Do Dogs Need Sunscreen?

 There's no better time to be a dog owner than summer. Splashing in the sea, playing tug in the park with your favourite Tug-E-Nuff toy and long evening walks.

But there are reasons to be extra cautious in the warmer months, too. We might do a lot of complaining about the bad weather in Blighty, but occasionally it is hot and sunny. And when the sun does shine, we have to take extra care of our dogs. That means keeping them protected from the sun, just like we would with young children.

Of course, your dog’s coat offers some level of protection from damaging UV rays. But even on the fluffiest of breeds, there are certain parts of the body which can be vulnerable to burning, including the face, tips of the ears, tummy and groin.

Just like with humans, it doesn’t take long for a dog to burn if they are exposed to the sun during the peak hours of 11am-3pm so it’s absolutely essential to take the right precautions.

Which dogs are most at risk of sunburn?

If your pup has a light coat, and white (or light-coloured) fur or hair, then they are at the highest risk of burning in the sun. Often this includes breeds such as Bull Terriers, Pit Bulls, Dalmatians, French Bulldogs, Greyhounds, and Boxers.

What are the signs that my dog has been sunburned?

If your dog has enjoyed too much sun, they will suffer from red, inflamed skin that becomes irritated and painful. Later on, this can lead to hair loss and scaly skin.

Can dogs get cancer from being sunburned?

Studies have shown that sun exposure is linked to skin cancer in dogs in the same way it is with humans. Continuous over-exposure to the sun can lead to your dog developing cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma, malignant melanomas, hemangiomas, or hemangiosarcomas – all of which can be very serious.

So what do I do to protect my dog?

To avoid sunburn, simply use sunscreen on your dog during hot weather. There are brands available that are specifically designed for canines and these are the best bet. However, it is possible to use sunscreen that is designed for babies or sensitive skin – as long as it does not contain zinc oxide or para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), both of which can be toxic to dogs. 

We’d recommend doing a test patch of sunscreen before using it all over your dog’s body.

Got any tips on keeping your dog cool in the summer heat? We’d love you to share them in the comments box below.

And if you’re off on holiday with your four-legged friend this summer, check out this blog filled with tips to ensure you both have the best possible time.

Comments (1)

Lorraine Sinclair-Brown - Jul 14, 2017

I use a cooling coat on my border terrier in really hot weather. It gets soaked in cool water and lasts a few hours. It works a treat, he can be panting and within five minutes of putting the cooling coat on he stops or the panting is reduced.

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