Can Dogs Get A Sunburn?

Angela Vuckovic
by Angela Vuckovic

While your pooch might enjoy basking in the sun, you should be mindful of the potentially harmful effect UV exposure might have. Yes, same as it is the case with us humans, dogs are also susceptible to the damage harsh sun rays can cause. Humans, of course, will get sunburn if they don’t use protective sunscreen or stay in the shade, but is it the same for dogs? Most of them have fur, so does it relate to them as well? Let’s find out.

Can Dogs Get Sunburn?

Well, fur or no – sun can be certainly dangerous for dogs, especially if they are exposed to it for longer periods. And that means that sunburn can affect them as well. In fact, if the UV index is high, the strong rays of the sun can damage the skin incredibly quickly. 

Of course, it is important to know that certain breeds are more susceptible to sunburn than others, especially those with less fur. For example, breeds like French bulldogs, boxers, chihuahuas, greyhounds, and bull terriers will need more protection than usual. Hairless dog breeds are especially vulnerable, like the Chinese crested and Mexican hairless (xoloitzcuintli). Similarly, doggos that spend most of their time outside are more susceptible to sunburn, as well as fair-skinned dogs – with light pink skin underneath their coats.

Symptoms of Sunburn in Dogs

While it’s hard to miss sunburnt skin in humans, how do you spot sunburn on your dog, considering that they have fur?

  • Red or pink skin:

Sunburned skin will change color – pink will indicate a mild sunburn, while a deeper shade of red will indicate a severe one. Of course, it could be difficult to spot this, especially if your dog’s coat is black, so make a thorough check-up if you suspect your pet has a sunburn. 

  • Dry and flaky skin

If you notice dry and flaky skin, this could be an indication of a sunburn. This is the first noticeable symptom in the days following sunburn. It can be accompanied by vigorous scratching, as it often feels itchy and uncomfortable. 

  • Blisters or sores

Heavily sunburned skin will erupt in blisters that will eventually pop. They often require veterinary care, especially if they are numerous and cause obvious discomfort.

Of course, urgent care is always needed to treat sunburn. Besides going to the vet, there are a number of things you can do as a caring owner to both prevent and treat sunburn. 

How Do You Treat Sunburn In Dogs?

In case of a milder sunburn, you can treat the issue at home, with natural remedies. Apply a cool, damp cloth to the affected area to soothe the skin, or use a dog-safe aloe vera gel to moisturize the irritated skin and help it heal faster.

In case the irritation doesn’t go away after this treatment, or the sunburn was more severe to begin with, with bright red, painful skin, you need to go to the vet’s office. They can assess the damage and provide proper treatment to avoid further complications (such as bacterial infection) and minimize your dog’s pain.

In the end, it’s important to note that in this case, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of the cure. Avoiding sun exposure in the first place is the safest way you can ensure your pet doesn’t get a sunburn.

When the sun’s heat is at its highest and the UV index is in the red zone, be sure to avoid long walks and open spaces without shade. If you really must be outside, then a dog SPF cream is an absolute must-have, as it will block the damage from harsh sun rays and protect your pet’s skin. 

Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

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