Should your dog wear sunscreen?

should your dog wear sunscreen

Should your dog wear sunscreen? 

It all depends on the dog. If your dog has a short and light coat, he's much more prone to sunburn than a bernese mountain dog (long dark coat).

This is important because sunburns can lead to more serious health problems (in familiar words : more vet bills and less money in your wallet). 

 Sun-related medical issues can range from a mild inflamed skin to severe skin cancer...

Is my dog prone to sunburns?

Well it depends on two major factors…..what breed is your dog and how often is he exposed to the sun?

Now naturally, regarding the breed, some have an unfair advantage to be more protected from sunburns. 

 

Let’s take  A Bergamasco Sheepdog vs a Bedlington Terrier

bergamasco sheepdog coat vs the coat of a bedlington terrier

The Bergamasco has a thicker and darker coat while the Bedlington has almost no hair. The first one is therefore much more protected against sunburns. Here’s a reminder:

 chart for dogs who are most prone to sunburns
Be careful, even though your dog might not be at risk, seasonal shedding and health issues could result in a thinner coat which could lead to sunburning more easily

Can my white dog get sunburn?

Yes absolutely. The white or light colored dogs are more prone to sunburns because their coat doesn't block the sun rays as much. Well, your dog could have long hair, but his white coat would make him the perfect victim for sunburns.

Vets suggest that you pay close attention to your dog’s coat as the seasonal shedding or health condition can cause hair loss resulting in greater risk of sunburns.

Can my black dog get sunburn?

Yes absolutely. The only difference is that darker and thicker coats are not as prone to sunburns as dogs with short, light coats. Therefore, if your dog has a long dark coat, it doesn't mean that he can’t get sunburned

Vets suggest that you pay close attention to your dog’s coat as the seasonal shedding or health condition can cause hair loss resulting in greater risk of sunburns.

 

My dog loves to lay in the sun 

Another major contributing factor to sunburns is your dog's love for the sun. Some dogs love to accumulate the heat from the sun. Well these dogs are more prone to sunburns.

What… why?!

Well, according to AKC’s Chief Veterinarian Dr. Jerry Klein, dogs that love to lie in the sun….particularly the ones that get tanned lying on their back can easily suffer from sunburns

Other factors such as the frequency at which you go to the beach or enjoy the sun in the yard can also influence how prone to sunburn your dog is.

 

But what do Vets think about it?

  After reading a dozen of articles from different vets across North America, here’s the overall consensus:

 Sunscreen has  proved useful to prevent sunburns and sun-related skin diseases.

BUT (I know….there’s always a  but), you must choose carefully the sunscreen you apply onto your pupper’s skin.

 

What type of sunscreen is best for my dog?

 Yes, there are sunscreens that are designed for dogs in the first place…

However, after going through the ingredients of each, none were perfect. What we've concluded is that you need to look for mineral sunscreen. Mineral sunscreen do contain Zinc oxide and that's why you need to be sure that your dog won't lick it off.

 

What’s the problem with Zinc oxide right?! I asked myself the same question and zinc oxide happens to be toxic if ingested by dogs

 It’s one of the MAIN reasons veterinarians have calls during summer.

 You can learn more about the symptoms of zinc poisoning.

 

Ingredients to avoid in dog sunscreen

I made you a  short list of all the ingredients you want to AVOID in sunscreens. Each ingredient mentioned below is toxic for your dog if ingested.

 

  • Cinnamates                  octinoxate,cinoxate, ethylhexyl, Octyl & p-methoxycinnamate.
  • PABA esters                     Padimate-O, Octyl Dimethyl PABA
  • Salicylates                        ethylhexyl salicylate, homosalate, octyl salicylate
  • Propylene Glycol               as a humectant in sunscreens to extend activity time
  • Zinc oxide                          physically blocks UVA and UVB

Now that we know all that,

 

How do I protect my dog against the sun

 Firstly, if your dog has no interest in licking himself, you could try a non-scent, PABA free human sunscreen. 

Test a small amount on one spot to be sure it doesn’t cause an allergic reaction. Then pay close attention to see if your dog starts licking it. 

 If this works, you’ve got yourself a simple solution to dog sunburns.

 Secondly, you could try one of these two dog sunscreens:

 NOTA BENE: These links are not affiliate links, I couldn’t care less if you actually bought the sunscreen or not. The only reason I’ve put the links is to make it easier for you.

 

Warren London; 

While I have no proof that the ingredients in it truly protect your dog against sunburns, the ingredients in it are not on the toxic lists that I’ve got from Vets. You can find the  dog sunscreen here.

 

DON’T BUY Petkin; The second one was sun wipes from Petkin…..they have Octyl Methoxycinnamate which is part of Cinnamates and toxic for dogs according to David Chamberlain BVetMed., MRCVS.

 

DON’T BUY  Emmy’s best; 

They claim that it’s completely safe…

...because it doesn’t use Zinc Oxide but they’ve replaced it with chemical sunblocks instead. 

 

They have octinoxate which is another name for Octyl Methoxycinnamate. 

 

Best solution to prevent sunburns

 Thirdly,  MY favorite solution, the one I adopted, is to go for a combination:

  •  So I put a Mineral sunscreen behind my dog’s ears where she often burns.
  • I cover Belle’s (my border collie) body with a  UPF 40 sun protection shirt from Hurtta (and for that price, it will SAVE you a loot of money).

 

Remember, the key is for your dog to always have access to shade and fresh water to avoid a  heat stroke.

 

Quick Summary

 Now I’ve talked (a lot) and this makes a lot of things for you to remember…even I, have trouble to remember everything I wrote.

 

All of that blabla was necessary for you to be aware of the sun-related risks related to the sun but wouldn’t be great to have a quick sheet that would summarize the KEY elements.

 

Let’s just say, hypothetically, that this sheet would include:

  • Dogs that are most prone to sunburns
  •  All the super complex names of toxic ingredients to avoid in sunscreens
  •  Symptoms of Zinc poisoning
  •  How to detect sunburns & treat sunburns 
  •  Key elements to look for when outside with your pupper.

 

And what if that sheet would be downloadable as PDF and could be carried with you everywhere in your phone?!


I would say that such a sheet  doesn’t exist but if it did, I’d trade more than a bottle of doggy sunscreen to put my hands on it...

 

But after everything I’ve read, I don’t need a ton of doggy sunscreen anymore… So here it is, just for you:

 

Download THE DOGGY SUNSCREEN CHEATSHEET

Join our newsletter and the first email I send will be the TDCS (The Doggy Sunscreen Cheatsheet): 

dog sunscreen guide

(just click on the book to have the email sent to you)

 

Sources

Pamela Huyck, Zinc Poisoning (Toxicity) in PetsAssociate Director of Veterinary Services, Pet Poison Helpline.

Croteau, Dybowska, Luoma, Valsami-jones, Nanotoxicology, Toxic Substances Research Program of the U.S. Geological Surve

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