When Do Puppies Open Their Eyes?
Newborn puppies are tiny and delicate. They require special care for the first few weeks of their life. If the mother is present and can take care of the puppies, the pet owner will not need to do much. It helps to know the developmental stages of a puppy’s growth. This knowledge helps avoid panicky thoughts like “When do puppies open their eyes, “What if my puppy’s eyes don’t open” or “Are my puppy’s eyes opening too soon?” You can help the mama-dog by getting some essential newborn puppy supplies (link to Amazon).
Newborn Puppy Vision
Why are my Puppy’s Eyes Closed?
Newborn babies are physiologically ready for the world when they are born. Unlike babies, puppies are still developing when they are born. One of these developing areas is the optical nerves. At birth, the optical nerve is not able to handle bright light. For this reason, puppies keep their eyes tightly closed until they are ready to face the world.
Keeping eyes shut also allows the eye to finish developing while staying protected from potential threats like dust and small debris.
When Will My Puppy Open Its Eyes?
So, when do puppies open their eyes? Sometime between one to two weeks, the puppy will be ready to open its eyes. Though you may be tempted to help the process, it is vital to let this process happen naturally. When the puppy is developmentally ready, its eyes will open on their own. Sight could be a slow process and vary for different pups.
How Well Does my Puppy See?
In the first few weeks, your puppy will not see very clearly. Their eyes will slowly open, but the vision will still be unclear. While dogs are not colorblind, they have a more limited spectrum of colors that they can see. This difference is because of the anatomy of their eye. Instead, they can see better in low light and can track moving objects much better. A puppy’s eyes may not be able to focus on fine details of on object in front of it, but will be able to use natural hunting instincts to track that object if it moves.
When to Worry About Puppy Not Opening Eyes?
While most puppies will open their eyes naturally when it is time, there are some potential red flags to keep an eye on. Keep an eye out for any swelling or bulging around the eye area. These abnormalities could be a sign of an infection. Similarly, any discharge or pus is also an indicator of a disease. A vet should be consulted immediately in this case. Different breeds of dogs will open their eyes at different times. But generally, if your puppy hits the two-week mark and keeps its eyes shut, it is time to have a vet check for possible development issues.
Other Growth Milestones
Apart from vision, the dog will also develop other senses and grow in size as weeks progress. Some exciting milestones to look out for include:
As with sight, puppies are also born without the ability to hear. Hearing is one of their last senses to develop fully. Usually, at or near the three-week mark, the puppy will begin to hear. Once this sense develops, puppies can hear a broader range of sounds than humans can.
Dogs can use their ears, almost like radar antennas. By moving the ear’s position, they can adjust the volume on sounds in a way, allowing them to hear from a distance. This sensitivity also means that loud noises can be upsetting for your puppy or a grown-up dog. Keep an eye on them during thunderstorms or if you are near a construction site.
A dog’s sense of smell is most vital. This sense is active from the point of birth, and this is what newborn pups use to find their mother and the primary source of food and warmth. A puppy also uses a unique organ called the Jacobson’s organ to sense their mother and her milk.
A puppy smells the world entirely differently from humans. A human has 6 million olfactory receptors, while a dog has 300 million. This heightened sense of smell is also why dogs are trained to detect bombs, drugs, and other security situations. Dogs also use scent to communicate with each other. They do this urinating to mark their territory and sniffing other dogs.
For most puppies, the birth weight will double within the first week or so after birth. Kitchen scales can help keep track of a puppy’s weight. Make sure to note down weight. A growing pattern is more important than the actual numbers, so don’t worry if the wriggly puppy doesn’t let you get exact numbers. If weight gain stalls or drops, contact a vet immediately.
Naturally, puppies begin to wean when they grow teeth. Teeth appear at around three to four weeks. In the wild, and some pets, the mother dog will chew up food and regurgitate it so the puppies can learn how to eat. This process can be alarming for some pet owners but is a natural one. If the mother is not present, soft foods can be gradually introduced.
A puppy should be fed a balanced diet with all the nutrients and vitamins they need. When the puppy starts eating solid food regularly, they can be moved to a new household away from the mother.
Once a puppy has opened its eyes and can hear, they will begin to slowly explore their surroundings. This curiosity will start gradually from two weeks on. Every week, the puppy will get more adventurous and be ready to explore the world.
Touching and Handling a Newborn Puppy
When to Touch a Newborn Puppy?
Newborn puppies are very delicate and fragile. Although it is safe to touch them at this point. It should only be done if necessary. Your pet may be ok with you handling her puppies. But you should never approach or handle a strange dog’s puppies. The mother will be very territorial, and your actions will cause stress causing you to be attacked.
Even with your puppies, ask yourself if you really need to touch a newborn puppy. They are tiny, and you can cause them harm without meaning to. Newborns are also not able to regulate their temperature and rely on their mother for warmth. You may not realize it, but end up keeping a puppy away for too long. This lack of contact may lead to the puppy catching a cold, which could be fatal for a newborn.
At about three weeks, puppies are more sturdy and playful and may be ready for human interaction. For smaller puppies, try to handle them only if they appear sick or abandoned by their mother.
Holding a Small Puppy
Before you pick up a small puppy, make sure your hands are clean and at room temperature. Do not handle a puppy with cold hands. Approach the puppy with your hand open, carefully circling the body with your thumb between the front and back legs on one side. The rest of the fingers should be in the same position on the other side.
While holding a puppy, it may be better to put your palm underneath its belly with one or two fingers between the front legs. This position will help cradle the puppy safely. This same position can be used to bottle-feed a small orphaned puppy.
Training a Puppy
Once a puppy reaches about four weeks, it is more stable, sturdy, and curious. All its senses have come in full force, and the puppy should be able to see, hear, and walk well. At this point, its brain is developing, and it is open and capable of learning new things.
Puppies should stay with their mother for at least eight to twelve weeks. But training can begin at about four weeks. Basic potty training in a crate is an excellent place to start. At seven to eight weeks, a puppy is ready to be exposed to new sights and sounds and meet new people.
Keeping a vigilant eye on newborn pups will help keep them safe and healthy. Being informed will also help you stay on top of concerns such as when their eyes open, is it ok to touch a newborn puppy, or is my pup having vision problems. Early identification of a problem means the potential to divert any health issues before they become fatal.
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