Sun’s Out, Tongues Out, But Sunscreen Needed? Why Your Dog Needs Sun Protection

do dogs need sunscreen

As the summer sun shines brightly, many of us are eager to spend more time outdoors with our furry companions. While we humans are quick to slather on sunscreen to protect our skin, it’s important to remember that our dogs also need protection from the sun’s harmful rays.

Yes, doggy sunscreen is a thing, and it’s absolutely necessary for the health and well-being of your canine friend.

The Importance of Sunscreen for Dogs

Dogs, much like humans, can suffer from sunburn and the long-term effects of sun exposure. Their skin is susceptible to UV rays, especially in areas with less fur coverage such as the nose, ears, and belly. According to the Moffit Cancer Center, prolonged exposure to the sun without protection can lead to painful burns, skin damage, and an increased risk of skin cancer.

Which Dogs Need Sunscreen?

While all dogs can benefit from sunscreen, certain breeds and individual dogs are at higher risk and should always have sun protection.

These include:

  1. Short-haired and Hairless breeds like the Chinese Crested, American Hairless Terrier, and the Xoloitzcuintli have less natural protection from the sun.
  2. Light-colored Fur and Pink Skin such as Dalmatians and Bull Terriers, are more prone to sunburn. This is because white coats, or coats with a lot of white, don’t provide  as much natural protection against 
  3. Dogs with Thin or No Fur: Dogs that have been shaved for medical reasons or have naturally thin coats like Whippets need extra protection.
  4. Puppies and Older Dogs have more sensitive skin and are more susceptible to the harmful effects of the sun.

do dogs need sunscreen

How to Choose and Apply Doggy Sunscreen

When selecting a sunscreen for your dog, it’s important to choose a product specifically formulated for pets. Human sunscreens can contain ingredients like zinc oxide or PABA, which are toxic to dogs if ingested. Here’s how to safely apply sunscreen to your dog:

Choose a pet-safe sunscreen: Look for sunscreens made specifically for dogs, free of harmful chemicals.

Test for allergies: Before applying, test a small amount on a patch of your dog’s skin to check for any allergic reactions.

Apply to vulnerable areas: Focus on areas with thin or no fur, like the nose, ears, belly, and any exposed skin.

Reapply regularly: Reapply sunscreen every few hours, especially if your dog is swimming or sweating.

Here are a few doggy sunscreens you can try

  1. EBPP Dog Sun Skin Protector
  2. Epi-Pet K-9 Care Sunscreen
  3. My Dog Nose It Doggy Sun Protection

Other Sun Protection Tips

In addition to sunscreen, consider these tips to protect your dog from sun damage:

  1. Provide Shade: Ensure your dog has access to shaded areas when outdoors.
  2. Avoid Peak Sun Hours: Limit outdoor activities during peak sun hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) when the UV rays are strongest. Also monitor for any signs of your dog getting overheated like heavy panting and weakness.
  3. Protective Clothing: Use protective clothing, such as UV-blocking shirts, for additional coverage.

Wrapping It Up – Do Dogs Need Sunscreen

As responsible pet owners, it’s our duty to protect our dogs from the sun’s harmful rays. By incorporating doggy sunscreen into your summer routine, you can ensure your furry friend enjoys the outdoors safely.

Consult your veterinarian for recommendations on the best sun protection products for your dog, and take proactive steps to keep them safe and comfortable all summer long.

By taking these simple precautions, you can make sure your canine companion stays healthy and happy, enjoying the sunshine without the risk of sunburn or skin damage. So next time you reach for your sunscreen, remember to grab some for your dog too!

Dr. Georgina Ushi is a veterinarian and freelance medical writer. She received her Doctorate from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in 2009. She currently works in the Tampa Bay area, providing compassionate care to dogs and cats. Alongside her clinical work, Dr. Ushi consults for pet well-being brands and writes health articles for her blog, Pet Health Love. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge to educate and inspire fellow pet owners. Dr. Ushi’s professional interests include emergency and critical care, wildlife medicine, nutrition, and hospice and palliative care.

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    • 3 weeks ago


    This was total news for me! I had no idea that dogs might need sun screen. Who woukd,have rgizggt?

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