Why are puppies born with their eyes closed?
Puppies’ eyes aren’t yet fully formed at birth – this part of your puppy’s development happens after they are born. Their central nervous system is still developing, which includes their optical nerves. Until these have developed, the puppy’s eyes can't handle bright light, so the eyes remain closed while this vital part of development takes place.
With the eyes closed, the eye can develop safely, without the risk of any dirt or damage causing a problem.
Puppies don’t actually need to see in these first couple of weeks of life, as at this age, they generally don’t move much and are mostly feeding from their mothers or sleeping.
When will the puppies’ eyes open?
Once the important process of the central nervous system development and eye formation is complete, puppies will open their eyes for the very first time. Usually, this 1-2 weeks after birth, although it can be a little longer for some breeds. Don’t worry if one eye opens before the other; puppies don’t always open both eyes at the same time, and it might be a few days before both eyes are open.
Once a puppy’s eyes have opened, their vision is blurry and they won’t be ready for bright sunlight, so they are best kept in a dimly-lit room in these early days.
Never be tempted to try and open a puppy’s eyes yourself – this will happen by itself when the puppy is ready. By trying to help things along you could cause damage or infection.
When should I be worried?
Usually, a puppy will open its eyes without any issues, however, if any of the following occur, you should consult your vet for advice:
- The puppy has passed two weeks of age. Although some breeds do take slightly longer, this could be a sign of developmental delay
- Swelling under the eyelid – this could be a sign of infection
- Any discharge or pus around the eye area is another sign of potential infection
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