Do dogs need sunscreen? Questions about pet owners answered

While you might want to get outside and enjoy the outdoors with your pets, pet safety can be a priority. Going outside with your dog has many health benefits for you and your pet, including fresh air, environmental enrichment, and physical activity.

While spending time outdoors is good for you, there may be certain risks to consider for your furry family member. For example, exposure to the sun can have permanent effects on your pets. You might be asking yourself, “Do dogs need sunscreen?”

Sun protection can come in many forms for your furry friends. We contacted the Trupanion veterinarian Dr. Caroline Wilde sat down to learn more about sunscreens for dogs and tips on how to protect your dog’s skin.

Do dogs need sunscreen?

Sun protection is important for the whole family, including your pets. Sun protection is one of the many ways you can help your dog stay protected from increased sun exposure.

“Like humans, your dog’s skin can be damaged by UV light, so it should be protected too,” says Wilde.

Talk to your veterinarian about your concerns about increased sun exposure. You can recommend animal-friendly products to your best friend.

Risks of exposure to sunlight

There is nothing like being outside and having fun with your pets in the sun. But while you are walking your dog or playing in the garden, there may be a risk to your dog’s health. Although your dog may be exposed to the sun on a daily basis, you should limit your dog’s time in the sun. Wilde points out some risks associated with exposure to sunlight.

Consider the following:

  • Sun exposure can cause sunburn.
  • It can increase your risk of skin cancer or other sun-related skin conditions.
  • Your dog’s risk increases with prolonged exposure to the sun.
  • Thin-haired or fair-skinned dogs may be at greater risk.
  • A skin infection or an autoimmune disease can also increase the risk of skin damage from sun exposure.

Dog breeds and the sun

No matter what breed of dog you have, it can be helpful to be careful of how much time you spend outdoors. An increase in sun exposure can also include other health risks such as heat stroke, dehydration, sunburn, and heat exhaustion.

In addition, “there are no particularly endangered dog breeds, but dogs with lighter, thinner, hairless, shaved or well-groomed coats may be more sensitive and have a higher risk of damage from UV light,” emphasizes Wilde.

Also, all of your pets should take breaks outdoors and stay hydrated.

How to apply sunscreen to your dogs

To protect your pets from the sun’s rays, it’s a good idea to apply sunscreen outdoors. Wilde takes a few steps to take the right steps with your furry friend.

  1. Ask your veterinarian if they think your dog needs sunscreen and their recommendations for products that will meet your dog’s specific needs.
  2. Apply it to the top of your dog’s head, ears, back, inner thighs, stomach, armpits, and skin.
  3. Try to apply 15-30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply after swimming or during extended periods of sunshine.

Each pet can react differently to products that are applied to them. Some pets may not mind while others are unsafe. Take your time and slowly incorporate the product into your pet’s day whenever you want to spend some time outdoors.

Find out if your dog needs sunscreen and other alternative tips.

Alternatives to sunscreens

Sunscreen is a great way to protect your pet’s fur and skin from the sun. While sunscreen can help, there are other resources for your furry friends. If you plan to be outdoors with your best friend, consider including items like hats, UV-blocking clothing, and pet-friendly outdoor areas like a DIY dog house.

Tips to keep your dog’s skin safe

You want your dog to be happy and healthy. This includes taking care of your dog’s skin and fur. Wilde points out additional tips to help protect your pet’s fur year round. Keep the following tips in mind.

  • Keep your dog in the shade.
  • Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun.
  • UV light can be reflected from surfaces. So always remember where your pet is.

Learn how to use sunscreen to protect your dog's skin from the sun's harmful rays.

Do dogs need sunscreen? Protecting your dog’s skin and fur can improve overall wellbeing

Whether you’re spending some time in your own backyard or taking your dog to the beach, make sure to provide shade and moisture to your furry friends. Sun protection is key and with the help of your veterinarian and breaks from the sun, your pet will be on their way to enjoy all that nature has to offer.

How do you protect your dog’s skin from the sun?

For more information on caring for dogs, see How To Clean A Dog’s Ears: A Guide For Pet Owners

About the author

Kelli, Rascoe

is a digital content writer and publisher for Trupanion. She spends her work day writing for the Trupanion blog. She loves writing about pets, getting inspiration from pets, and luckily hanging out with her rescue dogs all day. In her free time, she enjoys exploring and traveling with her family. Her work has been published on the DOGTV blog, the KitNipBox blog, the Get Your Pet blog and Fansided, among others.


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