Protect Your Dog From Sunburn

5 Ways to Protect Your Dog from Sunburn

Updated 04/19/2024 by Ava Jaine

It’s Summertime!  Warmer weather means spending a lot more time outside with plenty of sunshine. Just like people, dogs are prone to sunburn and other sun-related medical issues. 

It is important to learn how to protect your dog from sunburn.

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Table Of Contents


Dogs Prone To Sunburn

All dogs are at risk for sunburn, but some are more susceptible than others. Dogs with thin, light-colored coats are more prone to sunburn than dogs with darker colored coats. 

Any pup with a white or pinkish pigment on their nose or ears will also need more protection from the sun.

The lighter the dog, the greater the risk!

Dog Breeds More Prone To Sunburn

  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Boxer
  • Chinese Crested
  • Dachshund
  • Dalmatian
  • Greyhound
  • Weimaraner
  • Whippet
  • White German Shepherd
  • Jack Russell Terrier
Protect Your Dog From Sunburn

As you can see from his picture above, my dachshund, Eko has very thin white hair and light pink skin on his nose.

My dog needs serious sun protection during the hot summer months.


Where Do Dog’s Get Sunburn?

All dogs love to find warm sunny spots for a cozy afternoon nap. Pay close attention though, sunburn will most likely occur on your dog’s:

  • nose
  • ears
  • around the eyes
  • lips
  • belly

Even if your dog isn’t laying on their back while sunbathing, the sun’s rays can easily bounce off of the sidewalk outside or the sand at the beach and burn their belly.

Be careful not to let your dog lay outside for very long to avoid sunburn.  A sunburn on your dog is not only painful, it can develop into skin cancer.

Fact: Skin Cancer is the most common type of cancer in dogs. (

Protect Your Dog From Sunburn

Dog Sunburn Symptoms

Dog sunburn symptoms include:

  • Redness
  • Tender / Sore Skin
  • Dry and cracked skin
  • Itchy hot spots

Note: Your dog’s ears will show curling dry skin at the edges if they are sunburned.

Your dog may scratch at the itchy sunburn spot and whimper when the affected area is touched.  If your dog’s sunburn is severe, they may also develop a fever.

Dog Sunburn And Disease

As you know, sunburn can be super painful, but it doesn’t stop there – it can also lead to more serious medical problems in your dog.

Skin Cancer: Dogs that are exposed to too much sunshine can develop skin cancers like Squamous Cell Carcinoma, Malignant Melanomas, Hemangioma, Cutaneous Lymphoma, Histiocytoma, and Mast Cell tumors.

Medical Conditions:  After your dog has a sunburn, they can develop autoimmune disorders and dermatitis.

Dog Sunburn Prevention Tips

You can lower your dog’s risk of serious sun exposure by taking certain precautions and planning ahead. Here are some easy ways you can protect your dog from sunburn.

Dog Sunscreen

Protect yourself and your fur-baby from painful sunburn with sunscreen.  That’s right!  They have sunscreen that is formulated just for dogs.

Dog sunscreen products that are free of PABA, zinc oxide, and are un-scented work best.  Sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 and waterproof are preferred.

Can Human Sunscreen Harm A Dog?

Yes, human sunscreens are not formulated for dogs and are made with chemicals that are toxic to dogs. 

If a good amount of human sunscreen is ingested, it can be harmful to your dog. Stick with sunscreen for dogs to avoid poisoning your pup.

Protect Your Dog From Sunburn

Best Dog Sunscreen

Sit. Stay. Forever.

Pros: The Sit. Stay. Forever Organic Sunscreen & Moisturizer is organic, hypoallergenic, waterproof, and non-toxic! It includes natural ingredients with the highest SPF protection: Coconut Oil (SPF 4-6), Olive Oil (SPF 2-8), Shea Butter (SPF 3-6), Red Raspberry Oil (SPF 28-50), Carrot Seed Oil (SPF 38-40), Hemp Oil (SPF 6) and Lemongrass Oil (SPF6.5). This dog sunscreen is made in the USA.

Cons: This is a small container of product.


How To Apply Sunscreen To Dogs

Apply the dog sunscreen 20 minutes before taking your pup out in the sun.  Reapply the dog sunscreen every 4-6 hours or after your dog gets wet.

Test It First:  Always test a small area on your dog’s skin to see if they have an allergic reaction before applying it all over.  If everything looks OK, apply a thin layer of the dog sunblock to the most exposed spots on your dog.

Where To Apply: Apply the sunscreen to your dog’s snout, tips of the ears, and thin hair / no hair spots on their tummy. 

Be very careful around your dog’s face and avoid your dog’s eyes (it will sting).  You can also apply the sunscreen to the armpit and inner thigh areas.

Focus on the areas with pink or light colored skin that isn’t covered by a lot of fur.

Note: After you have applied the sunscreen on your dog, try to keep them occupied for about 20 minutes to allow proper absorption and prevent them from licking it off. Offering dog treats or a lick mat smeared with banana and dog-safe peanut butter can effectively keep their attention.

Sunscreen Alternatives

If your dog has sensitive skin or is allergic to sunscreen, UV blocking dog clothes are a nice sunscreen alternative. They are great for outdoor activities and will keep your dog cool and protected on those hot summer days.

Dog sun shirts will protect against UVA and UVB sun rays, are lightweight, and will dry quickly.

Dog Sun Shirt

The PlayaPup Dog Sun Shirt (From Amazon) is so adorable and colorful! Lightweight UPF 50+ fabrics provide sun protection by blocking 98% of UVA and UVB, wet or dry. 

They are even great for water activities. The special stretchy fabric is soft, comfortable, and quick-drying.

Note: Check the size chart to get the best fit for your dog.

Protect Your Dog From Sunburn

Here is a cute picture of my little dog, Eko, sporting his adorable UV sun shirt.

Protect Your Dog From Sunburn

My dachshund, Reno (pictured below), is sporting a dog sunhat all the way from Australia. 

His Aunt wanted to give him a practical gift while she was visiting the country on vacation.  He wore the hat with no issues and it looked pretty cute too.

Protect Your Dog From Sunburn

Dog Sun Hat

This Summer Dog Hat (from Amazon) will keep your pup cool and comfortable in the sun. There are several different sizes. It is handmade in the USA. This hat will help protect your dog’s eyes and provide UV protection from the sun’s harmful rays.


Dog Sunglasses

Protect your dog’s precious eyes from the bright sun. Dog goggles are flexible, waterproof, and provide protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays. 

Here is a pair that is highly rated:  Dog Goggles (from Amazon).  They offer UV/UVB protection from UV sun rays, wind, water, and debris.


Does your dog have longer hair?  If you are thinking about giving them a super short haircut this summer, be very careful how short you go. 

Shorter hair won’t protect your dog from sunburn,  it will reveal more skin.  

The longer hair acts as a protective sun barrier for your pup.  Yes, for the heat, give them a nice trim, but don’t take off too much of the length.

Off-Peak Outdoor Activities

Take your pup for their morning walk before the sun gets too hot and their evening walk after the sun goes down. 

If your dog enjoys swimming, a game of fetch outside, or going for long hikes, avoid peak sunshine time so they don’t get too hot or sunburn.

In the USA, avoid the sun during peak time: 10 am to 4 pm daylight saving time.

Shade And Water

This one’s a bit obvious, but a natural way to prevent sunburn is to find some cool shade.  If you are gone for the day and you have an indoor / outdoor kennel for your dog, make sure there is plenty of shade for your pup to get out of the sun.

While playing at the park, look for some cool shade under a tree or even an umbrella. 

At home, your patio furniture can provide some shade for your dog, just make sure to check the temperature underneath so they don’t get too hot.

Hydrate Your Pup! Not only is a sunburn dangerous, but your pup is also at risk for heatstroke when it’s hot outside. 

Make sure to have plenty of cool water available for your dog at all times and don’t let them stay out in the heat for too long.

Protect Your Dog From Sunburn

Dog Sunburn Treatment

If your dog does get a bad sunburn, they will be in a lot of pain and will need to be treated.   For minor sunburns, use the following dog sunburn treatment to help your pup feel better.

Cool Water Mist or Cool Compress on the sunburn can help relieve some of the pain.

Aloe Gel can be used on minor sunburns.  Just don’t let your dog lick it off!  Aloe gel is not toxic, but if ingested, it can upset your dog’s stomach.

Severe Dog Sunburn:

If your dog’s skin is red and blistered, take them to the vet. It isn’t worth letting your dog be in pain, get some help. 

Your veterinarian can give you some medicine to prevent inflammation, treat possible infection, and help with the pain.

Protect Your Dog From Sunburn

Let’s be more prepared this summer.  You know it’s going to be a hot one, so protect your dog’s delicate skin from too much sun exposure. 

It’s better to prevent a sunburn than to have to deal with the painful affects of sun damage.  Follow these steps to ensure your dog has a safe and happy summer.

How Do You Keep Your Dog Safe From The Sun?  Let Us Know Below.