Anyone who’s ever been to the beach has probably had a sunburn. It happens when you expose your skin to the rays of the sun for too long. It can also happen if you frequent the tanning bed for too long.
Can dogs get sunburned? While sunburn is common with people, does it affect animals in the same way? Read below for the answer.
Can Dogs Get Sunburned?
Just as any person can get sunburned, any dog can get sunburned. Remember though that a sunburn is a skin condition. Therefore, most people do not get sunburned on their scalp unless they have been exposed to intense sun for a long period of time.
Your dog is covered by fur, so they are less likely to become sunburned since they are protected. But that doesn’t mean they can’t get sunburned. If a dog spends all day in the sun, they can be burned right through their fur. They can also be burned very easily on more exposed parts.
Dogs can get sunburned on these vulnerable parts:
Because these spots have less fur or are hairless, they are less protected from the sun’s rays. This means that they will much more easily become burned there. Just like with people, repeated exposure can be extremely damaging to their skin and can lead to more serious health consequences.
How to Tell If Your Dog Is Sunburned
If you suspect your dog has gotten sunburned, check for these symptoms:
- Redness on skin
- Dry and cracked skin
- Vocalizing discomfort at being touched
Some dogs may have medical conditions that can exacerbate their chances of getting sunburned. If your dog has an autoimmune issue, has recently had surgery, or has exposed scar tissue, they should be protected from too much sun exposure.
These breeds have a higher likelihood of becoming sunburned:
- Golden retrievers
- White Boxers
- Pit bulls
- Yellow Labs
You might notice a trend for these breeds. Dogs with a higher likelihood of becoming burned either have a very thin coat or are very light in color. This allows the sun’s rays to penetrate their coat and reach their skin.
How to Treat Sunburn
If your dog has become sunburned, you should take it very seriously. The skin will become red and inflamed. They will also be hot to the touch. The heat that is produced after a sunburn can make dehydration and heat exhaustion even worse.
For minor cases of sunburn, you can use cold compresses to provide some relief to your dog. You should also make sure they have access to fresh, cool water to ensure they do not dehydrate.
For more extreme cases of sunburn, you need to see your vet. If your dog’s sunburn is bad enough, your vet may have to administer IV fluids and may even give anti-inflammatory creams.
How to Prevent Sunburn in Dogs
Because dogs can become sunburned, the best plan is to prevent it in the first place rather than dealing with it later.
If your dog spends a lot of time outside already, be sure that they have a shady spot to relax. This can be any kind of structure that will provide respite from the sun. A doghouse, covered porch, or even just a tree can do wonders to keep the sun’s rays off your pooch.
You can also try using some sunscreen on your dog’s sensitive areas. You can find dog approved sunscreens, but in a pinch, you can also use children’s sunscreen. Covering your dog’s belly, ears, nose or any shaved patches can go a long way in keeping your dog safe. Of course, check with your vet before applying any product to your dog’s skin.
Lastly, do what you can to minimize your dog’s sun exposure especially during peak hours. If you can help it, try to let your dog get some exercise in early in the day or late in the evening when the sun’s rays are not at full strength. By getting your pup’s energy out, they are also more likely to relax mid-day when the sun is at full strength.
The Bottom Line
Remember the adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The best thing you can do for your dog is prevent them from getting sunburned in the first place. Because dogs are not as effective at cooling themselves down, even a minor sunburn can become a serious problem.