Dogs have a third eyelid that comes from the inner corner of the eye. This eyelid has a tear gland associated with it, and sometimes, this third eyelid gland can become prolapsed resulting in cherry eye. Cherry eye is common in Boston Terriers, as well as Bulldogs, Mastiffs, Beagles, Bloodhounds, Shih Tzus, and other brachycephalic dog breeds1. Read on to learn more about cherry eye in Boston Terriers and what types of treatment exists for correction of the condition.
What Exactly Is Cherry Eye?
Cherry eye occurs when the third eyelid gland found in the lower corner of a dog’s eye prolapses. You’ll notice a red and inflamed piece of tissue in the corner of the eye, and the area will become swollen. The connective tissue around the third eyelid gland can be weakened in some dogs and this can lead to cherry eye. This gland is responsible for keeping the eye lubricated and the surface of the eye, the cornea, healthy.
The condition in Boston Terriers is thought to be genetic, but not all these dogs will develop the condition. The good news is that the condition does not shorten a Boston’s lifespan, but it can be uncomfortable and need surgery to correct.
Also, if your Boston develops the condition in one eye, he will more than likely develop it in the other eye at some point in his life. Your Boston will probably paw and rub at the eye, and if left untreated, your Boston could develop further complications, such as conjunctivitis, dry eye, a corneal injury, or even rarely vision loss.
What Treatment Is Available for Cherry Eye?
Here is some excellent news: cherry eye is a treatable condition.
A permanent solution requires surgery performed by a veterinary surgeon. Surgery entails a careful incision in order to replace the gland back into the pocket where it belongs and suturing it closed. Even with careful surgery it is possible for the condition to reoccur and need a second procedure. It is no longer recommended that the gland be removed as it is important for the health of the eye.
No preventative measures are possible in this condition, but breeders can do their part by spaying/neutering Boston Terriers that have cherry eye so as to not pass it on to offspring.
Are Boston Terriers Prone to Eye Infections?
Boston Terriers are more prone to eye problems due to their short snouts and protruding eyes. We know they are prone to cherry eye, but they can also develop conjunctivitis and ulcers. Your veterinarian may suggest you give your Boston eye drops to help keep the eyes lubricated. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before applying to prevent possible infections.
Tips for Keeping Your Boston Terrier Healthy and Safe
Many Bostons love to “go for a ride.” These Terriers love to stick their head out the window while riding down the road, but allowing your Boston to do this may cause an eye injury from debris or some other object that can fly into the eye. As a Boston Terrier owner myself, I purchased doggie goggles for my two Bostons so that they can hang their head out the window without the risk of an eye injury.
Always feed your Boston a complete and balanced diet and follow the feeding guidelines on the package. Provide healthy treats, and always stay up-to-date on all vaccines and annual checkups. Since we’re on the subject of cherry eye, always take your Boston for a checkup if you notice any swelling or inflammation in the corner of the eye.
Owning a Boston Terrier is a fun and rewarding experience. These little dogs make excellent companions and are intelligent. Bostons are a comedic breed and will keep you in stitches laughing. For those looking for a sweet and loving smaller breed, a Boston Terrier just may be the ticket. Before adding one to your family be sure to research the health problems that they are prone to.