Can I use baby sunscreen on my dog?
You should not use most baby sunscreen on dogs. Indeed, baby sunscreen is 99% the same as adult/normal sunscreen. Well at least, it contains the same ingredients that are toxic if ingested by dogs. The ingredients you want to avoid are Zinc oxide or Cinnamates, PABA esters, Salicylates.
What type of sunscreen can I use on my dog?
So here's the deal, all sunscreens come down to two options. One blocks the sun rays physically with minerals (a mix of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide). This is the formula for most baby sunscreens.
It acts as a mirror reflecting the rays on your skin. Because it uses minerals, it is not toxic when used on the skin. It becomes toxic if it is ingested.
The other type of sunscreen is a combination of chemicals such as avobenzone, octinoxate and oxybenzone. This second type use chemicals to dissipate the effects of the sun in your skin. While the ingredients used in this type of sunscreen are approved by the FDA. But these shouldn't be at a higher concentration than 6%.
These tests were realized in the 1980's. Recently, the FDA concluded that the body would absorb these ingredients through the skin and further studies were needed... I would avoid it under any circumstances.
What is the best sunscreen for dogs?
The best option would be to cover your dog with a physical protection such as this UPF 40 sunscreen shirt. However if you had the certainty that your dog won't lick himself while he has sunscreen, I would go for any mineral sunscreen. The best option would be sunscreen with only titanium dioxide and no zinc oxide. Studies have shown that titanium dioxide is not toxic if ingested in small quantities.
We've also reviewed most brands offering dog sunscreen and the truth is that none of them proved that they weren't using these chemicals in it. Most have simply named the ingredients under their scientific names instead. Don't pay extra for dog sunscreen.
What happens if a dog licks sunscreen?
The problem with baby/mineral sunscreen comes if your dog finds it interesting and licks it. Then, your dog is actually ingesting zinc oxide. Ingestion of zinc oxide is one of the most common reason why vets get called during summer.
Zinc poisoning is serious and should be treated immediately as it can lead to severe complications and even death in some cases. Find out about the symptoms of zinc poisoning.
I hope you learned something with this article!
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Related Sunscreen Questions
Your dog can have zinc oxide on its skin without any complication. But ingesting it can lead to serious health issues and in some cases, death. Find out how to spot zinc poisoning from early stages.
Whether you dog has long hair or short hair, sometimes the sun can cause sunburns on your dog. Because you dog's skin is rarely exposed to sun, you want to treat sunburns properly.
Maybe your dog doesn't need sunscreen in the first place! It depends on multiple factors such as the coat, its color, its habits, etc.
Pamela Huyck, Zinc Poisoning (Toxicity) in Pets, Associate Director of Veterinary Services, Pet Poison Helpline.