Dogs and Sunburn

Every summer we post a homepage article about the particular dangers summer poses to Frenchies. About the hazards of heat for Frenchies: Don’t leave your dog in the car in summer, even for a few minutes. Leave your dog at home when you run errands–what if your a/c quits? What if you run inside for just a minute and while in there, you a. have a stroke; b. get shot by an armed robber; c. slip on a puddle and crack your head and wake up with amnesia? Don’t do it. Don’t walk your frog in the heat of the day. Don’t let your dog (or kids) swim in an algae-filled pond or lake. We’ve covered all that stuff, plus what to do if your dog DOES get over-heated, God forbid.

Here’s a new one on us, though. Dogs can get sunburned. Especially dogs like Frenchies.

White ones are particularly prone to sunburn, and just as it can for people, repeated sunburn can set your frog up for skin cancer.

If you have a black or brindle Frenchie who likes to sunbathe on his back with his belly up, beware. That tender skin is really prone to burning, and a burn on a dog is no less painful than the burn you get. If your dog has had or has a skin condition–lots of our rescued Frenchies have had mange, for instance, and then the secondary skin infection that follows–your dog is more likely to have sensitive skin. Dogs with an autoimmune disease or condition must take special care to avoid sunburn

What to do, what to do? If your dog is lolling about in the sun for more than 20 or so minutes at a time (really, that’s not a good idea, but we know it’s hard to interrupt what is obviously giving them pleasure!), be sure to put some sunscreen or sunblock that is specially formulated for dogs on their ears, what passes for their nose, and their tummies (we just learned that zinc oxide can result in hemolytic anemia if it is ingested or licked off, and the ingredient PABA is also toxic.) Don’t let them sunbathe from 10-2 at all. If they have thin hair from past skin problems, seasonal allergies, or thyroid issues, put some where the hair is thin. If their tails are bald, as some Frenchies’ tail nubbins are, give their tails a squirt and massage that stuff on. If you are suspicious about the chemicals in sunblock, get a toddler’s shirt–polo shirts are great for Frenchies’ big ol’ heads and thick necks–and stuff them in the shirt before they go out. Pay no attention to the dirty looks.

Finally, keep an eye on your dogs. They may not seem to be getting overheated and they may not seem to be uncomfortable, but think back to your sunbathing days–you didn’t feel the burn while it was happening, did you? Neither do they, and even if they did feel it, as one of our Frenchie-loving friends said when we doubtfully asked, “Well, but wouldn’t they just come out of the sun if they got too hot?” “No,” she said, “God love them, they don’t have the brains God gave grass.” Neither did we, if our baby-oil frying habits of old are any indication, but that’s neither here nor there.

With luck, your dog will not get sunburned this summer, but if he does get a burn, move him to a cooler area and put room temperature or just slightly cooler water or a cool compress on the burned area (hose water is probably too cold). If the burn is severe, get the dog to the vet. Your dog might need cortisone or antibiotics. Needless to say, if your dog overheats, don’t waste time with home remedies, just wrap him in a cool, wet towel and go to the ER vet!

For more information about sunburning and pets, you can check out this article. Some of the information here comes from that article.