Extreme heat and sun exposure aren’t good for humans and aren’t healthy for your furry friends. Dogs are at risk for sun damage and more serious related health concerns just like humans. Your dog can get heat stroke, heat rash, and yes, sunburn. All of these are major concerns and should be treated appropriately and carefully, as burns on the skin are typically sensitive. 

Just like humans, excessive sun exposure in canines can create serious health problems if not protected properly. Dogs with short or fine hair are typically more susceptible to painful sunburns because they have less protection than dogs with thick coats. While dogs need time outside and to embrace a bit of sunshine, it is crucial to monitor all outdoor activity to ensure that your beloved furbaby isn’t overheating. 

A small dog runs in the sunshine.

Sunburn Risks In Dogs

Sunburns can be extremely painful and lead to skin damage or later problems with the coat, like dermatitis. Sun damage is also linked to a higher risk of skin cancers like hemangiomas, malignant melanomas, and squamous cell carcinoma. 

Fair-skinned, light-colored dogs have a higher susceptibility to sun damage because of their thinner fur. Dogs with thin fur will generally get burned easier. You should never leave your dog outside unsupervised in the glaring sun or for long periods of time because as time passes for you, your dog absorbs harmful UV rays into their skin. Approximately one-third of all tumors in dogs are skin tumors, so this concern takes high priority in preventative care.

Along with all of the serious health risks, sunburns simply hurt. If your dog is sunburned, they may try to scratch their skin more often (which will make it worse), and they may be less enthusiastic about some of their favorite things like being pet, cuddle time, or even treats. It hurts to watch your baby live in pain, so help them out by preventing uncomfortable burns before they happen.  

How To Prevent Sunburn In Dogs

Preventative care doesn’t necessarily mean keeping your dog away from the sun and restricting some of their favorite activities. In fact, your dog can have all the fun in the sun if you take the proper measures to protect them. 

Dog sunscreen is a popular product and one of the best ways to prevent sun damage on walks and during outdoor time. Dog sunscreen is effective, but opt for a natural version and avoid human sunscreen at all costs! Human sunscreen is not safe for dogs. 

You can also prevent a lot of sun damage by walking them through shaded areas instead of in the blazing sun or utilizing SPF and UV protection clothes. 

Try to schedule your walks during cooler parts of the day, such as early in the morning or at night, right around dusk. Aim to take a route filled with more shade and trees, which can ensure lower temperatures and less sun exposure. Also, limit time in the sun during hotter days, with frequent shade breaks to hydrate, rest, and give skin a respite from UV rays.

Treating A Sunburn In Dogs

Your dog will need personalized care for either a mild or severe sunburn. 

You can tell the difference between types of sunburns based on their color. A mild sunburn will turn the skin pink, while severe sunburns will be a deep red and can lead to patches of fur loss or extreme scabbing. A mild sunburn should heal within a few days if you treat it with a cold compress, keep them out of the sun to prevent further damage, and start using sunblock while your dog goes outside.

More-severe sunburns should always be looked at by a veterinarian. When you notice a deep red color forming, skin peeling, or fluid building up underneath affected areas, take your pup in immediately so your vet can offer a plan of action. Your dog could need antibiotics and wound dressings for severe sunburns that leave them in pain. Aside from the deep color, if you notice weakness, lethargy, or shock, that is an indicator that your dog needs immediate attention for their excessive sun exposure. 

Measuring The Heat Before Taking Your Dog Outside

As mentioned before, the best kind of care is preventative, so it’s important to inspect the weather before leaving the house with your dog. 

One of the most common heat-related injuries is burnt paws, which happens because your dog is exposed to the hot pavement without foot protection. Before letting your dog go for a walk on a hot summer day, take the back of your palm and hold it to the ground. It is too hot for your dog if you cannot comfortably hold your hand to the ground for 10 seconds. 

If you must take your dog out in hot weather, pair sunscreen with doggy shoes. Dog shoes do take time to get used to, but they’ll become an essential tool for keeping your dog’s paws soft and healthy. 

Dogs are also prone to exerting themselves more than they physically should. Your dog could be pushing themselves to continue walking in the heat, so it is important to keep them hydrated with a travel bowl and watch for signs of exhaustion like tripping over their feet and excessive panting. Immediately head home if you notice these signs. 

Keep Your Dog’s Coat Healthy With Greenlin Dog Bathing Services 

Regular bathing and coat maintenance is an integral component of overall canine health. At Greenlin, we can help you maintain your dog’s luster while checking for signs of inflammation, dry skin, irritation, or other telltale signs of skin issues. Our dog bathing services include comprehensive wellness checks, and we will immediately inform you of any concerns that you can relay to your vet.

With baths, nail trims, brush-outs, and de-shedding, your dog can enjoy a full spa day at Greenlin! You can combine bathing with a stay at our dog daycare or dog boarding facilities.

Reach out to one of our five Central PA locations to learn more about our services, ask important questions, and book your next visit!