this black and white puppy on sand with a red ball is wondering if dogs can get sunburn

Can Your Pup Get Sunburn? What You Need to Know


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As you head out into the Aussie sun with your pup, you may be wondering can dogs get sunburn. After all, they’re covered in fur, which you’d assume protects them. Do dogs need sunscreen? Really?

Like us, dogs have skin that can burn when exposed to too much sun! Even their coats can’t always protect them. Think about having the top of your head exposed to the sun – it burns despite your hair covering it. Dogs are furry creatures, but parts of their bodies have less fur than other parts. And those bits can burn!

Find out more below.

Can dogs get sunburn? That’s a yes

Dogs have delicate skin that can get sunburned. Though their fur protects them to a certain extent, prolonged exposure to the sun will still lead to sunburn – especially on the areas that have less fur. Dogs are likely to get burned the most on their noses, ears, lips, eyelids, and bellies.

Not only can dogs get sunburn, but they’re at risk of skin cancer just like we are. Though all dogs can get sunburn (even black dogs with thick fur), some dogs are more at risk than others. These include:

  • Hairless dogs like the Chinese Crested
  • Dogs with pink skin and short coats such as French Bulldogs and Dalmatians
  • Puppies whose coats are still sparse. They also tend to have more delicate skin than adult dogs
  • Dogs with hair loss or alopecia
  • Dogs with medical conditions like hypothyroidism, Cushing’s Disease and mange
Beagle dog outside fetching a ball.

Signs of sunburn

Because dogs are covered in fur, it’s especially important that you check yours for sunburn as soon as they’ve been exposed to the sun for any period of time. Sunburn in dogs is similar to ours in its appearance and effects. Here’s what to look out for:

  • Pink, red or purple skin
    Like people, dog’s skin can turn visibly pink or red where there’s sunburn. An especially bad sunburn can even look purple.
  • Blisters or pus
    If exceptionally sunburned, your dog’s skin may become blistered. If this causes an infection, there may be pus.
  • Peeling
    After being sunburned, your dog’s skin may begin to flake and peel off after a few days. This can cause intense itching and scratching that can lead to secondary skin issues.
  • Dehydration
    Not only can dogs get sunburn but they also stand the risk of becoming dehydrated. This is a dangerous state for any dog to be in and it’s best to seek veterinary care for your dog as soon as possible.
  • Sunstroke
    A sunburned dog can be susceptible to sunstroke, seeing as they’ve been exposed to the heat for an extended period of time. Burned skin also raises their internal body temperature. Sunstroke is serious and requires immediate attention. Read about what is heatstroke in pets and how to avoid it so you know what you need to know to protect your pup.
funny beagle dog in red sunglasses and bandana sitting at home

Dogs can get sunburn, so let’s protect them

Do dogs need sunscreen? That’s a resounding yes! There are sunscreen brands made particularly for dogs that take their sensitive skin into account and offer maximum protection.

Here’s how to protect your dog from sunburn:

A good sunscreen

Check out this list of the best dog sunscreens for pups. Always ensure any sunscreen you use doesn’t contain zinc, as this can be toxic to dogs. When putting it on, slather it on wherever you can reach while concentrating on the areas where the fur is sparse to non-existent. We’re taking nose, groin, ears, belly, etc.

Keep them in the shade

The most foolproof way to avoid them getting sunburn is to keep them out of the sun altogether. If you’re at the beach, make sure they’re sitting under an umbrella or some other sunshade for part of the time. Don’t keep them out in the sun too long – just as you would take care of yourself or a child in this way.

Protective clothing

There are special dog rash vests, shoes, visors and even sunglasses that can protect your pup from the sun. They may be well worth the investment if you’re spending plenty of time outdoors. Enter this realm slowly, though. Your dog may become stressed to the point where it’s safer for you to not place protective clothing on them. Hopefully that’s not the case but it’s worth treading carefully.

Check out these goggles made for the most adventurous of dogs. Too cute. And so useful!

Protection from the sun, and more

Now we know the answer to ‘can dogs get sunburn?’ and ‘do dogs need sunscreen?’ and will (hopefully) be keeping our pups sun protected. However, dogs that do end up really badly sunburned may need emergency vet treatment and when this happens, having pet insurance can be a seriously cushy cushion.

A PD Insurance pet plan can help cover unexpected vet bills for treatment across illness, injury and more. Having  dog insurance  helps provide quality medical care for your dog when you need to, without having to worry endlessly about the costs.

The sooner you invest in your pet’s health insurance, the broader the range of cover they get – especially when they’re still a puppy or kitten. Rather than having to ask yourself can dogs get sunburn, ask yourself if you can protect them easily whenever they most need it. Having dog insurance helps that answer be a ‘yes’.

Get one or months of FREE pet insurance with us today. Click below for more info.

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