When Do Puppies Open Their Eyes?
Newborn puppies, unlike human babies, are born with their eyes shut. They are tiny, delicate, helpless, and of course, adorable. Moreover, they are still developing as they enter the world. Their optical nerves cannot handle the bright light upon birth, which is why puppies keep their eyes closed for the first few weeks after birth.
It's understandable for you to be excited and nervous during this stage of a puppy's life. Therefore, going through guides on puppy development and learning about their growth can be helpful. We have listed down what to expect during the process of puppies opening their eyes.
When Do Puppies Open Their Eyes?
Puppies usually open their eyes once they're between two to three weeks old. However, this period might differ for different breeds. For instance, a cocker spaniel puppy's eyes open much sooner than a fox terrier puppy's eyes.
If the puppies open their eyes before the two-week mark is over, it is a risk to their ability to see since the eyes keep developing behind the protection of eyelids for the first few days. Sometimes, it may even lead to permanent blindness. Therefore, you must let this process happen naturally, with their physical development.
You might wonder how newborn puppies begin to navigate their way without their vision. But, puppies can smell as soon as they are born. Thus, they use this ability to stay closer to the mother dog and to identify other puppy litter mates.
The development of their eyes usually starts with a milky, greyish-blue appearance when they first open.
The eyes of a puppy are not fully developed until it is four to seven weeks old. Still, puppies gain their sense of sight before their sense of hearing. Surprisingly, young pups' ears open much later than their eyes, approximately when they are three to four weeks old.
The tapetum lucidum of young puppies starts to develop as its' eyes mature. This is the layer of tissue beneath the retina that aids in the development of night vision in dog and cat breeds.
What Can Newborn Puppies See?
Even when puppies open their eyes, they cannot see very clearly. The reason for this is because newborn pups open their eyes slowly and their vision is still developing when they just open their eyes. Even after full eye development, dogs have a limited spectrum of colors they can see. That is because the anatomy of dog eyes is made up differently than humans.
A dog, however, has more rod cells than cone cells in its eyes. This makes its night vision better. Additionally, it can even track moving objects more efficiently than humans can.
It is vital to assess their vision once puppies open their eyes. You can do this by tossing a cotton ball in front of a puppy's eyes, once open. Be sure to not make loud noises while doing so. This movement should grab the attention of the puppy. Even though the newborn puppy won’t know what is happening, if the puppy’s sense of vision is developing it will be able to follow the movement.
In case you do not get a response from the puppy upon the assessment, you might have to visit the vet. Other than that, if you notice the puppy rubbing its eyes or discharge secreting from the same, you should visit the vet to recognize any eye infections. These eye problems are usually not a cause for concern if treated promptly.
When Should You Be Worried About a Puppy not Opening Its Eyes?
If your puppy is 20 days old or older and hasn't opened his eyes, you should take him for a vet check right away. To avoid any eye-related problems, immediate treatment is required. Pet owners should not, under any circumstances, attempt to force their puppy's eyelids open.
Tear glands can be found around the edge of the eyelids as well as in the folds. The development of the tear glands may be disrupted if the eyes open too early, causing tear production to be hampered.
This causes a disease known as “puppy dry eye,” which needs medical treatment with antibiotics and ointments many times a day until the tear glands begin to function correctly.
Because they serve so many roles, a puppy's eyelids must fully mature before they can open. Not only do they protect the cornea, but they also keep the puppy's eyes from drying out.
The tear film is distributed across the corneal surface by the eyelids. They control the form and size of the eyelid openings as well as the amount of light that reaches their sensitive eyes. Tears are also produced by the eyelids, which assist to clean the eyes by spreading the tear film.
Puppies are sometimes born with congenital eye abnormalities. These can include the following:
- Missing eyes
- Small eyes
- Hypoplasia of the choroids
- Dethatched retinas
All of these illnesses need veterinary intervention. A puppy's eyes are extremely sensitive to damage, more than any other part of the body in the early weeks. Although eye abnormalities in pups can be significant, most puppies recover from problems with their eyes when they are young.
Caring for a Newborn Puppy
Newborn puppies are majorly taken care of by the mother dogs during the first few weeks of their life . However, if you have brought an orphaned puppy home that needs to be taken care of, you need to learn a lot of things.
Puppies have to be fed every 2 hours, burped, and helped with defecation and urination. Growing puppies is an extensive task and may require you to stay up overnight to feed the puppy. Thus, taking care of a newborn puppy should be left upon the dog moms.
Other than that, be sure to keep the puppies and the mother in an exercise pen when you aren’t home to monitor them. As puppies grow, they tend to be weaned off their mother’s milk between 5-7 weeks after birth. During this, they begin exploring new sights and littermates with their vision. To ensure the puppies don’t wander off when left unmonitored, it is important to keep them in a large, enclosed whelping box.
During the first three weeks of their life, puppies get their food from their mother. But, if you are taking care of and feeding an orphaned puppy, you will need to feed it puppy formula in a bottle.
Once the puppy’s baby teeth start developing, the mother will start weaning the process. An indication of the puppy’s milk teeth developing is when the mother pushes the puppies away when they try to feed.
Puppy food should be given at this stage of the puppy’s life. The puppy food should be formulated to meet their requirements and the food should not be too hard. You can mix it with warm water to match your pet's needs. It is preferable to give soft foods to puppies when they start developing their teeth since most pups are not accustomed to chewing.
You'll also need to demonstrate how to feed the pups and get them to try the food by placing some on your finger and letting them taste it. Between six and seven weeks of age, most puppies are fully weaned and able to feed on their own without difficulty.
Unless orphaned, puppies should not be given soft or solid food until they have started the weaning process. Keep in mind, when a puppy is introduced to food too early, it may stop nursing, resulting in nutritional deficits.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are puppies born with their eyes closed?
Puppies are born with their eyes closed because their eyes have still not developed right after birth. When puppies are born, their eyes are sensitive to bright light and the eyelids protect them until the eyes have fully developed.
What to do if a puppy hasn’t opened their eyes?
If a puppy hasn't opened their eyes, you should wait for it to happen naturally. While puppies' eyes opening is something all canine lovers want to witness, trying to speed up the process can harm puppy eyes. If you do not see the puppies opening eyes 20 days after birth, you should visit the vet.
When can you touch a newborn puppy?
You can touch a newborn puppy only three weeks after birth. The mother dog is capable of taking care of her pups, and therefore you should avoid touching the puppies in their initial developmental stages. However, in case the mother dog has abandoned the puppy then you should handle it with care.