Can Dogs Get a Sunburn in Ukiah, CA?
If you have a dog, you might be wondering if they can go outside to play without getting sunburned. Many pet owners do not think about this issue related to their dog because dogs have hair over most of their body. However, dogs can get sunburned, and lighter-colored dogs are much more at risk for this kind of problem.
Dogs can get sunburned even when you don’t think that it’s bright enough outside to cause this problem. This is a common issue in places that have a marine cloud layer which magnifies the light and makes sunburn much more likely. Protecting your dog from getting sunburned is always a good idea so that your dog does not suffer from things like blisters, painful skin, or even skin infections related to their sunburn.
What Body Parts of Dogs Are Most Likely to Get a Sunburn?
Dogs have hair over much of their body, and it is much more likely that they will burn in areas that are not covered with a lot of hair. This means that the nose, the ear flaps, the belly and groin, and the pads of the feet are the most susceptible to sunburn. All dogs can get burns on any part of their body, however. This is more common when your pet has been in the sun for a very long time, but it is always possible.
Dogs that are light in color are much more prone to burning on their bodies. Any dog with pink skin will be much more at risk for sunburn to their body or face when they are in the sun for too long. Owners of pink-skinned dogs might need to be prepared to protect their pets from the sun with much more care than those with darker-skinned pets.
What Are the Signs of Sunburn?
There are some common signs of sunburn that you should be aware of. Your dog will thank you for noticing that they have gotten burned and taking action to help protect them from the sun and heal the burn.
- Sore or tender skin
- Red or pink skin
- Dry and cracking skin
- Misshapen ear tips or wrinkly ears
- Skin ulcers
- Blisters on the skin
- Skin rash
- Skin infection
- Lack of appetite
Chronic sun damage can change the appearance of the skin over time. This is called solar dermatitis. Dogs with this skin condition might have scaly, thick, or bumpy skin in places that have been burned repeatedly. The damage can be repaired slightly with care, but these areas will remain inflamed and strange looking in most cases.
Just as in people, prolonged sun exposure can also lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. Pets with blisters or open wounds on the skin, or strange growths, might have skin cancer related to repeated sunburn. Light-colored animals are more likely to suffer from this condition, but any dog can get skin cancer from being in the sun too much.
How to Treat Sunburn in Dogs
There are many options to help your pet with their sunburn:
Partner with Your Vet
If your pet has a severe burn that has blistered or that has turned into an infection, they will need to head to the vet. Your vet will be able to treat the blisters and the infection with medications and debriding of any dead tissue. These kinds of severe burns will need a lot of care to avoid long-term problems.
Do not give your dog any medication that does not come from the vet. It can be tempting to try to remedy the situation at home, but medications that are not safe for dogs to take can lead to a life-threatening emergency. Also, be sure that you are not using lotions and creams on your dog that might have ingredients that could poison your dog or make them sick.
Soothe Your Pet’s Skin
In mild cases, a cool towel can be placed on the burn. You can also use aloe vera gel on your dog’s skin to soothe the tissues that have been burned.
Prevent Heatstroke and Dehydration
Make sure that your dog has access to water, and be sure that you keep an eye out for dehydration. Dogs that have been burned in the sun might also be at risk of developing heatstroke. Since heatstroke can be deadly in dogs, it is important to have this in mind following a sunburn.
Use Sunscreen Made for Pets
Before sending your pet out into the sun, you can use pet sunscreen on the vulnerable parts of their body. This will be the nose, the pads of the feet, and the ears and face. Make sure it is a pet-safe sunscreen and be sure that your dog is not licking it off their skin. Dogs love to lick at things that you place on their skin, which can render your sunscreen efforts pointless.
Provide Access to Shade or Indoors
Avoiding the heat and sun is always best when it comes to the health of dogs. They are not well-equipped to deal with hot weather, and they can sunburn more easily than you might think. Keeping your dog inside where it is cool and shady is usually a much better option than allowing them to go outside and get sunburned.
Dogs Can Sunburn Quite Easily
While many owners think that dogs can’t get sunburned, it is actually very easy for dogs to get a sunburn. There are many areas on your dog’s body that are not well-protected by their hair, and exposure to the sun can cause severe burns to these areas over time. Your dog will thank you for keeping them protected from the heat and the sun whenever possible, as repeated burns can lead to skin health issues that are hard to resolve.
Always make sure that you consider the temperature outside before taking your dog out to have fun in the heat. If it is hotter than 80 degrees out, you should leave your dog home where it is cool enough for them. If your pet must go outside in the sun, make sure to use dog-safe sunscreen on them to help them avoid severe burns from the sun.
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About Mendocino Animal Hospital
At Mendocino Animal Hospital, we believe in fostering the human-animal bond with excellent veterinary medicine. Our full-service veterinary practice operates in Ukiah, CA with a team of skilled veterinarians and a passionate, talented support staff who make you feel like a part of the family.
As an AAHA-accredited animal hospital, every service and aspect of our practice meets AAHA’s Standards of Excellence. No matter what your pet comes in for, they’ll receive only the best in care, compassion, and service.