Pet Vision: Animals see what humans can't

LAS VEGAS (KSNV News3LV) - There was a time when it was believed that dogs could only see in black and white. But not only do animals have a broader sense of vision, studies show that they may be able to see things we can't.

Dr. Ellis Loew - who studies veterinary visual ecology at Cornell University - is affiliated with a study conducted by England researchers that show dog, cats and other mammals can see in ultraviolet.

"These animals have the ability to detect lights in parts of the spectrum that to us, is basically invisible in most cases," he says. "It makes certain kinds of things look brighter than they would to us. So going outside, where there is a lot of ultraviolet, things would look different than they would inside."

Knowing this can help pet owners better understand their animal's behavior.

"Things may look different, and animals may behave differently under lighting that they are not used to. So you may find that you have switched the lights in your house and your dog is behaving a little differently."

Scientific research in turn helps veterinarians. Michael Brinkman, DVM, is with Veterinary Ophthalmology Service in Las Vegas.

"We deal with the diseases of the eye, the organic changes to the eye. What's going wrong with the eye and how can you fix it," says Brinkman. "[Researchers] are more interested in learning more about it, and how it works. We in turn take that information and try to incorporate it into curing disease."

However, Brinkman says animals are not nearly as dependent on vision as humans.

"Because their noses and their ears are superior to ours, they get that information from their nose and their ears that we gather from our eyes."

When pet owners are faced with the reality that their four-legged family member is losing their eyesight, Brinkman has an optimistic saying.

"They don't think their dog is going to have a good quality of life and we have a saying that one-eyed dogs don't do good, one-eyed dogs do great," says Brinkman. "They don't need to read, they don't need to drive, and they don't need that acute vision that we do."
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