Why Do Dogs Wear Sunglasses?

Unusual
Normal

Introduction

You have always been a jokester and thought it was hilarious when you saw an advertisement for doggy sunglasses on TV. This resulted in buying a pair of the so-called “Doggles” for your furry friend Charlie who now sports the sunglasses with ease. In fact, Charlie now wears these dog sunglasses whenever there is a solo ray of sunshine, and you receive compliments and questions about his new style. You aren’t quite sure if the Doggles are benefitting Charlie in any way besides his fashion. You are also curious about what effects if any, these doggy sunglasses have on your canine pal.

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The Root of the Behavior

After some prodding and digging (pun intended), you find some conflicting information about sunglasses for dogs. You discover that sunglasses can protect humans from ultraviolet rays and help to prevent cataracts when humans are older; but, unfortunately, dogs don’t have as long of a lifespan as we do. Because of this, cataracts in dogs occurs rarely. Also, unlike humans, dogs sport inset eyes, which means that doggy eyes are more shaded from their brows - another reason some argue that Charlie’s sunglasses are nothing more than a fashion statement. On the other hand, other experts express that there are some instances where doggy sunglasses could be useful. As mentioned above, cataracts in dogs do not occur nearly as much as it does in humans, but the disease does affect some dogs and is caused by heredity and diabetes. Additionally, certain breeds have some protruding eyeballs that might need some protection. Breeds prone to eye issues, such as Shih Tzus and Pugs, could benefit from some eyewear for protection. Greyhounds and German Shepherds are breeds also known to have some eye trouble, and both breeds are prone to Pannus Disease, which causes problems with the eye’s cornea. Because of this, you feel that Charlie’s sunglasses won’t hurt and you are probably right.

Doggy sunglasses could also benefit Charlie when he goes outside. If you live in a place with a lot of insects, Charlie’s glasses could protect him from the bugs that are eager to fly into his eyes. Although indoor use is not necessary, dogs that venture outdoors frequently might find some use for protective eyewear. For example, some military dogs wear protective glasses because they protect them from sandstorms and the intense reflections of the sun. In fact, Dr. Peter Accola, a board-certified veterinarian specializing in ophthalmology, recommends eyewear for dogs. He believes that UV ray exposure does contribute to eye disease - even in our furry friends. When referring to doggy eyewear, he states “They may help prevent ocular trauma such as foreign bodies like plants, punctures, abrasions, and other potential irritants.” In spite of the mixed reviews, as an owner, you confirm that Charlie’s sunglasses benefit him after all. 

Encouraging the Behavior

This information has sparked an interest, and you are now curious about how dog sunglasses came to be. The backstory is quite fascinating: Ronni Di Lullo, the creator of Doggles, invented them to shade his Collie’s eyes from the sun after a frisbee catching mishap. He honestly wasn’t thinking about dog health; he just thought that it would be nice to have sunglasses for dogs. Many dog owners buy Doggles, and the business continues to skyrocket. In addition to blocking the sun, doggy eyewear products also sell because dogs go where their scent leads them, and their scent sometimes directs them to nasty stuff putting their eyes in danger. You definitely agree that doggy glasses could protect Charlie's eyes from that skunk or porcupine. 

Tammy Stevenson, an Afghanistan veteran, also discovered that protective eyewear benefitted dogs in combat. She reflects on her experience with this here: "A lot of military working dogs were working in pretty sandy, dry environments with a lot of blowing sand, and they were getting corneal ulcerations and some pretty recurrent conjunctivitis. One of my colleagues from home had been using Doggles on her own dog, and I thought, ‘Well, that’s something to try, at least.’ The company donated several pairs to us, and the dogs were pretty receptive (to wearing them). We saw a huge decrease in the number of eye injuries we were seeing in those environments.” Although Charlie is no military dog, you sense that doggy glasses offer more protection than you previously thought.

Other Solutions and Considerations

If you decide that you want your dog to wear sunglasses, he might have another idea. Some pups are not into unnatural accessories and may need some coercing. For this reason, videos and articles online offer training directions with easy how-to steps encouraging your dog to wear glasses. One technique involves taking the lenses out so your canine can adjust to wearing something on his head before getting used to a dimmer vision. Owners are also encouraged to create positive associations with sunglasses like you do with toenail clippers. You can also try to make your dog sit as you slowly put the glasses on for short periods of time. 

Don’t rely on all doggy glasses to protect your pooch. There are many styles and brands on the market, and not all of them are designed for the same protection, and some are better than others. Make sure to investigate and read reviews of available products. Buy the pair that will assist with Charlie and his current needs. Be aware that vets recommend Elizabethan collars more than doggy sunglasses, even though Charlie hates those things. Also, be prepared that Charlie may not always like those glasses, and a struggle could lead to sunglasses poking his eye. Ouch! If this is the case and happens often, you might want to weigh the pros and cons of doggy sunglasses once again.

Conclusion

Although you received some mixed reviews, you now think that Charlie’s sunglasses are more than just cool. Since he seems to enjoy sporting the look, and you have no issues putting them on, you decide to let Charlie wear them outside whenever he lets you put them on. They help block the so he can see better on bright days and serve as an extra layer against sand, insects, and more. Yes, learning about the history of Doggles has caused you to paws and reflect on Charlie’s pawsome fashion statement.