Canine ROYGBIV: What Colors Do Dogs See?

You know that dogs have an amazing sense of smell as well as outstanding hearing. But what about their eyesight? You’ve heard that dogs may have color blindness. Does this mean that they see in black and white? If they see others, what colors do dogs see? You’re wondering what vision in dogs looks like and how it differs from human eyesight.

Here’s some more information on what colors dogs see, how they perceive the world, and what you can do to keep your dog’s eyes as healthy as possible.

Are Dogs Color Blind? Dogs and Colorblindness

what colors do dogs see

Dogs are technically color blind, which means that they have only two color receptors, which are called cones, in their eyes. What colors can dogs see? Their limited set of color receptors allows them to see blue and yellow. Most humans, on the other hand, have three color receptors, so they can see more on the color spectrum with more types of cones. It’s a misconception that dogs only see in black and white.

The different color receptors in the eyes perceive certain wavelengths of light. In humans, each of the cones perceives the wavelengths of light corresponding to green, red, and blue-violet. We can see a range of colors because there is a mixing and overlapping of the spectrum of colors that the three human cones perceive.

What Colors Dogs See

what colors do dogs see

The way a dog’s color vision works is their color receptors perceive wavelengths of light corresponding with blue and yellow. In a dog’s world, they only see combinations of blue and yellow. Their limited color perception is named dichromatic vision.

If dogs see green grass, it will look dead and dehydrated to them. It doesn’t matter whether a dog toy is red or purple – both will look the same to him due to red-green colorblindness.

If they don’t know the difference between the colors of their dog toys, you may be wondering: How do they not get confused if they’re at the dog park, and you’re throwing around a yellow or red tennis ball? It’s simple: Since they have an astounding sense of smell, they can identify which toy is theirs. 

Other Differences Between Dog and Human Eyes

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While humans can see more colors than dogs, dogs have more rod cells in their eyes, which means they identify moving objects better and see better in dim light. Dogs’ pupils dilate maximally and capture as much light as they can. They also possess reflective cells under their retina, which make up the tapetum. This gives your dog a shiny eye appearance and helps them see in low-light situations. If you’re walking your dog in the dark, he’s going to likely spot something that you cannot because of his excellent night vision.

Additionally, since dogs’ eyes are more on the sides of their head, they have better peripheral vision than we do. However, in terms of visual acuity, canine companions lack the depth perception that we have. 

Dogs’ eyes have adapted to their circumstances. The fact that they can see well in low light and detect motion easily at a great distance makes them superior hunters and helps them if they are being hunted.

Keeping Your Dogs’ Eyes Healthy

dog eye exam

You can feed your dog different foods to ensure his eyes are healthy and he can see properly. For instance, cold-water fish, including salmon, cod, sardines, and tuna, are rich in omega-3s, which strengthen dogs’ eyes. 

If you don’t want to cook salmon for your dog, there are salmon dog treats on the market you can buy at the pet store. Wholesome Pride’s Raw Freeze-Dried Salmon Dog Treats are all-natural, limited ingredient treats that are grain-free and have no artificial fillers. They’re made of freeze-dried salmon that’s wild-caught in Alaska, ensuring that your dog is eating high-quality raw fish.

Another superfood for your dogs’ eyes is sweet potatoes. They have beta-carotene and anthocyanins, and anthocyanins are high in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Outward Hound sells Sweet Potato Fries Dog Treats, which are all-natural, single-ingredient treats that are also a natural source of fiber. They will contribute to your dog’s digestive health, too.

Other foods that are good for your dog’s eyes include pumpkin, kale, blueberries, carrots, broccoli, and eggs. Keep in mind that before adding any foods to your dog’s diet, you should contact your DVM to ensure that it’s going to be healthy to do so. For instance, your vet may tell you that you don’t want to give your dog too much of one type of food, because it could lead to other health issues. Plus, your dog may have sensitivities, which means he’d need to stay away from certain foods. 

Caring for Your Dog’s Eyes

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In addition to feeding your dog foods that are good for his eyes, there are simple things you can do to care for his eyes as well. For instance, you should look into your dog’s eyes to ensure they are bright and clear, there is white around the eyeball, there isn’t any discharge coming out of them, and the pupils are the same size. If your dog’s eye color has changed, he keeps rubbing his eyes, or his eyes look cloudy or are suddenly milky light blue, you should take him to the veterinarian right away for an examination.

When bathing your pup, make sure you cover his eyes so that the dog shampoo doesn’t get into them. His eyes could become irritated if this happens. Of course, only use dog shampoo. Human shampoo and conditioner are very bad for dogs because they aren’t formulated for dogs’ skin.

If your dog has gunk or eye boogers around his eyes, take a damp cotton ball and gently remove it. You need to wipe outward and away from his eyes, or else you could scratch his cornea. Another option is to use dog eye drops that contain anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties to treat issues like irritation, stinging, and conjunctivitis.

If your dog has long hair on his face, it can hurt his eyes. Take your dog to the groomer regularly to trim the hair around your dog’s eyes. 

You should not let your dog stick his head out of the car when you’re driving because debris could get in his eyes. Also, it could lead to him having irritated and dry eyes.

Ensuring Your Dog Has a Healthy & Happy Life

By taking the proper steps, you can make sure that your dog’s eyes are healthy and he’s seeing perfectly fine, even though he’s technically colorblind. If you notice any changes in your dog’s vision, take him to the vet immediately for treatment.

Dog Treats for Eye Health