Does my dog need sun cream?

A relatively new form of sun care for dogs is to use pet-friendly sun cream. It might surprise you that dogs can get sunburnt and suffer from sun exposure in similar ways to humans. Even more so if your dog has conditions like dermatitis or autoimmune disorders.

Before we dive in, remember the best protection against the sun is to limit your dog’s exposure to it on hot, sunny days.  

Can dogs use sun cream?

Absolutely, dogs can use sun cream, they’ll need some help from you to apply it and you’ll need to make sure the formula is designed for dogs.  

Watch outs:

  • Avoid sunscreens that contain zinc oxide or para-aminobenzoic acid
  • Ensure your dog’s sun lotion is waterproof and has a minimum protection level of factor 30.
  • Ensure it’s rubbed in well to avoid your dog licking it off and ingesting it.

Does my dog need sun cream?

Some breeds, like hairless dogs, are more at risk than others and need sun protection when they are outside for long periods of time. Dogs with white or thin coats, white-pigmented noses and eyelids (Collies, Australian Sheepdogs, Dalmatians and Whippets) fall into this risk category too. 

For some dogs with thicker coats, hair loss from seasonal shedding or a health condition may cause their coats to become thin which could mean a greater risk of sunburn.

If your dog loves to sunbathe, even if they don’t fit into one of the above categories, they may still be at risk of sunburn. Be mindful of concrete or light surfaces, they tend to be hotter and can reflect light back onto your dog.

How to use it

  1. First, test a small amount on one spot to be sure it doesn’t cause an allergic reaction. 
  2. Next, spread it on areas that are most exposed to sunshine, such as the bridge of the nose, ear tips, skin around their lips, groin, and inner thighs – and anywhere where pigmentation is light.
  3. When applying it to your dog’s head, be sure not to get any in their eyes.
  4.  Once it’s applied watch that your dog doesn’t lick it off for about 20 minutes until it’s been absorbed.

How to treat sunburn on dogs

Any time sunburn is visible as reddened, warm, or flaking skin, you should move your dog inside or into the shade as quickly as possible. 

Apply cool compresses and ointments that may soothe the skin to help relieve the initial symptoms.

Aloe vera can help a minor burn. However, if the burn is severe, you should call your veterinarian because treatment with a cortisone product may be required to prevent inflammation. 

There may also be a secondary infection requiring antibiotics. If these complications do occur, the dog will need to be well protected from the sun in the future to prevent permanent damage.

Whilst sun cream is important, it can’t be relied upon to be totally effective. The best way to protect your dog from the sun is to keep them inside or in the shade, allowing for quick toilet breaks, and find ways to keep them entertained indoors.

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