Home E Wellness E Can Dogs Get Sunburned? Here’s How To Protect Your Pup.

Can Dogs Get Sunburned? Here’s How To Protect Your Pup.

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By Hailey Hudson

From beach days to boating to a simple game of fetch, there are plenty of ways for you and your dog to have some fun in the sun together. But as you’re slathering sunscreen on yourself, don’t forget to protect your pup, too. Dogs can get sunburned just like people. And since canine sunburn can lead to additional medical problems like skin cancer, it’s important to take steps to protect your dog from the sun’s rays. Here are three tips to keeping your dog safe when outside in the hot weather.

1. Know the signs and dangers of sunburn.

What does sunburn in dogs look like? If your dog is sunburned, you’ll probably notice red skin that your dog doesn’t want you to touch. Your dog’s nose, belly and ears are the most vulnerable areas where the sunburn will likely show up first. You might also see cracked skin or notice your dog scratching the burnt areas. Severe sunburn requires veterinary care and topical medication. Less acute sunburns may be treated at home with a cold compress.

Sunburn can lead to skin cancer in dogs. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your dog is protected when he or she is outside playing in the sun. Keep in mind, too, that some dogs are at a higher risk for sunburn than others. Dogs with less fur or any white dogs are more likely to be susceptible to a bad sunburn (this includes breeds like boxers, Dalmations and Weimaraners, for example). In addition to your dog’s nose, belly and ears, the bottom of your dog’s paws are most prone to burning.

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2. Provide plenty of shade.

Whether you’re in the backyard, at the lake or at the dog park, make sure your dog always has access to shade. This could be in the form of:

  • A tree

  • An umbrella

  • A roof

  • A tarp or awning 

  • A tent 

If your dog wants to be in the shade, don’t force him or her to stay in the sun. Sunburn isn’t the only potential danger facing your dog on a hot day. Dogs are also susceptible to heat stroke or dehydration if they stay in the sun for too long. The most common symptom of heat stroke is excessive panting; drooling, uncoordinated movement and vomiting may also occur. Dehydration in dogs normally presents with lethargy, loss of skin elasticity and a dry nose.

3. Purchase a pet-friendly sunscreen and paw wax.

Human sunscreen is not safe for dogs. It contains ingredients that are potentially toxic. However, there are several types of sunscreen on the market that are specifically formulated for dogs. Any sunscreen that does not have zinc oxide, PABA and fragrance should be safe.

To apply the sunscreen, rub a thin layer on your dog’s skin. You don’t need to put sunscreen on any body parts where your dog has fur — the ears, belly and nose should be enough. Reapply the sunscreen if your dog is submerged in water or rolls around in the grass. 

In addition to dog sunscreen, some pet owners purchase paw wax to protect their dog’s paws from hot pavement or sand. And if your dog will wear it, a sun hat or sun suit can help stave off the heat. 

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Sunburn is a very real danger for dogs in the summertime. But with these tips, you can keep your dog safe and healthy as you enjoy some fun in the sun. 


Hailey Hudson is a full-time freelance writer and content marketer based out of Atlanta, Georgia, where her beagle/Bassett mix Sophie acts as coworker. A lifelong dog owner, Hailey writes for clients like Chewy, Airvet, Pet Product News and pet insurance companies.

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