Puppies open their eyes at around 2 weeks. You might note that some puppies already have their eyes open at around 8-10 days, but if your newborn puppies still have their eyes shut after 2 weeks, that’s when you would need to consult a veterinarian.
Why puppies’ eyes stay closed.
Two weeks ago, our pure Maltese dog Mocha gave birth to 5 adorable puppies. Now, it is my first time to assist a mother dog and her pups, and one of the most noticeable things about them is that they were born with their eyes closed.
At first, this scared me a bit, but my aunt, who has been breeding dogs for almost a decade now told me that this is normal.
Puppies’ eyes stay closed and they are born without the ability to see. They develop their eyesight after being born!
If you yourself have a dog who just had puppies and wondering why their eyes are closed, this article will try to answer all your questions, educate you on what you need to know about puppies’ eyes, how they develop, and some warning signs for eye infection.
How your puppy’s eyes develop
The development of puppies’ vision is different from how human babies develop eyesight. When puppies are born, their eyes are closed. It will remain this way for several weeks before you notice them open. Only by this time, they could see.
Puppies are born with their eyes close because they are still developing their central nervous system. So, the optic nerves of their eyes are developing as well.
An undeveloped optic nerve is very sensitive to bright lights; hence, they need to have their eyes closed for protection.
Other than the nerves, the eyes themselves are also developing. Foreign particles can cause infection or lag the development. So, their closed eyelids also prevent particles from getting into their developing eyes.
Because of having closed eyes during birth, very young puppies need delicate assistance. Puppies are highly dependent on their mothers during their first week.
As weeks go by, you will witness the growth of your puppy as they begin to open their eyes gradually.
Puppies’ eyes will gradually open after several weeks. You will notice grayish-blue and hazy appearing eyeballs.
This is a manifestation of immature eyeballs. The bluish hue on their eyes is the iris while the hazy part is their cornea. Both the iris and cornea are expected to develop their actual color by eight weeks.
By the time they begin to open their eyes, their vision is not yet at its best. Their eyes are still developing. Full vision is expected to be developed when they are about eight weeks old.
When do puppies’ eyes open?
Puppies normally open their eyes after one or two weeks. When they open their eyes, likely, their central nervous system and eyes are already fully developed.
If you are taking care of a newly born puppy, do not be impatient. Puppies open their eyes on their own. It would be best to avoid helping their eyelids open as you might risk infection or damage to the eyeballs.
What to do after puppies have opened their eyes
Now that your puppies have opened their eyes and start to move around, what can you do to help them develop well?
Puppies mainly eat and sleep within their first two weeks. After two weeks, they will begin seeing, hearing, and walking.
This is the time to assist your puppies and ensure that they will avoid going to dangerous places while their vision develops.
During the early weeks of puppies, their diet is mainly milk from their mother. If your puppy is an orphan, milk formulated for puppies can be given as a substitute.
Weaning from milk happens when their baby teeth start to erupt at three weeks of age. Their mother will naturally start the weaning process as she can start feeling her puppies’ teeth when breastfeeding.
You can help your puppies wean by introducing them to canned puppy food. Just make sure to look for a formula that can help your puppies develop.
Try letting the puppies taste the puppy food from your fingers. Eventually, they will get used to it and naturally do away with their mom’s breastmilk.
Weaning can be successfully done when the puppies reach six or seven weeks of age.
If you want to evaluate the eyesight of your puppies as they develop, you can try doing a visual evaluation. Silently toss a cotton ball in the air and see if your puppy will follow the motion.
Normal puppies will follow the motion of your hand and look at how the cotton ball fly and hit the ground.
Just make sure that you are very silent as you might get a false reaction. Your puppies might respond to the sound instead.
When do puppies start to see in the dark?
Development of vision of puppies to see in the dark develops at around eight weeks of age. During the eighth week, the eyesight of puppies should be fully developed already. This is because the iris and cornea fully develop at this time.
The drastic improvement of puppies’ vision at eight weeks is comparable to the sharpness of an adult dog’s eyesight.
Eye-opening facts about puppy eyes
Puppy eyes express so much emotion and let us know what they are trying to tell us. But these eyes hold many eye-opening facts!
In contrast to humans, why do mother dogs give birth to blind puppies? This is explained by evolution. All species want to adapt to their environment to survive. Dogs give birth to live offspring since they are mammals.
However, giving birth to a fully developed organism takes a long gestation period. This becomes a problem for hunting dogs as they are disadvantaged when hunting during pregnancy.
To trade-off, they evolved to having short pregnancy time but immature offspring to help themselves survive in the wild by hunting prey.
Another interesting fact about puppies and their eyes is that they have binocular vision. This gives puppies and dogs a top-notch depth perception essential in hunting prey.
Moreover, compared to humans, dogs have a greater peripheral vision but perceive less detail. This is not a problem to them since their sense of smell covers for this.
A common misconception in their vision is that they can see in black and white only. This is a myth.
But these receptors are much less than that of humans. Hence, they only see fewer colors than we do.
Lastly, did you know that a lot you can tell a lot about the health of puppies and dogs with their eyes? Health issues can be detected depending on the appearance of your puppies’ eyes.
For instance, liver disease can be associated with yellowing of the sclera of their eyes. In contrast, a very pale sclera can be associated with anemia, internal bleeding, or kidney disease.
Other than the sclera, your puppies’ pupils can tell you if they are in pain. If they are constricted, your puppy might be experiencing pain, trauma, or potential rodenticide poisoning.
Watch out for puppy eye infections!
Other than those previously mentioned associations, your puppies’ eyes are also susceptible to infection. A good countermeasure is early detection and going to your veterinarian to seek appropriate care.
Common eye discharge in puppies is a clear fluid that is usually due to allergies or dust. If the discharge is clear and watery, normally a foreign object entered the eye.
However, if you see a yellow-green discharge or pus-like fluid, it could be an infection. It would be best to seek medical attention for the latter since untreated serious infections can lead to blindness or loss of that eye.
Conjunctivitis is a type of inflammation This is characterized by watery eyes, yellow to green pus, and mucus. Conjunctivitis means that your puppies’ eye lining has an inflammation.
The cause of this can range from allergies, injuries, foreign objects, or even tumors. Also, check if your puppy blink and squint a lot, or prefer to keep their eyes closed.
If you remember a form of trauma to puppies’ eyes then you might suspect corneal ulcers. Symptoms include red and watery eyes, squinting, and eye discharge. Immediate help from your vet is needed in this case.
Lastly, excessive tearing or epiphora with infected skin or fur also needs medical attention. Epiphora can be due to conditions such as inflammation, allergies, tumors, and many more.
When to talk to your vet
As a caretaker of puppies, you might be anxious if your puppies are developing normally. Do not worry too much since puppies develop naturally.
However, it would be best to keep an eye out for some signs that indicate how something is not right in your puppies’ eye development.
Any form of swelling or bulging under the eyelid during the first two weeks of your puppies’ birth might be a sign of infection.
Moreover, pus or eye gunk around the eyelids might also be an infection. These two signs require medical attention.
As previously mentioned, puppies need two weeks before opening their eyes. If they fail to open their eyes past this time frame, there might be a developmental problem arising. The intervention of the vet will be beneficial in this case.
Your veterinarian will help you in these cases. Their guidance is essential since appropriate care will be given. Note that it would be best to intervene with problems early on to prevent irreversible problems in the future.
In summary, puppies’ eyes are very fascinating. They differ a lot compared to how humans develop eyesight.
If you are taking care of puppies, do not forget the essential developmental milestones of puppies and the symptoms of their diseases. With all these in mind, you can ensure the health and development of your puppies!