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When Do Puppies Open Their Eyes? | BetterVet

There’s nothing more adorable than a puppy, with their tiny wet nose, warm snuggles, and puppy breath! But puppies aren’t born like this, in fact, at birth, puppies can’t see or hear, and are completely dependent on their mother. Whether you are caring for newborn puppies or just a curious pet parent, here’s what you should know about when newborn puppies' eyes open. 

When Do Newborn Puppies Open Their Eyes? 

Generally, puppies open their eyes around 10 to 16 days of life. Before this, their eyelids are sealed shut. This is because their eyes aren’t fully developed at birth and are not ready to face the bright lights of the world. As the gestational period (length of pregnancy) for a dog is only approximately 63 days, the eyes, nervous system, and other parts of the body need some additional time to develop. The eyes continue to develop while being protected from light and damage by the eyelids. Luckily, puppies don’t need to rely on vision in the first few weeks of life. They remain nestled up with mom and siblings, nursing and sleeping, and experiencing the world through touch and smell. 

 

The third week of life is a crucial time in a puppy’s development. Around the same time as their eyes and ears open, they begin to go potty without stimulation from mom’s tongue, puppy teeth start to erupt, and they take their first steps. 

 

How Well Can Puppies See? 

Even when their eyes open, puppies do not yet have excellent vision. According to veterinary ophthalmologists, the retina continues to develop until approximately four months of age. However, by the time the eyes open, puppies should be able to visually navigate their surroundings fairly well. If you are concerned that a young puppy has vision problems, it is best to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for further evaluation. 

 

How To Take Care of a Puppy’s Eyes

There shouldn’t be much you need to do to specifically care for a young pup’s eyes, as the mother dog will do most of the work. Never force a puppy’s eyes open. If you have concerns, check in with your veterinarian. Be sure to provide mom and puppies with a safe warm nesting box or pen, away from bright lights and loud noises, and where they will not be able to get into danger. 

 

When To Seek Veterinary Care For a Puppy’s Eyes 

It is important not to help a newborn puppy open their eyes, as this can cause damage to this highly sensitive organ. There is variation in how and when puppies open their eyes. Sometimes one eye opens before the other, and sometimes the eyes do not open until closer to 21 days after birth. If you are concerned that a newborn puppy has not yet opened their eyes or if you notice any of the following symptoms, please schedule an appointment with your veterinary team.

 

  • Swelling or bulging under the eyelids

  • Discharge from the eyes

  • Pain or discomfort 

  • Eyes have not opened by 21 days of age 

  • A puppy who appears blind even after their eyes have opened 

 

Remember that even if a puppy is developing on track, they will still need to see a veterinarian for a checkup to look for any congenital defects and begin preventative care including deworming, vaccines, and flea/heartworm/intestinal parasite prevention. Your vet will also discuss key aspects of puppy care such as diet, house training, puppy classes, and socialization.  

 

Frequently Asked Questions

When will a puppy’s eyes change color? 

Just like babies, the color of a puppy’s eyes can change to a wide variety of hues. A puppy’s iris (colored part of the eye) is initially blue-gray for approximately the first month of life. By around eight weeks of age, most will have developed their permanent eye color. 

 

When do puppies’ ears open? 

The external ear canal generally opens between 12 to 14 days. They will be able to respond to sound by two weeks, however functional hearing is not present until weeks three or four.  

 

Can puppies smell at birth? 

Yes, however, their sense of smell is not yet fully developed. 

 

When do kittens open their eyes? 

Kittens open their eyes slightly earlier, around five to 14 days after birth.