Why Dogs Are Still at Risk for Sunburn, Even Though They Have Fur?

August 10, 2016

Ah summer, the wonderful season filled with beach days, weekends at the cottage, and picnics in the park. Unfortunately, if you’re not careful it’s also the season, of blotchy, red, irritating sunburn. We know that sunburns are a serious summertime issue for humans, but what about dogs?

As it turns out, despite their fur coats dogs can suffer from sunburns just like humans. While some pups are more susceptible to burns than others, all dogs have vulnerable areas on their bodies.

Unsurprisingly, hairless breeds such as the Chinese Crested and the Xoloitzcuintli are at the greatest risk for sunburn. With limited or no fur to act a barrier of protection against the sun, they can suffer the same burns people do when they go outside without sun protection.

Having fur doesn’t guarantee sun protection, however. You know how a white t-shirt only provides SPF coverage of about 7? The same goes for white fur.

Dogs with white fur have very fair skin under it that is susceptible to burns from UV rays.

What about dogs with thick, dark coats? Even dogs that fall in this category have parts of their body that are at risk for sunburns. Areas where their fur is thinner, such as the stomach or ears, or even their nose or pads of their feet can become burnt with prolonged sun exposure.

If dogs can suffer from sunburns just like humans, what we can do to protect them from the sun? The best thing you can do to keep your pooch from getting sunburn is to keep them out of direct sunlight. If you’re going to outside for an extended length of time, bringing an umbrella for shade or setting up under a big tree is a good idea.

If you’re going to in an area without shade, it might be a good idea to pick up some dog-friendly sunscreen. There are a few different sunscreen brands available on the market, but talk to your veterinarian about which would be best for your pup. When applying the sunscreen, make sure you get the areas that are most susceptible to burns, such as ears, nose, belly, and anywhere else where fur is light.

If your dog does get sunburn, you can use the same treatments as you do on yourself, such as taking an oatmeal bath and applying cooling aloe vera gel. Just remember to keep an eye on your pup to ensure they don’t lick off the product. If your dog does not seem to be feeling or looking better in a few days, contact your veterinarian.

Just because dogs can get sunburn doesn’t mean that they will. Taking the steps to protect your pup from the sun will ensure that there’s nothing stopping you from enjoying your summer adventures to the fullest!