Can dogs get sunburn or is my Bull Terrier too cool for that?

Home » Can dogs get sunburn or is my Bull Terrier too cool for that?

IF you decide to you use sunscreen for humans …

my advice is to find fragrance free formulas. Also better avoided: PABA and alcohol (often found in sun screen). And there are even a lot more ingredients to look out for.


Although many vets recommend sunscreen for babies or kids to also use on dogs, it is important to know that most sunscreens, and especially the ones formulated for kids, are mineral based (mainly zinc and titanium based).
If your dog is able to reach the covered areas and tends to lick those areas (OR YOUR skin!!!), ALL zinc based formulas can be toxic to your dog! Not only can they cause an upset stomach, but also worse symptoms of poisoning. Experts say that Zinc in larger amounts can even be fatal for dogs!

The also often used Titanium Dioxide is considered to be safe, yet it provides less effective sun protection than zinc. The most important disadvantage is that because of the lesser effectiveness it is often only found in combination with zinc (or other minerals) in sunscreen.

What else should I consider in terms of my dog sunbathing?

It’s just as important, as sunscreen, to protect your dog from overheating in general.
Not all dogs have a natural sensor telling them they’ve had enough. So, you may need to control your dog’s sunbathing times and should keep them within a reasonable time frame.

At the latest once you notice your dog panting excessively, it is definitely time so end the direct exposure to the sun and provide some shade.

Dogs only sweat through their paw pads. That’s the only area where they have perspiratory glands. A pretty small area to get rid of excessive heat and energy compared to the surface of their entire body.
In comparison: Humans have thousands of perspiratory glands basically covering their entire skin/ body for heat exchange.
That’s why our own cooling system is much more effective than the one of dogs and why overheating/ heatstroke besides sunburn is another very real hazard to dogs on a hot summer day.

Learn more about why helping your dog to “keep cool” in the summertime is important on the next page

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Olivia Morrissette
1 year ago

It’s good you’re addressing sunburn, especially for a breed that has so many almost-all-white members! BT owners do need to keep this in mind.
However, I’ve never heard of using the standard capillary-refill-time (CRT) test for sunburn–neither for dogs or for people. In people it’s normally applied to the nail beds to get a rough idea of tissue perfusion in a patient who might be suffering from decreased perfusion, and usually the refill time is counted in seconds, and noted. If your dog’s sunburned skin is pressed briefly, the area should blanch like any skin, I would think, and then return to its burned appearance. You should be able to merely glance at your dog’s skin and tell it’s gotten some sunburn.
(I am NOT a veterinarian. Just a registered nurse who sometimes throws her opinion around.)

Keep up the good work. 😊

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