How to Prevent Dog Sunburns

Sunny days are a powerhouse of fun in the sun for everyone ranging from water sports and fishing to frisbee tossing with our canine friends. It’s easy to lose track of time and before you know it, you’re looking like a human lobster. But can there be such thing as overexposure to the sun for dogs?

Absolutely, there can be! Our canine friends are not only at risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke, but painful sunburns as well. To help you safely enjoy sun soaked days with your pet, we want to enlighten you how to best prevent dog sunburns.

Your dog’s nose, the rim of the ears and eyes, as well as their belly are extremely vulnerable areas for sunburn and are often the first indicators. They can initially become pink, hot and tender to the touch, dry, flaky or cracked. If Fido’s sun basking has produced one or more of these signs, then it’s a sure bet he/she is experiencing a sunburn. In the case of sunburn, get indoors immediately and call your veterinarian.

TIP: For an important, quick reference guide including signs of canine overheating and heat exhaustion, please refer to HealthyPets with Dr. Karen Becker.

There are certain dog breeds that are especially prone to sunburn due to their light skin pigment, thin or light colored fur and/or shorter legs positioning them closer to the ground which reflects the sun’s rays, resulting in sunburned tummies. This is similar to sunburn in people, disproportionately affecting those who are fair-complected, or have little or no hair – just like our pets.

Physical characteristics like these attract the sun’s dangerous UV rays more intensely. These features serve as a ‘sunburn magnet’ and require more diligent attention to the sun’s rays. Some examples of these breeds include- but are not limited to – the Dalmatian, Bulldog, Beagle, Chihuahua, and white Bull Terriers.

TIP: Water is a powerful reflector, intensifying the sun’s dangerous UV rays, leading to quicker sunburns!

This doesn’t mean that your pooch is doomed to an indoor fate. You can take preventative steps to protect your pet including;

  • Sunscreen formulated specifically for dogs–but beware toxic substances. The United States Dog Agility Association provides suggestions for selecting a canine sunscreen as well as ingredients you should always avoid.

  • Clothing with UV blocking protection -There are UV Blocking shirts and dresses, watersuits and belly bands, and yes…even hats available!

  • Limiting sun exposure time -Utilize areas with ample shade, avoid walks and playtime during the heat of the day. If your day of sun excursions will surely exceed your pet’s tolerance like a day on the water, you may want to consider Bed and Biscuit Day Care.

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