Can I Use Sunscreen on My Dog?

When it comes to protecting your dog from dangerous ultraviolet rays, you might wonder whether you can use your sunblock on your pet. We'll tell you everything you need to know in this article.
Can I Use Sunscreen on My Dog?

Last update: 26 August, 2019

While it might be we humans who are largely responsible for the destruction of the ozone layer, we are all at the mercy of the sun, dogs included. When it comes to protecting your dog from dangerous ultraviolet rays, you might be wondering whether you can use sunscreen on your pet. We’ll tell you everything you need to know in this article.

Dogs and ultraviolet radiation

As a general rule, dogs don’t actually need protection from the sun. In most cases, their fur should be enough to protect them against sunburn. Plus, most dogs will automatically try to sit in the shade. However, there are some exceptions.

It’s important to remember that some dogs are more susceptible to sunburn than others. This is the case with short-coated dogs, and those with little or no skin pigmentation. Dogs with hair-loss caused by allergies or hormonal imbalances are also at greater risk.

A dog playing in the sea.

Breeds that are most likely to suffer sunburn without protection include:

  • Dalmatians
  • Pitbull terriers
  • Staffordshire bull terriers
  • Boxers
  • Whippets
  • Dogo Argentino
  • English bulldogs
  • Beagles

Discover everything you need to know about using sunscreen on your dog, as well as other ways to protect your pet from ultraviolet rays.

Where to use sunscreen on your dog

If your pet falls into one of these high-risk categories, you’ll need to use sunscreen to protect the most sensitive areas of skin. These include:

  • Their inside leg
  • Stomach
  • Snout
  • The tips of their ears
  • Areas with very little hair

Dogs with very short hair or those that have recently been to the groomers may require whole-body protection.

Can I use sunscreen on my dog?

So, now we come to the million-dollar question: can I use sunscreen on my dog, or do I have to use specially designed products? Ideally, you should always use products specially designed for your four-legged friend. We would advise using products with no added fragrances or colorings. It should also be waterproof, and a minimum of SPF 15.

However, there are some sunscreens designed for humans that you can also use on your dog in emergencies. These include hypoallergenic sunscreens, and those designed for babies. Nevertheless, you still need to make sure that they don’t contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs, such as zinc oxide. Remember, your dog is likely to lick itself, running the risk of ingesting harmful ingredients.

It’s always best to consult with a vet, who can advise you on the best way to protect your dog from the sun, and recommend the most suitable sunscreen for your pet.

Alternative ways to protect your dog from the sun

As always, prevention is better than cure. For you and your dog, it’s best to avoid prolonged exposure to the sun if possible, especially during the hottest hours of the day. This will also help you avoid dehydration and heatstroke.

When possible, you should:

  • Go for walks early in the morning or after sunset.
  • Buy a light dog coat that will protect most of their body.
  • Avoid shaving your dog in winter.
  • Make sure they always have access to shade, especially if your dog spends most of the day on the balcony, patio, terrace, or out in the garden.
Can you use sunscreen on your dog?

If you’re going on holiday with your dog, make sure to take extra care, especially if you’re planning on spending long days at the beach, or hiking in the mountains.

Protect your dog from the sun this summer

Remember, prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause cancerous skin lesions. Typically, these tumors can appear in areas such as:

  • The stomach
  • Inner thigh
  • Shoulder
  • Muzzle
  • Around the nose and eyes

Although this is a year-round issue, it goes without saying that you need to take particular care during the summer months. That way, you and your pet will be able to safely enjoy the hot summer days together.

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