Can pets see in colour?
Different animals can see different kinds of colour from a broad range of spectrums. Some see very little colour, while creatures such as bees and butterflies see more than us as humans.
But what about our pets – which colours can they see?
The answer isn’t as simple as you’d think, because colour doesn’t actually exist. Colour is our brains’ way of processing light wavelengths.
Light hits our eyes and special cells (photoreceptor cone cells) turn it into nerve impulses which are then passed to the brain and processed into the various colours.
Human eyes also have more than 120 million rod cells that process low level light and the shape of objects, but not colour. This all makes it incredibly difficult to test whether our animals see in the same colours that we do.
There is a common misconception that dogs can only see in black and white.
Dogs can, in fact, see a wide array of colours but the range is more like that of a human who has red-green colour blindness, seeing various shades of blue, yellow and green.
This is because humans have three cones (photoreceptor cells) in their eyes; blue, red and green whereas dogs have two; blue and another that falls between the human red and green cone.
However, these colours do not affect a dog’s sight. In fact, dogs have more rods in their eyes than humans, which allow for better vision in very low light.
Dogs also have an additional secret weapon, a reflective mechanism – a retroflector called the tapetum lucidum. This means that your dog’s eyes reflect the light that goes into their eyes back out, allowing a much more detailed view of the world after dark.