Here’s How to Prevent Your Dog From Getting a Bad Sunburn

published Jun 24, 2018
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(Image credit: Minette Hand)

Every summer, we try to take extra care to apply sunscreen any time we know we’re going to be in the sun. However, even people have a hard time remembering how often they need to reapply sunscreen (every 60-90 minutes, depending on the brand of sunscreen you use). While you were concerned about your own skin, did you ever think to apply it to your dog?

If you spend hours outdoors with your pet during the summer, they also need protection from the sun. Just like your skin can be seriously damaged, so can your dogs. Their fur doesn’t entirely protect them from getting burnt! Just like people can get skin cancer, so can dogs. Prolonged unprotected sun exposure can lead to hemangiosarcoma and squamous cell carcinoma in dogs.

Now, you can’t just spray yourself with Hawaiian Tropic and then turn around and use it on your dog too. You will need to check the SPF of the sunscreen and you have to use one that is child safe.

  • Use child–safe SPF 30 to 50 and apply per the label instructions for people.
  • Apply to your dog’s most sensitive skin: nose, earflaps, belly and any shaved or bare patches.
  • Reapply if your dog goes swimming or rubs herself in the grass or sand, especially if the sunscreen is not waterproof.
  • Limit your dog’s exposure to the most harmful UV rays during peak sunshine hours.

Skin cancer (though not always directly related to sun exposure in this case) is the leading type of cancer dogs get. While you certainly should apply sunscreen to your dog if they’ll be outdoors for a while, there are some dogs that are more prone to skin cancer than others.

  • American Staffordshire
  • Terrier Boxer
  • Chinese Crested
  • Dalmatian
  • Greyhound
  • Weimaraner
  • Whippet
  • White German Shepherd

You can check your pup’s belly first after a day in the sun to make sure they didn’t get any burn. As there is less hair there, that is one of the first places they can get burned. If your dog has gotten burnt, you will want to move them to a shady area or indoors ASAP and contact your veterinarian.