How To Protect Your Dog From the Sun

Published: May 24, 2024
Home / Health / How To Protect Your Dog From the Sun

Dogs love to play outside in warm weather and then bask in the hot sunlight. However, sunshine and heat are not always healthy for dogs. Overheating or exposure to ultraviolet radiation can lead to serious illnesses in canines that may be acute or chronic. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to protect your dog from the sun while playing outside.

Why Is Sun Protection Important for Dogs?

Dogs can have sunburn just like people can. Any dog can get a sunburn, but dogs with white hair or light skin are particularly at risk. You may not notice sunburn because your dog's hair might cover it up, but if you gently part the hair back, you may see redness or blistering. The parts of your dog's body with the least hair, such as the nose, are the most susceptible to sunburn. You may notice your dog's nose appears cracked and dry.

You may also be able to tell that your dog has sunburn by his behavior. The affected skin may be tender to touch, so your dog may move gingerly, avoiding putting pressure on the area. Sunburn can cause the skin to itch, and your dog may scratch the area by biting it, sometimes to the point that it bleeds.

Because dogs have relatively few sweat glands compared to humans, it is easy for them to overheat and become dehydrated. This can lead to heatstroke, a potentially deadly condition. Dogs that are older, overweight, or with short noses are more susceptible to heatstroke, but it can affect any dog of any breed.

Symptoms of heatstroke in dogs include the following:

      High body temperature

      Fast breathing and heart rate



Heatstroke in a dog is a veterinary emergency.

Long-term exposure to UV radiation from the sun can put a dog at risk of developing skin cancer. Dogs can get a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma, which is one of the same types that people can get. As with humans, this type of cancer is usually treatable if diagnosed before it has a chance to spread. Otherwise, the prognosis isn't as good.

What Can You Do To Protect Your Pet From the Sun?

Obviously, it is preferable to prevent your dog from overheating and UV radiation exposure if possible. One of the best ways to prevent sunburn, and eventual skin cancer, is to use sunscreen on your dog. Using sunscreen made for dogs will give your pup's nose the protection it needs. Sunscreen for humans may have ingredients that are toxic to canines, so avoid using those on your pup.

If your pet has light hair or skin, sunscreen may not be enough. Canine clothing, such as this Gold Paw Sun Shield dog shirt, can block up to 98% of UV rays, protecting your dog's skin from the sun.

Skin cancer can affect the eyes or the skin around them. There are goggles for dogs available that have lenses that block UV radiation, protecting these vulnerable areas. If something happens to damage the lenses, there are replacements available for sale. If goggles aren't an option for protecting your dog from the sun, another option is a canine sunhat that shades your dog's eyes. Its design allows it to fit comfortably over a dog's head without falling off easily.


Regulating your dog's body temperature can prevent her from getting heatstroke. You can soak a cooling bandana in water and tie it around your dog's neck. Because the bandana stays in the shadow of your dog's head, it doesn't dry out as quickly. As air circulates through the fabric, it cools your dog's body the same way a wet cloth in front of a fan does.

Other cooling garments for dogs include the following:



      Neck gaiters

To prevent heatstroke, your dog has to rest in the shade occasionally where the temperature is cooling. A portable shade, tent, or canopy provides a place for your pet to rest if you have to spend a lot of time in a sunny area. Another a clever way to protect your pet from all kinds of weather is an umbrella that attaches to your dog's collar that doubles as a leash.


What Should You Do if Your Dog Shows Signs of Sunburn, Heatstroke, or Skin Cancer?

If your dog has a severe sunburn or seems to be in significant pain, take her to the vet as soon as possible. Your vet may prescribe a topical ointment that provides relief and helps healing. You can also try giving your dog a bath with oatmeal. Oats have anti-inflammatory properties that can help to soothe inflamed skin. Be sure to use plain oatmeal so it won't harm your dog if accidentally swallowed.

If your dog shows signs of heatstroke, an emergency visit to the vet is necessary. Get your dog into the shade while you call the vet's office to inform the staff of the situation. On the way to the clinic, turn on your car's air conditioning and place your dog in front of it, wetting his coat first. You should perform regular inspections of your dog's body to look for skin cancer. Skin cancer in dogs may present as lumps that resemble warts or red spots on your dog's skin. The skin in the affected area may be inflamed or start flaking off.


If you see any suspicious lumps or spots on your dog's skin and aren't sure if they may be malignant, take your dog to the vet, who can either confirm or rule out skin cancer.

Related Articles

Sign Up For Our Newsletter!