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5 Sun Safety Tips for Dogs

5 Sun Safety Tips for Dogs

Think sunscreen is just for humans? Think again. Your dog needs protection from those harsh ultraviolet rays, too. Here are some pointers to help Spot enjoy the great outdoors this summer without feeling the burn.

Note: This story originally ran in Dogster Magazine. See our infographic on which parts of your dog to slather pet-safe sunscreen on.

1. Don’t shave your pet for the summer

When you shave your dog’s coat, it exposes his skin to sun damage. The hair coat acts as a protective barrier against the sun’s ultraviolet rays, and shaved skin is much more vulnerable to sunburn. Instead, thin out your pup’s coat using a Furminator or an undercoat rake, so your pup carries a lighter load in the heat. Think of this as the difference between a cotton T-shirt and a wool sweater!

2. Dogs experiencing hair loss need special treatment

“Dogs most at risk for sunburn include dogs who are experiencing hair loss due to health reasons, such as allergies or hormonal changes,” explains Heather Peikes, board-certified staff dermatologist at New York City Veterinary Specialists. “Chemotherapy can also thin out a dog’s coat.” Your geographic location determines how much protection you’ll need to give your dog, she adds: “On the East Coast, we worry less about sun-induced melanomas and skin changes, but in Colorado, California, and Australia, it’s much more of a concern.” Also consider your dog’s breed. A hairless Chinese Crested, for instance, will need more sun protection than, say, a German Shepherd.

3. Protect serious sunbathers

Some dogs are serious sunbathers, and could happily fry themselves for hours. But don’t let them sizzle! Dogs who worship the sun while lying on their backs risk developing tumors on the inguinal area, that vulnerable stretch of skin where the belly and hind legs meet; this area is unprotected by hair even on furry breeds. When you notice your sun-worshipping Spot panting, it’s time to bring him back indoors before he sustains a sunburn. Please take extra precaution if your dog’s snout is pink. Light-skinned dogs, like light-skinned people, are more prone to sun irritation.

Also See: How to Create a Portable Summer Safety Kit for Your Dog

4. How to help a sunburned dog

If Spot does sustain a sunburn, give him a soothing bath with cool water and a gentle, soap-free product such as TheraNeem Pet Shampoo. Before lathering up, add 5 drops of miracle product neem oil to the shampoo in your palm, then work the mixture through your dog’s fur, down to the skin. Wait a few minutes before rinsing with cool water. Nontoxic neem works quickly and safely to heal heat as well as chemical burns.

5. Consider protective clothing in some situations

If your dog had to be shaved for a surgical procedure, protect that area from the sun using a T-shirt that you customize to fit him. If you anticipate spending hours out in the sun with Spot — say, while out sailing or hiking — investigate performance sun protective dog clothing such as a rash guard.

For tips on which sunscreen is safe for dogs, see the original post.

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Read more: Dogs, Everyday Pet Care, Pet Health, Pets, Remedies & Treatments, Safety

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At Dogster, we believe life is always more meaningful with a dog. Get a daily dose of news, views and cuteness over at Dogster Magazine.


+ add your own
3:41AM PDT on Jun 11, 2013

They deserve our thoughts

9:46AM PDT on Aug 5, 2012

Good info, thanks.

10:21AM PDT on Jul 10, 2012

Thanks for the information about not shaving a dog in the summer. I really was considering it. Thanks again so much.

10:20AM PDT on Jul 10, 2012

My poor dog suffers in humid weather. I put a wet sheet over a clothes drying frame and he sleeps under it. It's easy and affective.

3:00AM PDT on Jul 6, 2012

Every dog owner should be made aware of this and dogs can also get sunstroke! Take care of the ones you love correctly! Thanks!

6:51AM PDT on Jul 3, 2012

thanks for info

3:58PM PDT on Jul 1, 2012

thanks. my dog has VERY short hair, it's black, and he tends to stay out of the sun.

1:52PM PDT on Jul 1, 2012

To cute is this picture....Now all he needs is a large Iced tea!

12:14PM PDT on Jul 1, 2012

Leading up the fourth of July, pet owners can begin helping their pets cope with the sights and sounds of fireworks. Click to download our fireworks sound effect and learn how to properly desensitize your pet leading up the celebration.

Click to learn more

8:58AM PDT on Jul 1, 2012


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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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