Can Greyhounds Get Sunburn? How to Keep him Safe

On the first warm, sunny day of Spring, you’re delighted to see your new greyhound discover your deck or your lawn, and stretch out for a good nap in the sunshine. As sun gets stronger, and the naps get longer, you begin to wonder if that bald-ish belly is safe in the sun.

You begin to wonder, “Can greyhounds get sunburn?” 

Yes! The greyhound’s thin coat and pale skin, even on black greyhounds, make them vulnerable to sunburn.

Once your greyhound gets into the sun-worshipper habit, he’ll cry his eyes out if you try to put a stop to it. My previous greyhounds would sun for a few minutes, and know enough to move to the shade. But Lily, ever the rebel, is a confirmed sun-goddess, so I had to do some research to figure out what to do to protect her tender skin. Here’s what I learned, along with some common products that you will be surprised to find are toxic to greyhounds!

How Can I Tell if My Greyhound is Sunburned?

 Here are the symptoms to look out for, according to

  • Red, dry, leathery, or cracked skin 
  • White patches on skin
  • Ears curling up aound the edges
  • Scratching and licking (if you see your greyhound laying out in the sun and licking his arms, but you’re sure it isn’t sunburn, he could be getting his Vitamin D)
  • He may turn away from your touch
  • Remember, greyhounds are stoic. They may not wimper.
  • In a bad case, he may be slighly feverish

When to Call the Vet About Your Greyhound’s Sunburn

  • You’re feeling really uncomfortable about treating your greyhound. You can always put a call in to the vet’s office, just to touch base, and see what ideas they have. 
  • He has more symptoms than just red, sore skin
  • His skin is raw (red and moist) or cracked
  • He’s wimpering
  • He can’t get comfortable after being treated with one or two home remedies
  • He’s not healing after 2-3 days of home remedies

Can My Greyhound Get Sunburn on his Pads?

He would usually sunburn in other places (belly, groin, nose, eyelids) before that would happen. They can burn VERY quickly (in just a few minutes!) on hot pavement, though! On hot days, stay off the road, keep to the shady side of the street, and move to the grass if you stop to chat with your neighbor.

How Bad Can Sunburn Get on a Greyhound?

Even if your greyhound never gets sunburn,  sun exposure can lead to dangerous skin problems, like skin cancer, ulcers, or infections.

Vets Classify Sunburn (in animals) by Three Catagories:

  1. Superficial partial thickness burns are just on the top layer of skin, (red, without blistering)
  2. Deep partial thickness burns go beyond just the first layer of skin. It’s like a  second-degree burns on a person, but your dog probably won’t get any blisters.
  3. Full thickness burns hit all of your dog’s skin layers, and might even hurt tissue under the bottom skin layer. Your dog will be in pain from these

7 Greyt Home Remedies for Greyhound Sunburn

First, see how bad it is. If it’s just red and a bit sore, but the skin looks OK, and your greyhound is feeling OK, you can hold off on that call to the vet. Make sure he has plenty of clean, cool water to drink, and then apply a home remedy to soothe and heal your greyhound’s sunburn.

Home remedies should bring relief to your greyhound fairly quickly, and he should be better in 2 or 3 days.

Apply a Cool Compress/Damp Towel to Your Greyhound’s Sunburn

Wet a washcloth (or hand towel for larger areas) with cold water, and wring it out, so it’s not dripping wet. You can apply it for a little while, and refresh it with more cold water, or place it in a plastic bag and put it in the fridge for at least half an hour, or the freezer for 5 minutes (be sure to set a timer if you use the freezer).

Apply Aloe Vera to Your Greyhound’s Sunburn

If you’re lucky enough to have an aloe vera plant on your windowsill, help is right at hand for your greyhound’s sunburn! Aloe vera soothing and healing for burns, and your greyhound may not even lick it off…at least, Lily doesn’t, and she licks everything!  You’ll want to apply this 3 times daily.  If you use buy a bottle aloe vera gel, it should only have one ingredient; “100% pur aloe vera gel.”

Apply Vitamin E Oil to Your Greyhound’s Sunburn

This is sold in a bottle as is, and in capsules. The latter are perfect for occasional use. In either case, it keeps longer in the fridge.

You can apply it with a cotton ball. Dampen it first, so it’s not absorbing a lot of oil that’s going to end up in the trash. Drip the oil onto the dampened cotton ball from the bottle. If you have the capsules, clean a pin with some rubbing alcohol and use it to pierce the capsule. Then, you can squeeze it out onto the cotton ball, and pat it gently onto the sunburn. Apply morning and night.

Vitamin E will not only soothe, but heal your greyhound’s sunburn. It helps your dog generate new skin cells, and repair damaged skin cells.

Apply Witch Hazel to Your Greyhound’s Sunburn

This astringent will take down the sting of your greyhound’s sunburn by calming the inflammation, and is healing, as well.  Use a dampened cotton ball to put it on 2-3 times a day. Witch hazel can be drying. If the skin seems to be getting dry, switch to another remedy.

Sponge an Oatmeal Bath Over Your Greyhound’s Sunburn

Colloidal oatmeal is very inexpensive, and once you buy it, you have it forever. It’s great for soothing body rashes on people, as well as dogs. 

If you want to try making your own, run 1 cup of plain, uncooked oats through your blender, until they are powdered. If they are not fine enough, you may end up with some clogged pipes to go with that sunburned greyhound!

You don’t have to go to all the bother of a tub bath. Simply prepare a basin of room-temperature water, using 1-2 Tablespoons of oatmeal to a gallon of water. Take your greyhound outside, and sponge the oatmeal bath over the sunburned, so it will soak into the skin. Do not rinse it off. Pat dry gently with a soft towel.

Give your Sunburned Dog Some Ice

After you have treated your greyhound with one or more home remedies, place before him 1 cup of crushed ice in a wide, shallow container. He may lick it, nibble at it, or just rest his face against the side of the container and fall asleep. This is a lovely thing to do on a hot day, even without the sunburn.

Do not use an ice pack on your greyhound’s sunburn. It won’t really help, and can actually cause further skin damage.

Store-bought Remedies for your Dog’s Sunburn

You don’t want to have to run to the store at a time like this, so think ahead. Hopefully, your greyhound will never have sunburn, but your pet store will have medicinal skin-soothers that can serve multiple purposes. Read the labels and choose a product with a natural soother like aloe, tea tree oil, or calendula.

Is it Safe to Put Sunscreen on my Greyhound?

Only use sunscreens that are made especially for dogs (Lily’s choice is this one!). Sunscreens made for us often contain ingredients which are toxic to dogs, and – remember – your greyhound has only 1/2 the body fat of the average dog, so he is always going to be even more sensitive to toxins. Don’t forget to pick up a product for his nose, too!

Why Regular Sunscreen is Toxic to Dogs

The two most common dog toxins in sunscreen are PABA (“para-aminobenzoic acid”) and zinc oxide. The latter can cause a condition called hemolytic anemia, and you definitely don’t want to go there! Hemolytic anemia can be fatal, and carries with it a load of misery for your dog, and a huge vet bill. Because of this, please IGNORE advice that it’s OK to use baby sunscreen on your dog, as long as it doesn’t have these two ingredients. In the time it would take you to investigate the safety of every ingredient on the label, you could have just bought the doggie-kind! 

How to Apply Sunscreen to your Dog 

When you get your new bottle of sunscreen home, test for sensitivity by applying some to a small area on the dog. If there’s no reaction, apply the sunscreen to his nose, ear-tips, lips, belly, and groin. Do this at least 1/2 hour before your dog goes out in the sun for best results.  If your greyhound is a regular sunbather, make “sunscreen time” part of your morning routine together on warm, sunny days, so he’s already sun-safe when he decides to flop onto the grass.

If your greyhound gets wet, re-apply the sunscreen.

Sunscreen DOES Expire!

Every year, replace his (and your) sunscreen with a fresh bottle….I know what you’re thinking, and, no, the manufacturers don’t just say that to sell you more product!  It really does lose its potency, as related to me once by a young nurse, who was a skin cancer survivor.

How Can I Prevent my Greyhound From Getting Sunburn?

Greyhounds develop heatstroke, sunstroke, and heat exhaustion very easily. Prevent these, and you may never need to worry about sunburn, because he won’t be in the sun long enough for it to happen.

Prevent Dog Sunburn by Limiting Sun Time

  • Try to keep him out of the sun between 10AM and 4PM on sunny days. 
  • Limit sun time to 10-20 minutes. 
  • Get an app on your phone that will tell you how much sun is too much today ( ).

Provide Shade to Prevent Dog Sunburn

Make the shade a little more attractive by placing a comfy pad there. Greyhounds can rarely resist a bed!

They even make dog goggles and UV-protective clothing and hats for dogs. Unfortunately, these are better for Instagram photos than for protecting your greyhound. I haven’t had a greyhound yet that would tolerate any kind of clothing on a warm day, or any accessory on his head ANY time of the year!

Pay Extra Attention to your Greyhound’s Water Bowl

Always have fresh, cool water available to your greyhound, especially when he comes in from the sun. Two unfortunate things about a greyhound, with regard to water-drinking: first, he will drink whatever is there when he strolls by, so keep his water fresh and the bowl clean. Second, they are extremely lazy. If the water is not right there when he comes in, he will not be coming back for it anytime soon. Once a greyhound flops, he’s done for a while!

If you enjoyed this article, visit this page for a rundown of my greyhound health articles:

Gail McGaffigan

The owner of the Greyhound Homecare website and YouTube channel, Gail has had retired racing greyhounds as pets since 1997. Please visit our channel, too!

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