Sunburn and your Dog
CAN DOGS GET SUNBURNED?
If you’re planning beach trips and outdoor activities with your dogs this summer, make sure to protect them from the harsh UV rays of the sun. Just like humans, canines are susceptible to painful burns and potential skin cancer. Keep your dog safe with these tips.
Which dogs get sunburned?
Some dogs are more susceptible to getting burned by the sun. White dogs, for instance, tend to have fair skin underneath their fur — and a greater potential for sun damage. Dogs with naturally thin hair, and especially the hairless breeds are also at risk for sunburn and skin cancer. All canines, regardless of the thickness of their coats, have vulnerable areas of the body with less fur or none at all. The belly and the ears have delicate skin, and even a dog’s nose can become dried out and sore.
Watch out for paws on hot roads and paths
As well as sunburn, hot roads and paths are also something important to consider during summer as paws can get burnt. If it's too hot for your own feet then it's too hot for your dog. Avoid going for walks during the middle of hot days and make sure to test the temperature of the paths you are walking on. Take precautions to walk in the shade or carry your dog if you need to cross hot paths and roads.
Some well-intentioned pet owners shave their dogs in an effort to keep them cool in the summer, but doing so exposes “virgin” skin to the sun. A better cooling tactic is to always provide shade—a big umbrella at the beach, a shady tree at a park, a roof for your backyard patio, or a sun-block top for an outdoor kennel. Your dog will instinctively seek shelter from the sun when the rays become too intense.
Walk your dog early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the hottest part of the day. Not only will this prevent your dog’s skin burning in the sun’s hot rays, but paths and roads will be cooler and prevent burns to your pup’s delicate paws.
It is important that you use a pet-friendly sunscreen to prevent potential harm caused by licking and ingestion. Our animal hospitals stock effective sunscreens which are formulated especially for dogs. Apply sunblock to the tips of the ears, nose, belly, and groin areas. There are also a number of sun hats available for dogs, however some dogs may not tolerate these and will become distressed.
Signs of dog sunburn
Just like people who get too much sun, dogs also get red skin that is tender to the touch. The most susceptible areas—the nose, ears and tummy—are likely to show overexposure before fur-covered areas. Look for dry, cracked skin and curling at the edges of the ears. Other signs of doggy sunburn are constant scratching in tender places accompanied by a whimper, and shrinking away when you try to pet him/her. If sunburn is severe, your dog may even get a slight fever.
If you suspect your pet has a sunburn, veterinary care is recommended. Dogs do not burn as easily as people, so more damage has occurred to the skin than you may be able to initially see.
Treatment of sunburn is based on the severity of the burn. After diagnosis and initial treatment, daily treatment with wound cleaning and topical medication may be necessary.