Newborn puppies are some of the most adorable and helpless creatures on the planet. They are born with closed eyes and ears and need their mother’s care for their survival. One of the significant milestones in a puppy’s development is opening their eyes. It is an exciting moment for owners, but it also begs many questions. This article will explore when puppies open their eyes, how breed and size impact when they open their eyes, when to worry if the eyes don’t open, and how to care for the eyes in the early stages of a puppy’s life.
When Do Newborn Puppies Open Their Eyes?
On average, puppies open their eyes at around two weeks old. However, the exact time depends on factors such as breed, size, and how early the puppy was born. Puppies who were born earlier may take a little longer for their vision to be functional compared to those born at full term. For some breeds, the process can take up to 21 days. Additionally, most puppies will not open both eyes at the same time, and some will open just a crack at first.
Why Do Puppies Have Closed Eyes at Birth?
When puppies are born, their eyeballs are not developed enough to withstand bright light. The optical nerves are also not strong enough at birth to protect them, so their eyes are kept closed. During the first few weeks, the eyeballs and optic nerves are extremely sensitive to light. The puppy’s brain is still developing and needs time to mature enough for their eyeballs to function.
What Can Newborn Puppies See?
Newborn puppies cannot see much when they are first born. Once their eyes open at around two weeks, their vision is limited and blurry. They have a field of vision of only about a foot ahead of them and cannot see small details. However, they can make out shapes and movements. As they develop, their vision becomes clearer, and they can see farther, but they still cannot see colors and are very sensitive to light. The ocular function will be fully developed around 8 to 12 weeks old.
How Do Breed and Size Impact When A Puppy Opens Their Eyes?
Larger breeds often have ocular function and vision sooner than medium and smaller dogs. For instance, large and giant breeds like Mastiffs, St. Bernards, Great Danes, and German Shepherds open their eyes sooner. Medium-sized dogs like Cocker Spaniels usually can see within 10 to 14 days. Smaller breeds like Fox Terriers can take longer, around three weeks or so. However, each puppy is unique, and the timing can vary.
When Should You Worry If Your Puppy’s Eyes Don’t Open?
While most puppies open their eyes between 10 and 14 days, some may need a few more days for everything to develop properly. However, if your pup is past the 14-day mark and is not a breed like the Fox Terrier (known to open their eyes at around 21 days), it is best to reach out to your veterinarian. If your puppy has not opened its eyes by around 16 days, contacting your veterinarian for medical advice is essential. While delayed eye opening does not always indicate something is wrong, if it stretches beyond 16 days, puppy owners should ensure their pups are healthy and free of any underlying medical issues.
Should You Help Your Puppy Open Their Eyes?
No, it is not advisable to help your puppy open their eyes, even if they take longer than usual to do so. They will open when they are ready and their eyes will develop fully in time. Helping your puppy’s eyes to open prematurely can cause significant and permanent damage. Puppies’ eyes are closed at birth because they still need that extra layer of protection until they fully develop.
How to Care for Your Puppy’s Eyes
When your puppies are first born, their mother will provide most of the care they need. As an owner, you should observe and only interfere when necessary. Gently clean around their eyes if you notice dirt or discharge. Keep your puppy enclosed and safe, avoiding bright lights until their eyeballs and ocular functions are fully developed. Also, observe and inspect for any injury, infection, or abnormality. If your puppy is a longer-haired breed, trimming the hair around the eyes is essential as hair and lashes can get into the eye leading to great discomfort and even infection over time.
Signs of Poor Eyesight In Puppies
While most puppies will get better with their vision and understanding of objects as they mature, some breeds are more prone to vision loss and eye disease. These include Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Springer Spaniels, Poodles, Great Danes, Boston Terriers, Siberian Huskies, and some Bulldogs. Some signs of poor or impaired vision in puppies to watch out for include stumbling and unsteadiness on their feet, excessive blinking and head-shaking, and clumsiness like bumping into things or staring at the ground. These signs could indicate your puppy is having trouble seeing objects. If you notice any of these signs or suspect that your pup may have a vision impairment, consult with your veterinarian immediately.
Your puppy’s first step in opening their eyes is a significant milestone in their development, and as an owner, it is crucial to understand when to expect this to happen and any potential red flags to watch out. Although most puppies will open their eyes within two weeks, the exact timing can depend on factors such as breed and size. There are some complications, like delayed eye-opening and poor eyesight, that require medical attention. By understanding how to care for your puppy’s eyes and what potential vision problems to watch out for, you can ensure that your little furry friend has a smooth and healthy start to their life.