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Dog Sunburn Treatment and Prevention

If your dogs are like mine, they love spending time outside! But did you know that they can get sunburned just like we do? Just like human skin, dog skin can be damaged by the sun’s ultraviolet rays. So, let’s talk about dog sunburn!

How do dogs get sunburn, how you can prevent it, and how to treat dog sunburn if it happens?

Dog Sunburn Treatment and Prevention

Can Dogs Get a Sunburn?

Yes, dogs can get sunburned.

Just like human skin, your dog’s skin can be damaged by the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

While you and your dog are enjoying fun in the sun, you may not realize that your dog is soaking up rays from the sun just as you are.

If you are at risk of sunburn then so is your 4-legged friend!

How do Dogs get Sunburned?

Dogs have fur coats that help protect their skin from the natural elements. Their fur also acts as a barrier to the sun’s UV rays.

Even though they have fur, canines can still get burned just like humans do.

Dogs with white coats or hairless breeds are most at risk of getting sunburns.

This includes Chihuahuas and Chinese Crested, but also Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Irish Setters, and Dalmatians.

In addition to the color of your dog’s coat, the amount of fur they have affects their risk for sunburn.

Dogs can actually sunburn through their fur. This is more common in white and light-colored dogs.

Dogs with short hair, or little fur, are more likely to get sunburned than those with long hair.

The areas of the body that has little hair such as the nose and ears are very susceptible to sunburn.

White dog wearing a navy-striped shirt and a large goldfish toy beside the ocean

What Does Dog Sunburn Look Like?

The most obvious sign of a doggy sunburn is reddened or pinkish skin.

You may also notice that your dog’s fur has been bleached out by the sun. It can make them look like they have lighter-colored patches on its body.

Just as humans tend to keep burning after they get out of the sun, dogs will continue to show the signs of sunburn for a few days after being overexposed.

In severe cases, blisters may form on your dog’s skin.

It is important to keep an eye on your dog if you spend a lot of time outdoors in order to spot the signs early and prevent burning.

Common Areas for Dogs to Sunburn

The most common areas on a dog’s body that are susceptible to sunburn are the nose, ears, eyes, and lips.

Dogs can also get sunburnt on their stomachs, backs, and legs.

Dogs that spend a lot of time playing outside or laying in the sun are more at risk of developing sunburn than those who only go out for walks.

Types of Dog Sunburns

Superficial Partial Thickness Burns

This type of dog sunburn involves the top/outer layer of their skin. It is the equivalent of a first-degree burn on a human.

The skin will appear red whether they have fur on the affected area or not. However, there will not be any signs of peeling or blistering.

Deep Partial Thickness Burns

This type of dog sunburn affects the surface layers of a dog’s skin.

It can also affect some layers that go deeper than the surface.

You will not see any blisters, but the skin will boast a bright red color. You may also see more than one layer of their skin.

Full Thickness Burns

The equivalent to a third-degree burn in humans, full-thickness burns are extremely painful to dogs.

These burns are so severe that they penetrate through all of the layers of their skin.

They have the potential to damage the tissue that is beneath the final layer of a dog’s skin.

Large white dog wearing a floral shirt and round hat sitting beside the ocean

How Can You Prevent Dog Sunburn?

Keep your dog out of the sun during the hottest time of the day when the sun is the brightest.

If they need to be outside, make sure they at least have an umbrella to lay under.

If your dog is going to be outside for a long period of time be sure and use pet sunscreen.

You can find various pet sunscreens at most pet stores.

You can also use a baby sunscreen that does not include zinc oxide. Zinc oxide can be toxic to dogs.

Purchase protective dog clothes to shield them from the sun.

There are many different types of doggie clothes that offer sun protection, such as doggy t-shirts, pants, and even sun hats.

Your pooch may even like strutting his stuff with a new sun outfit!

How do you Treat Dog Sunburn?

It goes without saying that the BEST way to treat dog sunburn is to prevent it. However, if your 4-legged friend has managed to get sunburned there are a few ways of treating it.

Depending on the severity of the burn, you may be able to treat your dog’s sunburn at home.

Aloe vera, witch hazel, and vitamin E are all holistic methods that can help soothe a dog’s sunburn.

A cool compress is useful in minimizing pain. Simply soak a washcloth or soft cloth in cool water and apply to the sunburned area.

A cool oatmeal bath can be useful in reducing inflammation. Oatmeal is soothing and moisturizing.

If the sunburned area is blistering or peeling, or if your dog seems to be in pain, it should be taken to the vet immediately for professional treatment.

Small black dog wearing blue goggles in an orange hammock

Protect your Dog’s Eyes from the Sun!

Dogs can wear doggy sunglasses just like humans.

A quick game of fetch is not likely to warrant sun goggles for your dog.

However, if you are planning a long afternoon on the beach, it would be beneficial to help protect your dog’s eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.

If a dog gets too much sun exposure to their eyes, it can cause eye diseases such as pterygium and sunburn of the cornea.

Be Vigilant about Checking for Skin Cancer

Just like humans, dogs can develop skin cancer too.

If you see any discolored spots or bumps on your dog’s skin, do not hesitate to take them to the vet immediately.

How do they treat dog skin cancer?

The most common methods for treating skin cancer in dogs are cryosurgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.

In some cases, the vet may do a combination of these treatments to help ensure your dog’s recovery.

White chihuahua wearing a sailor shirt

Be Proactive in Protecting your Dog from Sunburn!

No one wants their summer ruined by a painful sunburn even your dog!

By being aware of the risks and knowing how to prevent and treat them, you and your furry friend can enjoy fun in the sun safely.

Make sure to keep a close eye on your dog when they are outside. If they start to show any signs of being sunburned, bring them inside immediately.

It is important that you protect your dog from the sun’s damaging rays and treat their sunburn promptly and properly.

Knowledge is half the power! Be sure to protect your pooch next time they are soaking in the sun this summer!

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