Why do Newborn Puppies Have Their Eyes Closed?
Newborn puppies are extra sensitive and have their eyes closed for protection.
Dogs have a short gestation period (approximately 60 days), and brain and dog eye development is a late-stage process.
Therefore, pups are born with underdeveloped nervous systems and optical nerves. In such cases, exposure to bright light can be harmful and damage the nerves.
Since the newborn puppy’s eyes are not fully developed at the time of birth, having the lids closed, allows the eyes to continue their development in a clean environment. If the puppy’s eyelids were open, dust and dirt would enter. This could result in eye infections and developmental problems.
Having closed eyes is not the only difference between puppies and adult dogs. Youngsters also have underdeveloped puppy senses (sense of smell, hearing, etc.) and deciduous or baby teeth. Puppies depend on their mother’s milk until weaning and require special pet care during puppy development (until at least eight weeks of age).
When do Puppies Open Their Eyes?
Puppies open their eyes when between 10 and 14 days of age.
Interestingly, not all puppies from the same litter will open their eyes at the same time – variations are possible and completely normal. Also, the same dog may open one eye before the other. If you are a first-time owner, it is important to know what to expect and be patient.
Plus, keep in mind that puppies need to open their ears too, but this happens later. Puppy ears open between 10 and 20 days after birth.
Can Puppies See As Soon As Eyes Open?
As soon as they open their eyes, puppies can only see shapes and movements. In simple words, they can see, but everything is blurry and hard to distinguish.
At this point, the puppy’s vision only allows it to recognize littermates and the mother dog (an ability supported by the sense of smell).
Most puppies gain full vision when around two months old. In the transition period – from the eye opening to full vision, the puppy’s eyes are sensitive and require special protection.
Dog owners and breeders can test the puppy’s vision with a simple test. Namely, just throw a small cotton ball in front of the puppy and then, watch the puppy’s visual response. If the puppy follows the ball, it means it registers motion.
When Can Puppies Fully See?
Puppies can fully see when two months old.
When puppies open their eyes for the first time, their vision is poor, and the eyeballs are gray-blue hued. As time passes, and the eye development comes to an end, the vision gains full capacity, and the eyes start gaining their expected adult color.
Do Puppies of Different Breeds Open Their Eyes at the Same Time?
Yes, it is possible for puppies of different breeds and sizes to open their eyes at different times. This is perfectly normal.
While talking about dog breeds, we should also note that certain breeds are prone to genetic eye problems. Such breeds include Australian Shepherds, American Bulldogs, Golden Retrievers, Irish Setters, Labradors, Pit Bulls, etc.
If interested in a new puppy from these breeds, ensure the breeder has tested both parents, and they have passed the Companion Animal Eye Registry (CAER) examination.
How do Puppies Eyes Develop?
The eyes develop from cells called retinal pigment epithelium. This layer of cells is responsible for nourishing and supporting photoreceptors – light-sensing nerve cells that detect changes in light levels.
As a puppy grows, these cells migrate from their original location behind the retina to become part of the iris (the colored part of the eye). The iris contains pigments that determine how much light enters the eye and is responsible for controlling pupil size.
The iris also contains muscles that allow it to contract or dilate. As a result, the pupils constrict when light levels are low and dilate when they’re high, enabling dogs to see in both dim and bright light conditions.
What Happens If a Puppy Doesn’t Open Its Eyes Within the Normal Time Frame?
If your puppy has not opened its eyes within the first two weeks of life, seek veterinary care. Never attempt to open the puppy’s eyes on your own, as this often does more harm than good.
Pet parents should also call the veterinarian and go for a check if there is swelling or bulging under the eyelid or if there is pus or discharge around the eyes.
How to Take Care of a Puppies’ Eyes?
Usually, it is the mother dog’s job to take care of the puppies’ eyes. If the mother is not present, the caregiver can simply clean the pup’s eyes with a warm and moist cloth or cotton ball.
Taking care of the puppy’s eyes includes more than just cleaning – pet parents and breeders must provide high-quality puppy food and supplements to support healthy development. They should also keep the puppies up to date on vaccination and deworming.
All in all, the first few weeks of the puppy’s life are challenging but rewarding.