Can a Dog's Nose Get Sunburned?

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Introduction

Summer is just around the corner, and you aren't the only one who needs to be slathering on the SPF. That's right, your furry, four-legged friend also needs to be protected from the sun's harsh UV rays. Just like humans, canines are susceptible to painful burns and even skin cancer.

While some dogs are of course more at risk than others, it is important to talk to your vet about sunscreen for your dog. Dogs have natural protection from their fur, but that doesn't mean they aren't at risk of being burned. A dog's nose, for one, can easily get sunburned if you aren't careful. 

Thankfully, there are numerous Fido-appropriate sunscreens on the market today, and even some designed for humans that can be used on your pup. Areas on your dog - like their nose - are vulnerable and should always be protected, especially if your pooch is a sunbathing enthusiast come summertime. 

Introduction of Can a Dog's Nose Get Sunburned?

Signs Your Dog's Nose is Sunburned

Not every dog needs sunscreen for every outdoor excursion, but there are a couple circumstances that call for some SPF for your beloved furball:

  • If your dog is losing hair - Dogs lose hair for many reasons, from allergies to hormonal changes, and from treatments like chemotherapy. If your dog is losing hair for whatever reason, they likely have a few areas that aren't being protected by their fur. These areas are vulnerable and need sunscreen! 
  • Your dog can't get enough of the sun - If your dog loves the sun as much as most do, chances are they will need a little bit of sunscreen on those super-hot days. Many pups love nothing more than soaking up the sun's warm rays (can you blame them?), but this often comes at a price. Slather on some SPF to those areas that need protection on the next sunny day, such as their nose or the space between their back legs. 
  • Your dog will be spending a lot of time outside - If you are going on a beach vacation or will be doing a lot of hiking this summer, your dog will probably need some sunscreen. If it's just a quick hike or walk around the block, they are probably fine, but for any long beach or camping trip your dog needs that added layer of protection - just like you. 

If your dog has a pink snout, thin hair, or any areas that aren't completely covered in fur, it's time to consider sunscreen. Choosing the right sunscreen is also important, so be sure and ask your vet what they recommend next time you are in. 

Body Language

Here are some signs your dog needs sunscreen on their nose:
  • Twitching whiskers
  • Drooling
  • Whimpering
  • Nose licking

Other Signs

These are other signs your dog needs sunscreen:
  • Having light-colored fur
  • Having a short coat or patches without hair
  • Having a pink nose
  • Loving to lay outside in the sun

History of Dogs Getting Sunburned

History of Can a Dog's Nose Get Sunburned?
Many people don't think about this, but your dog can definitely get sunburned, just like you can. With the temperatures warming up, it's only natural for us - humans and dogs alike - to start spending more time outside. Sure, our ancestors probably weren't slathering on the SPF on themselves or any dogs, but times change and now we know how dangerous the sun can be.

Science Behind Dogs Sunburning Their Nose

Science of Can a Dog's Nose Get Sunburned?
The nose is one of the worst places for your dog to get sunburned, namely because they rely on it to smell and analyze their environment. If their nose gets sunburned, sore, or cracked because of what's going on outside, it can be a detriment to their health. 

Take a look at your dog's nose and make a note. Is it black? Is it pink? Does it have a few different pigmentations? As we've discussed, dogs with lighter skin and pigmentation are definitely at risk of getting sunburned and maybe even developing skin cancer. This is undoubtedly the last thing you want, so be sure and find a sunscreen that your pooch won't mind and get in the habit of preparing them for a day of sunbathing. 

If you aren't sure whether your dog's nose has gotten sunburned or not, there are a few things you can look for. Does their nose look pink or red (similar to a human sunburn)? Or perhaps it appears dry, flaky, and crusty. If your dog won't let you get near it and flinches when you try to touch their snout, that could also indicate it is tender and got a little too much sun. 

The good news is that most dog sunburns aren't serious. The mildest is a superficial partial thickness burn, which can lead to redness but no blisters. Secondly, a deep partial thickness burn reaches beyond the first layer of skin that covers your dog's nose, penetrating deeper layers. This can be quite uncomfortable and painful for your dog, as it is likened to a third-degree burn for us. 

The most serious type of sunburn your dog can get is a full thickness burn. When this happens, all layers of your dog's nose are burned and it may also impact the tissues under the bottom layer. 

Training Your Dog Not to Get Sunburned

Training of Can a Dog's Nose Get Sunburned?
If your dog loves the sun, chances are you aren't going to be able to train them not to soak up its rays. However, there are a few things you can do to give them a better chance at not getting sunburned. 

Always make sure you are providing ample shade and lots of water. Your dog will know when it's too hot for them and move to a cooler area in the yard. Like humans, dogs have different levels of tolerance when it comes to sunshine - some can't get enough and some can hardly stand being in the sun for more than a couple minutes!

How to React If Your Dog's Nose Gets Sunburned:

  • Assess the burn and determine how serious it is.
  • If it is more than just a little pink or red, call your vet.
  • Apply a soothing balm to help promote healing.
  • Keep them out of the sun until it heals.

Safety Tips for When Your Dog Gets Sunburned:

  • Apply sunscreen to any parts of their body or face that could be susceptible to a burn.
  • Pay attention and bring them inside if you notice their nose turning pink.