I never thought much about eye protection for my dogs until we were in a teeny, tiny village on the Chile/Bolivia border preparing to pedal across the Salares de Coipasa and Uyuni. We read about the importance of sun protection for ourselves, given the high altitude (nearly 12,000 feet) and the stark white surface that reflects the sun straight into your face.
This made me wonder, if we need to be super conscious of protecting ourselves, what about Sora?
I did a bit of research and was surprised to learn that dogs also require sun protection. Dogs with light eyes, like Sora, are more susceptible to eye problems that can cause serious damage. I ordered a pair of RexSpecs dog goggles right away to eliminate any chance of harming those beautiful blues.
Why Do Dogs Need Eye Protection?
It may seem ridiculous to consider dog sunglasses for your pooch, however, like humans, we need to keep our dogs’ eyes safe from harmful UV rays that can cause eye conditions like pannus, sunburn, and cataracts.
Dog goggles, like RexSpecs are specifically designed to prevent such diseases caused by exposure to the sun.
Additionally, dog goggles like RexSpecs not only protect your dog’s eyes from the sun, but also dust and debris, bugs and wind, and punctures from sticks and thorns.
Problems Caused by Sun Damage
Pannus is an autoimmune disease of the cornea that can lead to damaging scarring which can impair vision if left untreated. Autoimmune diseases are notoriously tricky to determine a cause. However, veterinarians and experts agree that overexposure to harmful UV rays makes the condition worse.
Certain breeds like German Shepherds, Greyhounds, Labs and Border Collies tend to be more prone to pannus. Keep in mind, however that dogs of all breeds can suffer from the disease. It is most common with dogs living in the Rocky Mountain West.
Without eye protection, pannus means limited time outdoors.
Common signs include cloudiness on the outside of the cornea, likely at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions. Also keep an eye out for redness and/or thickness in the third eyelid (the pinkish triangle located corner closest to the nose). If you notice these signs, have them checked out by your veterinarian straight away.
Treatments include medication, sun protection, and surgery in extreme cases.
Dogs with white pigmentation around their eyes, or minimal, short, or no fur are more susceptible to sunburn. Aside from causing the same kind of pain sunburn does on humans, frequent exposure can lead to precancerous conditions and skin tumors.
Further, UV exposure can increase the risk of an ocular cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. While rare, it’s better to protect early to avoid the condition in the first place.
When Should I Consider Eye Protection for My Dog?
A variety of factors, including location and activities can make dogs more susceptible to eye damage.
We bring ours when we’re in high altitude, the mountains, near water on a sunny day, at the beach, in sand dunes, in the snow, and in windy locations. They are invaluable and they made our list of most important dog camping gear items.
Consider eye protection for your dog if any of the following applies to you:
- You live in the Rocky Mountain West or spend significant time in high altitude. (High altitude can also affect your dog in other ways. See: High Altitude: Will it Affect My Dog?)
- Your dog is one of the breeds mentioned above who is more prone to pannus
- The majority of your adventures take place outdoors in the mountains, near water, in the snow, or at the beach
- You hunt with your dog in areas with tall grass, thorns, sticks, etc.
- Dog is your copilot and enjoys going along for rides on your motorcycle or sticking their head out of the car window
- You live in the desert or another sandy area with wind and sand storms
- Your dog loves to dig and kick up a lot of sand when you visit the beach
- You work with military, search and rescue or police dogs
- You have a bachycephalic dog, such as Boston Terriers, Pugs, and French bulldogs. These dogs have large eyeballs that stick out from the socket, leaving them more susceptible to abrasions from sticks, grass, and dirt.
How Do I Get My Dog Used to Wearing RexSpecs?
Wearing dog goggles is going to feel strange to your dog and they will likely try to pull them off before you can even put them on. The key is gradual accustomization and using positive association when your dog is wearing their goggles.
RexSpecs has dedicated an entire page to training your dog to wearing their goggles complete with training videos.
RexSpecs come in sizes to fit most breeds, including very large dogs and very small dogs. You can use this chart on their website to figure out fit. They take you through the steps of properly measuring your dog’s head and muzzle.
RexSpecs founders Jess and Aiden learned less than a week apart that their their two dogs had sun-related eye problems. One had pannus while the other suffered from chronic sunburn around her eyes. Their veterinarian prescribed less time outdoors.
Rather than stop their adventures, Jesse and Aiden set out to find a pair of dog goggles. Dissatisfied with the selection available, they designed their own that would hold up to the wear and tear their dogs would inevitably put them through.
Rexspecs goggles are serious business and are approved for use by working dogs around the world. These dogs perform duties like protecting the President, jumping out of helicopters with the US Coast Guard, and going on drug raids.
If your pup is a regular pet who loves to join you for adventures, here are the benefits of RexSpecs:
- They exceed the minimum recommendation of 100 UV protection. The UV400 protection blocks 99.9% of UVA and UVB rays
- The breathable anti-fog mesh on the sides keeps out debris, drains quickly in the water, and circulates airflow
- The spherical design allows for full range of view
- The soft foam edge is comfortable to wear and provides a barrier to entry from dust and debris
- The straps are fully adjustable allowing for a custom fit on each dog
- They stay secure during the most hardcore adventures, while allowing for full range of motion of the jaw and head
Where Can I Find RexSpecs?
You can purchase a pair of RexSpecs for your dog directly from RexSpecs or at REI. Not only will your dog be the coolest thing on the trail, but, more importantly, they’ll also avoid potentially harmful eye problems in the long run.
- All the Dog Backpacking Gear You Need
- Why You Need to Think about Sun Protection for Dogs
- The 9 Dog Camping Gear Items we Can’t Live without
- Winter Gear for Dogs to Keep You Outdoors All Year
- How to Keep Your Dog Cool in Hot Weather
Disclaimer: RexSpecs provided the goggles for our dogs. We reached out to them because we believe in their product and they make the best protective dog goggles available.