Can Dogs Get Sunburned?

The short answer is yes they can. Here’s what you need to know:

The majority of dog owners know they have to provide adequate water and also keep their dog from overheating in the hot summer months. But many owners don’t think about the risk of sunburn to their dogs, probably because their dog is covered with hair and they believe that protects them.

Dogs that have white or very light skin are more susceptible to a sunburn. And a dog’s skin is just like human skin in that it’s just as likely to become damaged and then at greater risk for developing skin cancer.

White dogs who have short hair such as French Bulldogs, Bull Terriers, Greyhounds, Boxers, Dalmations and Pit Bulls are at greater risk than dogs who have darker hair and thicker skin.

Particularly sun sensitive parts of a dog include the nose and around the lips, the tips of the ears, the dog’s belly and the groin. You should try to limit your dog’s sun exposure during peak hours of about 10 am to 4 pm but if your dog must be outside during those times, use sunscreen on those vulnerable areas.

A sunscreen should be chosen that is specially formulated for dogs, as they won’t be harmful to your dog. Some sunscreens made for humans have ingredients, such as zinc oxide, that can harm your dog.

When using a particular brand of canine sunscreen for the first time, it’s wise to test a small amount of the sunscreen on a small area to make sure there is no adverse reaction before using it on other areas. is a comprehensive site for information dog owners can rely on, and includes tips on health, exercise, fun facts, breed profiles and much more. has a free active Facebook Group of dog parents which any dog owner is welcome to join at  The WoofPost’s official hashtag is #woofpost

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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