Puppies are born without the ability to see or hear because they’re born ahead of time. They need a lot of care and are very dependent on their mothers in the first few weeks of being born.
They usually start to open their eyes between 10-14 days and take approximately 10 more days to open them completely. Their vision isn’t clear enough to see anything other than their mother till 8 weeks of age.
However, in some cases, the puppies might not be opening their eyes due to some congenital disabilities. Therefore, you need to be wary about all the causes behind the puppy not opening eyes! Let’s explore them.
A theory suggests that since dogs evolved as hunters required to be very active, they give birth to puppies early on. This is because female dogs can’t hunt to their full potential in their pregnant state.
Hence, the central nervous system and the optical nerves of newborn puppies are still under development even after being born. They are very sensitive to light, and even the eyes are yet being formed fully behind the eyelids.
Puppies of different breeds open their eyes at different times. It’s a natural process that needs to happen by itself in its own time without any interference unless this natural time limit is exceeded. In case the natural time exceeds, and the puppy still doesn’t open eyes, you need to look into other possible causes.
Congenital precisely means “present at birth”. The majority of these defects may be inherited, while others might be a result of trauma or developmental issues in the uterus.
When a puppy doesn’t open its eyes after 18 or so days of birth, you would want to consult your veterinarian if there is an incomplete development of optical nerves or the eye itself. Possible treatments can be discussed after preferably early diagnosis.
The diagnosis should happen early so that the cause can be pinpointed and appropriate treatment can be given to the puppy.
If it is found that the optical nerves are fully developed, there’s a possibility of the build-up of gunk or birth fluid, which might be sticking to the eyes and the eyelashes, causing the eyes to be fused shut.
The puppy will need help opening its eyes at this point. You can do so by wiping around the eyes with a clean cloth soaked in warm water, helping soften the gunk. An infection may be caused by bacteria multiplying behind the eyelid.
This can result in visible swelling of the lids, and discharge of pus may be seen. This condition is known as Neonatal Conjunctivitis. A q-tip soaked in saline water can be used to wipe outward, and this is then supposed to be cleaned with a cloth soaked in warm water.
Antibiotic drops or ointment may be recommended by the vet to treat this infection. You need to be very careful regarding what kind of medical treatment you will provide to the puppy. Do not rely on the internet and online forums to provide the appropriate care to the puppy.
However, if this isn’t dealt with earlier, the infection can damage the cornea, or cause permanent vision impairment, possibly blindness.
If your puppy initially opens its eyes at the right time, but later, you observe signs of them trying to hold their eyes close or squinting, consult your vet immediately. Puppies often forget to close and protect their eyes while playing or chasing after something and get scratches on the cornea by running into something.
Even the smallest scratches and traumas can lead the puppy into trouble. This can cause them great hindrance to open their eyes. The normal function of their eyes and normal vision can not be restored unless they are properly treated and cared for.
Corneal scratches should be treated and healed before permanent scarring can occur. Some puppies are born with eyelashes that may rub against sensitive corneal tissues. Dogs with short faces like
Bulldogs can have eyelids that roll in (entropion). Others like Bloodhounds have ones that roll out (ectropion). This can also be a cause of corneal irritation. Your vet might suggest surgery to adjust eyelid position or remove the lashes irritating because this can be a chronic condition.
What Happens If Puppies Are Forced To Open Their Eyes Too Early?
If your puppy’s eyes are not opening naturally, you must not try and force your puppy’s eyes open. This can seriously hurt them, and eradicate the possibility of their eye treatment. Even after they open their eyes themselves, they are susceptible to harsh and bright light.
As a puppy owner, you must make a conscious effort to remove any sharp light sources around them. It is best to keep the puppy under suitable environmental conditions to let them open their eyes naturally.
This process might be time-consuming, but it’s best to wait instead of forcing the puppy to open its eyes. If the puppy is exposed to intense light, it can be very troublesome. This can also interfere with the development of their tear glands, which can cause a condition known as “puppy dry eye”.
Therefore, the puppy must be handled with absolute care and attention. As a puppy owner, keep yourself vigilant of the puppy’s needs and don’t expose them to bright light.
As a puppy owner, you must remain informed when puppies typically open their eyes. It is a natural process and might even be delayed in some breeds. Don’t try to hurry the process along by forcing your puppy to open its eyes ahead of time.
Keep an eye on your pet and keep consulting with your veterinarian so any diagnosis can be made early on to avoid further progression into permanent vision damage. Moreover, it’s best not to try your medications on the puppy. Consult an experienced vet for your puppy’s eye condition for the best outcomes.
Purrfect n’ Pawesome is the brainchild of Amanda, who has been into researching and writing about pets to help other pet parents in nurturing their adorable pets. Currently, she runs Purrfect n’ Pawesome along with her team of experienced and dedicated pet experts. Along with being an awesome writer and entrepreneur, Amanda is a cat mom to two innocently spoiled cats, Balanca and Scruffy.
She has been writing about pet care and nurturing and wants to share her readers’ experiences, learnings, and knowledge.
Over the years, she had the opportunity to work with various pet owners having multiple breeds, and that exposure gave her experience and the lessons of a lifetime.
Her family, her entire universe revolves around her two cats, who give her endless support and inspiration to move ahead with her objectives in life. Amanda is a live example of a balanced approach to all parenthood questions we all face in life.