While you already know it’s important to protect your skin from the harsh sun, you may be surprised to learn that dogs need protection, too. You may not realize it, but your dog can get sunburned. In fact, your pup is at risk of all the same dangers as we are when it comes to UV rays. We’re talking about painful sunburn, tumors, or even skin cancer.
While all dogs are at risk, some are more susceptible than others. Just like humans, the lighter the dog, the greater the risk. The areas that are most commonly affected are the nose (especially if it is naturally pink), ears, around the eyes, belly, and areas of thinning fur.
1. Monitor sun exposure
- Sun exposure for dogs is healthy in moderation, in fact interruption of natural light and dark cycles is known to cause stress and other issues. Try to tally the amount of time your dog spends under the sun, if you’re concerned with the amount consult your vet. There are UV ray monitoring apps such as My UV Patch, that help you measure a safe amount of exposure. Read our review here.
- Search for sunscreens that are designed specifically for dogs, and consult your veterinarian for recommendations. Also avoid zinc oxide, it’s a common ingredient in sunscreen, but unfortunately it can be toxic to dogs if they eat it because of the zinc. Check the label before you apply. If you’re having trouble finding a canine-specific sunscreen, look for one that’s safe for human babies or sensitive skin. Even if you select a sunscreen you believe is safe, there’s a chance your dog may have a reaction to it. Put the sunscreen on a small area, and keep an eye on the skin as well as your dog’s behaviour to see if there’s any problem. You don’t need to cover your dog all over, just in areas that are exposed to sun. Cover the tips of your dog’s ears and nose, the skin around its mouth, and belly.
3. Easy on the haircuts
- The shorter the hair, the more prone to sunburn the newly exposed skin will be. Consider discussing with your groomer about length first. Your dog’s hair is protecting their skin from UV rays, and if they’re shaved, it leaves them more exposed. Try using an undercoat rake regularly to get rid of dead hairs.
4. Provide ample shade
- 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.
5. Protective clothing
- Choose clothing with caution as a fabric too thick may be worse than wearing nothing at all. There are some brands that have sun protective clothing made from fabrics that protect against UVA and UVB sun rays. This option may be a last resort.
- Aloe Vera Gel – is non-toxic to dogs when applied to skin 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. Use this with caution as aloe is toxic when ingested.
- Vitamin E – Stick a pin into a vitamin E gel cap, squeeze the oil out, and gently apply it to the sunburn.
- Oatmeal Soaking – Take a cup of plain oatmeal and put it into a food processor or blender. Process it until it becomes a flour-like consistency. Fill tub as desired with lukewarm water; add oats, mix it around. Let your dog soak for at least 10 minutes. Pour the soothing mixture over skin. After soaking, rinse and towel dry. Don’t use a hair dryer as the heat will increase the sunburn pain.