A big milestone for newborn puppies is when their eyes open, which is at about 10 to 14 days. That said, some precocious pups may have open eye slits as early as 7 days, while laggers may wait until almost 20 days. While the difference can be concerning, if there is no discharge and the eye does not appear puffy, the wide range can be normal.
Puppy Eyes One Step at a Time
Puppies don’t go directly from tightly closed eyes to wide open. The eyes will first have a small slit, then gradually open to full size. You should not force the eyes open. Although uncommon, puppies can get infections in the closed eyes, which is why any abnormality should be immediately reported to your veterinarian.
Be aware that adult-dog eye color may not be discernible early on. While blue eyes are generally evident, the shades of brown aren’t clear until a few weeks down the line.
Vision vs. Open Eyes
Even when open, a pup’s eyes are not fully developed yet. Regular vision is usually complete by the age of 10 to 12 weeks. So don’t expect your 3-week-old pup to reliably track objects. That young puppy is still counting on his nose for most of his sensory input. Note: Most puppies leave mom the age of 8 weeks. Some stay even longer, like small breeds, up until 12 weeks.
Protect Puppy Eyes
It is also important to be careful about lighting, too. The puppy’s immature eyes should be protected from intense, bright lights. No bright lights where the puppies are and avoid taking any photos or videos with a flash.
If you notice any ocular discharge, especially anything purulent (like pus), your puppy should be seen by your veterinarian. If he starts to squint after having had his eyes fully open, get veterinary help.
Just like adult dogs, puppies can get corneal abrasions and irritations. Red and inflamed conjunctiva are another reason for a vet visit.