All dog owners know that dogs have a much more acute sense of smell than we humans do, and that their other senses are rather different from ours as well.
When it comes to the dog’s vision and hearing, how they match up compared to us isn’t as simple as it is with smell, because there are some things that humans can see and hear that dogs cannot, and vice versa.
For instance, dogs can’t see as many different colours as we can, but they have much better visual acuity to detect movements, and dogs can also hear sounds that are outside of our human range of hearing.
Because dogs are limited in terms of the colour spectrum that they can see – usually this is explained as being composed largely of shades of yellow and blue – we often automatically assume that dogs can see less detail and fewer things than us in general.
But once again, dogs can see certain things that we as humans cannot with our own naked eyes – and one of these things is ultraviolet-reactive items that need a special light to see them.
We’ve all seen and probably used ultraviolet lights at some point – perhaps to detect security features in bank notes, or as part of light fittings in discos and bars, or on TV crime dramas as part of the lab tech’s arsenal of tools. We all know that if you shine an ultraviolet light on certain things, they can show features and objects that were not visible to us without the light’s presence – but your dog can see all of those objects and details without the need for an ultraviolet light at all!
The discovery that dogs can see ultraviolet spectrum objects was only made in the last few years, as previously, scientists thought that dogs, like humans, were unable to see ultraviolet with the naked eye.
Now that we know that they can, we’re going to share five cool things that your dog can see thanks to their ultraviolet vision acuity, but that we as humans miss! Read on to learn more.
First of all, your dog can obviously see your teeth when you smile, but they’re not seeing them exactly as we humans do. Because we use toothpastes with fluoride in them and fluoride is also added to tap water in the UK, fluoride bonds with the teeth to help to make them strong and healthy – and it also causes them to pick up natural UV light.
Even if you’re not that proud of your teeth, your dog sees them very clearly, and they appear much brighter and whiter to them than they do to us.
Many of us are most familiar with the use of UV light on TV crime dramas, to pick up marks and stains at crime scenes that cannot be seen with the naked eye. A lot of biological agents including urine and saliva light up brightly under ultraviolet light, but to your dog, they’re always glowing brightly! Some compounds in bleach and other cleaning chemicals also fluoresce under ultraviolet light, so the clean up of pee or other biological stains can also leave visible marks to your dog, that they can see all the time!
When the sky is clear and there’s not too much ambient lighting obscuring our view, sitting outside at night for a while allows us to pick out thousands of stars and other features in the sky, which can be enthralling and humbling to see.
Our own view of the night sky under the right conditions is amazing – but it is nothing compared to what your dog can see if they happen to look up at night, and we can only really imagine the full wonder that they behold.
Fluorescent body paints, decorations and ornaments that glow under UV light and a whole range of other forms of art and accessories are designed to react under UV light and appear bright and glowing, but they are invisible to the naked eye of us humans.
However, your dog can see all of these things already without the need for additional lighting, and simply takes them for granted! From UV nail polish to special paints, anything that reacts to an ultraviolet light is already clear and obvious to your dog, even if you yourself don’t see it!
Many items have a built-in security seal so that people viewing them can confirm their authenticity, and many of these special features are designed to be visible under a special UV detector light, such as the ones many shops have to check that bank notes are real.
This doesn’t mean that your dog is less likely to chew up something important though, so be sure to keep your funds and your important documents well away from your dog!