How to Protect Your Dog From Sunburn

by Karen Luther on August 26, 2015

You know the importance of protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. You purchase sunscreen with a high SPF and apply it liberally. You may even wear a hat to protect the top of your head. Are you doing the same for your dog?

Many people are surprised to learn that dogs need protection from the sun. The fur on your pet offers a natural barrier between its skin and the sun’s rays, but it is not complete protection. Dogs can get sunburned, too. Sunburns are not only uncomfortable for your dog, but they can lead to skin cancer.

German shepherd laying in sun glasses on sand

 

Even though any dog is at risk for overexposure to the sun, those with very short coats are more predisposed to being burned. Boxers, bulldogs, some terriers, and some hounds are at a higher risk. Here are some tips on using sunscreen for your favorite canine.

Your Dog is Losing Hair

If your dog has bald spots or is shedding excessively, sunscreen is necessary. Dogs that are dealing with allergies or hormonal changes may shed more than normal. Dogs that are taking certain medications may have areas of fur that are thin or missing.

Your Dog Worships the Sun

There are some dogs that simply love the sun. No matter how many times they are called into the shade by their owners, they can be found returning to their favorite sun spot in the yard, soaking up the rays. If this sounds like your pet pooch, sunscreen is a good idea.

Your Dog Spends a Great Deal of Time Outdoors

Gauge how long your dog spends outdoors. If your dog is included in hiking, camping or boating trips, it needs the extra protection that sunscreen offers. Taking a quick walk around the block is often safe enough. A day under the sun requires protection for your pet.

Now that you know which dogs need protection from the sun, here are a few safety tips to follow.

Avoid Shaving Your Dog

No one wants to sweep their floors every day just to keep the house free of dog hair. Avoid the temptation to shave your long-haired dog to save yourself a bit of housework. A dog’s fur acts as a natural type of heating and cooling system. When you shave a long-haired dog, you leave it unable to properly regulate its own body temperature. Shaving a dog also removes its protection from the sun.

The Right Sunscreen

There are several good pet-specific sunscreens on today’s market. If you have difficulty choosing one, dog summer sunscreenspeak to your veterinarian. If you have extreme trouble finding a canine-specific sunscreen, you can use one made for human babies.

Zinc Oxide is Toxic

Never purchase a sunscreen containing zinc oxide for your pet. The ingredient is toxic to dogs and should never be used on them. Make sure you read labels before choosing a sunscreen for your pooch.

Where to Apply

Like humans, dogs need sunscreen to the areas of their bodies that will receive the most exposure. For most dogs, this is the top of the muzzle, the top of the head, the ears, and the back. Where you need to apply sunscreen on your pet may differ.

Clothing and shade can also help to protect dogs from the sun’s rays. A light-colored T-shirt and plenty of easy access to shaded areas are always a good idea. In addition, make sure that your dog has access to fresh, cool water, and that you watch for signs of heatstroke.

When you follow these tips, you help your dog avoid a painful sunburn. Should your dog get burned, cool compresses are always safe and offer welcome relief. If you have questions about sunscreen or sunburn, ask your veterinarian for more information.

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