Having Fun in the Sun without Feeling the Burn

By Diane Krueger

Hot fun in the summertime is no fun at all if you end up sunburned. Just like you

and I, our dogs can get sunburned too. And just like we apply sunscreen to prevent

getting burned by the sun’s rays, we should apply sunscreen to our dogs too.

Sunburn is painful for everybody, dogs included. It can lead to certain types of

canine skin cancer and worsen pre-existing skin conditions, like dermatitis. And

did you know that certain breeds of dogs are more prone to getting sunburned?

Obviously, hairless breeds are most susceptible, but so are dogs with white or thin

coats; ones with light pigmented noses and eyelids; ones with light or white

pigment on their ears or near their noses; and any dogs that like to lie on concrete

or light surfaces outside; and any dogs that like to lie on their backs outside on a

sunny day.

So, it seems a lot of dogs out there can benefit from using sunscreen, but that

doesn’t mean you should just slather on the Coppertone and think you’re all set.

You need to be careful about choosing which sunscreen to use since sunscreen for

people can be toxic to dogs with ingredients like zinc oxide or para-aminobenzoic

acid (PABA). It’s best to use a canine-specific sunscreen, such as Epi-Pet Sun

Protector Spray. You’ll want to look for a sunscreen with at least a 30 SPF and one

that’s unscented so your dog doesn’t try to lick it off.

Once you get the sunscreen, the crucial step is application. When you apply

sunscreen to your dog, you want to apply it to spots most exposed to the sun, like

the bridge of the nose, tips of the ears, skin around the mouth, groin, inner thighs

and anywhere else the pigment is light. And remember to reapply if your dog goes

swimming or as instructed on the product label.

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, our dogs do get sunburned. If this happens,

move your dog inside or to a shady area as soon as possible. Apply a cool

compress or aloe vera to help relieve the burn. If the burn is severe or your dog

isn’t responding to the remedies you’re trying, contact your vet immediately.