Can Dogs Get Sunburned?

Can Dogs Get Sunburned?

As summer approaches, you may be wondering whether you need to purchase some sunscreen for your dog while you’re getting some for yourself. The answer is yes—dogs can get sunburned, and if you want to take yours out for adventures in the hot summer sun, they will need some form of protection. 

While dogs can get sunburned, their fur will usually protect them from the sun in natural circumstances. If your dog is hairless or has fine, white hair, you may want to consider extra protection. For all dogs, there are a few simple ways to protect against sunburn. 

The Risk of Sunburn in Dogs

Though not as commonly as humans, dogs can still easily get sunburned when exposed to hot UV rays, especially for long periods of time. While a dog sunburn may not seem dangerous, it’s important to realize that any burn can lead to more serious infections or even skin cancer. It is crucial to protect your dog from sunburn as much as possible. 

The most tender areas on a dog’s body are the most susceptible to sunburn. These include:

  • The dog’s stomach
  • The dog’s groin area
  • The dog’s ears
  • The dog’s nose

If you shave your dog during the summer because of the heat, its tender, exposed skin will be at higher risk for sunburn. In addition, it’s important to keep an eye on your dog’s paws—these tender spots can get burned or injured if your dog is walking on hot pavement, gravel, etc. 

Some of the dogs that are most susceptible to burns include breeds with little to no fur, white fur, or light pigmentation in the eyes, nose, and ears. These include:

  • Chinese Crested
  • American Hairless Terrier
  • Xoloitzcuintli
  • Collies
  • Dalmations
  • Australian Sheepdogs
  • Whippets
  • Bulldogs

If you have a dog with risk factors or one who spends a lot of time outdoors, you may want to consider adding some extra protection for your pup.

How To Prevent Sunburn in Dogs

There are multiple options for preventing sunburn in dogs. Take your dog’s temperament into account before deciding on the best method. Here are a few options:

  1. Use sunscreen. It’s important that you choose a sunscreen made specifically for dogs. Human sunscreens contain ingredients like para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) and zinc oxide which can be dangerous if your dog tries to lick their sunscreen off. You want a sunscreen tailored to dogs that is waterproof and provides a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.
  2. Use clothes. If you’re pretty sure your dog won’t like sunscreen, you can try a shirt, hat, or even pair of goggles to protect the tender areas on your dog’s skin. There are tons of options available online. 
  3. Use the shade. Possibly the most effective way to prevent sunburn is to use the shade God provided to keep your dog safe. If you’re outside in the summer, provide your dog with shaded areas, whether from nearby trees or from beach umbrellas or similar man-made items. Avoid taking your dog outside during the hottest part of the day (usually from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and always provide plenty of fresh drinking water. 

How To Put Sunscreen on Your Dog

If you’re aiming to go out in the bright sun and need a little extra protection for your dog, you may want to use sunscreen. However, getting your dog to sit still for this process is going to be a challenge! Here are some tips for putting sunscreen on your dog effectively. 

  • Test by placing a spot on a less sensitive area and monitoring for an allergic reaction.
  • Hold your dog as still as possible—you may want to get help with this part.
  • Apply sunscreen to your dog’s most delicate areas—nose, ears, skin around the lips, groin, and inner thighs.
  • Keep an eye on your dog for 10-15 minutes to prevent them from licking the sunscreen off before it absorbs into their skin.

Always apply sunscreen around 20 minutes before your dog goes outside and reapply it every 4-6 hours or after your dog goes for a swim that may wash the sunscreen off.

How To Treat Dog Sunburn

The signs and symptoms of sunburn in dogs are similar to the signs and symptoms of sunburn in humans. If your dog is sunburned, you’ll likely see:

  • Dry, cracked, and reddish skin that is tender to the touch.
  • Curling at the edges of the ears.
  • Shrinking away from pets.
  • Whimpering and scratching in tender areas. 

A slight fever is possible with severe sunburns. In addition, if the sunburn is very severe, your dog could pick up a secondary infection in the exposed, damaged area that spreads throughout the body. Skin cancer could also occur if your dog gets sunburned regularly. 

For treatment, start with cold compresses and ointments such as Aloe. Then, call your vet—since dogs don’t burn as easily as humans, any sunburn could be more serious than it appears. 

Your vet may prescribe a cortisone treatment or antibiotics, depending on the severity of the burn and if the vet suspects a secondary infection. If your dog’s skin cracks to reveal open wounds, you may have to clean and treat them daily until they heal. 

Protecting Your Dog from a Sunburn

If you and your dog enjoy being outside, there’s no reason to fear the sun. Just be sure to take some sort of protection along! If you can, avoid going outside too much in the hottest part of the day. And when you do, always be sure to provide plenty of shade and drinking water for both yourself and your pup. 

If you follow these simple tips, you should have no trouble protecting your dog from any type of sunburn this summer! 

Need help taking care of your dog’s yard this summer? Don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at Idaho Poop Scoop! We would love to help you clean the poop in your dog’s yard and give them a clean, safe, fun space to play in. Check out our services to learn more!