Dog Sunglasses: Fashion Statement or a Health Necessity?

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Doggles Dog Sunglasses

Dogs are so darn cute in a pair of “doggles” – the popular term for dog sunglasses. But, do dogs benefit from sunglasses? Dr. Dodds and Hemopet present both sides of the argument.

Why Some Experts Say the Majority of Dogs Don’t Need Sunglasses as Much as Humans

Dr. Robert English – a veterinary ophthalmologist with Animal Eye Care Associates in Cary, North Carolina – was interviewed by Outside Magazine. Bear in mind, Dr. English does not dismiss dog sunglasses and does note specific cases in which a dog might need them. He simply presents the argument why dogs do not need sunglasses as much as humans.

Dr. English said, “Because of their deeper set eyes [in most breeds at least] and their heavier brow, their eyes are more shaded [by their brows] and have less of a direct angle to the sun than our eyes.”

Dogs do not develop slow-growing cataracts due to ultraviolet (UV) light like humans do apparently because they have shorter lifespans. Cataracts in dogs occur due to a hereditary condition, as a side effect of diabetes, or occasionally from other metabolic or immune-mediated conditions and environmental exposures.

Dr. Dodds and Hemopet’s Opinion

Honestly, we don’t see any harm or downside to any dog wearing sunglasses, even if not afflicted with certain eye health conditions.

The Health Benefits of Sunglasses for Dogs

 Pannus

Even though dogs don’t develop cataracts due to UV exposure, UV lighting can worsen a condition called pannus.

Pannus is a progressive, autoimmune (overactive) condition that is also known as chronic superficial keratitis. It is chronic inflammation of the cornea that eventually covers the entire cornea and could cause blindness, if not treated.

Pannus is not that uncommon in certain breeds such as German Shepherds, Border Collies, Labrador Retrievers, Greyhounds and long-haired Dachshunds, although any dog could develop it. .

So, while topical medicine can be applied, it is a good idea to have doggie sunglasses as well to reduce UV light exposure.

Flying Debris

Most dogs love to hang their heads out car windows and feel the breeze. Dog sunglasses or just some sort of protective eyewear will protect the eyes from flying debris and dust.

[While we don’t condone allowing a dog to hang his head out the car window, it happens. Just please make sure your dog is properly secured in the car with a harness. Do not secure your dog by the collar.]

We did read that while one veterinary ophthalmologist disagrees, other veterinarians do believe this exposure to be of concern. In fact, the United States Military provides sunglasses to its service dogs specifically for this reason.

Brachycephalic Dogs

Brachycephalic dogs have the ‘smooshed in’ faces and many of these breeds have eyeballs that tend to bulge out, such as Pugs, French Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, and Boston Terriers. They are more susceptible to eye abrasions or ulcers.

While flying debris is a concern with these breeds (and all breeds), the bigger concern is the fact the eyes are closer to the ground. If they are out sniffing the flowers, their eye surfaces are closer to the potential irritant than an Irish Wolfhound’s eyes, for example.

Light Sensitivity

Dogs, too, can experience light sensitivity. This condition is called iris atrophy, where the muscles controlling the pupil are longer able to close sufficiently.

Existing Abrasions or Problems

If your companion dog is pawing at his eyes or develops redness, it is strongly recommended to take him directly to your veterinarian. The earlier you can get to the vet, the better. Not only will this help your dog by reducing pain and further damage to the eye(s), it will likely reduce complications and the eventual increased costs involved.  

If you have a pair of dog sunglasses or protective eyewear on hand, you can definitely put them on to prevent further injury until you get to your veterinarian. Before you see your vet, please don’t put any eye medications containing corticosteroids in the eye(s) as these can be harmful and prevent healing of superficial corneal abrasions or ulcers

Anxiety

If your companion dog suffers from anxiety due to loud noises such as fireworks or thunderstorms, sunglasses or an eye mask may help calm him. It may be worth trying, but, please do not try to force it on your dog.

Dog Sunglasses Purchasing Tips

Most importantly, make sure the dog sun-goggles fit properly and have at least 99% UV protection. Additionally, find out about the store’s return policy. Thankfully, most dog sunglasses are fairly inexpensive – in case your dog does not take to them or chews them up!

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