Can Dogs Get Sunburn?

Can dogs get sunburn? Given all that fur, you’d think surely not! But in truth, neither dogs with short nor long fur can outsmart the sun. In this article, the experts at PD Insurance take us through how to best prevent and treat dog sunburn.

Can dogs get sunburn?

The answer is a definite yes, dogs can get sunburn. While all dogs and all dog parts can burn, some parts of a dog, and some dog breeds, have a greater propensity to sunburn. So it’s worth knowing what these are so you can safeguard your pooch that much better.

The areas with little or less fur are the first to burn. These are often the areas that are also the most delicate (as on humans). Think the skin around the mouth and the eyelids.

Dog nose sunburn is especially common, because there’s less fur there and the nose protrudes. And woe betides the bare belly of any dog that happens to take a nap with its stomach to the sky – as the skin on the stomach is also highly prone to sunburn.

→Related article: PD Insurance: Summer Pet Safety

Are fair-furred dogs more prone to sunburn?

Not only can dogs get sunburn, but some have a higher likelihood of getting a bad burn.

Pooches with fair fur tend to have fairer skin that burns faster. Dogs with shorter fur can also get burned easily, as is the case for pups that spend lots of time outdoors. Hairless dogs are at the highest risk of getting burned, and more severely, as they have no starter protection against the sun.

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Looking for pet insurance that delivers great customer satisfaction? Each year, we release our Most Satisfied Customers | Pet Insurance Award and Star Ratings. Below is an abridged version of our full awards, which you can view here.

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See here for our ratings methodology. The table above is an abridged version of our research. For the full results of our 2022 Pet Insurance Most Satisfied Customers Award, click here.

How to help your dog avoid nose sunburn and more

Dogs may be active and unruly at times, but they’ll take the lead from their owners. Below are some simple ways to safeguard your pup from getting sunburn:

  • Dog sunscreen. The simplest solution to protect your pet is using a sunscreen that’s designed for dogs. Your vet very likely has one on their shelf, or will be able recommend one that suits your pup’s fur and skin.
  • Timing. Every dog has to play, but avoiding the strong, summer midday sun is a good idea. Sticking to the early mornings and late afternoons will benefit your skin, too!
  • Dog jackets. Dog jackets made from breathable materials are a simple solution. However, while they can reduce the risk of sunburn, they can cause your dog to overheat in hot weather. Keep tabs on their temperature and don’t rug them up for long sessions during warmer weather, or you’ll risk heatstroke.

If you’re wondering whether it’s ok to put human sunscreen on your pooch, the answer is no. The ingredients in people sunscreen are chosen for people skin and can be harmful to your pet’s skin.

Dog sunburn: know the symptoms

Sunburn in dogs can cause visible symptoms, look out for:

  • Fever. Can dogs get sunburn that causes sunstroke? Yes. A bad sunburn can cause a fever. If your dog is badly sunburned, keep them hydrated and take them to see a vet
  • Pink, red or purple. Like human skin, dog skin can turn visibly pink or red where there’s sunburn
  • Peeling. Sunburned skin can become dry at first and then start to flake. This can cause intense itching and scratching that can lead to secondary skin issues. Red or purple degrees of sunburn can require immediate vet treatment
  • Blisters or pus. Sunburned skin can become blistered, causing infection and pus that requires medical care
  • Dehydration. Not only can dogs get sunburn, but they also stand the risk of becoming dehydrated. This can prove fatal, so it’s best to seek veterinary care for your dog as soon as possible

Prevention is better than cure, especially considering the long-term effects of sunburn. For example, if your dog already has dog skin conditions such as dermatitis, then sunburn can make it worse or cause infection. More seriously, certain cancers are also linked to sun overexposure.

PD Insurance: Canstar’s Pet Insurance Award Winner

PD Insurance is the winner of Canstar’s 2022 Award for Most Satisfied Customers | Pet Insurance, as rated by Kiwi pet owners. specialises in low-cost, high-value pet insurance that can cushion against hefty vet bills for tests, treatments, medication and more.

At the time of writing PD will give you between one and three months of FREE pet insurance when buying a policy online.

Pet cover can ease the financial burden of animal healthcare, and can help provide your pet with the medical cover it requires.

PD Insurance is the winner of Canstar’s 2022 Award for Most Satisfied Customers | Pet Insurance, as rated by Kiwi pet owners.

PD Insurance specialises in low-cost, high-value pet insurance that can cushion against hefty vet bills for tests, treatments, medication and more.

The three simple policies offered by PD Insurance offer the quality protection your furry family member deserves, with no lock-in contracts. In addition, you can go to any vet of your choice, plus you can upgrade or downgrade your plan as your needs change.

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author andrew broadley

About the reviewer of this page

This report was reviewed by Canstar Content Producer, Andrew Broadley. Andrew is an experienced writer with a wide range of industry experience. Starting out, he cut his teeth working as a writer for print and online magazines, and he has worked in both journalism and editorial roles. His content has covered lifestyle and culture, marketing and, more recently, finance for Canstar.

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