Trim your dog? Watch out for sunburn!

Trim your dog? Watch out for sunburn!

I was recently asked if dogs can get sunburns. ” Absolutely!” I replied, knowing a number of dogs over the years who have suffered from the damaging rays of the sun.

Like us, dogs are sensitive to too much of the sun’s UV rays and hair or fur alone isn’t enough to protect them.  If you trim or cut your dog’s coat, he’ll be even more sensitive.

before-and-after-a-haircut

If you cut your dog’s hair in the summer, she could get sunburned

Sunburn: Not Just For Humans – Protect Your Pets, Too

No surprise – white dogs and dogs with a short or thin coats are at the most danger of being burned. That means they can suffer the same painful sunburns we get – and sad to say, skin cancers too.

How to protect your dog or cat?  The two most important things you can do:  provide shade and sunblock.

Most at risk:

  • light or pink noses burn easily
  • all breeds with white or pink skin, are at high risk for sunburn.

“Most dogs have pigmented skin,” says veterinarian Dr. Nancy Scanlan. “White dogs have pink skin, but most of it is protected from the sun by hair. Skin cancer from excess exposure to the sun most often occurs in two places: the noses of white dogs, or dogs with pink noses or white markings on top of the muzzle. Short-coated dogs that enjoy sunbathing while lying upside down in the sun can also get skin cancer.” 

Canine skin cancer

Not all canine skin cancer is caused by sun damage, but overexposure to the sun IS often a big factor. While most of the very serious skin cancers in dogs occur on the mouth or mucous membranes, some are found under the dog’s coat.  That’s why it’s always smart to get your dog’s lumps and bumps checked out by a Veterinarian. 

The two most important tips to prevent sunburn: provide shade and sunblock.

Selecting a sunscreen

Never use people suntan lotions on pets.  That’s because most dogs will lick the lotion, and ingredients like PBA and zinc oxide (usually found in our sunblocks) are poisonous to dogs.

Cover your dog’s muzzle and ears with pet sunscreen.  These are the areas that usually burn.

Never use people sunblock on pets: there are plenty of dog-safe products available to protect your pup.

Good pet products include:

•  Snoutstik Nose Balm for Dogs – combination of healing natural sunscreens, Shea Butter, Sweet Almond Oil and Jojoba Seed Oil.

Epi-Pet’s Sun Protector sunscreen is formulated especially for dogs and is fragrance-free. It also contains tocopheryl, an antioxidant that promotes healing for burned or damaged skin.

UV blocking sun shirts for dogs are a good alternative if your dog won’t stop licking off his special sunscreen. These lightweight shirts are made from UPF 50+ rated fabrics to block 97.5% of harmful UV rays.

Instant shade – with pop-up shelters that fold flat 

There are a number of small pop up tents and shelters designed specially to keep your dog out of the harmful sun’s rays. They start from around $14.00 and go up from there.

Quick Shade Outdoor Pet Kennel gives your dog protection from the sun and lifts him off the hot ground. From Amazon.com – click photo to read more.

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