Summary: In this blog, we discuss whether you should put sunscreen on your dog! We’ll learn whether our pups can experience sun damage like we can, whether dog sunscreen exists or if you can use human sunscreen on your pup. And, we’ll find out what to look for in sunscreen for dogs…
We all know that we need to protect our skin from the sun’s damaging UV rays, but does the same go for a dog’s skin?
Do Dogs Need Sunscreen?
In short, yes. Dogs can experience skin damage and sunburn just like we can.
Apart from being very uncomfortable, sunburn and damage in dogs can also lead to conditions like skin cancer, just like with humans. If your dog has sensitive skin or allergies, excessive sun exposure can aggravate these issues too.
In addition, if a dog is sunburnt, this can also lead to heatstroke, which can make a dog incredibly unwell, and even lead to organ failure in some cases.
Like hair, fur can provide sun protection to some extent but areas like the nose, ears, belly, and any bare/shaved patches on a pup can be burned easily by the sun in as little as 30 minutes.
Some Breeds Are More Sensitive To The Sun Than Others
Yes, there are some breeds that are at a higher risk of sunburn and damage than others – the most obvious would be the hairless breeds: Chinese Crested, American Hairless Terriers, and Xoloitzcuintlis for example.
In addition, breeds that have very light/white coats or those that are short-haired with noses and eyelids that are light in pigment are also more likely to experience sunburn and damage than breeds who don’t. These include (but aren’t limited to) breeds like Pitbulls, Bull Terriers, Dalmatians, Collies, Staffordshire Terriers, Whippets, Boxers, Bulldogs, and Australian Sheepdogs.
If your dog sheds their fur in the summer months, the thinner their fur becomes the more likely their skin is at risk when in the sun. Also, if you have a dog that adores sunbathing, you need to be more conscious of their sun exposure regardless of their breed or coloring.
The Signs Of Dog Sunburn
One of the main signs of sunburn in dogs is usually red, inflamed skin, but other common symptoms can include itching, dry/cracked skin, and/or hair loss.
If your dog is sunburnt, make sure you keep them out of the sun whilst their skin recovers – either indoors completely or under shade in the garden. To help support their skin, you can purchase pet-safe, dog-specific aloe vera treatment to apply to your dog’s affected skin. Do not use a human aloe vera gel as these can include ingredients that are toxic to dogs.
If your dog’s sunburn is blistering or they don’t seem themselves, they will need to be assessed by a vet.
How To Protect My Dog From Sunburn
Dog Safe Sunscreen
If you’re wondering “can you use human sunscreen on dogs?”, the answer is no. There are sunscreens made specifically for doggies, and it’s highly important you use dog-specific, dog-safe sunscreen on your pooch, as using the wrong sunscreen or human sunscreen can actually be very detrimental.
You should look for a dog-safe sunscreen that is SPF30 or higher, waterproof, fragrance-free and contains UVA and UVB protection.
The ingredients should not include para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) or zinc oxide which are often found in human sunscreen. Unfortunately, these ingredients are very toxic to dogs if ingested, and your dog may lick themselves or the sunscreen off, which is why you should only ever use sunscreen made for dogs on your pup.
Dog Sun Protection Clothes
For some dogs, like those with sensitive skin or allergies or ones that love to lick themselves, sunscreen may not be the most effective sun protection.
You can protect your dog from harmful sun rays with specific dog sun protection clothes instead!
Many pet brands make dog sun shirts or rash guards that provide UVA/UVB protection, doggy sun hats, and visors, dog goggles, and sunglasses, or even just a light-colored t-shirt resized to fit your dog can provide essential sun protection.
Sunburn isn’t fun for anyone, including our pets. So, let’s make sure our pups enjoy a safe, sunburn-free summer together with us by taking the right precautions with their skin as we do with our own.
Author Meyers, Harriet “Do Dogs Need Sunscreen?” May 25. 2021, American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/do-dogs-need-sunscreen/
Author Geier, Elisabeth “Can You Put Sunscreen On A Dog?” The Dog People, Rover https://www.rover.com/blog/can-dogs-wear-sunscreen-in/