The sun is a beautiful thing to enjoy with your pet. It’s a vitamin D source, essential for various living creatures. Its warmth feels terrific on our skin. Yet, it can also be incredibly harmful to human and dog health if exposure isn’t kept in check. Yes, we’re talking about sunburns. Our furry friends are as susceptible to a case of sunburn as the next person. Dog sunburn is quite common yet should be avoided at all costs.
Below, we discuss the dangers of dog sunburn and how pet parents can prevent their dogs from getting too much sun exposure this summer.
Can dogs get sunburnt?
The sun can’t penetrate a dog’s fur and seep into their skin, right? That’s where many pet parents are mistaken. A dog’s skin is as sensitive as ours (if not more so). Being in the sun for too long without the proper protection can lead to nasty sunburns. A dog sunburn is most likely to show up where there is little to no fur, such as the ears, paws, nose, and belly.
No dog is immune to getting sunburnt. However, certain dogs are more susceptible than others. Typically, if you have a hairless dog breed or your pup has white fur or light skin, they are at a higher risk. These breeds include:
- American hairless terriers;
- Australian sheepdogs;
- Chinese crested;
- West highland white terriers;
- White German shepherds.
How can pet parents identify the signs of a dog sunburn, and what’s the best way to treat it?
What are the signs and risks of a dog sunburn?
There are three types of dog sunburn your pooch is at risk of getting. These include superficial partial thickness burn, deep partial thickness burn, and full thickness burns. All of these cause discomfort and, in some cases, excruciating pain. Let’s not forget that sun damage is a leading cause of skin cancer in dogs.
Here are the common telltale signs that your dog has a sunburn:
- Redness on the skin;
- Skin tender to touch;
- Hair loss;
- Dry or cracked skin on ears;
- Skin ulcers and infections;
- Malignant melanomas.
Take action the minute you see any signs of sunburn. Even if the burn is only superficial, your pet will need treatment. Call your vet and ask how to treat dog sunburn at home. In some cases, you may need to bring them in for an emergency check to ensure no cause for concern.
Preventative measures to protect dogs from sunburns
The best way to treat dog sunburn is to prevent it from happening in the first place. We’re not saying you must lock your dog inside on a sunny day. Instead, follow these preventative measures to ensure they can play in the sun safely.
Apply dog sunscreen
Speak to your vet about pet-friendly sunscreens you can use on your dog. Many are made from all-natural ingredients and are highly effective at protecting their delicate skin. Look for a sunscreen with an SPF factor of thirty and that’s unscented. Like us, your dog will need sunscreen reapplied regularly. If your dog loves to swim, apply dog sunscreen each time they’re finished spending time in the water.
Provide shady areas outside
Your pets need plenty of shaded areas to relax if the heat gets too much. Make sure your dog can take cover in the shade by putting up a tent or a beach parasol. If you have trees in your backyard, put your dog’s water bowl in the tree’s shadow to encourage them to relax. The more natural the shade is, the better.
Limit sun exposure
Your pup may want to lay in the sun all day, but this behavior isn’t encouraged. Sun exposure should be limited, especially during the hottest time of the day. Instead, aim to let your dog outside when the sun is lowest in the sky. Go for walks in areas where there are plenty of shady spots. During heat waves, it’s best to practice pet heat safety rules and avoid going outside at all, if possible.
Get your dog protective clothing
Many pet accessory companies make protective sun clothing for dogs. These items block harmful UVA and UVB rays. Dog owners should consider buying protective hats and shirts for dogs spending time in the sun. Additionally, purchasing protective shoes helps protect your dog’s paws from hot surfaces.
Wagmo dog wellness plan: Helping them have fun in the sun
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Read our pet wellness FAQs to learn more about our plans, or read our reviews to see how we help pet parents like you.