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We have to admit: dog goggles and sunglasses look awfully cute. Perhaps you’ve seen a doggy sporting a pair while popping their head out the window on a road trip, or splashing around in the sand and sun on the beach.
They might look like a fashion accessory, but the truth is that some pups can really benefit from eye protection—whether that’s from dust and debris or UV rays, glare, and even wind.
We talked with Dr. Rebecca Greenstein, Veterinary Medical Advisor for Rover and Chief Veterinarian at Kleinburg Veterinary Hospital, about how to know whether your dog needs sunglasses or goggles—and how effective dog eye protection really is.
How Do Dog Goggles Work?
Eye protection for dogs, sometimes called “doggles,” works a lot like eye protection for people: a good protective shield will cover the eye and be comfortably secured to the head.
Different goggles can have different lens cup depths, consist of a single lens or two individual lenses, and rely on different strap styles. Some are waterproof, some are tinted, and you’ll find a lot of variance in the flexibility of the nose bridge.
What all should have in common, though, is UV protection and full coverage of the eye—you don’t want any beach-style shades.
It’s also important to understand that not all eye protection is meant for all dogs; different glasses target different problems and accommodate different needs.
Dr. Greenstein points out that the depth of the lens, for example, is especially important for Brachycephalic breeds (e.g., Pugs, French Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, and other dogs predisposed to shallow orbits with eyes that bulge). A too-shallow goggle would leave your dog’s eyes pressed up against the lenses.
A good example of a deep-cupped pair of glasses is the Doggles Dog Goggles ILS model, which is one of the best on the market for flat-faced breeds whose larger eyes need extra room. They have a flexible bridge for the less conventional face shapes, and they’re especially popular among pet parents seeking to prevent physical trauma like scratching.
For sun protection—dogs whose eyes are particularly vulnerable to bright light and glare—pet parents favor the budget-friendly and well-padded NVTED model, which often goes over well with larger breeds, or the fancier Rex Specs Dog Goggles, which favor a single lens for unrestricted vision and are built for the elements.
Different strap styles also target different anatomies, like the aptly named Doggles Originalz, which prioritize adjustable straps.
The latter is especially critical, as Dr. Greenstein points out when speaking about dog glasses generally: “There’s so many different variations on the anatomy of dog’s heads. You want to see a product that has flexibility.”
For more on the different dog goggles on the market, see “The Best Dog Sunglasses and Goggles for Eye Protection.”
Why Put Goggles on a Dog?
There are two main reasons a dog might wear goggles: 1) to prevent physical injury and 2) to protect against the sun.
Physical injuries might result from things like strong wind (especially if it carries debris, dust, or sand) or scratching and pawing at an irritant.
Brachycephalic breeds are especially popular candidates for doggles. “Based on their anatomy, they have naturally very bulgy eyes, which means that they’re very vulnerable to injuries like corneal ulcers. Protecting their eyes from just the elements, from getting poked by a blade of grass—it is actually very possible,” says Dr. Greenstein.
The key is making absolutely sure that the lens cup depth is large enough to sit well above these dogs’ eyeballs and that the fit does not apply too much pressure around their vulnerable peepers. “Using a shallow cap goggles in those types of breeds is actually dangerous,” Dr. Greenstein cautions.
Sun damage can also affect a dog’s eyes and make it a good idea to wear UV protection. The inventors of Rex Specs were inspired to create their brand when their Husky’s light eyes were damaged by living at high altitude and their German Shepherd was diagnosed with pannus. Dogs with cataracts, corneal ruptures, and other eye conditions may find doggles improve their comfort and their vision on bright days.
Adventurous dogs with a love of the outdoors sometimes also appreciate dog goggles, according to Dr. Greenstein. “If you have a dog who likes activities that involve debris that can get into the eyes, for example, or if you have a dog who likes being on the beach or likes being on the back of your bicycle, then protecting their eyes from particulates is a really good idea.”
Do Dogs Need Sunglasses or Goggles?
Dr. Rebecca Greenstein points out that dog goggles and sun protection are not a one-size-fits-all solution. They’re going to be right for some dogs and not others.
While some dogs take to goggles right away, more pet parents find that it takes quite a lot of practice and treats to get there. “Ask any dog owner who tries to put boots on every winter,” jokes Dr. Greenstein. “Dogs don’t necessarily want to have any encumbrances on their faces. We all know that. So just keep in mind that if you’re struggling to get your dog to wear goggles—and keeping those goggles in place is really difficult—then the risk may outweigh the reward.”
As for their health benefits, while dog goggles can offer protection for some kinds of eye conditions, they’re not the answer for all eye conditions.
“Dogs who, let’s say have a history of glaucoma—increased pressure on the inside of the eye—well, we want to protect their eye from damage. So we also have to be extremely careful that the act of putting on goggles doesn’t harm the eye that we’re trying to protect,” says Dr. Greenstein. “If your dog is really resisting, or you don’t think that the goggles are deep enough, it’s better to be safe than sorry.”
The bottom line? Before purchasing a pair of dog goggles, consult your vet to make sure they’re right for your dog.
Final Verdict: Do Dog Goggles Work?
Are dog goggles and sun eye protection worth it? Well, it depends on your dog. But if your doggo leans towards tolerating clothes, headbands, and other wearables, there’s a higher chance they’ll go for goggles.
Fit is one of the most important factors when considering eye protection: adjustable straps, a layout that works with their face shape, and lens cup depth are all imperative. Dogs who love sticking their heads out car windows, dogs with bulged eyes, and dogs who like to rough it in the outdoors are all good candidates for goggles, providing they tolerate wearing them and the fit is correct.
With dogs that have eye injuries or conditions like glaucoma, it may be best to avoid goggles since getting the goggles on safely without disturbing the eye may be challenging, and you don’t want to further aggravate the problem. It’s possible a single or visor-type lens could be more appropriate, but it’s best to consult your vet first.
But there are going to be many dogs that just won’t go for it—and that’s okay! For sun protection, it’s as simple as moving your dog into a shaded area. Or you might consider a dog hat if your dog can tolerate wearing accessories—just not around the eyes. If you’re worried about dogs getting wind and debris in their eyes while out on adventures, consider a dog backpack for your next outing.
“For certain activities, like prolonged sun exposure, or dogs who have eye disease, or you’re worried about debris going into their eyes—it might be an activity that’s humans only,” says Dr. Greenstein. When in doubt, choose your dog’s safety first—even if that means leaving them at home.
How We Chose
The dog goggles featured here were selected based on a combination of a comprehensive look at customer reviews across a wide variety of retail platforms and interviews with veterinary experts. We considered lens depth, adjustability, attachment style, tint, and UV protection. We’re also guided by the experience of living and playing alongside our own much-loved and strongly opinionated pets, who are never stingy with their feedback.