Do dogs need sunscreen border collieDogs love the sun as much as we do! I enjoy bringing my four chihuahuas to the local Farmer’s Market on Saturday. When we go boating, I see countless dogs at the Flats enjoying the water and the sun. If you’re planning on including your pet in your fun in the sun activities this summer don’t forget to pack sunscreen for your dog along with your own.

Yes, dogs are just as susceptible to the damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun as humans are.

Although dogs have a natural protection from their fur, they can also suffer from painful sunburn, solar induced skin diseases but more seriously, cancerous tumors, especially of the ear tips, nose and inguinal area (groin or lower lateral parts of the abdomen). Any dog is susceptible to sun damage but some dogs have increased risk factors.

Dogs at Increased Risk for Sun Damage

  • Dogs with White or Light Colored Coats.
    Light skinned ears, muzzle and noses.
  • Breeds with Little Hair
    Short coats or have been recently groomed or shaved.
  • Dogs that Love to Sunbathe
    Dogs that love the warmth of the sun and like to lay in it, especially on their back – exposing their inguinal/groin areas are at greater risk. The skin on the inguinal area tends to be thinner and is more vulnerable to sunburn.

Tips for Sunscreen Protection for Dogs:

Increase your dog’s protection from the sun’s rays by providing a coat of dog approved sunscreen!

  • We ONLY recommend dog approved sunscreen.
  • EPI-PET SUNSCREEN is the only FDA approved sunscreen for dogs and comes in a spray bottle.
  • Some children’s waterproof sunsrceens may be acceptable but diligence is required to ensure it does not contain ingredients toxic to your pet if ingested.
  • Use an SPF of 15 to 30 or higher and reapply every 4 to 6 hours or as recommended if using a dog product.
    Apply the lotion and and let it absorb before allowing the pet to lick.

Avoid any sunscreen product that contains ZINC OXIDE. Look for ingestion warnings on the product label.

Hypoallergenic, fragrance and dye-free products should always be used.


Other Tips:

  • There are UV protective clothing available for pets. I am seeing more and more pets wearing clothing for fashion purposes and t-shirts and booties also help provide some additional protection.
    I personally advocate a product called PawZ Dog Boots, which is a simple rubber “sock” that can provide protection.
    BTW: These rubber socks are good if your dog suffers from weakness due to arthritis or neuropathy and provides traction on slippery surfaces!
  • Same as recommended for people, keep your pet out of the sun between 10am and 4pm.
  • For those of us with tiny dogs, a covered pet stroller will protect your dog from the sun. Personally, I NEVER thought I would be caught dead pushing a stroller with my dogs, but very quickly I learned that strollers provide protection from heat, sun and burnt pads from hot concrete and asphalt.

What About Cats?

There are NO approved sunblock for cats, although the manufacturers of EPI-PET is currently working on a sunscreen for cats. Most sunscreens contain salicylates in some form and are toxic to cats if ingested even in small amounts.

Cats with white ear tips and nose are especially vulnerable to sun damage causing life threatening Cancers. I find it best to keep your cats indoors during peak sun hours. It’s just not worth the risk!

Have a FUN and SAFE Summer with Your Pets!