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.
Signs Your Dog's Nose is Sunburned
- 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.
- Twitching whiskers
- Nose licking
- 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
Science Behind Dogs Sunburning Their Nose
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
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.