The question of when puppies open their eyes reminds me of a funny story involving my husband. With no children in the house, we tend to spoil our dogs and treat them as though they are kids. A friend stopped in one day to show off her newborn infant. She tried unsuccessfully to hand the child off to my husband, who threw his hands up in the air and backed off while saying, “Oh no, I don’t hold babies until their eyes open.” Obviously, he’s spent too much time around dogs and not enough around humans!
The reality is that puppies are born into this world with their eyes closed. It takes most breeds one to two weeks to begin to open their eyes. Some dogs may take even longer to open their eyes.
The opening of a puppy’s eyes is the start of socialization and it is the first step in the development of some other dog senses. Soon after the eyes open, a puppy’s ears begin to function. Both vision and hearing should continue to improve as the puppy matures.
Once a puppy opens its eyes and its hearing improves, the dog will begin to socialize. Prior to being able to see and hear, the puppy relies solely on its mother and does very little except crawl. The puppies recognize her smell and quickly learn that mom is the center of their world. She provides food and protection from external elements.
The opening of a puppy’s eyes is the beginning of a new world. Their sight allows them to see their surroundings and they come to recognize the humans in their life. It signals the start of an exploration of the world around them.
Responsible breeders should monitor the eye-opening situation regularly to insure that there are no problems with the puppy’s developing eyes. It is important to pay close attention to any swelling or bulging under the eyelids. If you see anything unusual, try opening the eyes by gently massaging them with a cotton ball or very soft cloth moistened with warm water.
Signs of swelling are an indication that something is amiss. Monitor any discharge. Pus is a sign of infection and a serious infection can actually seal the eyes shut. Immediate care is needed. Don’t wait to schedule an appointment with a veterinarian.
If a puppy’s eyes do not open by day 18, the dog should be immediately seen by a veterinarian. There could be a medical reason for this delay and treatment may be necessary. Failure to get the proper treatment could result in a life full of eye problems or even blindness.
Once a puppy’s eyes do open, development begins to progress at a much faster pace. Seeing things around them boosts their curiosity – sometimes to point that you might wish they were just a few days old again! Look on the bright side. A curious puppy is probably a healthy one and that means that the puppy is off to a good start.