ASK A VET: Can my dog get sunburned?

dog relaxing on a fancy red  hammock with sunglasses

Can my dog get sunburned? How can I protect his skin from UV rays?

Summer is here! The sun is shining, temperatures are rising and just like humans, dogs can easily be sunburned and can even develop skin cancer if exposed to UV rays without protection. Pet owners should follow the same advice for their pets as they do for themselves: shade and sunscreen!

Your pet’s fur is a natural barrier that protects their skin from harmful UV rays, so you don’t need to shave them down to the skin (which can actually do more harm than good). However, it’s still a good idea to put sunscreen on your pooch, especially if they have light fur and on vulnerable areas like noses, underbellies or spots of exposed skin where fur is missing. Most sensitive-skin sunscreens made for humans are perfectly safe for dogs but avoid Zinc Oxide as Zinc can be dangerous if consumed. There are also specially formulated sun blocks made just for dogs – we recommend Epi-Pet Sun Protector Skin Treatment Spray for all-over protection and Petkin SPF 15 Doggy Sun Stick for those spots that need extra protection.

There are also lots of great clothing options and hats available for pets that help block UV rays, and pets with light colored eyes benefit greatly from doggy sun goggles (or “doggles”). Make sure any fabrics are lightweight, breathable and comfortable for your dog, and never leave them unattended in any type of clothing.

Also make sure your dog has plenty of shade when outside. Pets who are kept outdoors should have plenty of shelter and shaded areas to relax in and easy access to cool, clean water. It’s important to limit time spent outside to early dawn or late dusk hours to reduce exposure or overheating.

Be careful and pay attention to your pet outdoors because they can easily get heatstroke like us, but animals have a higher body temperature to begin with, so it’s necessary to be EXTRA careful with them!

Related content: How do I keep my dog cool in the hot summer months?

Dr. Julie Mayer,

Dr. Julie Mayer, DVM, specializes in integrative veterinary medicine and canine physical rehabilitation, including an underwater treadmill! Conveniently located in central Phoenix.


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