It's the dog's goggles

Julie Aschkenasy on Californian comforts for those trusting eyes
If you're thinking of treating yourself to a new pair of Ray Bans to beat off harmful rays, spare a thought for your faithful friend. Dogs need protection from ultraviolet light, too - or so pet lovers on the other side of the Atlantic would have us believe.

Posh Pups of Los Angeles has been designing custom-made shades for pooches since 1990. They come in four sizes and fit anything from a poodle to a St Bernard. Mutts can choose between classic Ray Ban style, wraparound ski style, heart-, dinosaur- or round psychedelic-shaped frames. It's a tough decision but a snip at $10 a pair.

And they are not, according to a Posh Pups spokesman, simply a fashion fad. "As well as being fashionable they really do protect dogs' eyes. Drivers also choose them for dogs that like to hang their heads out of the window while driving - it stops the dog getting bits of dust in its eyes."

Animals on this side of the Atlantic are also wearing shades, and contact lenses as well. "There are quite a few ocular conditions exacerbated by ultraviolet light where a dog would benefit from being kept in the shadow," explains Pip Boydell, an animal ophthalmologist. "We have a couple of dogs here that wear sunglasses. One wears tank commander-type goggles and goes around quite happily. Another dog wears a straw hat with its ears sticking through, like a donkey. You get the impression the dog is quite proud of it."

Mr Boydell also fits dogs and cats with contact lenses, but not to correct sight. "Remember that dogs don't need to read or write, drive or watch TV," he says. They are used as a protective layer over the eye of an animal recovering from problems such as superficial ulcers on the cornea.

Disposable contact lenses for humans are near enough a good fit for dogs, but problems do arise with larger animals.

"I had to bribe an optician to make some lenses for a horse whose ulcer wasn't healing," says Mr Boydell. "With the lens he got better within a couple of weeks and, although I can't scientifically prove the lens helped, I think the result strongly suggests it."

You can order sunglasses from Posh Pups on 001-310-399 0567. Sunglasses for dogs feature in 'It's a vet's life' on ITV today at 2.20pm (see regional variations).