Types of Canine Blocked Gland Eyelid Cysts

Shih Tzus are prone to certain eyelid conditions.
Shih Tzus are prone to certain eyelid conditions. (Image: Mature woman and her dog image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com)

A dog’s eyelids differ from a human’s in a very different way in that dogs have three of them. The third eyelid is hidden behind the lower lid and comes up only when there is trauma to the eye. You should never see this third eyelid, but if you do, this is a sign that something is wrong with your dog’s eye. Always consult an experienced veterinarian regarding the health and treatment of your pet.

Cherry Eye

A dog’s third eyelid contains a gland that secretes lubricating oil. Sometimes the gland protrudes from the eye. This protrusion looks like a pink mass coming from the lower eyelid. A dog can have this type of cyst in one or both eyes. The most common breeds to get cherry eye are beagles, bloodhounds, Lhasa apsos, Shih Tzus and cocker spaniels. A veterinarian can diagnose the condition. Treatment typically consists of topical anti-inflammatory medicine that will reduce the cyst or surgery for more severe conditions.


Blepharitis is an inflammation of the outer skin and the middle part of the eyelid. There are a number of different causes of blepharitis, including blockage and inflammation of the meibomian gland in the middle layer of the dog's eyelid. One or both eyes can be affected. Besides the pimple-like cysts and crusty patches on the eyelid, the eye usually will become red in cases of blepharitis. Your dog probably will want to scratch at her eyes, which could cause more eye trauma. Dogs with flat faces and bulging eyes, exceptionally long and narrow muzzles, and facial folds are most likely to suffer blepharitis. A veterinarian can diagnose the condition. Treatment usually consists of applying warm compresses to the area for five to 15 minutes a few times a day and then using saline eye drops. Treatment also may include antibacterial ointments or, for severe cases, surgery.


Conjunctivitis often is called pink eye. The type of conjunctivitis that causes cysts from glands is called follicular conjunctivitis, and results in a cobblestone look on the eyelids. The eye irritation also causes the glands to produce a mucous discharge. This usually occurs in both eyes and typically is painful for the dog. Breeds most likely to suffer conjunctivitis also are prone to allergies and autoimmune skin conditions. Your vet could suggest a variety of treatment options that range from antibiotic ointment to oral medication to an elimination diet to determine whether the cause is food related. Surgery might be necessary to remove an obstructed duct.

Meibomian Gland Tumors

Older dogs can suffer meibomian gland tumors, tiny growths in the eyelid glands. Most tumors are benign, but some are cancerous. These tumors can grow outside or inside the eyelid. Although the benign tumors do not spread, they can be painful for your dog. Your vet can detect and remove meibomian gland tumors easily. This is done commonly under local anesthesia. Tissue freezing also may be an option. Once, removed, the tumors recur only 10 percent of the time.

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