Sunburn, Sunscreen and Dogs

Posted by Dr Claire Jenkins on Jan 13, 2016 10:00:38 AM
Dr Claire Jenkins

The sun’s UV rays do not discriminate and dogs are at risk of sunburn. The nose is a common spot to get burnt, and with continued exposure to the sun, these dogs are at risk of formation of cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma.

On the whole, they are not as susceptible as us; they are naturally protected by the pigment in their skin and by their furry coat.

So, when do dogs get burnt?

  1. When they have reduced to little or no pigment in the skin (light coloured skin)
  2. When they are shaved or are sparsely haired in areas

How do I stop my dog getting burnt?

1. Sun Avoidance

  1. Prevention always wins over treatment.
  1. Keep them out of the direct sun and provide shade or shelter.
  1. Especially when it’s at it’s strongest between 10 am and 4pm.

2. Sun Block

If they must be in the sun then use:

  1. Sunscreen: see below.
  2. Doggles: protection for the eyes, especially good when the skin is not pigmented there.
  3. T-shirts or sun suits: when the skin on the body is at risk of burn. This may be when a patch of skin has been shaved for surgery or a skin condition, or the groomer has been a bit overzealous! Your dog must be comfortable, and by that I mean not stressed, can move easily and not too hot.

What sunscreen should I use?

It is best to use a sunscreen that is made for dogs. Despite being made for dogs, they can still contain ingredients that are toxic when eaten (such as zinc oxide which can cause profuse vomiting), or they can cause an individual an allergic reaction (always patch test first).

To reduce the risk of them licking the product off, apply the sunscreen at a time when your pup is distracted such as with a small treat or just prior to playing a little game that they love. In some dogs, it’s almost impossible to stop them licking their nose, so for these, it would be better to avoid using zinc oxide there.

Always consult a veterinarian with any questions you may have prior to using a sunscreen, especially if it’s a human product, to ensure it’s safe for your mate.

Want help? Chat with our vets

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Topics: Health, protect dog from sun, sunburnt dog, sunscreen for dogs