If my pet is outside do I need to be concerned about sunburn? Does their fur protect them, if so what about exposed areas, like nose and inside ears.

1 Answer 1


Yes as a matter of fact, almost all animals can get a sunburn. As a response to that, of course, they have provided themselves with the necessary adaptations to protect their skin. Hippos and pigs for example, moisturize their skin and prevent sunburns by soaking themselves in mud. Elephants protect their youngsters from the sun by covering them, and also apply sand and water on their back. Here is a pdf file about various animal adaptations: http://epa.gov/sunwise/doc/animals_zoo.pdf

However, in Reptiles, it is almost impossible to get a sunburn. Reptiles have scales to protect them from the ill effects of UV light. If they were exposed to too much sun, they are probably going to overheat and die even before the sun gets to burn their skin, you can read more with this link. Birds, on the other hand, have a very low probability of getting a sunburn due to their feathers, and because they do not sunbathe as much as your more common pets like cats or dogs. It's worth noting that it seems like many birds either do not get sunburned, or do not change their skin color the way we do when we get sunburned. Read more here, and here.

Yes, furry animals can get a sunburn, but usually the fur is enough to protect them for the most. Let's say you have a dog you want to protect from a sunburn, what you can do is the following:

  • Make sure your dog plays outside mostly when the sun is not strongest; the sun is usually strongest between 10am - 4pm.

  • Apply dog sunscreen to your dog, focus on the most vulnerable areas like the nose and ear insides since they aren't covered in fur. And if you have another pet like a cat then you should apply cat sunscreen. Never apply human sunscreen as most are toxic to pets, especially the ones containing zinc oxide.

  • You should also protect the dogs eyes, you can find some goggles for dogs in many pet stores, usually called doggles.

  • There are clothes that can protect your pet from uv rays, also sold in pet stores.

    You can read more with these links provided below:

    1. 7 Sun Safety Suggestions for Dogs
    2. Is Your Dog at Risk for Sunburn?
    3. How To: Protect Your Pet Against Sunburn

If your dog does get sunburned, it should heal by itself in time. You can apply some cold water on it, but your dog can really do by itself. Sunburns on animals are very similar to that in humans, you would notice redness of the skin, and perhaps peeling. If you notice broken skin or that your pet is in pain then take him to a vet for a check up.

Protecting your pet against sunburn should definitely be a concern, especially since usually pets don't know that they're getting too much sun, and many like sunbathing. Tony Barthel, curator of the Elephant House and the Cheetah Conservation Station at Smithsonian’s National Zoo says that though protection from sunburns is a concern, it isn't too common and severe cases have not taken place in ten years(read more). It's just one of the many precautions you should take in order to keep your pet healthy and happy.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.