Dogs and sunburn

dogandsunWhen it comes to looking after your dog in the summer, protecting them from sunburn probably isn’t’ something you would normally think of. The usual suspects are keeping them cool with plenty of shade and water, but believe it or not, dogs can get sunburn just like humans. And in extreme cases too much exposure to the sun can cause skin cancer.

While all dogs can get sunburn on delicate areas with little or no fur such as their noses, ears, around the mouth and underbelly, there are certain dogs that are more susceptible to sunburn than others. Hairless dogs or those with white or pale-coloured fur, such as Pitbull’s, Dalmatians, Greyhounds, Weineramers, Chinese Crested Dogs and Boxers are usually at a higher risk of getting sunburnt.

Prevention is the key

Naturally, you can’t keep your dog locked up in doors all summer long, but taking a few preventative measures will help reduce the chances of your dog getting sunburnt, thus reducing the risk of developing anything more sinister like sunstroke or skin cancer.

Firstly, you should consider the time of day you walk your dog. Avoid dog walks during the hottest part of the day when the sun is at its strongest and hottest. Instead try to take your dog out for early morning or evening walks when it’s much cooler.

Secondly, you can protect your pooch, just as you would protect yourself by applying some sunscreen on the exposed areas, such as the nose, ears and underbelly or even opt for some sun protection clothing. Also, make sure you don’t cut their fur too short.

Treating sunburn

If your dog does get sunburnt, it’s important to recognise the signs and severity as they may need to see a vet. If his skin looks leathery, white or is obviously bright red, it’s likely they have had too much sun.

However, there are three different types of sunburn in dogs that you should be aware of – superficial, deep and full thickness burn. The first affects just the top layer of skin and can usually be treated at home with Aloe Vera gel or a topical cream from your vet to cool the area. Whereas the latter two will require more serious vet treatment and can mean hospitalisation, as the sunburn has penetrated below several or all layers of the skin. This can be very painful for your dog, and even cause lasting damage to the tissue.

To ensure your dog stays cool and sunburn free this summer, make sure you’re sensible when it comes to walking times and keeping your dog covered up, and always make sure they stay well hydrated.