The good news: We still have about half of the summer season left. The bad news: That means a month and a half more of being hyper vigilant about our sun care routines. And if it weren’t stressful and time-consuming enough to worry about your own skin, you also need to be keeping an eye on your dog’s epidermis.
Contrarty to popular belief, dogs can get suburned, and they can even get skin cancer. Just as there are certain dog breeds that are more susceptible to heat stroke, there are also certain dog breeds—and certain physical characteristics—that are more prone to sunburns and skin sensitivity. It manifests the same way it does in humans: red skin that may even be dry or cracking.
The most obviously susceptible are the hairless breeds like the Chinese Crested and the Xoloitzcuintli. But dogs with thinning hair or Alopecia (we’re looking at you, Giggy and Harrison!) are also at much higher risk. Similarly, dogs with white or golden hair tend to be more fair-skinned (just like humans), so take extra precautions.
And regardless of your dog’s breed or fur color, there are certain areas that are vulnerable on almost all pups: the nose (totally hairless!), the ears and mouth (thin, delicate skin), and the belly, for all those dogs who like to sunbathe stomach-up.
So now that you know about your dog’s risk factors, what are you going to do? First of all, use common sense: Limit his time in the sun and opt for shade whenever possible. But if you’re going for a day at the beach or a desert hike, arrange for some SPF protection. Do not use sunscreen meant for humans (your dog will lick off that delicious coconut scent and get sick). Instead, choose a dog-specific SPF, or sun protective clothing.
Let’s say you failed to heed our warnings and you wound up on this article because your dog is officially sunburned. You can treat the skin with a natural oatmeal bath, or use aloe vera. (Both are completely safe should your dog decide it makes for a delicious snack.) A few days after treating the burn, apply some Vitamin E oil—it will soothe the dried skin and help prevent scarring.
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