What Should You Do If Your Dog Gets A Sunburn

Lauren Corona
by Lauren Corona
What happens when Fido gets too much sun? The same thing that happens to his humans. It hurts! So, it’s important to know what to do if your dog gets too much sun.

It’s hard to stay indoors during the summer. It’s just so beautiful outside and the sun offers so much nourishing heat that you’ll want to soak up as much of it as you can. However, it’s important to be careful. Especially if you invite your furry friend to join in on the fun. No matter how much you may enjoy the hot weather, you have to remember that the summer months are no picnic for your precious pooch. Not only can the hot weather cause heat stroke, it could also give your dog sunburn. As we all know, sunburns are no joke and can be quite painful for both you and your little dog. While it’s obviously best to avoid your pup getting a sunburn in the first place, the good news is that it’s usually never too serious. So, of course you should of course try to stop your dog from getting burned, but if she does, it’s not the end of the world.There are a number of things you can do to make the process a little less painful for your pooch.

Which Dogs Are Most Susceptible to Sunburn?

Although it’s possible for any dog to get sunburn if exposed to the sun for long enough, there some specific characteristics that make certain dogs more prone to getting burned. White dogs and dogs with light-colored fur (or patches), hairless dogs, and those with sparse or thin fur are the most likely to suffer from sunburn. Breeds such as Pitbulls, Greyhounds, and Chinese Crested are especially susceptible. It’s fairly easy to tell. Obviously a big, dark, and heavy coat should protect a pooch from harsh rays, while any dog with thing and light colored fur has the potential to get burned.

Home Remedies

There are a number of home remedies exist for treating any minor doggy sunburn. A cool bath or a cold compress can be soothing for the pup, but won’t it actually aid healing. Those techniques are used to offer some much needed relief to your dog. The same can be said for an oatmeal soak, either commercial or homemade, that also offers soothing relief from painful sunburn. Aloe vera gel is also great, because it soothes the area and relieves pain, but will also help the burns to heal more quickly. More than that, it’s completely safe should your pup lick it off her skin or coat. Vitamin E oil soothes, heals and also helps to prevent any scarring. So, there are some home remedy options available that will help your pup get through some light burns. However, if the sunburn is more serious than that, it’s worth moving onto the next level and getting some actual medication.

Over the Counter

That’s right, you can also get over-the-counter remedies for doggy sunburns. Well, not specifically for dogs. However, plenty of over-the-counter people sunburn medications will work just fine. While they’re designed for humans, these remedies won’t irritate your dog’s skin. Just be careful not to apply them to any areas that your dog can reach with her tongue, because they could be harmful if ingested. A cone might be wise depending on the strength of the substance. Topical sprays, such as Solarcaine and Lanacane contain local anesthetic, which will help reduce any pain your canine companion is feeling. These are certainly worth considering if your pup’s sunburn is a bit more severe than usual. However, as with any pet medical emergency, if your pup’s sunburn is especially bad, then there’s one person that you need seek out…

When to Seek Veterinary Advice

For the most part, a sunburn is only a minor ailment. Yet, occasionally it can be more serious and will require attention from an experience veterinarian. If there are blisters or the sunburn appears to have affected more than one layer of skin, your dog may need to see a vet. Also, if she seems to be in a lot of pain, it’s always best to seek advice from a veterinary professional. If in doubt, always get your dog checked out. It’s best to be overly cautious when it comes to the health and well-being of your four-legged friend. The worst thing that can happen is that your vet will give your dog a clean bill of health and offer some alternate solutions to soothing their sunburn pain. That’s hardly a bad thing.


Ideally, it’s better to prevent your dog for getting sunburned in the first place, rather than seeking treatment after it happens. Luckily for you, it’s really quite simple to avoid your pooch from getting a case of sunburn. First you need to know which parts of your dog are most likely to get sunburned: her nose, her eyelids, the tips of her ears, her belly and around her mouth. Make sure than you apply doggy-safe sunscreen to these areas before taking your dog out in the sun on particularly harsh summer days. The sunscreen should have an SPF of at least 15, but preferably higher. Products especially designed for dogs are always best. Make sure the sunscreen doesn’t contain zinc oxide or PABA.

You can also wrap your dog in a t-shirt, which will protect her body from any harsh sun (but not her face). The time between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. is the most dangerous for getting sunburn, so try to keep your dog indoors during these hours. Early morning or late evening walks are ideal in hot weather. Pull the shades and draw the curtains in your house so that your pooch can’t spend all day lounging in that sun spot on the living room floor. Yes, you dog can get a sunburn indoors and no, it’s not fun to deal with.

Sunburns happen and if your dog gets one, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. As you just read, there are plenty of solutions available to help your pup feel better. Just use caution and careful judgment if your pup is particularly sensitive to the sun. It’s not the end of the world and shouldn’t impede your happy life with your dog too severely.

Do you have any other solutions for dealing with a doggy sunburn? If so, we’d love to hear it. Leave your suggestions in the comments below and together we’ll ensure that all dogs will enjoy this coming summer without getting burned.

Lauren Corona
Lauren Corona

Lauren Corona is a freelance writer from merry old England. She specializes in writing about dogs and other critters. Lauren lives near Oxford, with her gorgeous Doberman, Nola. When she's not tapping away at the keyboard, you'll find her walking in the woods with Nola-dog, raising money for the Oxfordshire Animal Sanctuary, cooking vegan food, making zines and writing about herself in the third person.

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