==> "Dogs don't rely on their eyes, they use their nose"
What a nonsense! Have you seen how insecure and scared a dog without vision is?
Let's get some things straight here, shall we?
Dog Eye Care
The terms that I feel you need to know I have highlighted in red.
As you can see in this tailored image:
- a dog's eye has three eyelids, not two (the third is at the lower inside of the eye, near the nasal cavity)
- a dog's eye has two lacrimal (tear-producing) glands, not one
- one is behind the upper eyelid, the other one is in the third eyelid (which is called nictitating membrane)
- most dog eye problems result from issues with:
- the conjunctiva (a thin membrane that covers the back of the eyelids and the surface of the eyeball, up to the cornea)
- the cornea
- the third eyelid
- and the lacrimal glands
- Next come issues with the retina
The most common dog eye problem is Conjunctivitis in dogs. Conjunctivitis treatment we have discussed in the MyGermanShepherd Health Manual in chapter 10: Dog Eye Infection. Many eye infections are inflicted by bacteria that feed on excess mucus around the eyes.
In this Periodical:
- Common Myths Demystified
- How Dogs See - And What Dogs See?
- Dog Eye Problems, Prevention, Symptoms, and Treatment
- How to Care for your dog's eyes well
Common Myths Demystified
"Dogs don't see well"?
Oh, really? Then how could dogs, and particularly German Shepherds, possibly engage so well in high performance and largely visually orientated activities, such as guiding the blind, police work, schutzhund courses, agility training etc?
Yes, a lot of these activities rely to a large extent on the excellent hearing and smell of our canine friends, but a significant portion relies on canine vision.
And our dogs' performance in many activities would simply not be possible without - yes - a surprisingly accurate and excellent eyesight.
Jumping at top speed through a raised loop, catching a high-speed flying frisbee - or better a floppy disc - or chuck-it ball mid-air, whether against recognizable surroundings/objects like on this photo here or whether without this, namely above the mist of salty water when we throw say a floppy disc from the beach out into the sea ... (!) - all of these and many more activities rely to the largest part on canine vision.
Now, I am not sure if it was an eye test that these dogs passed that allowed them these activities:
So, let's put common wisdom to one side and have it overtaken by common sense:
Dogs do see much better than most people believe (particularly those who don't have a dog), and certainly better than some 'dog experts' want to accept, or want to admit.
Find out more: Click to save vet cost, training cost, and your nerves!
"Dogs are color-blind"?
This isn't true either. While we humans see any color around us as a mix of red, green, and blue (being the three types of color-sensitive cells in the retina of our eye), canines see any color around them as a mix of yellow and blue (being the two types of color-sensitive cells in the retina in the canine eye).
András Péter has put together a cool website that visibly demonstrates what dogs see: dog-vision.com.
Here is what's relevant in terms of dogs' ability to see and distinguish colors:
Once I am able to do it, I plan to "put some meat" to this topic (and so many others...!) and will undertake some live tests with different dogs to determine what dogs actually see (the ideas for suitable tests I have, just can't execute them at the moment).
By the way, German Shepherds (like Rottweilers) are predisposed to myopia - most GSDs are nearsighted/shortsighted: close objects are in focus but distant objects are out of focus.
"Dogs don't need their eyes, they use their ears and nose instead"?
No, dogs use their hearing and olfactory sense in addition to their vision - as long as they can see.
Dogs do need their eyes just like we do. But, just like ourselves too, when their eyesight deteriorates or vanishes they are able to substitute it to a large degree with an increased sensitivity of their other senses (because their brain is highly developed - most other animals cannot substitute a sense lost).
Since this sensory substitution is learned, it is so important that we notice it as early as possible when our dog's vision is impaired, so that we can help the dog to adapt physically and psychologically.
Physically because it is proven that nerve cells do re-organize to better cope with an impairment (the younger the dog the better), and psychologically because any sensory impairment creates stress, and stress is very bad for dogs - both health-wise and behavior-wise (it leads to a whole array of illnesses, and to aggression).
Just how much dogs need their eyes we can easily observe when we watch a blind dog:
Some of them will navigate well through their living environment as long as furniture placement remains constant (simply because they memorize it, not because they smell or even hear the furniture...), other dogs will not navigate well at all.
And we can observe that all blind dogs:
- step high
- start walking with care
- bond closer with their owner/handler to rely on their guidance
- can still walk up a staircase, but don't walk down a staircase
- and overall show clear signs of caution if not fear
In short, dogs really need their vision to feel confident and happy, and that's why it's so important that we take good care of our dog's eyes!
How Dogs See - And What Dogs See?