Summer brings heat and strong UV rays; most people are aware of how to protect themselves from the adverse effects of heat and sunlight. However, many are unaware of how summertime can impact on their four-legged friends.

Dogs Can get Heat Stroke

Dogs sweat and pant and often struggle to cool down themselves. This means that they are highly susceptible to heat stroke.

Dogs that are most at risk:

  • short-nosed dogs (such as boxers or pugs),
  • older dogs,
  • overweight dogs.

Additionally, spending too long in the sun, being older or unwell, being dehydrated or on medication are all factors that can increase the likeliness of heat stroke in your dog.

Particular signs and symptoms of overheating:

  • Rapid, heavy panting
  • Salivating
  • Fast breathing
  • Fast, weak pulse
  • Raised body temperature.
  • Red & inflamed skin
  • Seeming irritated

Tips for Enjoying Walkies this Summer

  1. Shade

Provide your dog with shade wherever possible. You may want to walk them in woods, on the shaded side of the street and never leave them in a totally exposed garden or yard.

  • Help them stay hydrated

You may need to carry water with you in a bottle as well as a bowl if you are out and about. Alternatively, try to arrange your outings so that you pass by fresh body of water or a tap.

  • Walk wisely

Try to take your dog for walks

  • Touch the tarmac

Dog paws can get very hot which makes it harder for them to maintain a normal body temperature.

Sun burn

Dogs can get sun burned too. Sunburn can occur after lengthy exposure in strong sunlight just like humans. Furthermore, it can lead to sun damage and skin cancer.

Dogs most at risk;

  • Dogs with light skin
    • Dogs with white fur or hair
    • Bull Terriers
    • French Bulldogs
    • Dalmatians
    • Greyhounds
    • Pitbull terrier

Dogs with light coloured fur,  or very short, fine fur would benefit from sunscreen. Any exposed areas of skin (such as on the belly or around the muzzle where the fur tends to be finer) should be protected on dogs of all types when out in the sun.

However, this is not to say that other breeds or dogs with darker fur and skin aren’t at risk from either burning or damage from the sun’s harmful rays.



  • Red & inflamed skin
  • Irritated and painful skin
  • Hair loss
  • Scaly skin

The most affected areas include the nose, area around the lips, tips of the ears, groin and the belly.

Sun Cream for Dogs

Luckily, help exists – just like humans, dogs can wear sun cream.

Just like humans, dog sun cream rinses off the skin if the dog is exposed to water so make sure to reapply after your dog’s had a dip.

Choosing Canine Cream

Ingredients in human sun cream
can be toxic to dogs. This risk is heightened by the possibility that a dog
licks themselves, ingesting the cream. You must read the labels and avoid any
sun cream that contains:

  1. Zinc Oxide
  2. Para-aminobensoic acid (PABA)

The safest option is to buy sun
cream created specifically for dogs. If this is not possible, an alternative is
to use a sun cream designed for babies with an SPF of 15 or more.

It’s best to check with your vet before deciding upon a cream.

How to Apply

  • Do a patch test first on a small area of the dog to check there is no adverse reaction
  • Be careful not to get cream into the eyes of your pet
  • Spread evenly, over exposed areas of your dog’s skin, particularly the belly and muzzle where fur tends to be finer, and allow the lotion to soak in for a few minutes
  • Don’t let your dog lick it off during this time

Remember, even if you have
applied suncream on your dog, they are not going to be fully protected from
harmful UV rays and the dangers of overheating. Thus, it’s always advisable to
spend a limited amount of time exposed in peak hours (10 to 4pm) during summer.

This will allow you and your four-legged friend to enjoy the warm weather without suffering sun-related setbacks.

Written by Emma Hammett RGN

First Aid for Pets provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for veterinary advice. The author does not accept any liability or responsibility for any inaccuracies or for any mistreatment or misdiagnosis of any person or animal, however caused. It is strongly advised that you attend a practical First Aid for Pets course or take our online course to understand what to do in a medical emergency.

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