Can a Dog Get Sunburned?

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Did you know that dogs can get sunburned? Anyone that has skin exposed to the sunlight runs the risk of burning themselves. Although some animals have tougher skin, this does not mean that the sun cannot poke through with its harmful rays!

Dogs are usually protected, especially ones that have long fur. The long fur plays a good role in protecting the dog’s coat and skin from burning, however, if your dog has a thin coat or thin skin, this can increase the chances of a sunburn. Sunburns are painful and let pet owners and veterinarians know that your dog could be at risk for overheating.

can dogs get sunburned

The Dangers of Too Much Sun

Just like there are dangers of getting too many sun for humans, the risk is the same for dogs! When a dog gets severely sunburned, their skin can start to dry and even blister. To avoid this, it is best to protect your dog from the sun by providing them with shade and cool air.

One of the risks of clothes on your dog is that the heat can still cause your dog to overheat. If your dog cannot cool themselves while also suffering from a nasty sunburn, this can turn into a heatstroke or even a seizure from the stress and heat. This combination can be deadly!

Symptoms

What does a dog sunburn look like? Listed below are the main symptoms of dog sunburn:

Red Spots

Usually, a dog with a sunburn will have reddening spots that glisten and look wet. They are uncomfortable to touch and your dog may whine in pain or discomfort if you are petting them in that spot.

Dry/Itchy Skin

Another common symptom to watch out for is dry and cracking skin, especially on highly exposed areas. Although your dog can suffer from a sunburn anywhere on the body, it is more commonly seem on your dog’s head, ears, mouth, and nose. Typically, the skin that has been affected by the direct rays of the sun dries out and cracks. When this occurs, it causes pain and itchiness. No matter how itchy it is though, you cannot let your dog scratch at the damaged skin and coat.

The more that a dog starts to itch and scratch at the marks, the higher chance they have at accidentally leaving open wounds that attracts bacteria. If you notice areas that appear to be infected, it is recommended to consult with your veterinarian as your dog may need medications to help control the infection and pain.

Treatments

Depending on the severity of the burns, your dog may need to be on medications to help make them more comfortable. It is recommended to check with your veterinarian. At home, you can initially clean and cool the sunburns that have appeared on your dog:

Clean the Area

The best way to do this is by cleaning the area with water and soap. Make sure that the soap is safe though for dogs and does not contain high amounts of alcohol.

Apply Aloe

After you clean and rinse the area, try and find a cooling gel pack and an aloe vera plant or gel. It’s better to use the actual plant, but if you cannot, a lot of pharmacies and stores sell a light aloe vera gel that is blue or green in color. Pat dry the area and add a small layer of the aloe. Aloe is a great healer and is used in a lot of burn medications, both for dogs and for humans. After you have applied the aloe, you can pat the area with a microfiber cloth and cool your dog down using the cooling pad.

Prevention

Thankfully, there are many ways to prevent a sunburn on dogs. The main ways are listed below:

Decrease Their Time in the Sun

If your dog has thin skin or a short coat that easily exposes their skin to the sun, it’s best to decrease the time they spend outside directly under the light. Although it’s impossible to completely eliminate light or the sun, you should find shady areas.

Apply Dog Sunscreen

Another great way to prevent your dog from getting a sunburn is applying sunscreen. There are sunscreens especially made with dogs in mind! These sunscreens are easy to apply and use. They’re also actually edible since some dogs love to lick themselves, meaning the solution is not toxic.

Talk with a Veterinarian if Your Dog Gets Sunburned

Overall, preventing your dog getting sunburned is recommended, however, it is important to know about the dangers that are associated with a dog getting sunburned. If your dog struggles with a sunburn, it is painful, and they run the risk of developing a skin infection. To help prevent a skin infection, you can help by letting it dry and cool down Aloe can help decrease some of the pain, however, consulting with a veterinarian is recommended.

If you have any additional questions about dog sunburn, our team is ready to help. At Orlando Vets, our compassionate and talented veterinarians are dedicated to providing your pet with the best care. Please contact us or make an appointment today!

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