photo by Vickie Gillam
Bean is a 9 yr old chihuahua and loves to be pampered!
by Audrey Harvey, DVM
Dogs are notorious sun worshippers. What dog doesn’t love to lie on the ground and soak up the warmth of the sun’s rays?
Dogs Can Get Sunburned
A dog’s fur is quite effective at preventing the sun’s radiation from reaching his skin. However, most dogs have a few areas where the skin is exposed enough to get sunburned, such as the nose, the ears and that lovely hairless belly. And while your dog might like fabulous with a tan, dogs, like people, can get skin cancer.
Like people, the lighter your dog’s skin, the more likely they are to get burned. This is even more pronounced if your dog has little to no fur, like a Chinese Crested Dog or a Mexican Hairless Dog.
If your thick-coated dog is clipped in the summer to help them cope with the heat, you need to keep in mind that you have removed a big part of their protection from the sun. You will need to be careful and keep an eye on the amount of sun exposure they are getting during the course of their day.
Has My Dog Been Sunburned?
Some dogs are very good at hiding their discomfort, and it might be hard to tell if your dog’s skin has been burned. You will often notice a change in his behavior; he may be reluctant to move, preferring to stay still on his soft bed. If you suspect sunburn, have a close look at his skin, particularly on the vulnerable areas mentioned above.
If the burn is severe enough, you’ll see the same symptoms that you would in a person with bad sunburn; reddening of the skin, possibly with blistering. You will need to stop your dog from scratching at the affected area, and watch closely for any signs of secondary infection. Apply cool compresses to the area to soothe the inflammation, and gently massage bowWOW Butter Balm into the area. This blissful balm contains shea butter and a host of herbs like aloe to soothe the skin.
Protecting Your Dog’s Skin
You can protect your dog from sunburn in several ways:
- Keep him in the shade when the sun’s rays are strongest, between 10am and 2pm.
- If you want to clip your dog’s coat during the warmer months, make sure you leave enough fur to protect his skin from the sun.
- Use a sunscreen to block the solar radiation reaching his skin. It’s not a good idea to use a human sunscreen, because these aren’t designed to be licked and swallowed. Choose a product that is non-toxic and safe for dogs.
Flea the Scene is the ideal choice to protect your dog from sunburn during the hot summer months. Vitamin E is a natural UV protector and skin moisturizer, and titanium dioxide will block the sun’s rays from reaching his skin.
There is an added bonus to using Flea the Scene: warmer weather brings with it an increase in the flea population. This product contains peppermint and tea tree oils to repel these biting pests, and soothe any itchy flea bites.
Keep a bottle of Flea the Scene handy so you and your dog can enjoy the great outdoors during those warm summer months.
Audrey Harvey is a veterinarian who has worked in small animal practice for 20 years, and has been involved in teaching and competing in dog obedience and agility. She is passionate about preventative health care in dogs, particularly obesity management and the prevention of boredom related behavioral problems. Audrey lives in Brisbane Australia, and shares her couch with an Australian Cattle Dog, an Australian Working Kelpie and two Whippets.