My Dog Has Sunburn: Should I Apply Sun Cream?

The return of sunny days means more, prolonged, exposure to the sun. While it's become a reflex for us to protect ourselves against the sun, dogs are often forgotten.Sun is just as dangerous for our canine friends as it is for us. Skin cancer is just as common in dogs as in humans.But how exactly do we protect dogs against the sun? What are the risks?We have gathered all there is to know on how to stop your pet getting sunburn and any other sun related dangers.

1. Can my dog get sunburn?

Yes, the simple answer is a dog can get sunburn.The more fur a dog has, the less chance they have of getting sunburn. However, no dog is totally immune to the sun's rays.The dogs most at risk of getting sunburn are nude skinned dogs - Chinese Crested, Peruvian Inca Orchid, Argentine Pila, American Hairless Terrier or the Mexican Hairless or Short-haired dog.Like humans, dogs with fair skin or light hair are at greater risk. If your dog has white hair or pink nose, pay particular attention to it when they're exposed to the sun.[caption id="attachment_52858" align="alignnone" width="620"]

coup de soleil truffe

Sunburn on the noise. (Illustration) Source: World of poppy/Instagram[/caption]Dogs that suffer from allergies or hormonal disorders that cause hair loss can also suffer from the sun faster than most dogs.Finally, dogs who like sleeping in the sun on their back risk developing tumours around the groin area. No matter the length of their hair, this area is never completely protected from the sun.This area is also not completely protected during walks or hikes: tarmac, sand or snow can reflect the sun's rays towards your dog's belly.

2. Should I put sun cream on my dog?

To protect your dog's skin, you can of course put sun cream on them. You can either choose a specialised sun cream for dogs or opt for one especially for children, as long as it has a high SPF.Make sure you don't choose a sun cream containing zinc dioxide as this is toxic for dogs. If the cream contains a "mineral" solar filter, there is a strong chance it won't be suitable.Similarly, a so-called "natural" cream may not be suitable for a dog's fragile skin either. Before considering using it, it's essential to test the sun cream on a small portion of skin. If no allergic reaction appears within 24 hours after application, then the cream is safe.

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Source: Pooch Canada

Except for hairless dogs, it's not necessary to cover your dog with cream. This may stick and bother him. The areas most at risk are the groin region and the nose. Be careful, however, that your dog does not lick his nose or belly once they are protected.If your dog tries to remove the cream, you can cover it with a t-shirt or some anti-UV clothing for dogs. Sun-glasses for dogs can also provide some protection.

3. My dog has got sunburn, what do I do?

Does your dog's skin seem particularly pink, even red? Do they seem to flinch in pain when you touch them? Then it's possible they have sunburn.Again, dogs are very similar to their owners. Indeed, the essential element to relieve a dog with a sunburn is hydration.You can also opt for a soothing dog shampoo, leaving it a few minutes before washing it off. This is also ideal in keeping them feeling refreshed.You can also massage them with Neem oil which is known for its moisturizing and insecticidal properties. This is ideal in hydrating your dog and preventing the installation of fleas or ticks.

4. What risks does sunburn pose for my dog?

Beyond the momentary discomfort caused by sunburn, it is a real danger to your dog's health.Dogs that are exposed to the sun for a long time without protection are more likely to develop skin cancer, the most common cancer in dogs.Dog skin cancer caused by the sun can take the form of hemangiosarcoma or squamous carninoma, both potentially fatal.Prevention and protection are therefore essential to preserve your dog's health.