Should You Put Sunscreen on a Dog?
It is widely known that dog sunscreen is important for our pets especially in the summer. Taking dogs out in the sun without sunscreen can be a recipe for disaster and certainly can cause an increase in risk of a dog sunburn. It is now widely acknowledged the sun can be as bad for our pets as it can for us, this is especially true for pet owners who live in sunny climates unlike rainy England.
By the end of this article you will know;
- If you should put dog sunscreen on your dog
- What happens if they lick the dog sunscreen
- Which dog sunscreen ingredients you must avoid!
- Where you should apply dog sunscreen and which areas of the body require the most protection from dog sunburn
Skin cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma, malignant melanoma and others can affect your dogs and we should try to minimise this risk. To do this we need to find out whether you can safely put sunscreen on a dog?
Should You Put Sunscreen on a Dog?
Dog sunscreen should be applied to prevent skin damage by the sun and to reduce the risk of skin cancer. However, human sunscreen should be avoided due to potential toxic chemicals which could poison your dog.
You should only use formulas which have been specifically made for dogs. For example, Petkin dog sunscreen. Human sunscreens are not designed for dogs because they can contain harmful ingredients such as zinc oxide, which can be toxic to dogs.
When testing a dog sunscreen, you should begin by testing on a small area to ensure there is no allergic reaction. We would advise waiting 15 minutes after the application to a small area to ensure they are clear of any reactions.
What Happens If a Dog Licks Sunscreen?
If a dog licks dog sunscreen from their body then it will not cause any major issues, however if it is a human sunscreen then there is a possibility the toxic chemicals could poison your dog and you should immediately seek medical advice.
Small amounts of human sunscreen is likely to cause vomiting but larger amounts will be a cause for a concern especially if they contain the toxic chemicals zinc oxide or para-aminobenzoic acid.
Which Dog Sunscreen Ingredients Are Dangerous for Dogs?
According to aspca.org - The main ingredients to avoid when picking a dog sunscreen are zinc oxide and a group of chemicals referred to as salicylates. They also mention that it is more important to limit time in the sun and be mindful of the sun exposure than it is to lather them up in sunscreen which we completely agree with. Having both sunscreen and taking care is the perfect approach to being pro-active and safe in the warmer months.
Can I Use Baby Sunblock on My Dog?
You should not use baby sunblock on your dog because it contains toxic chemicals such as Zinc Oxide which can poison dogs. Instead, you should choose a pet safe dog sunscreen which has ingredients that will be safe for your dog.
How Do I Protect My Dog from Sunburn?
To protect your dog from sunburn you should always ensure they can take shelter in an area covered from the sun. This could be under a tree, in a small shelter or even by simply leaving the house door open if you are sitting in the garden. Some shade is better than no shade, but it doesn't offer your dog total UV protection, for this you need both dog safe sunscreen and a shaded area.
Any form of cancer for people or their pets is horrible. But did you know skin cancer is one of the most common type of cancer in dogs?
Many new dog owners don't realise how important it is to avoid peak sunshine hours where possible. In the mid afternoon when the sun is high and bright your dog will be overheating, potentially dehydrating fast, hurting their paws on the hot floors and burning on their exposed skin areas. To avoid this, you can explore during the cooler hours of the day or you need the right dog sunshine accessories to help. 9/10 times we would recommend not venturing out too often or long between 12pm and 4pm.
What Type of Dogs Get Sunburn?
Hairless and light skin dog breeds are likely to get sunburn. These breeds include:
- White-haired dogs
- Bull Terriers and Boxers.
We have a French Bulldog who is a light skin dog and we need to always ensure his ears, nose and belly are always protected in the sun.
How Can I Protect My Dog's Nose from the Sun?
The tip of a dogs nose is a sensitive and exposed area to the sun. The easiest way to protect the nose is to avoid the sun on hot days as much as possible byt walking them on early mornings and evenings when it is cooler. Sunscreen products by brands such as Petkin can also be used for added protection.
There are now plenty of pet accessories on the market to help protect your dogs from sun burn. Although these are great to have and use for extra protection, you should still ensure you keep them out of the sun as much as possible. Use these accessories as an aid so when you are in the sun - some protection is better than none!
What is the Best Dog Sunscreen?
Petkin have the best range of sun cream for dogs and they are available in different forms such as wipes and a stick for areas such as the nose and ears. They are made of pet safe ingredients too.
The Petkin sunscreen stick is exceptional for applying sunscreen to areas such as the nose. It is easy to use and is just like using a roll-on deodorant.
Let's take a look at some items which you can use for sunscreen and then we can review how and where to apply sunscreen on a dog. The following accessories can certainly help.
Ensure you and your pets are ready for summer by clicking on the titles below to buy your Summer pet products!
- These should not be used on cats.
- You should reapply if your dog goes swimming or rubs themselves in the sand or grass areas.
- Limit the amount of time in the sun during the peak hours. Even 30 minutes can be too much without some shade.
- Make sure you wait for 15 minutes after application for it to absorb and monitor your dog to make sure they don't lick it off!
Where Should I Apply Sunscreen on a Dog?
There are some key areas of a dogs body which should be protected with sunscreen. These areas include:
- Sensitive exposed skin
- Belly (this area easily burns)
- Inner thighs
- Any other bare patches
Sunscreen doesn't need to be rubbed all over them and into their fur. Long haired dogs and those with shaggy double coats are essentially wearing an SPF 100 so it simply isn't necessary. However, it is the areas not covered in much fur which you need to pay attention to.
The belly of a dog is a very sensitive area to the sun and if you are going to lather them up in sunscreen (dog friendly sunscreen), make sure you are generous in this area.
But my dog doesn't lay on his/her back with their belly out.
This might be the case for you, but UV rays reflect from different surfaces meaning you may get a surprise when you find they have burnt on their belly.
Also know that any areas which has little hair due to shedding during the season or from shaving or a health condition will certainly need protection too. A pro tip: do not shave your dog's hair in the summer to try and cool them down. The fur creates a barrier from the skin which prevents them from burning.
How Do You Treat a Dog Sunburn?
If you see the skin go red or start to flake and look sore, then you should immediately remove them from the sun and into the shade as quick as possible.
According to PDSA.org you should:
Use cold compresses to cool the skin but be very gentle when touching your pet's sunburn. Keep your pet out of sunlight until their skin has healed. Use sunscreen to protect sunburnt skin if your pet has to go outside. Use a high factor (SPF 30 or higher), waterproof, sunscreen that is pet or child safe.
Sunscreen is very important; however it is nowhere near 100% perfect at preventing sunburn. If your pets are unfortunate enough to suffer from sunburn you should speak to a vet. They may require cortisone treatments, antibiotics and other medical treatment which can only be given by a vet.
Comparing Two Breeds and Their Potential For Sunburn
In the image below you can see our boy Harley vs Francis. Both will need care in the sun and can benefit greatly from sunscreen products however, Francis is certainly more at risk than Harley.
To conclude, dogs do need to wear sunscreen especially on exposed areas of skin. It is just as important for them as it is for us. Spending long amounts of time in the sun is not healthy for them and could potentially cause skin cancer. You should aim to avoid being outdoors with no shade in peak sunshine hours. If all else fails and you are caught out in the sun, then ensure you have some sunscreen products in your backpack. Put your sunscreen on and theirs and It might save more than one life. Treat the sun with the respect it deserves from both you and your pets. Whatever you do, make sure you safely enjoy travelling and exploring the world together!