All Things Dog

Sunburn and Your Boxer

Running on the beach, playing Frisbee at the park, or just stretching out in the yard—what Boxer doesn't love romping in the sun? But can your Boxer get too much of a good thing?

Sunlight has the same benefits for dogs as it does for people: It helps the skin produce vitamin D, which protects the skin and helps balance the body's calcium levels and metabolism. But excessive exposure to UV radiation can lead to sunburn and skin cancer in dogs. So your Boxer may need extra protection if he is out in the sun for very long periods.

Sunburn is more common in short-hair dogs, usually affecting the bridge of the nose, the abdomen, the groin, and the insides of their legs. This is especially a problem for those with white coats and unpigmented skin or pink noses.

Here's what you can do to protect your pooch:

Apply sunscreen—Look for sunscreens (SPF 15 or greater) developed specifically for pets that contain titanium dioxide as the active ingredient. Only apply sunscreen to the small susceptible areas of skin, such as the bridge of the nose and the ear tips. Pay particular attention to those areas not covered well with hair, such as the abdomen, and any pink spots on the nose. Be sure to distract him so he doesn't lick off the sunscreen.

Cover him up—The belly is prone to sunburn because of sunlight that reflects up from the sidewalk or from hot sand on the beach. Since it's easy for sunscreen on your dog's belly to rub or wash off, you may want to slip a T-shirt on him. Some veterinarians even recommend a type of bodysuit for dogs that is designed to block ultraviolet rays and prevent sunburn.

Stay in the shade—Short or sparse-haired dogs can develop sunburn very quickly where their skin is exposed. It's a good idea to keep these pets out of direct sun, especially in the middle of the day when the sun is at its strongest.

Doggie sunburn usually begins as redness and hair loss. If your dog gets a little sunburn, try misting the affected area with cool water to soothe some of the discomfort. A cold compress can also help relieve the pain. Sunburn usually does not require a trip to the vet unless the skin is raw or broken or if your dog is visibly in pain.

Above all, keep in mind throughout the warm-weather seasons that prevention really is the best medicine for your dog.

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