Can Dogs Get Sunburn? Here's How to Prevent It This Summer

High temperatures and blistering summer heat can have humans fighting over shade and sunblock, but people often forget about their canine companions. So, can dogs get sunburn? It's easy to assume that your pup might be safe without the shade, given that he's covered in fur from head to toe. Unfortunately, this is a commonly held summer misconception about dogs. Dogs can and will get bad sunburns, even through all that fur. Too much sun exposure isn't just bad for you—it's bad for your pup as well. Doggie sunburns can cause just as much damage as human sunburns, only it's a little harder to apply aloe vera with all that fluff! Here's what to watch out for and how to avoid burning your pup on a hot day.

Signs of Sunburn in Dogs

dog and man relaxing in boat avoiding sunburn

Less fur might seem nice during shedding season, but dogs with less fur are much more prone to sunburn. Unfortunately, all dogs can be damaged by the sun, even if they have a fluffy double coat. Dogs will usually get sunburns in the same areas as their owners, including on the nose, ears, tail, eyelids, and mouth.

Sunburns are fortunately easy to spot on your pup. The symptoms vary, but will be very familiar to chronic human sufferers of the same condition. Signs of sunburn in dogs include:

  • 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 also 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 if it goes on too long. Too much time in the sun can also lead to heat stroke if you're 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. As with anything, outdoor time is best with moderation, and if you think you'd be miserable in the sun and heat,  your pup probably agrees with you!

Dog Breeds Prone to Sunburn

dog jogging with man sunburn in dogs

Many dog owners believe that their pup's fur will protect them from the sun. Fur does provide 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 Terriers, Pitbulls, and Weimaraners.

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

Using Sunscreen on Your Dog

dog walking with woman sunscreen dogs

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 is 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 reapplied as needed. Talk to your vet about dog-safe options if you're 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. Anywhere from 10 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon is the danger zone here. If you avoid running during these hours, your canine companion will probably appreciate the ability to relax in the shade throughout these hours. Your pooch can also wear protective clothing such as a dog coat that has UVA and UVB protection.

Here are some of our favorite sunscreens for dogs:

1. Dog Sunscreen You Can Spray Right On

Warren London Dog Sunscreen Spray - Amazon, $13.99

It doesn't get much easier than this. Simply spray this sunscreen directly onto your dog's coat, and you've got protection that should last all day. This sunscreen is quick drying and suitable for all breeds of dog, whether you've got a long haired husky or a short haired daschund. Infused with aloe vera, it helps soothe as much as it helps protect.

2. Dog Sunscreen Perfect for Snouts and Ears

Handy Hound Snout Screen - Amazon, $20.97

Much like their human counterparts, dog noses can suffer when it comes to fun in the sun. With a twist up tube applicator, this sunscreen goes on painlessly and keeps your pup protected all day long. Made with all natural ingredients, this is the one to grab for problem spots like noses and ears.

Treating Dog Sunburn

dog playing in water with ball in his mouth

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. A cold bath might help as well, though many dogs will shy away from water cool enough to help with the sunburn.

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.

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