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I never thought much about eye protection for 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 kept reading read about the importance of sun protection for ourselves, given the 12,000-foot altitude 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 dogs?
Do Dogs Really Need Eye Protection?
Around the time of our visit to the Salt Flats, I had started to see a number of photos pop up in my Instagram feed of dogs with goggles.
After a bit of research, I was surprised to learn that many dogs also require sun protection. Scrambling for a way to protect Sora’s iconic blue eyes, I came across Rex Specs dog goggles.
Like humans, the sun can cause UV damage in dogs’ eyes, causing diseases and eye problems such as:
Common eye problems in dogs include:
- Chronic sunburn
- Ocular Cancer
Moreover, a pair of doggles offers your dog eye protection against injuries, such as abrasions, cuts, and punctures from elements and objects like:
- Punctures and lacerations from sticks and grass
- Sand, Dirt, and Dust
Dog Breeds Most Prone to Eye Damage
A variety of factors, including geographic location, activity, breed, and preexisting conditions can make dogs more susceptible to eye damage.
Dog breeds most prone to eye damage include:
- Brachycephalic dogs, 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.
- Breeds prone to Pannus, such as German Shepherds, Greyhounds, Labs and Border Collies.
- Dogs with light eyes, like Australian Shepherds, Huskies, Weimaraners, Corgies, and Dachshunds.
Keep in mind that all dogs may be at risk for eye problems under certain conditions (addressed below).
When Should Dogs Wear Goggles?
Where you live, the activities you do with your dog, or if your dog performs intense duties, all factor into whether you should get your pup a pair of dog sunglasses.
What kind of conditions and activities you ask? Here are a few examples:
- 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?
- 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 beach or another region where sand can get in your dog’s eye.
- 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 can now see why I consider Rex Specs dog goggles to be one of my most important pieces of dog gear.
Problems Caused by Sun Damage
Pannus is an autoimmune disease of the cornea that can lead to damaging scarring that 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.
Pannus is most common with the aforementioned breeds and those living in the Rocky Mountain West.
Without eye protection, pannus means limited time outdoors.
Common signs include:
- cloudiness on the outside of the cornea, usually at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions
- 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 immediately.
Treatments include medication, sun protection, and surgery in extreme cases.
Aside from causing the same kind of pain sunburn does on humans, frequent exposure can lead to precancerous conditions and skin tumors.
Dogs with white pigmentation around their eyes, or minimal, short, or no fur are more susceptible to sunburn.
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.
How Do I Get My Dog Used to Wearing Goggles?
The first time you try to put dog goggles on your pup, they may back away from you. They will feel strange to your dog and will likely try to pull them off before you can even put them on.
The key is to introduce them gradually and and foster a positive association with them.
Tips for Training Your Dog to Wear Dog Goggles
There is no set amount of time it will take before your dog becomes used to wearing their goggles. Set aside 10 minutes twice daily to working with your dog. Right before meal times is ideal because you can reward them with their food.
Be patient with your dog as you go through this training and make it fun! Start with the first step and add on the following steps each day as your dog progresses.
If they are still averse to the goggles at any given point, go back a step and stay there until they feel comfortable.
Day 1: Start by placing the goggles on the ground or holding them in your hand. Reward your dog with a marker word, like “yes!” and treat when they interact with them in any way. This could be sniffing or touching.
You can also buckle the straps together so they get used to the sound and reward by tossing a treat when they stick around.
Day 2: Take the lenses out, if applicable, and hold them to your dogs face while you feed them treats or food. Do not try to buckle them to their head at this time.
You can try to let go and allow them to balance on their muzzle if that works with your dog’s head shape.
Day 3: Adjust the straps to an estimated fit and try buckling the goggles around their head. Hand feed them treats as they wear them or feed them their entire meal while they keep them on.
Day 4: Play engagement games with your dog while they wear their goggles. This could be obedience practice, like sit, stay, and come. Play fetch or tug with them.
If they paw while you’re playing these games, just distract them with a toy, treat, or by asking for a trick or behavior.
Day 5: Add the clear lenses and repeat the same activities as you did in Day 4. If they seem to tolerate them at this point, you can head out for a short walk. Offer rewards for not pawing at them. This could be while sitting, walking, playing, etc.
Day 6 and beyond: Add the tinted lenses and head out for a short hike or to a nearby park, somewhere your dog loves to explore. Play with them and reward for leaving the goggles alone.
RexSpecs has dedicated an entire page to training your dog to wear their goggles complete with videos.
Measuring for Correct Fit
You’ll need to take measurements of the circumference of your dog’s muzzle and head. Take the muzzle measurement around the back of the mouth, where you estimate the goggles will sit on their nose. The head measurement will record the circumference where the goggles will rest on the forehead.
Different manufacturers will have more specific measurements and suggestions. Be sure to check sizing charts before you make a purchase.
What to Look for when Choosing a Pair of Dog Goggles
The most important aspect to consider when selecting a pair of dog goggles is fit. If they don’t fit your dog correctly, then they won’t offer the correct protection against the sun and debris.
Some dogs, like those with flat, wide faces or small dogs tend to have a trickier time finding dog goggles that fit well.
In terms of features, you’ll want to ensure that the pair of goggles you purchase provide the following:
- 100% UVA/UVB protection
- Ample ventilation
- Adjustable head and chin straps
- Multiple lens options for different terrain and weather
- Scratch-resistant lenses
- Flexible rubber frame
Our Picks for the Best Dog Goggles
There are a lot of cheap dog goggles available on Amazon. I saw other similar posts recommending them, but as I did my research, I decided to leave most of the highly rated dog goggles off this list.
Yes, they receive high reviews, but I have a hard time believing that a $7.99 pair of dog goggles is going to do its job. Most state that they look cool and fashionable, but neglect to mention the exact UV protection they provide.
Plus, I can’t trust a seller who doesn’t write with proper grammar.
I would never recommend purchasing them. Period.
With that, there are only two pairs of dog goggles that I would recommend. These are the best available.
Rex Specs makes the best dog goggles in the business, hands down. They were designed because, shockingly, everything available on the market was cheap and did not provide sufficient protection.
These are the goggles I use for my dogs and I highly recommend them. They are designed to handle rough conditions for active dogs and working dogs.
Like ski goggles, these provide full sun protection and the mesh provides a seal while adding comfort for your dog.
Yes, the price is high, but these are worth every penny. They are high quality and will last a long time.
Full review for Rex Specs Dog Goggles: Coming soon!
- Includes two sets of lenses – one clear and another of your choice
- Rated to UV400 protection
- Designed to fit most dog breeds, including small dogs, extra large dogs, and those with flat, wide faces.
- Elastic chin strap allows for full range of motion in jaw
- Impact resistant lenses
- Breathable mesh keeps out debris, encourages airflow, and drains water
- Designed for highly active dogs
- May not fit all dogs with flat, wide noses
Designed to fit dogs with a wide nose bridge, which means they will likely fit breeds like Boston Terriers, Boxers, and Pugs without a problem. They are also made to fit dogs weighing from 3 to 250 lbs.
ILS stands for Interchangeable Lens System, including fun colors, like yellow, blue, and red, all of which provide full UV protection. The company has been making dog goggles for over 20 years and are based out of California.
- Adjustable elastic head and chin straps to allow for full range of motion
- 100% UVA and UVB protection
- Deep lens cup to protect eye from debris, sun, and wind.
- Interchangeable lenses
- May not be as durable for highly active dogs.
- Additional lenses purchased separately. Clear lens not included, which may make it difficult to train your dog to wear them.
Have you ever considered doggles for your pup?
Why did you decide to use eye protection for your dog?
- 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: Rex Specs 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.