Puppies are small, cute, and have the energy to warm even the coldest hearts.
But looking after a litter of newborns isn’t an easy task. Also, during the first few weeks of their lives, puppies need extra care as they’re born deaf and with their eyes tightly closed.
So, when do puppies open their eyes? And why are they born with closed eyes?
Keep reading to find the answers to these questions and more:
- Why Are Puppies Born With Their Eyes Closed?
- When Do Puppies Open Their Eyes?
- Puppy Development 101: Eyesight
- Your Puppy Didn’t Open Its Eyes After Two Weeks? — Call the Vet
- Tips for Taking Care of an Undeveloped Puppy
Why Are Puppies Born With Their Eyes Closed?
When puppies are born, they’re not entirely developed and ready to conquer the world. Besides being toothless, they’re also deaf and with closed eyes.
So, after birth, their central nervous system and optic nerves need more time to develop. The pups’ optic nerve development is one of the main reasons their eyes remain shut.
Puppies are also overly sensitive to light. Closed eyes after birth protect them from bright light and dirt.
Eventually, puppies’ eyes open when they’re ready. Be patient and let the natural process do its job.
The Dog’s Pregnancy Length Also Plays a Significant Role
Another reason why puppies are born with closed eyelids has to do with the pregnancy length.
Evolutionary speaking, since dogs are natural hunters, they had to adapt and shorten the pregnancy period. As a result, mothers can quickly recover to feed and protect their litter.
Dogs’ pregnancy length is relatively short. It typically lasts between 57 and 65 days. Although major organs develop during this time, it’s not exactly enough for eyesight. But the good thing is that puppies’ eyes continue to evolve after birth.
When Do Puppies Open Their Eyes?
Once the optical nerves are fully developed, puppies open their eyes. Although it’s individual, that usually happens when they’re 10–14 days old.
Don’t be surprised if your pup opens its eyes one at a time. That’s normal and happens more often than you think. It may take a few days for both to open.
Do Different Breeds Open Their Eyes at the Same Time?
Typically, puppies’ eyes open between 10 and 14 days after birth. But this may vary from breed to breed. For example, if you have Golden Retriever or Fuzzy French Bulldog puppies, the standard period should be enough to develop their eyes. In contrast, some breeds might need up to three weeks. Every puppy develops at its own pace, so stay patient.
Helping Your Pup Open Its Eyes Isn’t a Good Idea
Although it may be tempting to help your furry pal open its eyes for the first time, don’t do it. Your puppy’s eyelids are closed for a reason, and forcing them to open can put your pet at risk.
Besides experiencing pain, if your puppy’s eyes open too soon, that may cause an infection and even lead to severe damage like permanent blindness.
Puppy Development 101: Eyesight
You may assume that puppies see clearly after opening their eyes, but that’s not the case. Their vision is still pretty poor, and they can only see shapes.
Because their vision is still developing even after two weeks, you may notice that your puppy’s eyeballs are bluish-gray. Their vision is also a bit cloudy, but it’ll clear up soon.
At first, puppies don’t have fully developed blinking reflexes. So, dimmed lights are necessary.
When Can Puppies See Clearly?
At around 6 weeks after birth, puppies’ vision will clear up a little bit but not entirely. As they slowly start to focus up close, they can recognize their mother and littermates.
But the puppy’s ability to see in the distance takes longer to develop. That usually happens by the end of the 8th week. So, when they’re 8–16 weeks old, puppies’ vision should be fully functioning. That’s when they’ll be ready to explore the world with their eyes wide open.
Your Puppy Didn’t Open Its Eyes After Two Weeks? — Call the Vet
Although letting nature take its course is always the best option, if your dog can’t open its eyes after two weeks of age, that may be a sign of an underlying problem.
There’s no reason to worry in most cases, but it’s always better to consult a vet if you need peace of mind. Your vet will do the necessary examination, clean the eyes, and might even attempt to open them manually. Sometimes that’s necessary for preventing severe conditions. For example, because of untreated neonatal conjunctivitis, puppies can become permanently blind.
Before going into full panic mode, remember that some breeds need longer to develop their optical nerves. Still, if you worry, don’t hesitate to contact your vet.
Keep an Eye on Those Nasty Eye Infections
If two weeks pass without your puppy opening its eyes, and you also notice some swelling or a crusty build-up, there’s a good chance that your puppy has an eye infection.
Other symptoms you should look for include:
- Yellowish pus
Once again, some breeds are more prone to such problems than others. For instance, Shih Tzus live long, but their large eyes suffer many irritations and infections.
Puppy eye problems are a serious matter, so visit the vet as soon as possible. They can prescribe some antibiotics to help fight the infection.
How to Tell if Your Puppy Is Blind?
At what age do puppies open their eyes? That usually happens two weeks after birth, but some might take longer. But when should you worry about blindness?
A simple cotton ball test can help you determine if your puppy is blind. Silently toss the cotton ball in the air and watch the puppy’s reaction.
Blind puppy eyes won’t follow your hand or the cotton ball. That’s a clear sign that something’s wrong, and you should schedule a vet check-up.
Tips for Taking Care of an Undeveloped Puppy
When puppies’ eyes open, the real fun begins. Here are some tips for taking care of these little bundles of joy:
Provide an Enclosed Area
Puppies like to explore, but going on adventures can be dangerous if they don’t have a clear vision. We recommend keeping them in an enclosed area until they gain full eyesight.
Make Sure You Get Puppy Essentials
It’s good to be prepared before bringing your newborn baby home. You’ll need a comfortable bed, quality high-protein food for growing puppies, water, and food bowls. If you’re unsure what food to choose, puppy owners’ opinions on Ollie’s fresh meals may help you decide.
So, when do puppies open their eyes? They usually open their eyes for the first time when they’re approximately 10–14 days old. But it may take longer for some breeds, so be patient.
After puppies open their eyes, their vision is blurry. But the good news is that their eyesight will drastically improve in the following weeks.
Check for swelling under the eyelids or yellowish discharge as that can indicate an eye infection. If you notice such symptoms, visit the vet as soon as possible to avoid complications.