Puppies are born with two undeveloped senses, hearing and sight. Those of us who’ve seen a puppy since its birth know they’re born with closed eyes. What we might not know is that, likewise, they’re born with closed ear canals. But at what age do puppies open their eyes?
Humans may think it’s exceptional that canine puppies are born lacking development of two of the most important senses, however, everything has its reasons and Mother Nature is definitely wise.
Pregnancies of what are known as predators, among which dogs are found, last less than those of herbivorous animals considered preys; this is because a very advanced pregnancy can hinder hunting. Meanwhile, puppies of animals that are found inside the spectrum of preys take longer to be born and do it when they’re ready as they must be prepared to run from animals preying on them.
How are dogs born?
Puppies have almost no real resemblance to adult dogs. Their head is considerably larger than the rest of their body and their jaws are developed for the action of sucking and, therefore, feeding.
Newborn dogs cannot hear because their ear canals are closed, and cannot see either, since their eyelids are also closed; that’s why puppies need their mother and littermates as they have no way of defending or feeding themselves, or maintaining the heat of their body.
To know at what age dogs open their eyes, first we must know with which characteristics they’re born in relation to their senses.
Central Nervous System
The central nervous system in puppies is not fully developed at birth. The brain, spine and nerves are present in the body, but nerves are unable to send electric impulses efficiently because there’s not enough production of myelin.
The importance of myelin is that this greasy substance is responsible for sending messages through nerves. In regular and healthy puppies, the process of myelin production will take a few weeks and after that we start to notice puppies have more coordinated movements.
Just like with the rest of the nervous system, ocular nerves are not fully developed at birth, which makes them extremely sensitive to light. Besides, the eyes as organs are not fully formed when puppies are born, the last details of the dog’s vision are being formed behind the closed eyelids.
Eyelashes remains closed to protect the eyes from imminent dangers that threaten full development. Once the eye is mature, the eyelids start to open.
At what age do puppies open their eyes?
The opening process will start more or less around the 12th day after birth, although the exact moment will depend on several things like, for example, the dog’s breed.
Eyes generally start to open by the innermost portion and will continue to open slowly until the eyelids are completely deployed. By day 28 or 30 after birth, the eyes must be open.
Care of the puppies’ eyes
Puppies’ eyes don’t require any type of special care, the best is to let nature run its course.
We must not, under any circumstance, manipulate the eyelids of puppies and much less try to open them before time as this could cause irreparable damage to our pet’s sight.
If it’s the day 18 or 20 and the eyes of one of the puppies haven’t started to open naturally, we can take a piece of gauze dipped in warm water and lightly clean the eyelashes’ zone to help eliminate sleep that could be preventing the normal opening of the eyes.
To conclude, we know at what age dogs open their eyes, around the 12th or 18th day after birth. We also know the importance of not manipulating this delicate organ in any way and letting nature run its course.