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January 14, 2015

Why Your Dog Needs Doggles In Winter

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You've seen so many cute photos of dogs wearing their Doggles while enjoying summer fun. People have sent us photos of dogs in sunglasses while camping, riding in cars with the window down or running on the beach. We even see dogs wearing dog goggles while surfing or skateboarding!

Increasingly, we've had requests to carry our Doggles throughout the year as dogs need protection during the winter months as well. For instance, Ann from Tipp City, OH, submitted the above photo of her dog wearing Doggles with the following caption:

"Jett is a Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Several weeks ago, he scratched his cornea. It was starting to heal until the cold weather set in. The cold air aggravated it and set us back several weeks. I was searching the internet looking for ideas to protect his eye from the cold, snow and wind. THANK YOU BaxterBoo!" Ann & Jett

Light reflected by snow

Colorado skiers know how damaging the sun rays that are reflected by snow on human eyes. We have to wear sunglasses or goggles and slather on sunscreen to guard against the damaging UV rays. It makes us wonder how these harsh rays affect our dogs.

Dr. Jennifer Fontanelle, a veterinary ophthalmology resident at CSU explains, "Dogs' eyes can be affected by reflected sun off the snow," she said.  "But I'm not sure we clinically recognize 'snow blindness' in dogs."

A natural resistance

Dogs do seem to have some built-in protection against UV light that humans don't have. There are stories of mushers who've briefly taken off their protective eyewear who have quickly become snow blind. They've had to rely on their team of sled dogs to get them to safety. 

Stories like this lead us to believe that sled dogs have some sort of immunity to the harsh winter sun. You'll notice that many of the northern dog breeds like Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes have dark fur around their eyes to absorb light. The same principle is illustrated on athletes who paint dark stripes under their eyes to keep the glare from their vision.

It is theorized that dogs that spend a lot of time outside probably learn to adapt by squinting their eyes and using their noses to scent the trail. These cold-weather dogs most likely have genetic protection as well.

Despite these theories, there are many sledding teams participating in the Iditarod that have dogs that don't resemble the traditional northern breeds. Dog breeds with greater running skills and endurance have been used in these long-distance races, and they lack the traditional protective eye-mask of the Huskies.

Ski search and rescue dog teams often employ Labrador Retrievers and other non-northern dog breeds, and they don't seem to suffer ill effects from the bright sun. Perhaps experienced outdoor dogs adapt to these conditions.

Every dog is unique

Dogs that live a comfortable life indoors definitely benefit from protective eyewear such as Doggles. They aren't accustomed to bright sunlight and you'll find them doing a lot of squinting when outdoors. This is particularly true of the sun reflected off of the snow or sand.

Also, dogs with bulging eyes, such as Pugs and Boston Terriers, can be especially sensitive to the light. Dogs with more pronounced eyes can be affected not only because of the UV rays, but also because their eyes can be prone to dryness.

Pay attention to how your dog reacts to the sun. No one knows your dog better than you do, and based on your dog's behavior, you can decide if your pup might benefit from dog goggles.

Consider your dog's environment 

If you live at a high altitude, the sun's rays are much more intense than they are at sea level. If you are traveling from a lower elevation with your dog to the mountains, they will definitely appreciate Doggles, particularly in the snow on sunny days. 

Dry climates can also be hard on dogs' eyes. The dog goggles that cup around your dog's eye sockets will keep them from drying out.

Will your dog be running around in the woods? Doggles will protect your pup from injuries from low branches and other sharp foliage. Their vision may be impaired if the sun is reflecting off the snow, causing them to be more likely to hit hazardous objects.

Inflammatory eye conditions

Dogs prone to inflammatory eye disorders, such as pannus, are particularly sensitive to the ultraviolet rays in sunlight. Pannus is a term used to describe a specific type of corneal inflammation in which can cause cloudiness in the eye. This can eventually lead to blindness.

Some breeds predisposed to pannus are the German shepherd, Greyhounds, the Belgian Tervuren and Belgian Malinois. Also affected are Labrador Retrievers, Poodles, and Dachshunds. Typically, the disease occurs between the ages of 4 and 7, so protecting these breeds' eyes with Doggles sunglasses may aid in the prevention of this condition.

Cases of pannus are more prevalent and more difficult to treat in higher elevations, which leads dog ophthalmologists to believe that the high levels of UV light may be contributing to the disorder. Limiting sunlight exposure may help slow progression of the disease.

Other dog eye conditions linked to excessive sun exposure include sunburned corneas, benign growths on the conjunctiva (the thin membrane protecting the eye), macular degeneration, and cataracts. The skin on the eyelids, nose and muzzle is also susceptible to sunburn. Doggles are your pet's first line of defense against these maladies.

Doggles: Your best friend's other best friend - year round!

It would be a mistake to assume that sun exposure only happens during the spring and summer. In reality, the sun's rays could be even more intense in the snow, even if the skies are overcast. Ask any winter sports participant!

Winter conditions can also dry out your pup's eyes. Doggles can be the answer to eye diseases, both for prevention and treatment. Don't delay - shop for your dog's Doggles today!

An added bonus? Dogs in shades are just stinkin' cute! Don't forget to send us your photos of your cute pet in their Doggles!

Related posts:

How to Acclimate Your Dog To Wearing Dog Goggles

Signs of Eye Irritation or Injury in Your Dog

 

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