Can Dogs See the Sun?

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Introduction

It may sound like a silly question - of course your dog, barring any kind of eye disability, can see the sun. But it's a fair question, too. 

Our dogs do most things differently than we do - including hearing, smelling, and seeing - so it only makes sense to ask the seemingly obvious questions. 

Your dog can definitely see the sun, and what's less well-known is that your dog can be sensitive to the sun, too. Your dog's eyes can be incredibly sensitive to the sun (just like people's eyes) and they can even have sun allergies that cause damage to their skin, fur, eyes, and ears. 

Do you think your dog's eyes might be overly-sensitive to the sun? Do you think your dog has some sort of sun-related allergy? We're here to give you the details and information you need to help make better decisions about your dog's sun-health. Read on to get all the info you'd ever need! 

Signs Your Dog is Sensitive to the Sun

Your dog can react to things just like you do - if your eyes hurt when you look into the sun, if your skin gets irritated if you're out too long, or if you have any kind of sun allergy, it's not unheard of that your dog might have similar issues, too. Dogs can get overheated and have other sun-related issues like we do, they just don't know when to stop, cool off, or how to tell us that the sun is irritating them. 

So, we have to keep an eye out on that for them. If you think your dog is experiencing some kind of sun allergy, take a look at his or her eyes, first. Are they squinting excessively? Are they having a hard time seeing things in front of them? Do you notice excessive discharge or milky, white-ish spots in your dog's eyes? It's possible this could be sun damage. 

Additionally, take a look at your dog's paws, skin, and fur. Do you notice white or light colored fur where it's usually dark? What about redness or wrinkles? Bald spots or thickened skin spots? All of this could be from the sun! 

Body Language

Here are a few body language signs your dog might be giving you to let you know their eyes or skin are being bothered by the sun:
  • Head tilting
  • Howling
  • Weakness
  • Lack of focus
  • Whimpering
  • Whale eye
  • Freezing

Other Signs

Here are a few other signs to watch out for:
  • Pain
  • Dry skin
  • Wrinkles
  • Scaly or thickened skin
  • Discharge from eyes
  • Crusty eyes
  • Skin lesions

The History of Eye Sensitivity in Dogs

Dogs' eyes are sensitive just like peoples' eyes, and often, they're from the same causes. One of the biggest issues, as we've been discussing, is sensitivity to the sun. Dogs aren't likely to just blatantly stare at the sun (they have instincts, after all), but they also won't understand that staring at the sun causes eye damage. 

But what are some other causes of eye issues for pups? Historic causes for eyes issues in dogs include things like glaucoma, lens luxation, debris damage, ectropion, corneal wounds, conjunctivitis, and cataracts.

The Science Behind Dog Eyes

You might think that because dog's see color differently than we do that they might not be as sensitive to harmful sun rays or eye weakness. Unfortunately, that's not true. The glare of the sun's ultraviolet rays can definitely do damage to your dog's eyes, especially if you're spending a bunch of time outside together. 

It's true, dog's eyes are different from ours, but that doesn't mean they can't be affected by the sun. Prolonged exposure to UV light can lead to age-related cataracts, pannus, and other eye issues if they're not protected from the sun. Often, your dog's eyes are going to be even more danger from the sun because dogs can't comprehend as well as we can that looking up, into the sun, is doing specific damage to their eyes.

Training your Dog to Wear Sunglasses

If you're like us, you don't want your dog to give up things he or she loves (like running around outside on a sunny day), but you also don't want to risk your pup doing damage to their eyes. The solution? Dog sunglasses.

We know what you're thinking - there's no way my dog will let me put those ridiculous things on. But, it could be beneficial for protecting your pup's eyes, and we bet we can help you train your dog to not just let you put the glasses on them, but keep them on, too. 

First things first, don't try to train your dog to wear his or her glasses indoors. Imagine putting on your sunglasses inside and trying to walk around like a normal person - it's hard, right? Your dog will feel the same effect. So, get to your training outside so your dog won't feel blinded by the glasses. 

Next, place the sunglasses on your dog. Do not allow your dog to paw at them or take them off. Make sure you're reassuring your dog as often as possible, giving your pup treats, and encouraging your dog to keep the glasses on with tons of attention. Then, try to distract your pup with a walk with the glasses on. Show your dog that walking around with the glasses on is possible. 

Continue to give your pup treats for good behavior and don't allow your dog to paw the glasses off at any point. If they do, do not reward this behavior. Try to practice this routine as often with your dog as possible so that they learn to get used to the glasses quickly.

Safety Tips for Dog Eye Care:

  • Remeber to watch your dog's eyes while you're outside.
  • Talk to your vet about sun protection.
  • Discuss any sun-related eye issues with your vet.
  • Train your dog to wear dog sunglasses to protect their eyes from UV rays.