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Sunburn-can a dog get one?

Do you apply the sunscreen before stepping out of your home to avoid a sunburn? But wait, what about your four-legged little companion? The harsh ultraviolet rays of the sun can cause sunburns to your dog as well. I know many of you are not aware of this but it is possible for any dog to get sunburns, better called Solar Dermatitis. Just like humans, the sun’s harmful UV rays can cause significant damage and painful burns to your canine and in some cases skin cancer as well.

Dog breeds prone to sunburn

Although many dogs wear a fur coat, no dog is entirely safe when spending an enormous amount of time under the sun. Dogs having light colored fur coat especially white dogs, naturally thin fur coating, short-haired or hairless species are at the higher risk for sun damage. Dogs having pink colored skin lack melanin, an effective absorbent of light, capable of dissipating over 99.9% of absorbed UV radiation. Dogs having short legs are also prone to get sunburn from sunlight reflected back from the ground surface.

Dog breeds that are especially susceptible to sunburns are:

  • American Staffordshire Terrier-Boxer
  • Chinese Crested
  • Dalmatian
  • Greyhound
  • Weimaraner
  • Whippet
  • Pitbull
  • Boxers
  • Golden Labradors
  • Golden Retrievers
  • English Pointer
  • Jack Russell
  • Beagle

Signs and Symptoms of dog sunburn

Just like humans, dogs also show similar symptoms when they get overexposed to the sun. According to pet MD, like humans, dogs can get “inflamed skin that becomes irritated and painful” Body parts that are less or not covered with fur coatings like the nose, ears, underbelly, tip of the tail, delicate skin around the eyes and the mouth are the most likely to sunburn first before fully covered areas. At the initial stage, observing the skin texture can help in identifying the sunburns like the skin starts becoming dry, red and crusty that leads to constant scratching and whimpering in pain when touched. The outer layer of the skin starts cracking up, ears start drying and their tips start curling and hair coating starts shredding. Under severe burn conditions, your dog may even have a fever, slight weakness, fainting and shock due to heat exhaustion and more likely develop skin cancer later on.

Want to know some of the preventive measures to be taken to prevent sunburn in your dog? Follow this link.

Long-term exposure to the sun can bring certain changes in the body:

  • Dark patches
  • Drastic Hair Loss
  • Thickening of the skin layer
  • Blackheads
  • Ulcers
  • Itching
  • Crusts or circular areas of scaling skin
  • Malignant Melanoma

Types of Sun Burns

Depending on the time spent and the intensity of the harmful UV rays, the sunburns are classified into three categories:

  • Superficial partial thickness burns

Superficial partial thickness sunburns, also known as first-degree sunburns, involves the burning of the outer most layer of the skin. Irrespective of dog’s fur, the skin looks red with no blisters.

  • Deep partial thickness burns

Equivalent to second-degree burns in humans, Deep partial thickness burns affect the layers beneath the outermost layer of the skin. These types of burns are comparable to human burns. However, the skin becomes red with zero blisters and deeper layers with burns are exposed.

  • Full Thickness Burns

Better called third-degree burns, full thickness burns are quite alarming. It punctures through all layers of skin and may even damage the tissue beneath the rearmost layer of the skin. These burn marks are quite painful and should be treated immediately under doctor’s supervision.

When you hire TAILored Pet Services, our dog walkers keep a close eye on changes in Spot’s skin so we can report any changes. Depending on Spot’s needs, we have a monthly package to suit him so visit our dog walking page for more information.