Essential Summer Sun Safety Tips For Dogs

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Now that summer is here, it’s only natural that you’re eager to get out and frolic with your furry friend by your side. But before you do, make sure you’re aware of the dangers that prolonged sun exposure carries for your pet.

In this article, we’ll cover the potentially damaging effects the sun can have on your dog and offer tons of handy tips for keeping him safe while you’re out and about. 

Can Dogs Get Sunburns?

It may surprise you to learn that, just like humans, dogs can get sunburns. Dogs with short or sparse fur and light-colored skin are the most prone to sunburn, but any dog is susceptible. 

Sunburn is most common on a dog’s nose, the tips of the ears, and a dog’s underbelly and groin areas, where fur is thin or non-existent.

Additionally, dogs like English Bulldogs or Boxers who have short fur and fair skin, particularly on the nose and ears, are more likely to sunburn. Dogs with fair noses run a higher risk of experiencing sunburn than dogs with dark noses.

Signs of Sunburn in Dogs

The signs of sunburn in dogs are very similar to those of humans.Common sunburn symptoms in dogs can include skin that appears pinker than usual, making it painful for your dog to be petted. In severe cases, your dog’s skin may blister or peel. 

How to Keep Your Dog Safe From the Sun

These simple lifestyle adjustments will help you keep your dog safe from sunburn and other harmful effects of prolonged sun exposure:

Adjust your Walking Schedule to Avoid the Heat

One of the easiest ways to protect your dog from the sun is to avoid it altogether. If you and your pup usually take a mid-day walk, it might be best to shift your schedule during summer months. 

Instead of taking a mid-day walk, stick to a short potty break and save the longer walks for a different time. Walk your dog early in the morning or later in the afternoon when the sun isn’t at its full strength. This way, you and your dog will avoid sunburn and lower your risk of dehydration.

Apply Sunscreen

Did you know that you can use sunscreen to protect your pup from sunburn? Sun lotion is super handy for active dogs who are often out and about with their families during the day as well as dogs with fair skin who are particularly prone to sunburn. 

Like in humans, sunscreen protects dogs from UV rays and limits sunburn and the risk of skin cancer. 

According to PetMD, it’s best to use a canine-formulate sunscreen, but baby sunscreen can suffice if necessary. The most important thing is to ensure the sunscreen doesn’t contain zinc-oxide or para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), as these substances are toxic to dogs.

Apply sunscreen to your dog’s most vulnerable areas. These are usually the bridge of the nose, the tips of the ears, and the underbelly. If your dog is particularly fair, he may need sunscreen on other areas as well.

Don’t forget to re-apply sunscreen every few hours if your dog is going to be in the sun for a long time. 

Stay in the Shade when Possible

Whenever possible, keep your dog in the shade where he has protection from the sun’s harsh rays. Whether you’re out for a walk, hanging out in the backyard, or enjoying a beach day, the shade will keep your dog safe from sunburn and reduce his risk of dehydration and heatstroke.

Keep your Dog Hydrated

It’s critical to ensure your dog stays hydrated at all times, but especially during hot weather. Dehydration and heatstroke can have dangerous side effects for dogs that you undoubtedly wish to avoid.

If your dog is out and about in the sun, offer him water frequently and always make sure that he has fresh, cool water readily available at home.

Protecting Paws

Another reason to avoid outdoor activity when it’s blazing hot out is that the hot asphalt may damage your pup’s paws. Walking on hot asphalt can cause the paw pads to burn and blister, which is horribly uncomfortable for your pup.

Before walking your dog on the street or sidewalk, place your palm on it. If you can tolerate the hit for a prolonged period, it’s likely okay for your dog. If you can’t stand to have your palm pressed against it, it’s definitely too hot for your pup’s pads. Reschedule your walk for once it has cooled down.

Whenever possible, opt to walk your dog on grass as it’s sure to be much cooler and more comfortable for his paws.

Be Aware of the Symptoms of Heatstroke

Heatstroke is a significant concern for dog owners during the summer. This condition can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and even death. It’s important to be aware of heatstroke symptoms so you can catch it early and intervene before your dog suffers a grave side effect.

The Canine Health Foundation indicates that common signs of heatstroke can include:

  • Panting
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Dry nose
  • Excessive drooling
  • Seizure
  • Muscle tremors
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Vomiting
  • Blood in the mouth or stool

If you notice your dog exhibiting any of these symptoms, keep your dog cool and hydrated while you contact your veterinarian. The sooner you intervene and begin correcting heat stroke, the sooner your pup will be safe and back to normal.

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.