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Have you ever wondered about your pet's eyes? Can they see in the dark? Can they see colors? How wide is their field of vision?
Can my pet see in the dark?
Cats and dogs are both known to have some "super-senses". It seems like dogs can smell a hot dog from a mile away, and cats can hear you open a kitchen cabinet from around the block! But how do their eyes work?
Just like humans, cats and dogs can’t see in the dark when there is absolutely no light. However, they do have better vision than we do in low light conditions. Cats have more receptors in their eyes called rods, which are sensitive to light, helping them to see six to eight times better than humans can in the dark. Their pupils also expand wider than ours, allowing more light into the eye.
Dogs also have a high number of light-sensitive rods within the retina of their eyes. The rods collect dim light, supporting better night vision. In contrast, human retinas are dominated by cones, which detect color and function in daylight.
Cats and dogs also have something called tapetum lucidum in their eyes. The tapetum lucidum reflects visible light back through the retina, increasing the light available to the photoreceptors. It is also what makes your pet's eyes appear to "glow" when a light is shined in their eyes.
Can my pet see colors?
Dogs and cats are both red / green colorblind. Their retinas can distinguish two colors: blue-violet and yellow. They can also differentiate between shades of gray, but are unable to recognize green, orange, and red.
How wide is my pet's field of vision?
Humans have around 180 degrees of peripheral vision, because our eyes are set straight forward. A dog's eyes are typically set about 20 degrees wider on each side, and dogs average 250 degrees in their peripheral vision! Cats' eyes are slightly more narrow, but they still achieve an average of 200 degree peripheral vision. This explains why your pet can see things that we sometimes can't until we turn our heads.
Dogs and cats are both mid-sighted. This means they struggle to focus on objects that are close to them. Therefore, if you place a toy right in front of your pet's nose, they won’t be able to see it clearly and will instead use their other senses to detect it. They’re not particularly good at seeing things far away either though. Our vision is sharpest when viewing objects that are between 100 to 200 feet away, but pets need to be no more than 20 feet away to see an object clearly. They only have a very small range of sharp middle vision.
Our pets' eyes are certainly fascinating!