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What is Chalazion?

A chalazion occurs when the meibomian glands (or tarsal glands) are clogged. The chalazion develops along the eyelid margin where the meibomian glands are located. Meibomian glands produce sebum (oil), which helps keep the surface of the eye lubricated. Sebum prevents the evaporation of the dog’s natural tear film.   The tear film protects the eye from particles (dirt, dust) and it also helps to keep the eye moist. When the opening of the meibomian gland (duct) gets clogged, the oil builds up in the gland and causes inflammation.  This swelling in the gland is a chalazion.  

A chalazion is not a hordeolum (stye). A stye also appears on the edge of the eyelid but it is caused by an infection, not by a clogged gland. The bacterium that is usually associated with hordeolums is staphylococcus aureus. Unlike a hordeolum, chalazia are non-infectious and are not usually painful. A chalazion is more common in older dogs.

A chalazion in dogs is a lump or nodule swelling on the inside edge of the lower or upper eyelid. The plural form for a chalazion is chalazia. A chalazion is also referred to as a meibomian cyst.

Symptoms of Chalazion in Dogs

Symptoms of a chalazion may include:

  • Mass on the eyelid - Can be yellowish in color

  • Blepharitis - Inflammation of the eyelid
  • Itchiness caused by the lack of lubricant in the eye
  • Redness on the eyelid
  • Chalazia usually do not cause a pain response to touch
  • Secondary bacterial infection
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Causes of Chalazion in Dogs

A chalazion in dogs is caused when the meibomian glands are clogged and the oil they produce accumulates.  This buildup of oil causes the painless bump to develop.  The meibomian glands can get clogged due to:

  • Dirt or sand
  • Local injury
  • Neoplasia - Abnormal growth of tissue

  • Changes in the consistency of the sebum secretion
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Diagnosis of Chalazion in Dogs

The ophthalmologist will want to know what symptoms you have observed in your dog and when they started. He will then perform an eye exam on the patient. He may recommend performing a Schirmer tear test, slit light exam and an intraocular pressure test.  These diagnostic tests will help determine if there are any additional problems and/or abnormalities with the patient’s eye. The slit light exam may require your dog to be sedated. The veterinarian specialist will be able to visually identify the chalazion.  He may suggest a complete blood count to rule out a secondary bacterial infection.

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Treatment of Chalazion in Dogs

Treatment of a chalazion in dogs may include oral and topical antibiotics.  The doctor may also prescribe a topical ointment with neomycin and corticosteroids. The veterinarian may also recommend soaking a washcloth in warm water and applying it on the eye with the chalazion, several times a day. 

If the chalazion does not go away on its own and/or it continues to grow, the veterinarian may recommend surgery. A large chalazion can be uncomfortable for the dog and it can also scratch the cornea. Prior to surgery the patient will need to have a complete blood count (CBC), serum chemistry test and a urinalysis to make sure the dog can safely undergo a surgical procedure.

The surgical removal of chalazia may be performed by cryosurgery (cryotherapy), which uses liquid nitrogen to eliminate abnormal tissue growth. The prefix “cryo” means freezing.  A dog undergoing this procedure usually does not have to have general anesthesia.  The procedure may be done with the patient being given a sedative. There are no sutures needed. Laser ablation may also be recommended to remove the chalazion. This procedure uses a CO2 laser and a curette.  Laser surgery also does not require general anesthesia and may be performed with a sedative.  Some doctors prefer surgically removing the chalazion using a scalpel.  This procedure does require general anesthesia and your dog may require sutures.

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Recovery of Chalazion in Dogs

Canines that have laser or cryosurgery are usually treated as an outpatient and will be allowed to go home shortly after the procedure. Patients that were administered general anesthesia may need to stay overnight.  It will be necessary that the patient wears an Elizabethan collar to prevent him from scratching at his eyes.

Please be aware that after surgery your dog may have blood in his tears and the area may be swollen.  The surgeon will provide you with post-operative instructions. Your dog may be prescribed analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antibiotic medications. It is very important to follow the surgeon’s instructions.  Follow-up visits will be required to ensure your dog is healing properly. Semi-annual eye exam visits may also be recommended. The prognosis for most patients is very good, chalazia usually to not grow back.

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Chalazion Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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English Bulldog

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2 months 1/2

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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Redness

hello, I was wondering if u can tell me if chalazion on a dog is bad or if it is okay and normal, I was also wondering that my dog has pimples or i don't know how to explain it it is yellow it looks like bacteria or dirt but she has it around her body and it scares me cause it around her face to but u can't see it u have to dig under her hair to see it. And the last thing I was wondering is that she breathes loud but is it normal for an English bulldog to do it because I was told yes but I just want to make sure it is.

July 19, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. Bulldogs are prone to quite a few things, and they do get what is called a cherry eye, which is an everted gland and is not normal. The skin problem that you describe may be a bacterial problem or it may be a parasite, and that would be best to be seen by a veterinarian as well. Bulldogs do sometimes breathe loudly, we often will actually surgically try to open up their nose so that they can breathe easier. That is something else that you can probably talk to your veterinarian about, and they would be able to examine your puppy and see what the best route of treatment might be. I hope that all goes well for your puppy.

July 19, 2020

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Tuner

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Golden Retriever

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2 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Swelling
Swelling, Pink Color

My two year old golden developed a swelling on his lower eyelid. It looks like a cyst, but I think it could just as easily be a chalazion. It would be nice to see a picture of one on another dog to help verify / diagnose the problem. I have tried the warm compress on the affected area. While I think it is soothing for the dog, there has been little changes to the size or color (pinkish). (size is about 3/4 of a dime). There does not seem to be much discomfort, but I would like to know how long I should wait before seeking treatment. If there is nothing the vet will do other than prescribe ointment, I would want to just get the ointment. Any info on verifying the swelling would be helpful and which ointments will be effective for either a cyst or chalazion.

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