Can Dogs Get Sunburn?

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Many people assume that a dog’s fur protects them from the sun’s UV rays, but the truth is that, just like people, dogs can suffer red, painful skin if they get too much sun. A sunburn isn’t only painful, though; it can also lead to skin cancer. So what can you do to protect your pup?

What Dogs Are at Risk For Sunburn?

While some dogs are better protected from the sun than others, all dogs are susceptible to sunburn. Dogs that spend lots of time outdoors working, playing, or hiking are particularly at risk, as are dogs with little hair (like the hairless variety of the Chinese Crested), dogs with short hair (like the Chihuahua and some Terriers), and dogs with white fur and pink or white skin (like the Bichon Frise).

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Ways to Protect Your Dog From Sunburn

So how can you keep your dog safe from the sun? Check out these tips:

  • Provide Shade

Shade and fresh water are important to keep your dog comfortable and prevent heatstroke when temperatures rise. Shade also protects your dog from the sun’s harmful rays. If your dog spends a lot of time outside, provide them with a kennel, doghouse, or large umbrella where they can take a break from the sun and heat.

  • Walk When the Sun Is Low

When it’s hot and bright out, your dog will be at higher risk for heatstroke and sunburn. To avoid this, take your dog out for exercise in the early morning or evening when the sun is low in the sky.

  • Use Sunscreen

Just like humans, dogs can benefit from the use of sunscreen. However, the key is to select a sunscreen that is effective but also non-toxic, as many dogs will be inclined to lick their fur after application. When selecting a sunscreen, use the following guidelines:

  • Avoid sunscreens that contain zinc oxide, as ingestion of zinc can lead to zinc poisoning, anemia, and even death.
  • Avoid sunscreens that contain PABA, which can be fatal if consumed.
  • Use pet-safe sunscreens when possible, such as Epi-Pet Sun Protector and Natural Dog Snout Soother.
  • Many natural sunscreens made for children can be safe for dogs. Ask your veterinarian before using any sunscreen on your dog that is intended for people.

The most sensitive areas on a dog are the ears, nose, muzzle, belly, and any other areas with thin hair or exposed skin, so focus on those spots when applying sunscreen.

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  • Dog Clothes

Dog clothes may offer extra protection when the sun is beaming down. However, be sure to choose lightweight garments that won’t make your dog hotter than they already are. You may also want to look into dog clothes that are specifically designed to block UV rays.

Now that your dog is protected, go have some fun in the sun!

Has your dog ever had a sunburn? How do you protect your dog? Leave a comment and let us know, and sign up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more.

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