Whether your dog is a sports enthusiast, a weekend warrior, a sun worshipper or along for the ride on one of your family adventures, it’s important to take the necessary precautions to keep their body safe from the sun and heat. Although most are covered in fur, their skin is very sensitive and just thirty minutes in the sun can result in a sunburn for some dogs.
Sunburn in dogs appears as red skin, just like ours, and can even result in hair loss. Although all dogs can get sunburned, shorthaired breeds and dogs with white or pink skin are most at risk. To minimize the exposure for your dog, here are five things you can do:
1. Don’t shave your dog in the summer. Your dog’s coat plays two important roles in the heat: the first is to keep him cool by insulating him from the heat (counterintuitive but true!), and the second is to protect him from the sun’s UV rays.
Tip: Remember to brush your dog’s fur and bathe her frequently as clean, brushed fur allows for better air circulation.
2. Make sure to apply sunblock to the top of the snout, the ears and the space between their hind legs. If there are any other areas of your dog specifically that are hairless, include those on the list as well. When it comes to sunscreens, the key is to choose a product that’s safe, non-toxic and effective. Sunscreens don’t need to contain unhealthy synthetic or chemical ingredients, yet many do.
Tip: Most dogs will lick the sunscreen after application if they can reach it, so you need something that won’t harm your canine if he ingests it. When choosing a sunblock, make sure it is formulated specifically for dogs or that’s safe for human babies. Be sure to avoid Zinc Oxide and PABA as both can be toxic to dogs.
3. Only apply sunscreen to exposed areas. Your dog’s hair doesn’t need protection and applying all over just offers more opportunities for your dog to ingest it.
Tip: There is no reliable way to keep the SPF protective ingredients attached to the hair shaft, so avoid any shampoos or conditioners that are marketing sun protection.
4. Schedule outdoor activities when sun and heat exposure are at a minimum. You can minimize the risk of sunburn or skin cancer by planning walks and hikes in the early morning or evening when the sun is lower. This will also ensure that pavement temperatures are at their lowest to protect your pups paws from burns.
Tip: Be sure that whenever and wherever you go, your dog has access to shade and to water.
5. Use sun protective clothing if your dog has a negative reaction to sunscreen or if you want to give more full-body protection. There are lightweight sun shirts made specifically for dogs and they are also great at keeping your pup’s coat cool throughout the day.
Tip: Even with a sun shirt on, don’t forget to protect that sweet little face you love so much.
Summer is a time for outdoor fun and there’s no reason not to soak it all in while you can. With a few small measures of precaution you can save your pup from any summer dangers and ensure many more fun-filled, sunny days in the future!
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