Doggy Sunburns?

You may think that our Sundriven pooch, Dexter Runyan, has learned from our team to stay out of the sun without any protection. Not really, cause she absolutely loves laying out in the sun. She is a total california girl, and it is her hour long naps under the window in the office that brought up the question, "can dogs be effected by the sun the same way we can?"

I always assumed that because dogs have fur, they are protected under the sun. But through research, I was proven wrong. To answer our question, yes, dogs can be effected by UV rays the same way we can! If they get too much sun, they can get sunburns or even worse develop skin cancer.


Dogs have sensitive skin, and even 30 minutes of sun can cause sun burn, which can appear as red skin or even hair loss. Dogs most at risk are those who spent long hours in the sun. Usually during family activities such as boating and hiking. All hairless breeds and dogs that have been clipped should be kept out of the sun as much as possible. Breeds such as terriers, spaniels, Chihuahuas, Doberman pinschers and other shorthaired dogs, as well as all breeds with white or pink skin, are at higher risk for sunburn.

Canine skin cancer

Research shows that dogs are just as prone to getting skin cancer as humans, with mast cell tumors being the most common. Although golden retrievers have an increased risk of mast cell tumors compared to other breeds, any dog can get skin cancer. Dogs that have light skin or pink noses are also more prone to mast cell tumors. Here are some signs of mast cell tumors in dogs:
  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Periodic swelling in an area up and then disappearing.


Melanoma also occurs frequently in dogs, and they usually arise in the mouth, gums, nails and toes. You can take some simple lifestyle steps to help reduce sun exposure and minimize the risk of sunburn or skin cancer. Such as walking your dog in the early morning or evening when the sun is lower in the sky, and make sure they have access to shade.

Selecting a sunscreen

Luckily, you can protect your doggy from the harmful rays of the sun using sunscreen or even sun protection apparel. The muzzle and ears are the most common places to apply sunscreen. “It is impossible to use sunscreen on the nose itself because dogs will lick it off almost immediately,” advises Dr. Scanlan. “The top of the muzzle and the ears are easier to treat.”

Since most dogs are constantly licking themselves, we recommend using a sunscreen that is safe and non-toxic to their health. Dr. Heather Peikes, board-certified staff dermatologist at New York City Veterinary Specialists suggests selecting a sunscreen that's safe for human babies." Two excellent brands are Aubrey Organics Green Tea Sunblock for Children with SPF 25 and Jason Kids' Block with SPF 46." These are all organic and eco-friendly as well.


On the other hand, Veterinarian Dr. Douglas H. Thamm recommends using UV blocking sun shirts for dogs instead of any sunscreens at all. “Sunscreen is licked off after application, and toxicity after oral ingestion has not been well studied,” says Dr. Thamm. He recommends The PlayaPup UV Protective Rashguard Shirt, it is made from UPF 50+ rated fabrics to block 97.5% of harmful UV rays.


So there you have it doggy lovers, if you don't already, please remember to protect your pup with either sunscreen or sun protective clothing when spending long hours outdoors. Let me know about what you think of these products, and include any other brands that you use and love for your dog!

Authors: Nazanin Yashar


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