BY ELISABETH GEIER
Nothing beats lounging in the sun with your dog on a lovely summer day, but does your dog need sunscreen too? Turns out, skin protection is just as important for pets as it is for people. And yes, dogs can wear sunscreen, but be very careful about ingredients. See below!
Do dogs get sunburned?
Dogs have built-in protection from the elements in the form of their furry coat, but even fur can’t block out the sun. Even 30 minutes of direct exposure can lead to sunburn for some dogs. Delicate, sparsely-coated parts of the body are most susceptible to sunburn, including the nose, ears, belly, and any bare or shaved patches.
There are also some types of dogs that are more likely to burn than others. White-coated dogs with pink skin need extra protection, as do certain breeds with more exposed skin. According to Banfield Pet Hospital, some of the dog breeds most at risk of sunburn include:
The most obvious sign of sunburn on a dog is red skin that is tender to the touch. Other signs of sunburn can include hair loss, itchiness, and dry or cracked skin (particularly around the ears). But don’t wait to find out if your dog is susceptible to sunburns—protecting them from the sun is as simple as doing a little shopping!
Sunscreen for dogs
Other than staying out of the sun completely, dog sunscreen is one of the best ways to protect your pooch from sunburn. However, not all sunscreens are alike, and some are better for dogs than others.
SPF protection for humans often contains chemicals that may be toxic to dogs, including the common ingredient zinc oxide. When shopping for a dog sunscreen, look for formulas that are fragrance-free, waterproof, and block both UVA and UFB rays.
Avoid products containing zinc oxide, which can be toxic to dogs.
There are several great dog-specific sunscreens available on the market, including:
Epi-Pet Sun Protector Spray. This “fine-mist” spray-on formula boasts 30+ SPF protection, easy application, and FDA approval for ingredients and stability, and as a bonus, it’s waterproof.
Petkin Sunstick. With an easy roll-on applicator, this is the perfect choice for dogs who need sunscreen applied to their thin-coated nose and ears.
My Dog Nose It is a sunscreen balm specifically for doggy noses. Reviewers praise its creamy consistency and pleasant scent, and it’s a good choice if your dog has particularly pink or bald spots on their nose. It’s not just a sunscreen, but a balm, so it’s good for pups who get chapped noses during wintertime.
Whether you’re using a spray, lotion, or roll-on sunscreen, be sure to rub it all the way in so it gets pat their fur and into their skin, and remember to re-apply if your dog goes swimming or runs through the sprinklers!
When shopping for a dog sunscreen, look for formulas that are fragrance-free, waterproof, and block both UVA and UFB rays.
Dog sunscreen alternatives
Can dogs wear sunscreen? Yes. But if your dog has sensitive skin, allergies, or a particular penchant for licking, finding sunscreen that works can be a challenge. That’s where clothing comes in!
You can protect your dog from harmful UVA/UVB rays with dog-friendly sun protection apparel:
- A lightweight, light-colored t-shirt, modified to fit your dog’s torso
- Commercially-available dog clothing. Look for items labelled “UBF Sun Protection”
- Dog goggles or sunglasses to protect delicate eyes (you can’t go wrong with the original Doggles)
- Doggy visors to shade delicate face skin (PlayaPup.com has multiple sizes and colors)
Of course, the very best sunburn prevention is to limit exposure to direct sunlight, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay indoors. Just try to avoid direct sun exposure during the brightest time of day, and make sure there’s plenty of shade available. Heat stroke is always a concern, so keep an eye out for symptoms. With a little precaution and preparation, you and your dog can enjoy a fun, safe, burn-free summer!