Sunscreen for Dogs and What to Know

When you go outside to have fun in the sun, you likely put on sunscreen to protect your skin from the harmful UV rays, however, what about your dog? Your dog needs sun protection for his skin just like you do, and many owners may forget to put sunscreen on their dog. Now, before you run to the CVS and start to coat Fido’s ears and nose in it, read on!

A dog’s skin is suspectible to burns, despite their fur coverings. If you’ve had a painful sunburn, you know that miserable it could make your dog. Sunburns can also increase your dog’s risk of contracting cancer, just as humans risk when they get burned. When dogs are sunburned, it’s noticeable as red skin and sometimes hair loss.

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Read the Label of Human Sunscreen!

You can use some sunscreen designated for humans on your pets, but be careful about the ingredients. If you don’t have doggy sunscreen, and want to make do in a pinch, you can use human sunscreen if you’re very careful!

If your sunscreen contains zinc oxide, then don’t use it on your dogs! This ingredient is toxic to dogs, and if they were to lick it off, the zinc oxide could attack their body’s red blood cells. This may lead to anemia, and your dog will be seriously sick. Another ingredient to avoid is Octyl Salicylate.

Some veternarians have recommended human-grade sunscreens by Bullfrog, as their products don’t contain zinc oxide. Other experts recommend the gentle sunscreens designed for babies – just be sure you check the label. It’s recommended you buy a sunscreen that has UVA and UVB barriers of SPF 15 to 30 at least.  You should also look for brands that are fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, and dye-free.

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What Dogs Need Sunscreen?

Certain breeds and types of dogs may be more vulnerable than others when it comes to sunburn. Dogs that have a white coat, such as a Beagle, Bull Dog or Dalmatian, or any dog with white pigmentation is at risk. Short-haired dogs with little hair to protect their skin are also at risk; vets recommend you do not shave your dog in the summer if he’ll be outside often, or you’ll increase his risk of sunburn. If your dog has any skin conditions, this will also increase his risk.

Putting Sunscreen on Your Dog

First, test the sunscreen on your dog in a small area, so you can see if they’re allergic to it. After you’ve watched for a reaction and noticed none, then you can continue applying the sunscreen to the sensitive parts of the dog: the nose, the ears, etc. Your dog is most likely to be burned on these areas, but that doesn’t mean you should skip the rest of the body, either. You will need to focus on the non-pigmented areas of your dog, and any areas that don’t have hair covering. The tips of the ears and the belly, as well as the groin area, are vulnerable spots you may overlook. It’s worth mentioning that the FDA does’t currently test sunscreens sold specifically for pets, so any language about effectiveness isn’t scientifically-verified. However, if you need shopping suggestions, you can always ask your vet for brand recomendations.

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