Many dog owners are not aware of this fact, but dogs can suffer from sunburns just like people can. Though they are not as likely to become sunburned, many dogs suffer burns from being out in the sun for too long and they may need treatment as a result. Knowing that your dog can be sunburned and also knowing what to do when they do become sunburned will help you treat your dog when they need it most.
The symptoms of sunburn in a dog are much the same as people. Dogs can suffer superficial partial thickness burns or deep partial thickness burns. In the superficial burns the hair is still attached to the skin, it is red, and there are no blisters. In the deep burns the hair may be gone and there may be damage to the tissue beneath the skin, and this can be very painful. Both types of sunburns can be uncomfortable for your dog and you should be prepared to help them with the pain and discomfort.
Preventing sunburn in your dog really is important. Dogs that have very little hair or those that are hairless are those that are most at risk. If your dog will be outdoors for any extended period of time and they are at risk you should be sure to put sunscreen on them. It needs to be reapplied every two to four hours, as indicated by the sunscreen product that you use. Also, ensuring that your dog does not spend a lot of time in direct sunlight will help to reduce the incidence of sunburn despite their predisposition to it.
Treatment of your dogs sunburn is essential and what is done will depend on the severity of the treatment. You may need to clean the wound with iodine to keep infections from starting and you may also need to use topical creams to help with the discomfort. If there are severe burns the hair may need to be shaved off and an IV started to get the dogs much needed fluids to restore their electrolyte balance. The wounds will need to be cleaned and bandaged and changed daily. In the most severe cases, skin grafts may be needed, luckily these cases are rare but they are why prevention is so important.