Can Dogs Get Sunburn? The Dos and Don'ts of Summer Doggie Skincare

Posted by Megan Swinney
can dogs get sunburn

High temperatures and blistering summer sun have humans reaching for the sunblock and shade. But what about our four-legged friends? Do dogs get sunburn? 

UV rays are harmful throughout the year, especially during the summer when the sun's rays are much stronger. Most pet owners think that a dog's skin may be less likely to get a sunburn since they have fur. However, too much sun exposure can be dangerous for your pup. In fact, a dog sunburn can cause just as much damage as a human sunburn can.

How Do You Know If Your Dog Has Sunburn?

Dogs can quickly get a sunburn through their fur, especially those who have less fur than others. Not surprisingly, dogs can get sunburn in the same areas as their owners. Therefore, dogs will get a sunburn in these areas:

  • Nose
  • Ears
  • Tail
  • Eyelids
  • Mouth

According to PDSA, you can easily spot a sunburn on your dog. Their symptoms are often similar to people's. Some signs of sunburn to look out for are:

  • Cracked skin
  • Blisters
  • ?Flaking skin
  • Profuse Scratching
  • Pain to the touch
  • Red skin

If your dog is spending a lot of time outside, keep an eye out for these symptoms. Untreated sunburns can be severe.

Dogs can get sun damage and skin cancers such as squamous cell carcinomas from excessive sun exposure. While playing in the sun and water is a cooling experience, it can be dangerous. Too much time in the sun can also lead to heat stroke if you are not careful.

If your dog spends a lot of time outside in their kennel, make sure it has a shaded section so they can retreat from the sun.

Are Some Dog Breeds More Susceptible Than Others?

Many dog owners believe that their pup's fur will protect them from the sun. Their fur provides a level of protection for many dogs, but some breeds have less fur than others, making them more susceptible.

If your dog has hair loss of any kind, they can get sunburn in those hairless patches. Of course, it almost goes without saying that hairless dog breeds, such as the Chinese Crested Dog, American Hairless Terrier, and Peruvian Hairless dogs, are among the highest at-risk pups. Some white dogs are also more likely to be harmed by the sun's rays. Since Dalmatians have short hair, they can get sunburns. Other dogs that need sun protection are Boxers, Bulldogs, Greyhounds, Whippets, White German Shepherds, American Staffordshire Terrier, Pitbulls, and Weimaraner.

Granted, all dogs can use a little dog sunscreen to protect their most vulnerable parts from harmful UV rays.

Using Sunscreen On Your Dog

Using an SPF can help protect your pup from the sun's harmful rays. But you cannot pick up just any human sunscreen and use it on your pup. Human sunscreens are especially dangerous since most contain zinc oxide and para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA). Both of these can be harmful to your pup if they are ingested, which has a high likelihood since they constantly lick their fur.

Instead, your dog needs to use pet-safe sunscreens.

When applying sunscreen to your pup, make sure you get the tips of the ears, nose, and, depending on the breed, the tip of their tails. Sunscreen should also be applied before your pup goes outside and should be replied as needed.

Talk to your vet about dog-safe options if you are unsure which options will be best for your pooch.

Another way to protect your dog from harmful ultraviolet rays is to make sure they are in the shade as much as possible during the high-risk times of day, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Your pooch can also wear protective clothing such as a dog coat that has UVA and UVB protection.

Treating Your Dog's Sunburn

If your dog does end up with a sunburn, you may need to get some veterinary care depending on the severity of the burn, especially if your dog is showing signs of extreme discomfort.

For at-home care, you can use cold compresses on the affected areas. Aloe vera can also help soothe your dog's burns. There are also products available to help soothe your pup's nose, paws, and skin if they get a sunburn.

Handy Hound SnoutScreen

Handy Hound SnoutScreen
Amazon

Protect your dog's nose with this sunscreen. This balm helps heal your pup's skin if it does get cracked or burned. It also offers sun protection and keeps bugs away.

Emmy's Best Pet Products Dog Sun Skin Protector Spray

Emmy's Best Pet Products Sun Skin Protector Spray
Amazon

 

The skin protection spray has no zinc and has a moisturizer to keep your pup's fur soft. In addition, the formula is non-greasy and is waterproof.

Epi-Pet Sun Protector Spray for Pets

epi-pet skin protection spray
Amazon

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This spray keeps your pup's skin safe from the sun, all while providing skin and coat conditioning. It also offers aromatherapy benefits in a non-greasy, non-oily spray. It also is FDA compliant.

PlayaPup Dog Sun Protective Lightweight Shirts

Playapup dog shirt
Amazon

The PlayaPup lightweight dog shirt is your pup's very own rash guard. The fit is comfortable for your pup and prevents 98 percent of the sun's UVA and UVB rays from getting to your dog's fur.

Natural Dog Company Skin Soother Healing Balm

Natural Dog company soothing balm
Amazon

The Natural Dog Company healing balm can cover many ailments, keeping your doggie's skin happy no matter what irritations may arise.  The balm is vegan, fragrance and preservative-free, making it safe for all breeds.

Products featured on Wide Open Pets are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Has your pup ever had a sunburn? Tell us what helped on our Wide Open Pets Facebook page.

READ MORE: Fight Seasonal Dog Allergies With These Natural Remedies

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