Why is My French Bulldog’s Eyes Red?

French bulldogs are some of the most adorable and lovable dogs around, but have you ever wondered why their eyes seem to glow with a mysterious red hue? As Frenchie’s parents, you must know how sensitive and vulnerable this breed is. That’s why it’s important to understand why your pup’s eyes may be red and what you can do to help.

However, before panicking, you should know that red eyes in French bulldogs are fairly common. In most cases, it’s nothing to worry about, but getting a professional opinion from your vet is wise. And before starting any treatment, you need to learn what is causing your pup’s red eyes in the first place.

In this article, we will discuss some of the most common causes of red eyes in French bulldogs and how to treat them. So, let’s dive in!

Cherry Eye in French Bulldogs

Several conditions cause red eye in Frenchies, but the cherry eye is one of the most common. First, let’s discuss the basics of this condition, its symptoms, potential issues, and treatments.

What is Cherry Eye?

While humans typically possess only two eyelids (an upper and lower lid), dogs are surprisingly endowed with three eyelids: an upper, lower, and a third one tucked away beneath their bottommost lids. As they shut their eyes for rest or relaxation, this extra eye-covering emerges to provide them additional protection from the external environment.

This specialized third eyelid offers their eyes further protection and manufactures tears that cleanse and clear the eye of dirt and irritants. The third eyelid still conveys a useful purpose in canines and works like a windshield wiper and shuts simultaneously with the other lids.

Since it normally only closes when the others do, many dog owners have no idea their pups possess one. However, when the third eyelid (known as the nictitating membrane) becomes inflamed and protrudes from the eye, this is called a “cherry eye.”

The third eyelid gland is exposed as a red, swollen lump near the corner of the French Bulldog’s eye; not only visually unappealing but can impede its normal functioning, which could lead to even more significant vision issues.

How do Frenchies Get Cherry Eye Issues?

Cherry eye results from an inherited weakness in the tissue that holds the tear gland in place. This condition can be triggered by trauma to the eye (either physical or environmental), excessive wiping, allergies, airborne irritants, and even certain medications. It is most common in French bulldogs and other short-nosed breeds.

Most experts also believe that congenital or hereditary reasons cause cherry eye issues. When it comes to the heritability of diseases, those passed down through bloodlines are called “congenital disorders.” This means that if a canine parent has suffered from the cherry eye in the past, their puppy(s) may be more predisposed to inheriting this condition.

Other common reasons can be weaknesses in or around the eye area, conjunctivitis, dry eyes, infections, and ophthalmologic issues contributing to cherry eye in French bulldogs.

Symptoms of Cherry Eye in French Bulldogs

One of the most obvious symptoms is the cherry eye itself. It appears as a red lump around the corner of your pup’s eye, which may protrude and cause irritation or discomfort. Regardless of size, the prolapsed nictitans gland can cause extreme distress and pain for your French Bulldog. It might cover a vast section of their eye or be minuscule — whichever it is, you want to ensure they’re well taken care of.

You may observe your Frenchie scratching and pawing it’s face and shaking its head persistently to discard the thing they feel in it’s eye. Unfortunately, this won’t help since it’s part of their eyes and can not simply be rubbed away like dirt.

If your French Bulldog has this eye condition, their third eye may not function optimally, leading to an impaired tear film and more squinting. An excess of tears might also form in other areas of the eyes. Moreover, you should also look for the symptoms like red and dry eyes, excessive squinting, pawing, or rubbing of the face, and general irritation around the eyes.

All these symptoms indicate that your French Bulldog may be in pain or discomfort from their cherry eye issue.

Treating Cherry Eye in French Bulldogs

The treatment of the cherry eye in Frenchies depends on different factors. For example, it can be the size of the cherry eye or the severity of the issue. Depending on your pup’s individual needs, certain treatments may be more suitable than others, and the best option will ultimately be determined in consultation with you and your veterinarian.

If your dog’s cherry eye is becoming increasingly inflamed due to pawing, a veterinarian may prescribe anti-inflammatory treatments like antibiotics or ointments. This can bring down the swelling to an acceptable level – resulting in preserved comfort for your pup.

However, in severe cases, the vet recommends surgery to remove the cherry eye completely. During this procedure, they’ll excise the third eyelid and its glandular tissue before stitching it back together in a slightly lower position. This significantly lowers the chances of it popping out again and keeps your pup safe from discomfort.

Although taking out the tear gland should be considered a last solution. It is because if removed, your Frenchie’s eyes would become overly dry due to insufficient tears. To mitigate this risk, they will need regular use of artificial tears after the surgery to prevent any other eye issues from appearing or worsening.

The redness around the eyes is not something you may pay attention to in your French Bulldog. However, if you observe any of the symptoms, take them seriously and contact your vet for further advice and treatment.

Treatment Cost of Cherry Eyes

A simple eye massage can move your gland back to its rightful place if the cherry eye problem is identified in its early stages. However, this may require antibiotics to reduce inflammation and lubricating eye drops — both cost-effective solutions.

However, for more serious cherry eye cases where surgery is necessary, the cost can range from $300 to $1,500. The cost of cherry eye surgery generally covers an initial eye examination for your dog, the surgical procedure, necessary anesthesia medication, monitoring, and postoperative care provided in the hospital.. Moreover, a follow-up surgery may be necessary if the prolapse recurs.

Contact your vet for a more accurate cost estimate to ensure you can adequately provide for your pup’s eye health.

Other Causes of Red Eyes in French Bulldogs

Cherry red eyes in French Bulldogs are not the only cause of redness around their eyes. Other reasons include allergies, infections, inherited conditions, dry eyes, and bright sunlight.

Let’s explore the other common causes of red eyes in French Bulldogs:

1. Inherited conditions

French Bulldogs are also prone to certain inherited eye conditions, such as entropion and ectropion. Entropion is when the eyelids roll inwards and can cause irritation or discomfort. Conversely, ectropion is when the eyelids roll outwards, which can lead to excessive tearing and redness.

Both conditions can cause your pup to experience irritation and inflammation, resulting in red eyes. Your vet can diagnose the condition properly and determine if surgery is necessary. In addition, Frenchies are more prone than other breeds to suffer from glaucoma, a condition characterized by increased pressure inside the eye that can cause pain, vision loss, and, eventually, blindness.

If you notice that your pup is facing any of these conditions, consult your vet as soon as possible. The vet will diagnose and prescribe the necessary treatments for your pup’s eye health. It can be eye drops, topical ointments, or surgery if necessary.

2. Allergies

Just like humans, French Bulldogs can suffer from allergies too. For example, if your Frenchie has red, itchy eyes and seems uncomfortable, they might have seasonal allergies. Common allergens are dust mites and pollen, which can irritate the eyes and cause redness.

Generally, treating allergies involves reducing exposure to allergens and adding extra nutrition to their diet. If you notice symptoms like watery or itchy eyes, tear staining, or puffy eyes, consult your vet to rule out any other underlying conditions.

Your vet might prescribe medication or eye drops to soothe the inflammation and irritation in case of allergies. Other treatments include antihistamines and medicated shampoos and wipes. Treating allergies in time is important to maintain your pup’s eye health.

Moreover, if your pup is prone to allergens, keep them indoors as much as possible. This will help to reduce their exposure to allergens and prevent any potential inflammation or irritation.

3. Dry Eyes Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome, also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), is a condition in which the eyes don’t produce enough tears. Without adequate lubrication, the eyes can become dry and irritated. This causes redness and inflammation.

If your French Bulldog has Dry Eye, the cornea and surrounding tissue will become inflamed, causing their eyes to appear a reddish hue. In addition, they may be blinking or squinting more often than normal due to the thick yellow-green discharge produced. Other symptoms can include increased tear production, sensitivity to light, and persistent irritation.

Dry eye issues are common in this breed. However, it is not serious but can cause a lot of pain to your pup if left untreated. Your vet will diagnose the condition and recommend eye drops, ointments, or antibiotics to help relieve the symptoms and provide relief.

4. Corneal Ulcers

Corneal ulcers are the most common cause of red eyes in French Bulldogs. It occurs when the cornea becomes infected or irritated, resulting in a painful ulcer on the surface. As a result, your pup may have difficulty opening its eyes, and the area around them will be swollen and red.

You might wonder about the causes of corneal ulcers. Well, corneal ulcers can be caused by repeated rubbing that may damage the eye tissue, accidental injuries, dry eye issues, or because of using harsh chemicals like shampoo or cleaning products near the eyes.

Corneal ulcers can be dangerous and lead to permanent eye blindness if left untreated. That’s why it is important to visit your vet when you notice any signs of an ulcer. Your vet can diagnose the ulcer and provide proper treatment, including antibiotics and ointment. In case of severe ulcers, your vet may even suggest surgery.

It is also important to be vigilant with your pup’s eye care. Regular checkups with your vet and proper hygiene can help prevent corneal ulceration, ensuring your pup’s eyes stay healthy and free of redness.

How to Prevent Red Eye Problems in French Bulldogs?

Preventing the red-eye issues in the Frenchies is possible just by taking care of them. Here are some tips you can follow:

1. Regular Checkups are Important

Taking your pup for regular checkups is important to ensure they are healthy and free of any eye infections or diseases. In addition, you can take your pup once or twice to the vet annually to get their eyes examined and tested for infections. This will help you detect any issues in the early stages and prevent them from escalating further.

2. Clean Their Eyes Regularly

Most dog parents don’t think about cleaning their pup’s eyes, but it is important to do so. If your pup’s eye discharges a lot, you should clean around the eyes to prevent infections. You can gently wipe away any dirt or discharge with a wet cotton ball or tissue. Next, remove all the crust that is formed around the eyes.

3. Keep Them Indoors

If your French Bulldog is prone to allergens, keep them indoors as much as possible. This will help keep the allergens away from them and reduce red-eye issues. Moreover, you can use air purifiers and other equipment to maintain the air quality inside your home.

4. Feed a Balanced Diet

Maintaining your French Bulldog with a nutritious diet is essential to its well-being. Such an eating regimen will not only help stave off dietary deficiencies but also provides added protection against the development of eye conditions over the course of its life span. In addition, you should add Omega-3 acids and other vitamins to your pup’s diet to keep their eyes healthy. Finally, if your pup has retinal issues, look for supplements with EPA and DHA, as they help treat such problems.

5. Protect Their Eyes from Injury

French Bulldog’s eyes are more prone to injury from accidents and several environmental factors. Therefore, keeping their eyes safe from any external damage is crucial. You can use protective eyewear like goggles or sunglasses when your pup is outdoors. The glasses will protect their eyes from debris, dust, and other particles that can cause redness and irritation to the eyes.

The Bottom Line

French Bulldogs have several eye problems, some of which can cause red eyes. In many cases, this is simply a genetic trait that needs no treatment. However, underlying conditions like allergies, dry eye syndrome, and corneal ulcers may cause eye redness.

If you notice any signs of these issues, you should consult your vet immediately instead of trying to treat them yourself. Just call your vet, describe the symptoms, and they’ll be able to diagnose the problem and give your pup the care they need. Early detection and treatment can help your pup keep it’s eyes healthy and prevent further complications.

Don’t panic, as eye problems are common in French bulldogs, and the vet knows how to deal with them. Your puppy’s eyes will be fine soon with the right care and attention.


Yes, cherry eye can be painful for Bulldogs. The redness and swelling associated with the condition can cause pain in the area of the eye. In addition, as the third eyelid irritates and rubs against the eye, it can cause additional discomfort and lead to infections if left untreated.

Cherry eye can lead to several complications and should never be left untreated. If ignored, the cherry eye may cause vision issues due to excessive scarring or pain within the eye area.

Furthermore, since the third eyelid contains important glands necessary for lubricating the eyes, leaving it untreated could also result in dry eyes. On top of that, bacterial and fungal infections can develop due to the discharge from this condition. The good news is that your veterinarian can correct the cherry’s eye with surgery.

Massaging cherry eye back into place is a popular non-surgical treatment often recommended as an easy and affordable option. Generally, this approach is only successful if the condition was identified at an earlier stage; when the membrane can still retain the gland in its proper location. As time passes, however, the connecting tissue will become too feeble and unable to be supported.

No, it is unlikely that cherry eye will go away on its own. The protrusion of the gland and the resulting soreness can lead to further complications if ignored, so it is best to have your pup examined by a vet as soon as possible.

Your veterinarian will be able to diagnose and offer you treatment options for your pup’s cherry eye. Treatment may vary depending on the severity, from simple lubrication drops to surgery. Ultimately, early diagnosis is key to providing your pup with the best care and reducing the chances of complications.

Irritation, allergies, or an underlying medical condition may cause red eyes in French Bulldogs. Common causes include dry eye syndrome, corneal ulcers, and conjunctivitis. If your pup’s eyes are red and there is no discharge, it is best to take them to the vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Tear stains on French Bulldogs can be cleaned daily to prevent bacteria and dust from accumulating in the eye area. Use a moist cotton cloth to clean the eyes and face gently. Cleaning with a damp cloth should be enough to remove tear stains. Be gentle when cleaning around the eye area, and make sure that your pup is comfortable. Stop immediately to avoid further irritation or infection if you notice any discomfort.

Common signs that your French Bulldog may have red eyes include bloodshot eyes, squinting, eye rubbing, excessive tearing, and discharge, inflammation and swelling, frequent blinking, or a change in the color of their eyes. If you notice these symptoms, taking your pup to the vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment is best.

March 10, 2023

Sade Amor

Sade Amor is the Marketing Director of Frenchie FAQ. She is a huge dog lover and owner of a French Bulldog herself. Sade has many years of writing experience and first hand experience raising & training French Bulldogs!

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