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Let’s start with the burning question: Can dogs get sunburned? The answer is yes, despite their furry coats excessive exposure to the sun can cause sunburn in dogs. What is worse is that this can make the poor creature miserable by making the skin sensitive and painful to touch.
But the problem with sunburn doesn’t stop there. Repeated exposure or overly sensitive skin can develop skin cancer which is something no pet parent ever wants to see happen.
How can sunburn in dogs be prevented?
Here are a few ways you can prevent your dog from getting sunburned:
- Limit sun exposure: Many dogs like to sun themselves and will sit in a sunny patch if given the chance. Let your dog out in the mornings or evening for a few slanting rays of sun but keep them indoors during the hottest times of the day. If the dog is left out of the house all day make sure it has a kennel or a sheltered area with lots of cool drinking water.
- Use sunscreen: Yes, on your dog. Child safe sunscreen with SPF 30-50 should work well for your dog and needs to be applied on those areas that are not well protected by the fur. Apply sunscreen on the muzzle around the nose, on the ears, and on the belly of your pet to keep them protected. If you are spending the day at the beach and your dog has splashed around in the sea then make sure to reapply the sunscreen on these areas.
- Use a coat: If you do need to take your dog out in the middle of the day use a light dog coat to protect the skin. Get a coat with a thin material so that the dog doesn’t overheat and make sure all the sensitive areas are covered. Remember that the sun’s rays can reflect off concrete surfaces and burn the underside of your dog so always keep the belly area protected.
- Protect the paws: On very hot days your dog’s paws can get burnt by walking on hot sidewalks. Protect these sensitive areas with little dog shoes.
Breeds that sunburn more easily
Dogs with longer thicker fur are better protected from the sun than their short haired relatives. Dogs with lighter colored fur and pink skin are also more prone to sunburn that dark colored dogs. If you have a breed that falls in any of these categories i.e. short fur, light fur, and pink skin then take extra care to avoid sunburn.
If your dog does get sunburned contact your vet immediately. You can recognize sunburn if the skin is too red and over sensitive. The vet will be able to prescribe a topical application ointment to treat the damaged skin.