Sunburns on Dogs
The first question arises is that do dog really get sunburn the answer is definitely yes…….…..Excessive sunbathing damages the skin. Humans are not the only ones who need to monitor their exposure to UV rays: animals are at risk too. Dogs and cats with white or thin coats are at particular risk, as are animals with very closely shorn fur or with certain pre-existing conditions. Human or animals skin with little or no pigmentation is very sensitive to the sun in general. Hairless pets or pets with very short or thin fur can also be vulnerable. For dogs and cats, this applies in particular to those parts of the skin that are regularly exposed to the sun. These include the ears, the bridge of the nose, the skin around the eyes, and mostly the back. Some animals particularly enjoy lying on their backs to bask in the sun. This exposes the skin on their bellies, which is often hairless, to the rays of the sun, increasing the risk of sunburn. House pets with white or short fur are at particular risk of sunburn. The short hair allows UV rays penetrate down to the sensitive skin and cause sunburn.
In animals, sunburn results in an acute inflammation of the skin that can cause itching or even pain sometimes, depending on the individual animal. Frequent sunburns can lead to pre-cancerous conditions or even actual skin tumours leading to a very critical surgery.
First of all, if you suspect your pet has sunburn, schedule an exam with your veterinarian. Often pet owners do not realize that their pet has been suffering from sun overexposure until skin cancer develops. Damaged skin may appear thickened and scarred with ulceration or crusting. Sometimes a secondary bacterial infection may occur. So it is very important to have any abnormal skin examined by a veterinarian.
1. Avoid sun exposure from 11am-3pm. In the summertime, the UV exposure is at its peak. It is important to avoid the sun during the middle of the day when the sun’s rays are most intense. Seek the shade whenever possible, or simply keep pets indoors during these hours.
2. Use sunscreen. Dogs and cats can benefit from carefully applied sunscreen. It is important to apply it to the most vulnerable skin surfaces: those with little to no hair coat, like ear tips, top of the muzzle (dogs), armpits, abdomen and groin. There are dog-approved sunscreens available, or a safe alternative is to use a waterproof, fragrance-free sunscreen made for babies with an SPF of 30 or higher. To start, apply the sunscreen to a small spot on the body first, to confirm no allergic reaction. If tolerated well, apply a generous amount twice daily (and always after swimming) to the skin surfaces most at risk.
3. Avoid a very short haircut. If your dog is regularly groomed, avoid a very short haircut in the summer as a longer hair coat will still offer some protection from sun exposure.
4. Wear sun protective clothing. Dog sun protective clothing does exist! Remember nothing beats shade for sun protection.