with the way their faces are shaped: dogs with brachycephalic syndrome have a higher chance of experiencing this ailment.

However, less than 3% of all Frenchies have cherry eye. More importantly, dogs usually develop this problem when they are two years old or younger. 

You probably have nothing to worry about (when it comes to cherry eye) if you have an adult French Bulldog!

Simply put, early-stage cherry eye happens to French Bulldog puppies (most of the time). Adult Frenchies seldom have this problem.

Can You Prevent Cherry Eye In French Bulldogs?

You can โ€“ and you can’t. Let me explain!

You can avoid owning a French Bulldog with cherry eye if you carefully choose your future pet. I’m talking about doing screenings to detect possible issues (and also predict your Frenchie’s genes) before adoption.

At the same time, examining the parents may help you avoid choosing a puppy that may suffer from this issue (because, remember, it’s likely to be hereditary).

You can’t do much if you already have a Frenchie. Don’t worry about it! Should they have cherry eye, your vet will be there to help.

Should I See a Vet if My Frenchie Has a Cherry Eye?

You should always visit a vet when you sense something is wrong with your French Bulldog โ€“ cherry eye included!

In this case, you must talk to your vet for two reasons.

  1. You need to deal with cherry eye right away. Non-surgical treatments often work best when you catch the problem early on. 
  2. You need to prevent possible complications. Untreated cherry eye may lead to bad things like keratoconjunctivitis, which can result in blindness.

At the same time, your Frenchie may paw at their eye because of discomfort. Because of that, your vet may perform a Fluorescein test to look for ocular damage.

Task 47; Fluorescein Stain Test on Dog

And they may also perform a Schirmer test to check your Frenchie’s tear production.

How to do a Schirmer tear test

They can treat the issue accordingly right after.

How To Treat Cherry Eye In French Bulldogs

Cherry eye treatments can be surgical or non-surgical. A quick visit to the vet will help you determine which one your Frenchie needs.

Non-Surgical Treatments For Cherry Eye In Frenchies

  • Antibiotics. Your Frenchie may scratch their face because the cherry eye feels uncomfortable. In that scenario, they may hurt themselves and cause an infection in the process. Your vet will run some tests to check for that โ€“ and prescribe antibiotics to deal with the condition, which could help treat cherry eye, too.
  • Eye Drops. Cherry eye produces inflammation in some instances. Your vet may prescribe anti-inflammatory eye drops to reduce the swelling then. Sometimes, the tear gland pops back into place when the swelling goes down (but it’s far from a sure thing).
  • Massage. You can massage the tear gland back into place if you’re lucky enough. I recommend talking to a vet or a nurse who will walk you through the process before trying it yourself. In fact, I’d suggest letting them do so if possible.

Unfortunately, non-surgical options often neglect the root cause of the issue, providing temporary relief alone. If you have a lucky puppy with you, they may fix their cherry eye forever with one of the options above. 

If not, your vet will suggest one of the options below.

French Bulldog Cherry Eye Before Surgery
Trio’s Cherry Eye Before Surgery
Credit ๐Ÿ“ธ: @Banfield Crafton #5177

Possible Surgeries For Cherry Eye In Frenchies

  • Tucking Back. The best possible solution would be for your vet to tuck the tear gland back into place. They stitch back the gland where it belongs โ€“ and your Frenchie gets to look picture-perfect again. It’s the most common treatment, though sometimes vets must take other measures to deal with it.
  • Removing A Bit. The second best solution would be to remove a bit of the tear gland to help it get back into place. It’s the latest treatment and perhaps the most complicated. Vets have to figure out how much tissue to remove before doing anything.
  • Complete Removal. The least likely and oldest solution we have to deal with cherry eye. Your vet removes the entire gland. Doing so could prove problematic because your Frenchie can’t produce tears without it, making them suffer from dry eyes for the rest of their lives. Daily eye drops are needed to prevent issues (that range from dry eyes to blindness) after the procedure. Fortunately, removal is unlikely to be an option.

Cherry eye surgery is far from problematic โ€“ and will cause almost no issues for your dog! 

You can expect your Frenchie to be back in tip-top shape in a couple of weeks after surgery. The worst part for them is wearing the cone of shame.

The worst part for you will be paying for surgery, which could cost you a few hundred (and up to a thousand) dollars. At that point, you may consider getting pet insurance โ€“ unless you were smart enough to get it before this whole thing happened!

French Bulldog Cherry Eye After Surgery
Trio’s Eye After Cherry Eye Surgery
Credit ๐Ÿ“ธ: @Banfield Crafton #5177

Can Home Remedies Fix Cherry Eye?

Home remedies may help alleviate cherry eye symptoms and reduce swelling โ€“ but I have no personal evidence to back that statement.

Someone once stopped to pet my Frenchies when I was walking them (it happens more than you think!) and recommended I gently apply cold tea when he noticed Luzy’s cherry eye.

I tried it, and it may have reduced the swelling a little bit, but it ultimately didn’t work as intended.

What would I do when it comes to home remedies and cherry eye? Talk to your vet about them! If they see no harm in trying, try your best โ€“ but don’t invest too much time and effort into them: tried-and-true treatments are waiting for your Frenchie at the veterinary.

My Experience With Cherry Eye

Pied Frenchie with Cherry Eye cuddling with Brindle Frenchie
My little Luzy and her cherry eye!

Luzy, my lovely Piebald, showed cherry eye symptoms when she was under six months old.

It didn’t take me long to realize she had a red thing sticking out of her eye. I took her to the vet as fast as I could!

Unfortunately, it was not an issue I could massage and pop back into place, so surgery was the only option left.

We’re scheduled for surgery in the middle of September. The vet wanted to wait until she was eight months old to perform the procedure. 

Luzy is as happy and energetic as ever, so I’d say she’s suffering no discomfort. She’ll probably have a worse time when surgery is over – and the cone of shame comes on!

What You Should Know

Cherry eye in French Bulldogs happens when the third eyelid’s tear gland pops out of place. It usually isn’t painful but could prove uncomfortable for your dog. Though most could prove ineffective, several treatments exist to deal with the issue. Surgery is often the go-to choice to deal with the problem for good. Fortunately, cherry eye surgery is not complicated and requires little recovery time.

Photo of author


JM is a freelance writer who focuses on all things interesting. He works part-time as a toy judge whenever Manny and Luzy, his two Frenchies, fight over the same squeaky bone.

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