You’re not going to the beach without protection (I’m talking about sunscreen by the way).
But what about your Chihuahua? Do they need sunscreen?
Keep reading to discover:
- 5 things you should know about Chihuahuas and the sun.
- The areas of your Chi’s body that could easily get sunburned.
- The biggest favor you could do your Chi (tip #5 is a must-read).
Table of contents
- Do Chihuahuas need sunscreen?
- Can Chihuahuas get sunburned?
- 5 things you should know about Chihuahuas and the sun
- 5 tips to prevent sunburn
Do Chihuahuas need sunscreen?
Chihuahuas need sunscreen as much as humans do, especially those with low production of melanin. Chihuahuas with sparse hair and short legs are also at high risk of sunburn. If not treated, sunburn can lead to serious skin problems such as skin cancer.
Can Chihuahuas get sunburned?
Chihuahuas are more prone to sunburn than large dogs. This is because of reflected sunlight from the ground. Since they are small and short-legged, their bellies are closer to the ground. As a result, they can get sunburned bellies.
That being said, let’s talk about…
5 things you should know about Chihuahuas and the sun
With all that fur or hair, how can they get sunburned?
All dogs, it seems, can get sunburned. But there are those that are more prone than others.
For example, white dogs have fair skin underneath their fur. This makes them more susceptible to sunburns.
It’s because of melanin. Melanin is responsible for protecting the cells from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. The darker the skin, the higher density of melanocytes, which produce melanin.
In contrast, the lighter the skin, the lower density it has. Thus, the fewer melanin.
There isn’t as much melanin as needed to protect the cells.
In humans, fair-skinned people get sunburned easily.
The same is true for dogs.
How to tell quickly whether your Chihuahua is sunburned?
First, check the areas of their body prone to sunburn. Ears, nose, belly and groin.
Second, see if the skin is pink and tender to the touch. You’ll know that it is if your dog reacts to your touch as though hurt.
Next, look for cracked, scaly skin. That’s a sign of sunburn as well.
And check the ears if there is curling at the edges.
Then observe your dog. Is your Chihuahua scratching in tender areas and whimpering? Are they scampering away from you when you try to pet them?
The best thing to do if your Chihuahua has sunburn is to take them to the vet. We might not be able to see how serious the sunburn is.
But the vet will. They will recommend topical ointments or other medications if needed.
And last, avoid a repeat of this accident by having your Chihuahua wear sunscreen.
#3: Hair and legs
Hairless dogs or those with thin hair are at risk of sunburn. There is nothing to protect them from the sun.
But even those with thick coats can get sunburned.
Dogs experience shedding. Or, they could have a health condition that causes their coats to shed. When this happens, they are at a greater risk of sunburn.
Also, small dogs can get sunburned more easily than large ones. The bellies of small dogs and short-legged ones are closer to the ground.
Therefore, their bellies, and even groin, can get sunburned easily.
#4: Vulnerable areas
To repeat, the areas where it is little or no fur get sunburned easily. These include bellies, groin, ears, and nose.
Should you worry about the paws?
Your Chihuahua’s paws have thick and darker skin. Those may not get sunburned, but in any case, it’s best to avoid walking your dog on hot concrete.
#5: From sunburn to more serious skin problems
Dogs always seem to find the sunniest part of the house. They love to bask in the sun and soak those rays at any time of the day.
Lying on concrete or light surfaces makes your Chihuahua prone to sunburn. And if they love lying on their backs, they’ll sunburn their bellies.
Sometimes, sunburn can lead to blistering and even fever.
In some cases, sunburn can lead to something more serious.
Too much exposure to the sun without protection can eventually lead to skin cancer. The types of skin cancer arising from sun exposure are the following:
- Squamous cell carcinoma.
- Malignant melanomas.
Not only that, but sunburn worsens some pre-existing conditions. Chihuahuas with autoimmune disorders and dermatitis shouldn’t stay under the sun too long.
The good thing is there are things you can do to prevent your Chihuahua from getting sunburned.
5 tips to prevent sunburn
#1: Use sunscreen
Not just any sunscreen, though. Don’t use your sunscreen on your Chihuahua.
There are sunscreen brands made specifically for dogs. These are safe and pose no health risks to your Chihuahua.
But with a lot of brands out there, it’s confusing what to choose! The best course of action is to ask your vet for a recommendation.
And since dogs constantly lick themselves, they might accidentally ingest sunscreen. Your vet will know the ingredients that are safe for your dog.
Caution: stay away from brands that contain harmful ingredients.
Ingredients such as zinc oxide and para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) will make your Chihuahua sick. Or they can lead to anemia.
Also, get a fragrance-free and waterproof sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30.
So the next time you let your Chihuahua jump to that refreshing pool, apply sunscreen first. Read on to find out how to apply sunscreen.
#2: How to apply sunscreen
Before slathering on that sunscreen, do a patch test first. This is to ensure that your dog is not allergic to it.
If all else is okay, go ahead and apply it to areas exposed to sunshine. Be careful not to get sunscreen into your Chihuahua’s eyes.
Since your Chihuahua is small, it will be easy to apply a thin layer.
You don’t have to rub sunscreen in all areas of the body. Just the ones that are likely to get sunburned.
This means excluding areas covered with hair. That’s because they’re well protected, so no need to apply sunscreen there.
It’s best to apply sunscreen 20 minutes before your Chihuahua goes out. After application, monitor your Chihuahua to ensure they don’t lick the sunscreen.
You can reapply the sunscreen every 4 to 6 hours throughout the day.
Caution: Reapply each time after your dog goes swimming.
#3: Avoid peak hours
Peak hours are between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
This is the hottest part of the day. A lot of bad things can happen to Chihuahuas if exposed to the sun. Starting with dehydration and heatstroke.
I suggest that you and your Chihuahua stay indoors during that time. It‘s cooler inside the house and your dog can lie on the cold floor and cool themselves down.
If you can’t help but be outside, don’t let your dog walk on hot concrete. Their paws are delicate and can get burned. Carry your Chi instead.
#4: Stay in the shade
Have your Chihuahua stay in the shade as much as you can.
At the beach, bring a big umbrella. Dogs would automatically seek shelter if the sun is too hot.
And make sure they have access to fresh water all the time.
Even when you’re at the park, stay under the shade. Walk under the shade of the trees when you’re out for a walk.
For your daily walks, take your Chihuahua out early in the morning or late in the afternoon. The temperatures then are bearable for your Chi and are less likely to make your dog pant.
That’s what you can do to prevent your Chihuahua from experiencing a heat stroke.
#5: Do not shave
Even well-meaning pet owners do this one big mistake:
Shaving their dogs during the hot summer months.
They would argue it’s for their pet’s sake.
I beg you to never do it. Not even if your dog has a thick coat of fur.
You can have your Chihuahua groomed, but not shaved.
Caution: Shaving your dog’s coat will leave your dog unable to protect themselves from hot or cold.
Surprisingly, dogs use their fur to regulate their body temperature. So you don’t have to worry about their thick coat of fur.
What you can and should do instead, is to keep them hydrated. Make fresh water easily accessible to them so they can drink and keep their bodies cool.
Knowing these things will help to protect your Chihuahua from sunburn. So even if you’re outside, you know they are protected against UV rays.