Do Dogs Need Sunscreen?


When the sun is blazing down in the heat of the summer, we are pretty quick to put on sunscreen to protect our skin against UV rays. However, many of us don’t even think about our dogs needing protection against the sun. Do dogs need sunscreen? The answer is yes, some dogs can absolutely benefit from it.

Which Dogs Need Sunscreen?

If you have a hairless breed or a dog with a thin or white coat, they are particularly susceptible to sun damage. Dogs that have pink noses and eyelids are also at risk. Any dogs who are experiencing thinning of their coats due to seasonal shedding, health conditions, or shaving also need sunscreen.

Sunscreen Safety for Dogs

To ensure your dog’s safety, be sure and bring home sunscreen made specifically for dogs. This is important because dog-safe sunscreen leaves out two toxic ingredients that can harm dogs: zinc oxide and PABA. Dog sunscreen is sold in many different forms such as sprays, lotions, balms, ointments and even clothing.

Be sure to choose waterproof varieties if you plan on taking your dog swimming with you this summer. If your dog has sensitive skin, be sure to test a small area before applying it everywhere. If topical sunscreen won’t work for your dog, sun shirts or sunsuits will give your dog the sun protection that they need.

Protecting Your Dog From the Sun

Read the product label to see how often you need to reapply your dog’s sunscreen. Avoiding eye areas, apply the sunscreen to places where sunlight will be most likely to burn such as:

  • Your dog’s nose
  • The tips of his ears
  • Inner thighs
  • Groin
  • The skin around the lips
  • Anywhere pigmentation is light

Between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., stay in the shade if you can. This is because these are the sun’s most intense hours.

Treating Sunburn on Dogs

Your dog can get a painful sunburn in as little as 30 minutes of sun exposure. If you notice that your dog’s skin is warm, red, or flaking, it is time to head into the shade or indoors. Give your dog cool water right away, along with cool compresses on the affected area. Check your local pet store for soothing sunburn ointments that are safe for dogs, or rub on some aloe vera gel to cool them down.

When a dog has a sunburn, it can cause existing skin conditions such as allergic dermatitis and mange to worsen. Should the burn be a serious one, call your veterinarian right away.

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