Bark About! Blog

A puppy pile of dog information and stories

How to Prevent Sunburns in Dogs

Summer is a time for creating happy memories, like lazy days by the pool…but it can also remind you of that wicked sunburn you got that one time (you know the one).

Unfortunately, dogs can suffer from sunburns too. And nobody wants their pup to deal with a painful burn, so we’ve compiled a guide to help you learn about dog sunburns and how to prevent them, so you can have happy summer memories together.

Symptoms of Dog Sunburn

Dogs’ bellies, ears, and noses are the most common areas to sunburn, because they have little to no fur on them. Their paw pads can also get burned from hot surfaces, such as asphalt on roads or sand.
Here are some common symptoms your dog may show if they have a sunburn.

  • Red or cracked skin (including paws)
  • Dry, cracked nose
  • Whimpering or wincing when touched

Breeds Susceptible to Sunburn

All breeds are susceptible to sunburn, but some dogs need more protection than others. This is true for dogs with fair or white fur, and dogs with thin or hairless coats (extra care needed if your dog has both!).

Below is a sample list of breeds that can be especially susceptible to sunburns:

  • French bulldogs
  • Chihuahuas
  • Beagles
  • Pit bulls
  • Boston Terriers

Dog Sunscreen – Is it Safe to Use?

We know what a sunburn looks like (and we definitely know how it feels), but is there such as thing as dog sunscreen? And is it safe to use?

When it comes to sunblock for dogs, the major ingredient to avoid is zinc oxide. It may be a popular ingredient for human sunscreens, but it’s toxic for dogs. Even small levels can cause vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea, seizures, and heart problems. And if you like to give your dog lots of kisses, double check the ingredients on your sunscreen label!

As of this writing, the only FDA-approved sunscreen for dogs is Epi-Pet, which has an SPF equivalent of 30+ and can be applied every couple of hours to your dog’s entire body or rubbed onto certain areas such as the ears and feet.

If you’re applying sunscreen on your dog for the first time, start small and see how your dog reacts. As always, it’s best to speak with a vet beforehand about any concerns or questions you may have.

Sun Protection Clothing for Dogs

You can provide additional protection for your dog with SPF clothing, especially for dogs with thin coats. Look for SPF 50+ clothing that’s lightweight, breathable, and chemical free. You can also look for bootie socks to keep your dog’s paws protected from hot surfaces.

Should I Shave My Dog for Summer?

If your dog has thick, heavy fur, it makes sense in theory to shave them for summer. However, our dog’s hair is different from ours. Their fur plays an important role regulating their body temperature, keeping them cool in the summer and warm in the winter. If your dog’s fur is completely shaved off, it compromises this temp-regulating ability and can cause life-threatening sunburns.

For dogs with very thick coats, speak with your groomer (even your vet) about a summer haircut for your dog. Your dog may need just a trim to help them feel better without jeopardizing their health.

Other Ways to Prevent Dog Sunburn

Sunscreen and protective clothing can go a long way toward keeping your dog safe from sunburns, but there are other protective measures you can take when outside with your pup.

  • Walk in the early morning or late evening
  • Look for shady spots to walk your dog
  • Avoid hot surfaces
  • Track the UX index rating hour-by-hour: generally the sun’s rays pose lower risk in the mornings or evenings, so it can be helpful to know the hourly index rating when picking a time to go on a walk.

Want to know ways to keep your dog cool on summer walks? Check out our article here.

What to Do if Your Dog Has a Sunburn

If your dog gets sunburned, visit your vet to see whether they should be treated with any topical medications. In the meantime, follow other protective measures to keep them safe.

As summer temps rise, taking some protective measures will ensure you and your pup will have a safe, happy, and healthy summer. Does your dog wear sunscreen? Do you have additional tips to share? We’d love to hear in the comments below.

Read More

Care after Covid: Who’s Your Best Friend?

Mask on, mask off. Social distance or no. The pandemic may be heading out, but things are no less complicated. It’s been a tough year. Missing our family and friends, tired of being cooped up. Our healthy eating habits have gone by the wayside and a lot of us...

Why Does My Dog Dislike A Particular Person?

Perhaps you’ve been in this situation. You’re bringing a new friend into your home for the first time. Your dog has always been super friendly to everyone, so you’re not worried at all. She’ll have no problem with a new human entering her abode. So, you bring your new...

Easy Ways to Socialize Your Dog

So you brought home a new puppy…congratulations! It’s an exciting time as you begin your new adventure with this furry bundle of joy. That is, until you notice they always start to bark when a friend comes over to your place, or they’re timid around other dogs. The...

2020. How will our dogs cope?

2020 has been an odd year to say the least. Pandemic, political turmoil, weather phenomenon, racial unrest and economic distress have caused our world to be thrown upside down. Work schedules change, school schedules change, entertainment changes and we find ourselves...

How to Keep Your Dog Safe & Happy on Halloween

Halloween is inching its way closer, so now’s the time to start thinking how you’ll spend the spooky evening. That includes thinking about your pup—to them, Halloween must seem very strange! We’ve written some tips below on how to keep your dog safe and happy...

Autumn Safety Tips for Your Dog

With the leaves turning and the weather cooling, fall can feel like a welcome break from the summer’s hot and humid temps. However, fall can also present itself with unique challenges for dogs. We've written some tips below to keep your dog healthy and happy this...

6 Tips for Keeping Your Dog Safe From Snakes This Summer

Summer’s the perfect time to get outside & hike with your dog, but the warmer weather also means it’s snake season, from about April through October. To keep your dog safe from potential snake bites, we’ve rounded up some important safety tips to keep in mind. 1....

Keep Your Dog Safe During 4th of July Fireworks

The Fourth of July is a fun holiday for us, but scary for our pets. According to PRNewswire, animal shelters across the US report a 30% increase in missing pets every year. Fireworks are a loud, unexpected noise occurring multiple times, so it’s no wonder our pets can...

Are We Giving Our Pups the Blues?

By Brandi K. Ormerod, PhD Every pooch parent loves the greeting that their beloved pooch gives them when they return home after a long day (or 30 seconds) – that over-the-top greeting brightens up the worst of days. Pooch parents also know that cartoonesque...

Related Articles