The Sun's Heat Can be DeadlyOne of my dogs years ago, Riker, was the ultimate sun bather. He'd go outside on a warm day and lie on the concrete patio, flat on his side, and soak up the sun's heat. While I envied him (and did it far too many times myself as a teenager) there were days when I called Riker inside because I worried he'd develop heat stroke. Dogs don't sweat as we do, so dissipating heat can be difficult. The only sweat glands dogs have are in their paws which is why a hot dog will often leave behind damp paw prints. Other than that, dogs pant to lower their temperature. When a dog is hot and panting isn't lowering his temperature quickly the dog can become hyperthermic and develop heat stroke. An overheated dog will pant excessively, drooling while doing so, and will be anxious. He might be barking and whining. He could have seizures and, if not treated promptly, he could die. If you suspect your dog has become overheated, remove him from the heat if at all possible. If you're outside and can't get him into some air conditioning, pour cool water over him. Get him wet all over and keep the water running on him. Massage him briskly to keep his blood circulating to move the cooler blood near the skin throughout the body. Once you've started to cool him call your veterinarian immediately and get him to your vet's clinic. If your veterinarian isn't available take your dog to the closest emergency clinic.
Sun Bleaching the CoatAmazingly enough, the sun's rays can bleach your dog's coat. Just as some people who spend a lot of time outside in the summer develop sun bleached hair (usually lighter streaks) some dogs can also have a sun bleached coat. This is most common in dogs who have red or brown coats, including chocolate, reddish brown, liver, and similar shades. It's not unusual in black dogs either. Riker, who was a black tri-colored Australian Shepherd, would have shades of red in his black coat if I let him stay out in the sun too long over the course of a summer. Unfortunately, the sun bleached coat is also a damaged coat. The hair is usually dry and damaged as well as discolored.
Sun Burns are Bad NewsWhen my old dog Riker spent time basking in the sun I wasn't too worried about his coat, but sun burns area different matter. Yes, dogs can get sun burned just as people can and it can be just as uncomfortable for them as it is for us. It can also have lasting repercussions for them as well; including the potential for developing skin cancer. Dogs with darker fur and a full coat aren't at risk for sun burns, since the coat protects them reasonably well. White dogs, however, especially those with a light colored (pink, beige, or liver colored) nose are at the highest risk for sun damage and potentially, skin cancer. Short haired dogs and hairless dogs also have a high risk for sunburn. The areas where sun burns are more likely seen are those where the hair coat is the thinnest and include the tips of the ear, the eyelids and around the eyes, the nose, the muzzle, and the belly. If your dog has spent time outside and his skin is red, feels hot, and perhaps has some blisters, call your veterinarian. Sun burns in dogs can range from first, second, and third degree burns just as they can be in people.