Dog Sunscreen: Is it Necessary?

Living in Arizona where the climate is dry and the summers are extremely hot, you might not think twice about putting sunscreen on yourself. What about dog sunscreen?

Adding sunscreen to your beloved friend’s daily routine will keep them safe and protected from extreme sun exposure. Using dog sunscreen is a great way to lessen potential sunburn for your dog as well as the risk of skin cancer.

 So, let’s look at the importance of dog sunscreen.

Does My Dog Need Sunscreen?

The simple answer is yes. While their furry coat acts as a protective layer against the sun, it cannot fully protect your dog from the sun’s harsh UV rays. There are also certain spots on your dog that are more sun-sensitive like their nose, tips of their ears, belly, around their lips, and eyelids. These areas can get easily sunburned and sunburn can be painful for your dog. Applying dog sunscreen will not only protect your dog from the sun but also from various skin cancers down the line like squamous cell carcinomas.

Some signs to look for in a sunburned dog are:

  • Red, inflamed skin
  • Itchy or scaly skin
  • Hair loss
  • Dry or cracked skin along edges of ears
  •  Skin infections
  • Skin cancer (malignant melanoma)

If you notice any of these symptoms, please contact your vet right away.

Dogs At a Higher Risk of Sunburn

While all dogs can benefit from dog sunscreen, including those with thick, darker coats, there are some breeds or types of dogs that are more susceptible to sunburn than others.

White Fur & Pink Skin

Dogs with white or light-colored fur coats, short hair or patches of exposed skin are at a higher risk for sunburn. This includes breeds such as Dalmatians, Boxers, Greyhounds, and Pit Bulls. For them, dog sunscreen is essential since they are at a higher risk for skin cancer. So, take the extra precaution for your beloved furry friend and make sure to apply sunscreen for them!

The Outdoorsy Types

If your dog is the outdoorsy type and enjoys swimming, sunbathing, or going on hikes, dog sunscreen is a must. You will want to apply sunscreen to sun-sensitive and exposed areas like their nose, around their lips, back of their legs, tips of their ears, belly and groin area.

If you are taking your four-legged companion to the lake or beach, consider bringing an umbrella for extra shade. If your dog goes swimming, make sure to reapply their sunscreen as soon they get out of the water. Along with sunscreen, lightweight t-shirts or tanks for dogs are also a great way to keep your dog safe from sun exposure.

Alternative Ways to Protect Your Dog

Are there other ways to keep your dog protected? Yes! While dog sunscreen is one of the best ways to protect your dog from the sun, there are extra steps you can take.

Limiting your dog’s time in the sun, especially during peak hours or extremely hot days, is a great preventative measure. Peak hours during the summer season are between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. So, try to get their daily walk in before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. And if your dog needs to be out during these hours, you will want to make sure you apply dog sunscreen.

You can also create more shade in your backyard by adding a tent. And, most importantly, always have plenty of water available for your furry friend. This will help prevent your dog from getting overheated, dehydrated or experiencing heat stroke.

Can I Use Regular Sunscreen?

Do not use regular sunscreen on your dog. It is recommended that you only apply sunscreen that is specifically intended for animals. Sunscreen designed for people has ingredients like zinc oxide, para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) or salicylates, which are toxic and harmful for dogs. This is because dogs lick their skin, meaning they’ll ingest the ingredients. So, keep regular sunscreen out of reach from your dog. And, if you are wearing sunscreen, try to keep them from licking you. We all know how much some dogs love to give kisses!

Some common side effects of ingesting these harsh chemicals are vomiting, diarrhea, liver damage or an allergic reaction such as hives. If you notice your dog has any of these symptoms, please do not hesitate to give us call! We at Acoma Animal Clinic in Tucson want your dog to have a safe, happy and healthy summer in Arizona!

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