Dogs are not immune to getting sunburn, in fact can just as easily become a burnt hot dog. Just like humans dogs are at high risk of suffering from skin damage and skin cancer caused by over exposure to the sun’s UV rays. To much sun can leave a dog sunburned and miserable. So before your dog hits the beach, nap in their sunny spot, frolic along hiking trails and enjoy the great outdoors it is important to know the facts about sunburn. Most importantly don’t forget to lather Fido with doggy sunscreen. Here are few things all pet owners must know about recognizing, preventing and treating sunburn.
Which dogs are susceptible to sunburn?
- Any dog that consistently spends time in the sun during the hottest parts of the day;
- Dogs that have white or light colored hair;
- Dogs that have very short hair, or no hair at all; and
- Dogs that have suffered a loss of fur through allergies, hot spots or medical treatment.
What are the signs of sunburn?
- Red skin; and/or
- Hair loss; and/or
What areas of the body are prone to sunburn?
Those parts where there is little hair covering and/or where the skin pigmentation is low; specifically:
- Ends of the ears;
- Around the mouth;
- Your dog’s underside – belly, groin and inside the legs; these areas are particularly at risk where your dog is on a reflective surface, such as walking on a concrete path.
What’s the best way to prevent dog sunburn?
- Keep your dog inside in a cool room, or if he’s outside, in adequate shelter during the hottest parts of the day;
- Use a sunscreen on those parts of his body susceptible to sunburn. Use a pet sunscreen because those produced for human use contain ingredients that are toxic to your dog. Remember to regularly reapply the sunscreen as it will wear, or be licked, off relatively quickly;
- You can buy bodysuits for your dog that protect them from UV rays – if your dog is continually out in the sun, this may be the best option, and your vet should be able to provide you with more information on these products; and
- If you regularly have your dog clipped in the summer, think about leaving his coat a bit longer so the hair offers some protection. Talk to your dog’s groomer about clipping your dog – some dog breed’s hair is designed to insulate the dog from the sun’s heat and if you clip it off, you may be doing more harm than good to your dog.
How do you soothe a sunburned dog?
- Use aloe vera, nature’s ointment. The juice from the aloe vera plant will help reduce infection and scarring and speed the healing process. If you have a plant available, break off the tip of a leaf and squeeze out some gel. Apply it directly to the affected area. If a fresh plant is unavailable, a cream with aloe vera works well.
- Speed healing with vitamin E. Puncture a Vitamin E capsule and squeeze out the oil, applying to the affected area to reduce scarring and speed healing.
- Replace lost moisture on the skin. Applying a moisturizer can restore the moisture balance to the skin. Those products which contain coconut or jojoba oil are best. Apply three times per day.
- Use witch hazel, it has a cooling property as it evaporates from the skin but doesn’t sting. Apply with a cotton ball three to four times per day.
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