If you have outings with your dog planned that involve being outside for extending periods of time, you may want to consider the possibility of a sunburn. No! Not for you. For your dog. That’s right, like humans, dogs are susceptible to UV rays and heat. This can cause burns and possibly cancer. So what do you need to do to keep your dog safe?

Can Dogs Get Sunburned Like People?

In truth, not all dogs are at risk from sunburn. For example, white dogs have lighter skin beneath their fur and, therefore, a chance for sunburn. Also, hairless breeds and dogs with naturally fine hair have a higher chance to develop skin cancer. There are some other reasons dogs might become sunburned.
  • Your dog loves to sit in the sun. Let’s face it, most dogs love to sit in the sun, but some love it more than others. Especially sensitive are the snouts and area between their back legs.
  • Your dog suffers from hair loss. Dogs can lose hair for reasons including allergies or hormonal changes. This can cause dogs to have bald spots that are as sensitive as human skin to the sun.
  • Your dog spends most of their time outdoors. We’re not talking a quick walk around the block. If your dog spends hours of their day in the yard or you plan a day trip to a dog-friendly beach, you might want to take extra precautions for your pup.
Next, let’s talk about breeds that are most likely to suffer from sunburn.

Breeds Who Commonly Burn

Thin skinned and thin haired dogs need extra protection. If you own one of these breeds, take care to offer shade or pet-friendly sunscreens:
  • Boxer
  • Dalmatian
  • Chinese Crested
  • Greyhound
  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Whippet
  • Weimaraner
  • White German Shepherd
  • Xoloitzcuintli

Paws Need Care Too

The sun does a good job heating up sidewalks and roads. On excessively hot days, be sure to protect your dog’s paws. The best way to take precautions against this is to avoid hot roads or walks during peak heat or carry your dog over especially hot surfaces. On extra hot days, maybe find a nice local park with shade to walk your dog.

4 Ways to Prevent Sunburn and Protect Dogs From Heat

  1. Provide Shade: This is probably the most practical way to keep your dog from becoming sunburned or overheated. Use an umbrella, make room under a table, clear space under a tree or large bush. That way, your dog has a place to retreat when they become warm.
  2. Use Sunscreen: Talk to your vet about buying a safe sunscreen. Before applying it all over your pooch, be sure to spot test. Keep an eye on the skin and your dog’s behavior while testing the product.
  3. Use Protective Clothing: Make or buy a white cotton shirt for your dog. It’s inexpensive and will reflect the light away from the dog, lowering their chance of sunburn.
  4. Stay Inside: Sounds silly, but on those really hot, sunny days…it may be best to stay inside. It’s important for humans and pets alike to stay out of weather conditions that may cause distress or illness.
Please note that zinc oxide should be avoided. It’s a common ingredient in sunscreens, but it’s toxic to dogs. To avoid poisoning, do NOT apply human sunscreen to a dog.

Treating Dog Sunburn

Dogs with sunburn should receive similar treatment to humans. Hot dogs should take a lukewarm oatmeal bath and keep cool. The oatmeal bath will ease the swelling and discomfort. Alcohol free aloe vera gel can work wonders as well. Oil-based topical treatments should NOT be used (like coconut oil). Save those for a few days after initial burning. Oil traps the heat and makes the burn feel worse. Sunburns can make anyone and any pooch miserable. So, have fun in the sun but remember to be safe!