When enjoying days on the trails or beach with your pup, you might be planning to slather on the sunblock so you don’t suffer from bad tan lines at best and painful burns or skin cancer at worst. But what about your pup? Can dogs even get a sunburn? The answer may surprise you, so learn about the best way to protect your pup.
In simple terms, yes, dogs can get sunburn just like we can. However, not all dogs are at risk equally. Dogs who have shorter hair, fairer skin, and pink noses and eyelids are at additional risk for sunburns.
That doesn’t mean your black labradoodle can spend the whole day in the sun with no risk. Chat with your vet about creating a plan to keep your pup sun safe. We will share some recommended products you can try, but your vet will be able to advise you best.
Dogs can get sunburn anywhere on their bodies but any lighter areas like a pink nose or eyelid are especially susceptible. If your dog enjoys sunbathing on a warm day, you will want to be sure to offer some sun protection as their exposed backs or bellies are also places that sunburn can develop. Depending on the strength of the sun, it can happen pretty quickly too – so make sure your dog takes breaks from their sunbath.
While all breeds can be impacted by sunburn, there are some dogs that are more susceptible. These include Dalmatians, Whippets, Bulldogs, and any hairless breeds like the Chinese Crested. If you have a dog that is more easily sunburned, investing in a shade for them like a cabana or umbrella to keep the direct rays off their skin is a good idea.
While your Coppertone and Tropic Sun are off-limits for your pup, you can purchase sunscreen designed specifically for them. Using sunscreen made for humans can make your dog sick if they lick it (which they probably will since some of them smell nice). Dr. Jerry Rice of the American Kennel Club says to look for products that, do “not contain zinc oxide or para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), as these ingredients are toxic to dogs if ingested, and dogs will often lick their skin and accidentally ingest the sunscreen. It’s also a good idea to look for a waterproof, unscented dog sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30.”
Just like when you wear sunscreen remember to put it on about 20 minutes before heading out for the day and reapply as needed. Try to keep your pup from licking all the sunblock off as this will obviously make it not work!
If you have trouble getting sunscreen on your dog, don’t despair, you can use a shade or even clothing to keep the direct rays off of your dog’s skin. While they might look cute, hats, shirts, and even goggles can help protect your dog from the sun.
As with any clothing, don’t leave your dog unsupervised while they are dressed. They run the risk of eating small parts and choking or getting stuck. It is also important to ensure clothing fits properly and doesn’t obstruct your pup’s vision or movement.
If your pup is showing signs of sunburn including red and flaky skin, you will want to get them out of the sun immediately. You can use a cold compress and some aloe vera to soothe a minor burn or irritation. If your dog has more severe sunburn call your vet immediately for further instructions. They may treat the inflammation with cortisone or prescribe antibiotics to treat any infection related to the burns.
After a bad sunburn, it will be especially important to keep your pup protected from the sun. Chat with your vet about the best ways to keep your pup safe after a burn. In general avoiding walks and playtime in the peak sunshine will be helpful. Try to keep longer walks and play sessions to earlier in the morning or later in the evening when the sun’s rays are less direct.
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.
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