Can Dogs Get Sunburn?

Written by: BARK

August 16, 2023

As loving pet owners, we want to provide the best care for beloved pets. From nutritious meals to regular exercise, we do all we can to ensure their well-being. But have you ever wondered if dogs can get sunburned? Dogs are susceptible to sunburn, just like us, so it’s essential to understand how to protect them from harmful UV rays. In this guide, you will learn the causes and signs of sunburn, and how to keep your pet’s skin safe.

Understanding Sunburn in Dogs

To understand sunburn in dogs, we must first understand their skin. Like us, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can also damage dogs’ skin. Most dogs are covered in fur, which is a natural barrier against the sun. However, not all areas are equally protected; certain areas are more sun-sensitive.

Areas Most Commonly Affected by Sunburn

The vulnerable areas prone to sunburn in dogs include the nose, lips, ears, belly, and areas with thin fur or exposed skin. These areas have less protective hair, making them more susceptible to UV damage. Keep an eye on these regions and take extra precautions to shield them from the sun.

Signs and Symptoms of Dog Sunburn 

Spotting sunburn on your furry friend can be challenging, but early detection is crucial. Look for signs such as redness, peeling, or blistering on the exposed areas. Consult your veterinarian if you notice any unusual changes in your dog’s skin after a day in the sun. 

Risk Factors and Breeds Prone to Sunburn 

Certain factors increase a dog’s susceptibility to sunburn. Dogs with light-colored coats, thin fur, or areas of exposed skin are at higher risk. Breeds with short or fine hair, such as Boxers, Dalmatians, and Pit Bulls, are more prone to sunburn. Be extra careful with these pups and take proactive measures to protect them from the sun’s harmful effects.

Can Dogs Get Sunburn

Treating Sunburn in Dogs

If, despite your best efforts, your furry companion ends up with sunburn, swift action is crucial. As soon as you notice signs of sunburn, bring your dog indoors or provide them with a shaded area to avoid further exposure to the sun. Applying a cold, damp cloth to the affected areas can provide some relief. Avoid using any human sunburn ointments or creams, as they may contain harmful ingredients for dogs. Instead, consult your veterinarian for proper guidance and treatment options. Remember, prompt care and attention can help alleviate your dog’s discomfort and prevent further complications.

Importance of Sunscreen for Dogs 

To keep your dog’s skin safe from the sun, sunscreen is a must. However, don’t be tempted to use your own sunscreen on your canine companion. Human sunscreens often contain ingredients that can be toxic to dogs. Opt for a sunscreen specially formulated for dogs, offering protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

Choosing the Right Sunscreen for Dogs 

Selecting the appropriate sunscreen for your dog is essential. Look for products with a high Sun Protection Factor (SPF) specifically designed for pets. Seek sunscreens with natural and non-toxic ingredients to avoid any potential adverse reactions. 

According to AKC, you should not use sunscreen containing zinc oxide or PABA on your pet.1 These ingredients are toxic to dogs. 

If you’re unsure which product to choose, consult your veterinarian for recommendations.

Can Dogs Get Sunburn

Tips for Applying Sunscreen on Dogs

Now that you have the right sunscreen for your furry friend, it’s time to apply it correctly. Here are some tips to ensure your pup gets the protection they need:

  • Choose the right time: Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before heading outdoors to allow it to be absorbed properly.
  • Get your dog used to sunscreen: Introduce the sunscreen to your pup gently, letting them sniff and investigate it.
  • Start applying the sunscreen: Begin with small amounts, gently rubbing it into exposed areas. Gradually increase the amount as your dog gets more comfortable.
  • Don’t forget the ears and nose: These are particularly vulnerable areas, so be sure to protect them adequately.
  • Reward your dog: After applying sunscreen, reward your pup with a treat or affection to create a positive association with the process.

Other Sun Protection Measures for Dogs 

In addition to sunscreen, there are other ways to protect your dog from the sun:

  • Provide shade: Ensure your dog can access shaded areas, especially during peak sunlight.
  • Limit outdoor activities: Avoid extended outdoor activities during the hottest parts of the day.
  • Protective clothing: Consider using doggy shirts or hats to shield your pup’s skin from the sun.

Protecting our dogs from sunburn is essential to being a responsible pet owner. At BARK, we understand the love and dedication you have for your furry friends, and that’s why we strive to provide you with valuable information and support to keep them happy and healthy. By understanding the risks, choosing the right sunscreen, and implementing protective measures, you can ensure that your furry friend enjoys their time in the sun while staying safe.

Can Dogs Get Sunburn

FAQs about Dogs and Sunburn

#1 Can I use human sunscreen on my dog?

No, using human sunscreen on dogs is not advisable. Human sunscreens may contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs. Always opt for sunscreen specifically formulated for dogs.

#2 How do you know if a dog is sunburned?

Look for signs of redness, peeling, or blistering on areas with less fur or exposed skin. If you notice any changes in your dog’s skin, consult your veterinarian.

#3 How do you treat sunburn on dogs?

If your dog experiences sunburn, keep them indoors and out of direct sunlight. Apply a cold compress to the affected areas and contact your veterinarian for further advice.

#4 Can dogs get sunburnt through their fur?

While fur provides some protection, it’s not a complete shield against the sun’s UV rays. Dogs with light-colored coats or thin fur are still at risk of sunburn, so taking preventive measures is essential.


  1. Campbell, Courtney. “Best Dog Sunscreen to Protect Your Dog’s Skin.” Retrievist, 11 July 2023, Accessed 28 July 2023.
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Written by: BARK

August 16, 2023

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