With the summer underway, if you plan on taking a trip to the beach and decide to bring the family dog, keep in mind that your dog needs some of that sunblock you’re using! Dogs are naturally protected from UV rays by their fur, but they can still get painful burns and cancer from overexposure.
The best time to break out the sunscreen is when Fido starts losing hair, loves to sunbathe, or spends a lot of time outdoors. Dogs sometimes lose hair from allergies, hormonal changes, or chemotherapy. This leaves unprotected areas. So, this exposed skin needs to be protected. If your dog loves to catch those rays, make sure the pinkish areas of your dog are protected from the sun.
Sensitive areas are around the lips, ears, and nose. The best protection is sunblock around the tips of the ears and on top of his/her nose.
Dogs with paler skin and fur are also at a greater risk for sunburn, like humans. When in the sun for long periods of time, make sure to keep your pet in the shade during the peak sunny times around 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
How can you protect your dog from sun damage? There are many different things that can be done!
This cannot be stressed enough! Do not shave your dog and then take him/her somewhere sunny because this exposes the skin to UV rays and makes them more sensitive. To keep your fluffy dog cool, use an undercoat rake which will get rid of the useless dead hairs to cool your dog without leaving him/her completely exposed.
Many different sunscreens exist and there are some designed specifically for dogs. If you cannot find one made specifically for dogs, look for one that is good for sensitive skin or babies. Use SPF 30 to 50 and apply per the label instructions for people.
Stay Away From Zinc Oxide – Zinc Oxide is a common ingredient in sunscreen but it can be toxic to dogs upon consumption. Check the label first!
Test Your Dog!
Don’t just buy a sunscreen and lather your pet. If your dog is allergic to a specific sunscreen, it would be preferable to realize this on a small test area opposed to an allergic reaction of your dog’s entire skin surface.
Where To Apply
Apply the sunscreen only to the exposed areas, not the entire coat of fur. Apply to your dog’s most sensitive skin areas: nose, earflaps, belly area and any shaved or bare patches.
If you don’t have sunscreen on hand, the best bet is to get your dog some shade which will block most of the harmful sun rays.
Signs of Hyperthermia (Heatstroke)
If your dog does get too hot, he/she will show some obvious signs of overheating. This includes noisy breathing, panting, reddened mucous membranes, weakness, seizures, coma, and a high body temperature in general.
If you see any of these signs, place a cool, wet towel over your dog or put him/her into a cool water bath. Furthermore, make sure to check his/her temperature rectally (100.5-102.5 norm). If the temperature reads higher than 105 F, call a vet!!!
So, enjoy the summer sun with your pet but do so responsibly as to prevent you and your dog from sun burns and other sun-related damage!