Dog and woman outside in Beverly Hills, MI.

We all know that wearing sunscreen protects us from sunburn, skin cancer, sunspots, and more. But because our pets are covered in fur, many of us assume that they do not need sun protection. In fact, they do!

This time of year heralds plenty of outdoor fun, which includes spending time in the backyard, poolside, hiking, and other outdoor spots. The team at Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates is here to answer the question, “Does my dog need sunscreen?” 

Why Does a Dog Need Sunscreen?

Most pets require protection from the sun. Even heavy coated breeds need to be shaded from the UV and hot times of day.

Like us, dogs often get sunburn, especially on exposed parts of the body such as the tips of ears and the nose. Short-haired, white, or fair-skinned breeds are more susceptible to burning, but any dog can be affected.

The risk of sunburn is just the beginning. Many dogs are diagnosed with various skin cancers, like melanoma, hemangiosarcomas, hemangioma, and squamous cell carcinoma each year.  

Sunscreen for Your Dog

Sunscreen that we use on ourselves can be toxic to your dog because these contain the ingredients, zinc oxide or para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA). Since dogs naturally lick themselves to clean their body, they can accidentally ingest these toxins. Instead, use a sunscreen that is specifically developed for dogs.

To effectively use sunscreen, you will need to focus on the parts of their body which are more exposed. Obviously, if your dog has thick fur, this will help protect the skin. Focus your attention on the nose, tips of ears, groin and torso, thighs, and around the mouth. If your pet has very thin fur, apply sunscreen where there are any patches of skin or exposure to the skin.

Distract your dog for about 15 minutes while the sunscreen is being absorbed to keep them from licking it off. Play with some toys or offer a chew bone to keep them busy. Reapply any time your pet has been in the water.

Other Ways to Protect the Skin and Keep Pets Cool

There are some other great options for your pet to stay cool and protected from the sun. 

  • Opt for clothing that is designed to protect your pet’s skin.
  • Use shade and beach umbrellas for your pet to keep them out of the harsh rays.
  • Hats are a good choice to protect the face and nose.
  • Some pets with sensitive eyes need goggles (or doggles).

Remember that skin protection isn’t the only consideration. Avoid taking your dog out when it is very hot and always bring plenty of water along. 

Does Your Dog Need to Wear Sunscreen? Yes!

If you have any questions about choosing the right sunscreen for your dog, please call us. We can help keep your pet safe, healthy, and happy this summer, and all year long.