Newborn pups are always a fascinating sight; massive heads, pronounced nuzzles, small helpless bodies, tiny legs and shut eyelids.
The shut eyelids! How long does it take for puppies to open their eyes? How long before your newborn puppy finally sees you?
There are no definite answers, as this depends on several factors. And one of them is that even after birth, our fur babies’ eyes are still developing. Below we’ll examine the physical development stages of your new puppy.
At birth and days after, our newborn pup’s eyes and ears are still closed. Towards the end of their second week of life however, their eyes begin to open even though they’re still helpless at this time and need their mother and littermates to keep warm constantly.
From the 10th – 14th day, their eyes open though they may find it hard to see clearly at first. At this point, you may notice that the eyes are a grayish-blue with a hazy appearance. The development continues over the next several weeks until your pup finally reaches his full vision usually around the seventh to eighth week of life.
Why Does It Take Puppies so Long to Open Their Eyes?
So, why does it take our fur babies so long to open their eyes? As said earlier, this is because of several factors. One of them is that unlike herbivores that come out fully functional so they can run with the herd to escape predators, dogs are predators themselves.
Not only would long pregnancies affect the mother dogs’ abilities as predators to hunt and survive, puppy canines need to continue developing in the interest of their species’ survival.
Another reason is that our canines’ central nervous systems are yet to be completely formed. While the spinal cords, brains and nerves are all present in the newborns, the nerves at this point cannot transmit electrical impulses effectively as they’re yet to be coated sufficiently with myelin. Myelin coating takings several weeks on average in normal canine puppies (myelin is the fatty layer that transmits messages along the nerves)
Also, our puppies’ optical nerves just like the rest of the central nervous system are still developing. This, in turn, makes them extra sensitive to light.
The eyeballs on their part are also in the developmental stage and the sealed eyelids help to keep the nerves, membranes and other delicate organs fully protected from grit and light.
Don’t try to force it open even if it seems the rest of the litters’ eyes are open or because your first pup’s eyes opened earlier.
The ears also begin to open around the fourteenth to eighteenth day though the hearing still continues to develop until your pups are about eight weeks old.
As they are still weak and their legs still tiny, newborn pups cannot fully support their weight for the first two weeks of life.
So, all you may find your pups’ doing at this time is scoot, push and paddle with their legs or crawl around on their bellies. These movements help them build strength till they’re able to stand on their legs usually between days 15 – 21 before developing into the wobbly gait around 21 – 28 days after their birth.
Like human newborns, our pups are born without teeth. Their first set of teeth known as the “baby teeth” is usually visible around 2 – 4 weeks of age and remains until around their eight weeks of life.
In the first few weeks of their lives, your pups would require stimulation from their mother to urinate and defecate.
The mom does this by licking the genital and anal areas. However, if your pup got separated from his mom early, you can get the same result by stimulating the areas with a warm damp cotton ball or small towel. This is only required temporarily as puppies will develop the ability to pass out waste on their own around the 3rd to 4th week of their lives.
Facts You Should Know About Puppy Eyes
Now you know why puppies seem to take so long to open their eyes. In the following lines, we’ll look at some interesting facts about puppy eyes.
- Before our pups open their eyes, touch and smell are the only sense organs active from birth.
- Even when puppies open their eyes, they only open one at a time. They first open one eye for a day or two then open the other eye next.
- Puppies usually spend most part of the “closed eye stage” snuggling with their mothers
- After opening both eyes, their vision remains blurry for some time.
- Puppies are not to be exposed to bright light before their eyes are fully open. And even after that, you want to keep their eyes out of bright light for a few more days.
- Our pups should be kept in a clean environment especially in the first few days as their eyes are more susceptible to bacterial infections in their vulnerable state.
- Until pups fully open their eyes and can safely wobble across their play area, you can expect their mother to be extra protective and aggressive against both real and perceived threats.
- Because of their extra-delicate state right after their eyes are open, they are often prone to certain infections of the conjunctiva. Left untreated, it could lead to your pup’s blindness.
So why you may wonder how long does it take for puppies to open their eyes, remember that it is for a greater good. Hence, you should never try to force or hurry the process.
The wait is worth it; you’ll get an adorable, bright-eyed and healthy puppy at the end of it all so be patient.