For many people, the warm weather means road trips, beaches, swimming, boating, barbecuing, hiking, and so many other outdoor activities! While you already know it’s important to protect your skin from the harsh sun, did you know your dog needs protection too?
You may not realize it, but your fur baby can get sunburned. In fact, your pup is at risk of all the same dangers as we are when it comes to UV rays. I’m talking about painful sunburn, tumors, skin cancer, etc. While all dogs are at risk, some are more susceptible than others. Just like humans, the lighter the dog, the greater the risk.
Dogs at highest risk include:
Light colored dogs
Dogs with thinning hair
The most susceptible areas to get sunburned are the nose (especially if your dog has a pink nose), ears, around the eyes, belly, and any areas where there is thin, thinning, or no fur. You might think your dog can’t get a belly burn if he doesn’t lay on his back and bask in the sun, but that isn’t the case. The sun’s rays can bounce off the ground, putting your pup’s tummy at risk of a burn. The shorter the dog, the greater the risk for belly sunburn.
How To Protect Your Dog From Getting A Sunburn
Limit Sun Exposure
Try not to spend extended periods of time in the sun when the UV rays are at their strongest. The sun is strongest between the hours of 10am and 4pm (when it’s at its highest point in the sky).
Do you have a dog with longer hair? Do you like to get their hair buzzed short for the hot summer months? While many of us think that we are doing our fur babies a good deed by giving them a summer cut, be careful how short you go. The shorter the hair, the more prone to sunburn the newly exposed skin will be. So if you want your Poodle, Shih Tzu, or other longer hair dog to get a summer trim, talk to your groomer about length first.
Always try and provide some shade when possible. Get under a tree, use an umbrella, put a sun cover over your dog’s outdoor run/kennel, or use a raised bed with a canopy which will get your fur baby off the hot ground while providing shade at the same time. This one is my favorite and my dogs love it too!
Sun protective clothing is another good choice to protect your fur baby’s skin. Sun clothing is made from fabrics that protect against UVA and UVB sun rays. Many are light to wear and dry quickly. They also decrease the need for sunscreen on the covered areas.
Signs of Sunburn
The signs of dog sunburn are really no different than with humans. They include:
This is also very similar to how you would treat your own burns.
Aloe Vera Gel is non-toxic to dogs and can be very soothing. You can use it straight from the plant by snapping the leaf and squeezing out some gel. Gently apply the gel to the sunburn. Do not let your pooch eat or lick any part of the plant.
Vitamin E is great for the skin and great for healing. Stick a pin into a vitamin E gel cap, squeeze the oil out, and gently apply it to the sunburn.
Oatmeal Soaks are very soothing and simple to prepare. Take a cup of plain oatmeal (I use Quaker’s) and put it into a food processor or blender. Process it until it becomes a flour-like consistency. This will only take a minute or so. Fill tub as desired with lukewarm water, add oats, mix it around and then … add your dog! Let him soak for at least 10 minutes. Take a plastic cup, plastic pitcher, or empty plastic water bottle and gently pour the soothing mixture over his skin. When you are finished soaking, rinse your pooch, and gently towel dry him. Don’t use a hair dryer as the heat will increase the sunburn pain.
Note: If your dog is in a lot of pain or has a bad burn, contact your veterinarian.