Safety Tips for Better Dog Sun Protection

dog on the beach

Just like you wouldn’t day drink on a patio without that sweet, sweet SPF, pup shouldn’t either. That’s right–dogs can get a motherpuppin’ sunburn too (among other heat-related problems). Before you decide to bring your sun-puppy outside during the dog days of summer, check out these sun safety tips to beat the heat and make summer memories that last a lifetime.

Safety Concerns for Dogs Soaking Up the Sun

With extra sun and high temperature exposure comes extra risk for pupper health issues, like sunburn, dehydration, and even heat stroke.


Multiple sunburns can lead to skin cancer in pups–the most common form of cancer in dogs. Always be sure to lather your pup with a sunscreen of choice to protect that precious bb. 


Dehydration is a risk when there’s high heat, and pup doesn’t have proper and consistent access to water. It’s often a contributing factor to heatstroke. 

What to Watch for:

  • Lack of skin elasticity 
    • To test your dog’s skin elasticity, gently pinch the extra skin between their shoulder blades and then let it go. A well watered pooch’s skin should jump back into place. If their skin takes a while to fall back, they may be dehydrated.
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of energy or acting lethargic 
  • Abnormal panting
  • Sunken in and dry eyes
  • Dry nose
  • Dry and sticky gums 
  • Thick drool/saliva  

What To Do When Your Dog Is Showing Signs:

  • Immediately offer your dog water
  • Contact your vet immediately


“Heatstroke in dogs is defined as a state of extreme high body temperature (106 to 109.5 degrees) resulting in thermal injury to tissues,” says Cheryl Roth, DVM, owner of Grace Mobile Veterinary Arts in Lakeville. “Some studies show it has a mortality rate of 50 percent.”

What to Watch For:

  • Heavy panting
  • Rapid breathing 
  • Overly excessive drooling
  • Dryness of the inner cheeks and gums
  • Bright red coloring in the gums and tongue 
  • Skin that is hot to the touch
  • Increased heart rate 
  • Hyperactivity 
  • Difficulty maintaining their balance 

What To Do When Your Dog is Showing Signs:

  • Contact your vet immediately for guidance, and to let them know you’re on your way. Remember, this is a very serious and fatal situation. 

In the meantime, remove the dog from the hot environment. Offer your dog cool water. Place a cool towel on his back. Travel to the vet with the windows down and air conditioner on.

8 Tips to Keep Your Dog Cool 

While those risks give us the heckin’ scaries, the good news is heat-related illnesses are preventable. Whether you’re hitting the park, running errands, or just jogging around the block, follow these tips to keep your canine cool.

1. Get Your Steps in Early (or Late)

Schedule daily jogs or walks for early morning or late evening to avoid those high temps that come throughout the day. When that temperature gauge is in the red zone, limit your fluff’s exercise. Try some indoor games and playtime instead to expend some of that energy!

2. Hydrate Regularly

As a rule of paw, dogs should drink 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight every day. Carry plenty of water and a portable dog bottle when you head out on a hot day. If you notice excessive panting or fatigue, let your pup take a break and drink up. Try out this water dispenser for your longer walks.

3. Take Advantage of Pools and Dog-Friendly Beaches

Grab a backyard sprinkler or kiddie pool, and let your pup enjoy the sun. If you’ve got a doggy paddler on your paws, swimming is a great way to keep them cool. 

You can also check out some dog-friendly local beaches or swimming spots near you. We have some suggestions for Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, and Seattle.

4. Protect Those Paws

Trotting across hot asphalt, concrete, sand, or metal (like the boat dock) can be a serious pain in the paws. Choose the shady side of the street or grassy areas when out for a walk. If hot surfaces are unavoidable, carry your dog, or invest in a pair of waterproof dog booties.

Pro Tip: When you don’t know whether or not it is too hot to take your furball for a walk, put the back of your hand on the asphalt or cement. if you can’t leave it on comfortably for a full 6 seconds, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws. 

5. Be a Little Shady

As much fun as it is to drink margaritas on a patio, if the patio doesn’t have ample shade for your dog, leave her at home. Ideal shade providers include things like umbrellas, tarps, canopies, or trees, as they won’t hinder airflow or block a helpful breeze. 

6. Never Leave Your Dog in a Hot Car

Never leave your dog in a vehicle with the A/C off. Even if you park in the shade and leave the windows cracked, your car can convert to an oven in minutes–we’re talking 160+ degrees. Temps that high can quickly cause dehydration, distress, or heatstroke.

7. Grab Some Dog-Safe Sunscreen

You can’t just grab your trusty Banana Boat, as some ingredients in human sunscreen can be toxic to your furry friend. Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to dog sunscreen:

  • Check with your vet before using a new product on your pup
  • Look out for ingredients called zinc-oxide and para aminobenzoic acid, which are TOXIC to dogs and should be avoided at all times
  • Seek out a fragrance-free dog sunscreen 
  • Find a product that is also waterproof 

If you are looking for some of the best dog sun protection sunscreen, check out:

8. Dress for the Occasion 

Protective clothing isn’t just for peeps; pups can sport lightweight UPF apparel like vests and shirts. They can also rock accessories like hats and shades specially designed for canines.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Sun!

Even though there are many risks to be aware of when it comes to pups in the sun, don’t let that deter you from enjoying all of the activities that warm weather has to offer. As long as you stay aware and come prepared, you and Fido will be able to make more lasting memories while staying safe.

Do you have other sun safety tips? Drop ’em in the comments below.

Featured photo: Bruno Ticianelli

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