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Can Dogs’ Noses Get Sunburned? Important Facts & Care Tips

Ashley Bates

By Ashley Bates

german shepherd dog licking his nose

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Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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When it comes to dogs in the sun, you might not think much of it when they’re out running around outside. But the truth is, the sun can also damage our canines. This is primarily dependent on your dog’s coat type and color.

Even though dogs can technically be sunburned on any area of their body, their noses might be one of the most susceptible areas since it is one of the central exposed soft tissues. Let’s learn a little bit more about how your dog’s nose can get sunburned and what you can do to prevent it.Divider 5

Sunburns in Dogs

When you look at most dogs covered head to toe and fur, it’s hard to imagine that they could ever have an issue with the sun. Sure, we go out for pool days and baseball games sitting in the scorching sun, and we expect our exposed skin to burn.

However, we might not have the same thought process regarding our dog. The truth is, your dog can get sunburnt on any exposed area of their body, even if they are fully furred. In fact, lighter-colored dogs and those with thinner or no hair are much more susceptible than others.

But because the nose is such an exposed part of your dog’s face, virtually any dog can suffer from sunburn on the nose. It’s probably the most common place dogs are sunburned.

That’s not it, though. It’s also entirely possible for your dog to have burns on the soft parts of their tummy, on freshly exposed skin, or virtually anywhere at all on a hairless dog breed. White dogs are also more susceptible to sun damage due to the lack of protection for their skin. They are more likely to have a pink rather than black nose which has less protection from the sun’s damaging rays.

Even though it might seem like a no-brainer once you know it, you can be diligent about protecting your dog.

Image Credit: Anamaria Mejia, Shutterstock

How Can You Tell If Your Dog’s Nose Is Sunburned?

The first obvious sign that your dog has a sunburn on its nose is the changing of color pigment. Dogs with lighter noses may exhibit redness. Dogs with black noses might have flaking on the nose. They might also seem less apt to put their sniffer on different parts of the ground.

Burns can vary in severity from mild to severe. For your dog to have a severe sunburn on their nose, they would likely have to stay outside for quite a while in direct sunlight. Unless your dog is tied up outside, it is much less likely that the sunburn will be so severe that it causes extreme side effects.

If you notice any extreme discomfort, blistering, or worsening, it might be time to contact your vet just to ensure they’re not getting any infection. Burns can easily lead to infection, as the skin’s protective barrier is compromised.

If you have to take your dog to the vet over potential sunburn, they might prescribe an antibiotic if the issue is bad enough. But most of the time, treating your dog’s nose can be done at home.Divider 5

How to Prevent Dog Sunburns

The best way to treat a sunburn on your dog’s nose is to avoid getting the sunburn in the first place.

1. Use Dog Safe Sunscreen

You might think that to prevent your dog from getting sunburns, it’s OK to slather a little human sunscreen on their nose. Maybe you have some SPF for children or adult sunscreen on hand. We understand that it’s tempting to use it, as it serves the purpose for us humans.

Several chemical compounds are found in many commercial sunscreen products that are completely unsafe for dogs such as excessive zinc. Dogs will usually attempt to lick off the suncream so ingredients must be safe for ingestion and to “stick” to the nose so that it stays protected.

You can find various sun protective products for dogs on Chewy. So, make sure never to cut corners, using sunscreen in the cabinet in place of a canine-specific product.

Lagotto Romagnolo dog standing in the yard on a sunny day
Image Credit: Jne Valokuvaus, Shutterstock

2. Keep Outings on Super Sunny Days Minimal

Of course, you and your dog love walking outdoors, enjoying the incredible summer heat. However, in times of extreme temperatures or extreme sunlight, take precautions and minimize your time spent outside.

Also, if you have a fenced-in backyard where your dogs roam freely, make sure to offer shaded areas or ensure that your dog comes inside in a reasonable amount of time.

3. Stop Exposure to Direct Sunlight

First, if your dog still has a sunburn on its nose, it’s best to take it easy until they recover. During the healing process, keeping them out of direct sunlight is essential.

If you take walks together, choosing well-shaded areas with minimal to no direct sunlight exposure is best. Take breaks if your dog is starting to flag and offer plenty of water. Avoid the hottest times of the day.

When your dog is on the trail, you can always add an extra layer of protection, like a cap or coverage, to keep from exposing your dogs to vulnerable areas.

dog with shirt
Image Credit: Borodin Alexey, Shutterstock

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Watch for Inhumane Situations

Unfortunately, there are still people today who tie their dogs out to a dog box or on a cable. These owners can sometimes leave their dogs outside for hours without adequate protection from the sun.

If you have noticed a dog hanging out outside in the direct sunlight, or you have seen what appears to be a burn on its body or nose, it might be necessary to contact help if it seems like the animal is being neglected.

Luckily, there is help in virtually every state, and other animal rescues and humane services to help in these various situations. Some owners might be uneducated, while others simply, unfortunately, don’t care. So, if you’re concerned with the health and well-being of any dog you might see, it’s best to try to get the animal help since they can’t speak for themselves.

No dog should ever be tied up outside in direct sunlight for long periods unattended. So, if you do have to go to the authorities or seek help from any type of animal advisor, just know that you’re doing the right thing.

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Final Thoughts

So now you know that dogs can absolutely get sunburns on their nose and other parts of the body. It’s best to take precautions when the weather is bright and toasty. If you think your dog has sunburn on its nose, take it easy for a few days and treat it as needed.

If you notice any maltreatment of a dog, don’t hesitate to contact local rescue groups or animal control near you.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: Rita_Kochmarjova, Shutterstock

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