Does my dog need sunscreen?

When the sun is out, we often remember to protect our skin from its potentially dangerous rays by applying sunscreen to help prevent embarrassing burns and peels. But did you know our dogs also need to be protected from the sun, too?

Here’s everything you need to know about keeping your dog safe with sunscreen.

Do dogs get sunburnt?

Yes! Just like us humans, our dogs can be burnt by the sun, with some dogs more susceptible than others.

This includes:

  • White or lighter coloured dogs
  • Dogs that are suffering from hair loss
  • Dogs that have been shaved
  • Dogs with thin coats
    • Bulldogs
    • Greyhounds
    • Staffordshire Bull Terriers
  • Hairless dogs
    • Chinese Crested

While our pet's fur provides some protection from sunlight, all dogs have vulnerable areas to their bodies where there is thinner, less or no fur at all, meaning all dogs can get sunburnt. The most common areas for dogs to get sunburnt include the:

  • Ears
  • Nose
  • Belly
  • Back
  • Tip of the tail

dog playing in the sun

Is sunscreen safe for dogs?

To help protect your dog, it's really important to use sunscreen on those sunnier days. Human sunscreen may include ingredients that are harmful to dogs, such as zinc oxide, so it's important not to use these on your pet or let them lick it off you if you've applied some to your own skin.

When looking for the right product, make sure you buy a cream that's specifically formulated to be used for our canine companions. Your chosen sunscreen should be:

  • Fragrance-free to avoid irritation
  • Waterproof to provide longer protection
  • Providing UVA and UVB protection
  • Free from zinc oxide

These can be found at pet shops or if you have any questions or concerns, it might be worth speaking with your vet.

How to apply sunscreen to dogs

It might seem like an impossible task, trying to get your dog to stay still long enough to let you make sure their most vulnerable spots are protected from the sun, but here are some top tips on applying sunscreen to dogs.

  • Test it first! Test the cream on a small patch of your dog's skin to make sure they won’t have an adverse skin reaction to the product.
  • Rub it in! Make sure that the cream is properly absorbed into your dog's skin for maximum protection.
  • All the spots! Pay close attention to those exposed areas and fully cover the area with sunscreen.
  • Top up! As the day goes on (or after they've been for a dip), make sure to reapply sunscreen to ensure your dog's skin is still protected.
  • Treats! Always reward your dog for letting you apply sunscreen.
  • Back up plan! Just in case it doesn't go to plan, think about a back up plan like providing a shaded area or buying sun protective clothing so they can still go outdoors.

Signs of sunburn in dogs

Our dogs will display similar signs to humans if they're sunburnt, such as:

  • Redness
  • Hair loss
  • Dry skin
  • Crusting
  • Itching
  • Blisters
  • Pain

How to treat sunburns at home

If your dog has managed to catch the sun, mild burns can often be treated at home. If you have any concerns or if you're unsure of the seriousness of your dog's injury, call your vet for advice.

  • Keep your pet out of the sun until their skin has fully healed to prevent worsening the burn or developing even more.
  • Use a cold compress to help keep their skin cool but stop if your dog shows any signs of discomfort as it could be quite painful.
  • Sunscreens or protective clothing can help cover their sunburn if your dog has to go outside.
  • Provide a shaded area outside to help your dog recover and prevent more sunburn in the future.

Why it's important to protect your dog from the sun

While sunburn is uncomfortable, it's not the only danger facing your dog. Sun exposure can cause several serious health conditions including:

  • Skin cancer
  • Heatstroke
  • Dehydration

If you have any concerns about your dog, the vets at JOII Pet Care are always on hand to help. Otherwise, always speak to your local veterinary clinic for advice.

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