Can Your Dog Get a Sunburn – Prevention and Treatment

Picture of Dalmatian dog on the beach with a boy

The sun is shining, and the weather is just right for a day at the beach. As you begin to pack your bags for the day, you stop to take stock of all the things you are going to need. A good book to read, lots of colourful beach towels, a few bottles of water, a ball for Fido, some sunscreen…all the ingredients are falling into place for a summer day of fun. As you get ready to load Fido into the car, you begin to wonder—is it possible for Fido to get a sunburn too? Is there something you should have packed for him to protect him from the sun?

Are Some Dogs More Prone to Sunburn?

Since our dogs do have delicate skin that is exposed to the potency of the sun’s direct rays, it is possible for them to get a sunburn. However, some dogs are more predisposed to this ailment than others. Since certain colors tend to attract the sun moreso than others, it places some dogs at a greater risk. Dogs whose hair is white tend to have a lighter pigmented skin which is more powerfully affected by the sun’s UV rays. This not only can result in sunburn, it can also lead to skin cancer.

Additionally, dogs who naturally possess more coat than others have an added layer of protection that helps to keep their skin insulated from potential sun damage. However, it is important to note that all dogs can become burned by the sun as certain areas of a dog’s body, regardless of coat type or color, are still exposed to the environment. Sensitive areas such as noses, eye rims, and even your dog’s belly are all open areas of skin that can easily become scorched if not properly protected.

Can the Sun Create Other Problems for Our Dogs?

While sunburn is a problem that can affect many dogs, it is not the only issue that heat can bring upon our favorite canine pals. Since the sun is attracted to dark colors, the pavement can also pose a risk for pets during the hot summer months. Paved paths can heat up to extremely dangerous levels which can cause delicate paw pads to crack, split, and even blister. For best results, choose to walk your dog at times of day that are more moderate in temperature. You can also test the surface by placing your palm against it. If it is uncomfortable for your own skin, it will be uncomfortable for your dog’s paws as well. If at all possible, opt for grass or dirt areas to help keep your dog cool and comfortable while on a walk.

How Can Sunburn Be Prevented?

Since we can’t avoid the sun entirely, we have to get better at learning how to prevent our dogs from getting sunburn. One critical mistake owners often make is thinking that their dog’s coat is part of what traps heat and makes them hot in the summer. Nothing could be further from the truth. Choosing to give your dog a close hair cut in the summer months actually exposes more of their delicate skin to the sun’s rays and can set them up for a sunburn.

As with many different problems, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to keeping your dog protected from sun-related damage. The very best defense against sunburn is to provide your dog with plenty of opportunities for shade when he is outside.

Since when out on a walk shade is not always available, it is best to choose to walk your dogs during the cooler times of day when the sun is not in its highest position. This will help minimize any potential damage to your dog’s skin.

Also available on the market today are sunscreens that are suitable for pet use. It is critical that you purchase a sun protectant that was formulated with pets in mind as many sunscreens intended for humans contain ingredients which are toxic to dogs if ingested. Be certain to apply sunscreen to all areas of your dog’s skin that will be exposed to the sun’s rays including the ear tips and groin regions.

What Is the Treatment for Sunburn?

If you come home from a walk and notice that your dog is looking a little pinker than usual, it might be wise to begin some treatment to alleviate any potential soreness. Since it is difficult for an owner ascertain the severity of the burn, it is always a good idea to seek sound veterinary advice.

To help provide immediate relief for some mild pinkness, here are a few doctor-approved home remedies:

  • Aloe vera gel
  • Witch hazel
  • Vitamin E

Wanting to take Fido for a day of fun in the sun? Before you head out for your adventure, take the time to pack an umbrella, some doggy sunscreen, and a few bottles of water, and you’re off to the races!



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