Keeping your dog safe in the sun

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Keeping your dog safe in the sun

Keeping Your Dog Safe In The Sun

Summer is a time for adventures, and there’s nothing quite like taking your best furry friend along for the ride. When out for a day at the beach, we take measures to protect ourselves from the harsh sun – our dogs are no exception, and we need to ensure we keep them safe, too.

While avoiding sunburn may be forefront of our minds during summer, we need to think about other risks when it comes to our dogs. Dogs can certainly get suffer sunburn, but things like overheating, dehydration and heat stroke are dangers that we need to bear in mind at all times during the warmer months. For dogs, the sun’s heat, rather its rays, can be most dangerous.

To keep your pup happy and healthy in the sun, try to ensure there is always a shady, cool area that they can escape to and have lots of fresh water on hand.

Sunburn in dogs

Just like us, dogs can suffer sunburn when exposed to the sun for prolonged periods – and it is just as painful and uncomfortable for them. While certain breeds and coats can be more prone to sunburn than others, all dogs are susceptible in certain areas of their body. Sensitive areas on all dogs include:

  • Nose
  • Lips
  • Ears
  • Around the eyes
  • Underbelly and groin area
  • Paws

Dogs particularly sensitive to sunburn

Certain breeds are also more prone to sunburn than others. Dalmatians, French bulldogs, grey hounds, bull terriers, boxers and the West Highland white terrier may need more protection than other breeds.

If your dog has a white or light-coloured coat, this means the skin beneath it will likely be light-coloured, too. Because darker pigments offer more protection from the sun’s rays, you need to be extra cautious if you have a light-coloured pup. Likewise, if your dog has thin hair, or is hairless, the risks of sunburn are much greater. Pay particular attention to any light-coloured spots or patches on even the darkest of coats – these are the areas that will need protecting.

Protecting your dog from sunburn

To protect your dog from sunburn, follow the same measures you use yourself – stay in the shade where you can, try to avoid exposure in peak sunny hours, and cover up as much as possible. For added security, try the following:

Sunscreen

When you know it’s unlikely your pup will stay out of the sun the whole day, we recommend safeguarding against sunburn with sunscreen, particularly on the sensitive spots.

Because some of the chemicals in human sunscreen can be harmful for your dog when ingested, it’s best to find a doggie-specific sunscreen if you can. Dogs have a tendency to lick off their sunscreen, and specialist sunscreens are formulated so that they’re not harmful if this happens. Some doggie sunscreens are also particularly difficult to lick off, meaning you’re not constantly reapplying.

If you don’t have a doggie sunscreen on hand, use one designed for babies or young children. These are also formulated to be safer if ingested. Just check the label and watch out for ingredients like zinc oxide – this is no-go for dogs.

Clothing

If your dog doesn’t mind being dressed up, clothing that protects against UV rays could be an option to consider. Just keep in mind the extra layer will be like us wearing a jumper in the height of summer, so watch for any signs of overheating.

Avoid over-grooming or shaving

You may look at your dog’s thick coat and worry that it’s too much for warm weather, but a dog’s coat is actually an important natural protector against the sun. Any area of their body with less or no hair is far more susceptible to sunburn, and shaving your dog’s coat in summer can expose ‘virgin’ skin that is even more prone to burning.

Signs of sunburn

Symptoms of sunburn in dogs are similar to those in humans – their skin will look pink or red, and may feel dry or leathery. Dogs don’t usually develop blisters as humans do, but they will be experiencing similar pain and discomfort from the burn.

If you’re worried about sunburn on your dog, it’s best to visit your vet to have it checked. Dogs are at risk of skin cancer from too much sun exposure, and your vet may wish to keep a close eye on any changes to your pup’s skin over time.