How to protect your dog from sunburn during hot weather | TeamDogs
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How to protect your dog from sunburn during hot weather

Here's some tips to keep your dog safe this summer

Charlotte Regen

Posted 3 months ago ago

During the hot weather we need to make sure we protect our doggos from the sun as well as ourselves, because just like us, dogs can get sunburnt too.

Generally, their fur does most of the work by giving them tip top protection from the sun.

However, if your pet is very short haired, has light coloured fur, has areas of thin fur or any hairless areas like their ears, nose and tummy, then they are at risk of burning. 

According to the PDSA, the most common areas for pets to get sunburnt include the:

  • Ears
  • Nose
  • Tip of the tail
  • Tummy
  • Back

And just like in humans sunburn is painful, causes damage to their skin and can lead to skin cancer.

But not to panic, there are ways you can prevent your pooch from getting sunburnt. 

Here’s some tips from the animal charity on how to do it: 

Limit sunlight exposure - don’t allow your pet to sunbathe for long periods of time in direct sunlight. Make sure they always have access to plenty of shade.

Avoid walking your dog in the middle of very hot days, instead, stick to the cooler mornings and evenings.

Apply sunscreen - apply sunscreen to any unprotected skin (such as bare skin, and areas of thin or light coloured fur) on sunny days. Dogs often need it on the ends of their nose and tummy, and cats tend to need it on their ears/end of their nose.

Use a high factor (SPF 30 or higher), waterproof, sunscreen that is pet or child safe. Apply two layers at least 15 minutes before your pet goes outside.

And remember, although it may be hard, don't allow your pet to lick their suntan lotion off.

Click here to watch the PDSA’s guide on how to apply sun cream to your pet. Image: Getty Images

Here is what to do if your dog does get sunburnt

If the sunburn is severe, or your dog appears to be in pain, you should get them checked out by a vet straight away. 

If you’re unsure how serious your dog’s burns are, call your practice for advice.

But if the sunburn is mild you can often treat them at home. Here’s what the PDSA recommends you should do: 


  • Use cold compresses to cool the skin but be very gentle when touching your pet’s sunburn.
  • Keep your pet out of sunlight until their skin has healed.
  • Use sunscreen to protect sunburned skin if your pet has to go outside. Use a high factor (SPF 30 or higher), waterproof, sunscreen that is pet or child safe. Apply two layers at least 15 minutes before your pet goes outside. Don’t allow your pet to lick their sun cream off.
  • You can use sun protective clothing, such as a highly rated SPF fabric/T-shirt to cover their sunburn.

Very mild sunburn, which looks like slightly red skin, will usually heal within a few days with treatment at home. 

PDSA vet Lynne James said: “Just like humans, pets can get sunburnt, and this unfortunately can sometimes lead to skin cancer. Fur provides some protection, but pets with a white or pale coat, or who have areas of thin or patchy fur, are most prone.

“So it’s important to protect our pets from the sun’s harmful rays. Always make sure your pets have access to shade, and avoid walking dogs in the middle of the day, when then sun is strongest. If you can’t avoid your pet being exposed to the sun, then use a pet-safe sun cream, particularly on sensitive areas such as their ears and nose.”

If you have any doubts or concerns, then always contact your vet.

Heatstroke is another potential risk during hot weather. Here are the signs you need to look out for.

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