However thoughtlessly bad we feel about it, not many of us probably know that dogs can easily suffer from sunburn. Believe it or not, our hairy little canine friends are at serious risk to the damaging rays from the sun that shines above. Here’s what you should know about doing your absolute best to protect them. Listen up, dog owners. This is important.
What are the risks?
Just like us humans, unprotected canine skin is at risk during sun-exposure. Despite most dogs being covered in fur or hair from head to paws, the skin underneath is still greatly sensitive to the sun’s UV rays – they can even develop life-threatening skin cancers if exposure to the sun’s rays is high over long periods of time.
Are there any breeds that are at greater risk?
Fur is simply not the only sun protection that dogs need. Their skin functions in the same way that human skin does – it’ll get burnt badly and fast if it’s not fully protected. Just like some of us are more prone to skin damage than others, some dog breeds are, too. The most at risk are those that have white hair, thin coats, or are even hairless – for example, West Highland white terriers, dalmatians, xoloitzcuintlis, and many more.
If you’re not sure how particularly prone to sunburn your dog’s breed is, then it’s best to seek advice from your vet and practice safe precautions anyway.
What else should we look out for?
In the summer months, you may be more likely to give your dog a frequent haircut to ensure their body temperature is kept cooler – but be careful. This can actually pose more risk to their health by there being less hair on their bodies to protect them from the harmful rays.
According to experts, there are a few key areas of the canine body that should be made a concern. Due to their backs always being directly exposed to the sun, this is of course an area that needs to be protected. However, the most sensitive body parts are actually their ears, their snouts, and their bellies. These also tend to be the spots with the least amount of hair – so always apply sunscreen in these areas for sure!
How can we prevent sunburn?
So, what sunscreen should you use? Well, the number one rule is to never, EVER use human sun-lotion on your dog. As you’ll know by now, dogs love to lick and groom themselves, especially if there’s a strange substance on their bodies, and most human lotions contain ingredients such as zinc oxide and para-aminobenzoic acid, which can be extremely harmful if consumed. So instead, it’s important you use specially formulated dog-friendly sunscreen – preferably anything above SPF 15. The best on the market includes a variety of branded sprays, wipes, soothing lotions, and even rubbing sticks.
Anything else we should know?
It’s best you apply the sunscreen at least 20 minutes before sun exposure, and always be at hand to make sure your dog doesn’t lick themselves clean.
Other than dog-sunscreen, it’s also useful for you to ALWAYS make sure there’s a handy cool spot in the shade for your dog to rest and cool down. You should also look out for the time of day you’re walking them – especially in scorching summer months. Exercise them before 10am or 5pm.
If you think your dog may be sunburned, look out for these signs – their snout looks dry and cracked, their belly skin is reddening and warm to the touch, or they are whining and scratching themselves excessively.