Basic Pet Care

See the World Through Your Dog's Eyes

See the World Through Your Dog's Eyes

As pet parents, it's easy to spend a lot of time wondering what your dog is thinking in any given situation. But have you ever thought about what your dog sees through their eyes? Things are a bit different for our furry friends. What do you need to know about your dog's vision?

Dogs see fewer colors and better in the dark

There are two main components of the retina that process light – rods and cones. Rods are responsible for interpreting low-light vision, while cones are responsible for processing bright light and color vision. Dogs have eyes that are rod-dominant, which means that there are more rods than cones in the retina. As a result, dogs see much better in low-light environments than humans.1

Additionally, because dogs have fewer cones, they have limited color vision. While we can't be sure (because we are human) what they see, it is believed that blue and purple colors are most prominent – with green, yellow and red colors tending to blend together and appear the same.

What eye conditions can a pet have?

Like humans, pets can have a number of eye conditions that may require maintenance or treatment. Common eye conditions include:

  1. Conjunctivitis (pink eye)2 – bacterial or viral infection characterized by redness, inflammation and excessive amounts of discharge from the eye; very common and usually a result of other conditions
  2. Cataracts3 – blockage of light from entering the back of the eye, resulting in poor vision or blindness; can be hereditary or a result of other eye defects or other conditions, such as diabetes.
  3. Progressive retinal atrophy4 – causes dogs to gradually become blind even though their eyes look quite normal; hereditary condition
  4. Glaucoma5 – increased pressure in the eyes, causing pain, redness, increased tear production, cloudiness in the eye; hereditary condition
  5. Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS) or Dry Eye7 – occurs when fewer tears are produced by the tear glands which lead to dry, irritated eyes and often irreversible damage to the eye. Early detection and diagnosis by your pet's veterinarian could save your pet's vision.

Breeds most likely affected

While it's possible that any dog can develop eye conditions, spaniels, huskies, poodles, collies, terriers and other short-nosed breeds are known to be prone to issues with their eyes 6.

It's important to keep up with all aspects of your pet's health, but eye health might not be on the top of the list of health concerns you might consider. Talk with your vet about your pet's eye health and schedule an optical exam if you or your veterinarian has concerns.


  1. University of Wisconsin; Accessed November 16, 2018.
  2. Merck Veterinary Manual. Accessed November 16, 2018.
  3. Merck Veterinary Manual. Accessed November 16, 2018.
  4. Merck Veterinary Manual.,-choroid,-and-optic-disk-ocular-fundus-in-dogs. Accessed November 16, 2018.
  5. Merck Veterinary Manual. Accessed November 16, 2018.
  6. AnimaLabs; Accessed October 5, 2018.
  7. Merck Veterinary Manual. Accessed November 16, 2018.