Summer means more enjoyable, light-filled walks with your dog. Unfortunately, this also means that sunburn in dogs becomes a danger that needs to be taken seriously.
Often sun protection for dogs is not taken seriously enough: light dog skin in particular can easily get sunburned.
The dangers of sun
A moderate amount of sunlight is healthy, however spending too much time in the sun can lead to skin complications. Sunburn, premature skin-ageing and a heightened skin cancer risk also affect dogs.
Risk groups: dogs with a heightened risk of sunburn
As with humans, the lighter the dog's skin, the easier it can get burned. In addition to this, the length of the dog's fur plays a role in sun sensitivity. It's no surprise that longer fur offers better protection. This means that following dog breeds are more at risk:
Mix-breed dogs with light fur can also easily be affected.
Further risk factors
Puppies are especially sensitive to UVB and UVA rays. Furthermore, certain medications and pre-existing conditions such as parasites affecting the skin, skin-diseases or burns can lead to a higher danger of sunburn.
Dogs with an autoimmune disease should get thoroughly checked by a vet who can also give advice on sun protection for dogs. Some autoimmune conditions can be accelerated by sunlight such as Lupus or Pemphigus.
Identifying sunburn in dogs
Typical symptoms for sunburn in dogs are redness and inflammation. This can lead to flaky skin and itchiness. Pain or blisters are rarer in dogs.
Pay special attention to the following areas as they are more sensitive to sunlight:
- Snout area including mouth and nose
- Ears, especially the insides and the tips
- Upper head
- Belly, if your dog likes lying on its back
Damaged skin can lead to tumours. As is the case with humans and cats, sunburn can cause longterm health concerns.
Sun protection for dogs
Dogs that are at higher risk of sunburn should always have a shadowy area they can retreat to. Make sure your dog does not spend too long in the sun and avoid walks when the sun is at its highest - between 11am and 4pm. Long walks should take place in the mornings or evenings when the sun is lower.
However, keeping the dog in the shadow throughout an entire summer is not practical. Dog parents of dogs with sensitive skin should make sure to provide sun protection for their dog.
You can provide sun protection for your dog by treating its skin with nothing less than factor 30 sun lotion. Make sure the lotion or creme is fragrance and preservative-free to avoid allergies.
There are also sunscreens especially for dogs. Please beware that the dog snout should not be treated. Unfortunately, in this case avoiding the sun is your best bet.
How to treat sunburn in dogs?
The first measure is of course: Get away from the sun. Once you've done this, you can treat your dogs skin with cool compresses and special aftersun salves. However, you should use these after consulting with the vet.
Should the burn be more severe, you can use a cortisone cream to reduce inflammation. If needed, the vet can also prescribe suitable painkillers.
Read more on how to make summer more fun for dogs in our article Cooling down for dogs: 10 tips for hot summer days.