Our pet companions also need protection from the sun. Dog sunscreen is the perfect way to prevent sunburns and rashes; and it comes in various forms: dog sunblock spray, wipes, cream, and sticks. Caring for your dog’s skin and hair is a growing trend so let’s review what is the right sunscreen for dogs today!
In this article, I’ll explain to you why dogs need to be protected from the sun, and how to do it. There are plenty of types of dog sunscreens ranging from lotions, sprays, and even organic baby sunscreens; so I want to shed some light on what’s good and what’s somewhat useless.
Let’s get the party started!
Do Dogs Really Need Protection From the Sun?
First and foremost, let’s get the basic principles right: the sun emits ultraviolet rays (UV) which when they reach animal and human skin, start burning the outer layers of the skin. This is what a sunburn is. And tanning is humans’ way of building protection (i.e. darker color allows fewer UV rays in).
Some of these UV rays, the UVA, represent a high risk of sunburn in dogs even with clouds or overcast. The bottom line, sun protection for your dog shouldn’t just be done during the hottest days of summer, but anytime the sun is giving that feeling of penetrating warmth.
For a long time, dog sunscreens and sunblocks were not a priority for dog owners. We’ve focused a lot on our own skins and let down our four-legged friends. However, advanced research on pet skin types and dog coats has led manufacturers to come up with high-quality sunscreens for dogs that are safe.
Remember to always protect your dog’s nose as it is more sensitive than the regular coat and skin.
Dog Breeds Most at Risk of Sunburn
Dog’s have different sizes, body structures, fur, and behavior. When it comes to sun damage or sunburn, there are some dog breeds that have white-coated and pink skin that needs extra protection since they have more exposed skin. Some of these dog breeds are Boxers, Pitbulls, Bull terriers, Staffordshire terriers, Dalmatians, Shorthaired pointers, etc.
If you own dog breeds with light or white pigment near their nose, eyelids, or ears, you need to be more cautious when bringing them outside, especially during summer. But take note that even dogs with thick coats can also experience sunburns since they may have some hair loss from shedding that can cause them to have very thin coats.
Signs of Dog Sunburn
How would you know if your dogs are experiencing sunburn? The most common sign is the redness of your dog’s skin, if you touch this part it’s also tender and dry. Apart from these, here are the obvious signs to tell if your fur buddies are suffering from sunburn:
- Hair loss
- Skin infections
- Dry or cracked skin around the ears
If your dog is experiencing other symptoms, it’s better to consult your veterinarian for them to give the exact solution particularly if your dog has a specific health condition.
What Kind of Sunscreen Do Dogs Need?
Picking the best dog sunscreen can be complicated since there are chemicals that can harm your dog. In fact, not all sunscreen products are safe for dogs and can easily risk their health when used.
Make sure that your dog’s sunscreen has no zinc oxide since it can cause severe anemia to your pets when ingested and has no salicylates or acetylsalicylic acid that are very toxic to cats. So before buying sun protection for dogs, always double-check the ingredients before applying to your pets.
Types of Sunscreen For Dogs
There are four common types of dog sunscreen – balm, spray, lotion, wipes. These all work great to protect your dogs from too much sun exposure but they may differ in effectiveness depending on how you use them.
Some owners are not in favor of using spray dog sunscreen since it can easily go in their dog’s eyes and can be inhaled that can cause irritation and other risks. The most recommended is the balm and lotion since they’re more effective just make sure that your dog will not lick the sunscreen when placed on their body to avoid indigestion.
Important Factors to Consider When Buying Dog Sunscreen
All owners want their dogs to enjoy the sun on a perfect beach trip and let them run free as long as they want. Our dog’s happiness is our happiness too, right? But before letting them enjoy their day, ensure that they’re protected from too much heat and sunrays.
Also, take note that human sunscreen SHOULD NOT be applied to dogs. SPF protection for humans contains chemicals that are effective for people but are toxic to dogs. To avoid any health risks and skin damages, here are the important factors that you should consider when buying sunscreen for your dogs:
Any added fragrance to your dog sunscreen can easily irritate your dog’s skin and nose. It’s better to purchase sunscreen without any added chemicals and scents to protect them and avoid any risk of allergic reactions and irritation.
No worries because it will not affect the effectiveness of the sunscreen, in fact, fragrance-free sun protection will help them feel comfortable and pleasant while playing under the sun.
Of course, you can’t control your dogs to play in the water when they decide to cool themselves by dipping and jumping on the beach or pool. Waterproof sunscreens will offer high levels of protection even if they get wet.
It’s also important to put enough sunscreen on their ears, belly, paws, and around their nose and to other skin exposed areas to ensure that they won’t get sunburns.
UVA and UVB Protection
Both UVA (Ultraviolet A-rays) and UVB (type B ultraviolet) protection should be present in your dog’s sunscreen to have full protection from the sun. This protection can prevent any risk of sun exposure that can lead to sunburn, skin cancer, and heatstroke.
These two are important factors for the effectiveness of your dog sunscreen so it’s essential to have this protection so make sure to double-check all the chemicals before buying one.
Dog sunscreens with zinc oxide and other group chemicals that are referred to as salicylates SHOULD BE AVOIDED since too much exposure to zinc oxide on your dog skin can develop zinc toxicity that can damage their red blood cells.
9 Best Dog Sunscreen: Cream, Spray, Lotion & Wipes
Like with everything, manufacturers and brands ruin everything. As soon as the early trials and sales looked promising, canine sun protection became the gold rush. Every brand, old or new, became a dog skin specialist releasing the hottest (pun intended) sunblock for dogs.
So let’s list the best dog sun blockers below.
1. Epi-Pet Sun Protector Spray
—Sun Spray for Dogs
The spray is probably the easiest way to apply sunscreen on your dog’s coat and skin. You can spray all over the body and work into the skin/coat using your hands or a brush. The Epi-Pet Sun Protector Spray is the only FDA-compliant dog sunscreen that is always a welcomed guarantee.
If your dog is a wilful licker, this pet sun spray is veterinarian-developed and should not cause any harm. Given the alcohol and water contents and no oils, you should reapply after swimming just to re-enable the sun protection.
2. Petkin Doggy Sunwipes
—Sunwipes for Dogs
Very convenient to use, sun wipes for dogs do not offer maximum protection. They are great to have in your bag or in the car for occasional uses. They are very cheap so it’s kind of a no-brainer but do not make them your go-to choice when it comes to protecting your dog against a really hot sun.
On the other hand, if your dog is hairy you may find sun wipes very difficult to apply, even with a medium-length coat. They will get dirty before you even reach the tail.
3. Warren London Premium Dog Sunscreen
—Sun Creams and Lotions for Dogs
Unlike human sunscreen, this sunscreen cream for dogs is safe, non-toxic, and paraben-free. Both UVA and UVB will be screened and blocked efficiently. Remember that there is no 100% protection. This dog sun protector spray also contains natural aloe vera as a moisturizer.
The cream should be used preventively in priority on your dog’s nose, belly, pads, and paws. Made using Shea Butter and Olive Oil, the cream will also be useful after a long day out in the sun as it helps the healing process of your dog’s paws and nose.
Overall, a great sun protector but more for the tummy (bare skin), nose, and paws. The spray is still a must-use for all of your dog’s furry parts.
4. Emmy's Best Dog Sun Skin Protector Spray
—Non-greasy and Soothing Spray for Dogs
This pet soothing sun protection for dogs can reduce any effects of the sun on your skin. Emmy’s sunscreen features a proprietary formula that’s designed to moisturize and nourish your fur buddy’s skin and coat while providing sun protection.
It’s perfect for all breeds of dogs, especially short, thin, white, or pink-skinned canines, and serves as essential gear for beach and hiking trips. This sunscreen spray also provides all body protection including paws, legs, earflaps, noses, and bellies where it’s susceptible to burn.
It’s safe and effective since it’s suitable for pets and has no harsh ingredients like zinc oxide. The Emmy sun skin protector sprays for dogs are high quality and produced in the USA so they guarantee helpful and overall protection of your dog skin.
5. SIT. STAY. FOREVER. Organic Sunscreen & Moisturizer for Dogs
—Organic Sunscreen and Moisturizer for Dogs
The best toxin-free protection that you could ever purchase in the market! This dog sunscreen has no hazardous zinc & titanium dioxides, benzones, octisalate, octylenes, homosalate, and octinoxate in its formula that can harm your dogs.
This sunscreen uses the finest oils that provide the highest SPF protection including coconut oil, olive oil, shea butter, red raspberry oil, carrot seed oil, hemp oil, and trace lemongrass oil that are all organic, waterproof, and effective!
It’s best for short-haired light-colored fur and hairless pets to protect their skin from the harmful sun rays. Daily application is suggested every time you go outside to safeguard your pet from any stress from the sun.
6. Bodhi Dog Sun Protector Spray
—Safe Skin Conditioner for All Breeds
The Bodhi dog sun protector spray is made of pet-friendly ingredients that reduce the chance of sunburn and skin irritation when your pets are exposed to the sun for a long time. It has moisturizing and soothing benefits of shea butter and jojoba butter to keep your pet’s skin protected and safe.
It’s non-greasy and has an oily formula that will leave your dogs fresh and ready for your beach trips without feeling sticky and irritated. Perfect for white or light-colored hair dogs with short, thin, or no fur at all.
When applying, simply spray your dog using this sunscreen and 15 minutes before sun exposure. The non-aerosol formula makes it easy to avoid those sensitive areas on your pet but the formula sprays clear onto the skin and is then quickly absorbed into the skin. No worries because it’s 100% safe since it has no zinc oxide and is alcohol-free.
7. Handy Hound SnoutScreen
—Moisturizing and All Natural Pet Balm
The Handy Hound SnoutScreen features the easiest application to protect your dog from the harsh sun. You’ll just twist up the tube applicator and effortlessly apply the product to your dog’s nose, the tip of their ears, and other sensitive pink areas.
It’s safe even if your dog decided to lick the area with balm since it has all-natural ingredients that are carefully hand-selected to their rigid standard. It contains raspberry, carrot, cedarwood, lavender, and other natural vegan ingredients.
This pet balm is also formulated with premium ingredients that give a soothing effect to dry, rough, chapped, and cracked noses and help protect against the damaging UV rays of the sun. Apart from this, it also discourages bugs and prevents any insect bites to protect your dog’s skin.
8. Gerrard Larriett Aromatherapy Pet Care Sunscreen
—Vitamin & Essential Oil Sunscreen For Dogs
This vet-recommended dog sunscreen is made for enriching vitamins and essential oils that actually heal skin while stopping permanent sun damage. It is also pet-safe since it has no chemical and benzone that causes allergic reactions and endocrine issues to your pets.
It has a non-sticky and deep moisturizing effect thanks to its proprietary combination of Lanolin, Coconut Oil, Jojoba Oil, and Olive Oil, your pets will feel comfort and ease even after application. It also has UVA and UVB protection that stop sunburns on fair-skinned or fine-haired pets.
Their formulated sunblock for dogs provides SPF30 equivalent UV blockage to reduce dog skin cancer and stop their snouts from feeling. It’s lick-safe and has ‘easy-to-say’ ingredients like purified water, coconut, yucca, jojoba oil, flax, etc. No worries because it does not contain harmful ingredients such as parabens, aerosols, or sticky zinc oxide.
9. My Dog Nose It Moisturizing Sun Protection Balm
—Sun Protection and Water Resistant Balm for Dogs
My Dog Nose It is an all-natural balm that simply protects your dog’s nose from any harmful sun rays that can cause cracking and sunburn on their exposed skin. It’s water-resistant and can be used at the beach, lake, or even if you’re having a pool party with your fur buddies.
Its natural ingredients are Carnauba wax coconut oil, Corn Starch, Ozokerite earth wax, Talc earth mineral, etc. that heals and adds moisture to your dog’s skin. It is also paraben-free and can be used to prevent nose color from fading – great for all dog breeds and lifestyles.
Their 0.5-ounce jar is a 4 month supply if used every day and has active ingredients like Octinoxate USP 7.5% that’s derived from Cinnamon oil and is an effective UV-absorber. It’s highly recommended to any light-colored fur, dogs with thin coats, or no coats.
Dog Sun Protection: FAQ
We gathered the top frequently asked questions about the best dog sunscreen, below are the best answers to your inquiries.
When applying sunscreen make sure to place the lotion on your hands and gently spread it. Place it on your dog’s belly, ears, nose, paws, and lower parts of his legs. Gently massage it on their skin and spread equally to cover all their exposed skin area.
Make sure to put in the proper amount and to avoid their eyes to prevent any irritation or allergic reaction. If you’re using a spray sunscreen, carefully spray it onto your dogs skin and avoid their eyes and nose to avoid inhaling too much sunscreen.
No, chemicals like zinc oxide or para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) in human sunscreen are very toxic to dogs and can irritate especially when ingested. It’s recommended to use sunscreens that are made for dogs and have formulas that are pet-friendly to avoid any health risks for your fur buddies.
Dogs usually get sunburned in areas with thin or no fur at all – these parts include bellies, nose, ends of their ears, and paws. You can easily detect if your dog is experiencing sunburn if their skin becomes red and has dry and cracked skin especially at the edges of the ears.
Usually, dog sunburns can develop from 1-hour sun exposure and can last up to 3 days. If your dog is experiencing sunburn, make sure to treat them immediately since it can be irritating and painful. If not treated properly, it can lead to increased exposure and risk of skin cancer.
If your dog is experiencing full-thickness burns, it’s best to consult your veterinarian and give him the proper treatment for his affected skin.
Even if baby sunscreen has mild ingredients, it’s still not recommended for dog use. Human sunscreen is made for humans, all the ingredients are safe for us but it doesn’t mean that it’s safe for dogs too. To prevent any health risk, simply purchase sunscreens that are for dogs and have no zinc oxide that’s toxic for dogs.
Yes. Certainly, dogs with short hair, no hair, and are light-colored are more prone to sunburn since they have more exposed skin. But regardless of their fur types and color, all dogs can experience sunburns, especially if not geared properly. So before going to the beach or having a hiking trip with your fur buddies, make sure that they are protected with sunblocks or sunscreen.
The bottom line is that you should protect your dog from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, starting with the nose, belly, and paws, to then finish off with the coat especially on short-haired dogs. Otherwise, your pooch is at a high risk of dog skin cancer or sunburn. The way you want to do it is entirely up to you. The spray is simply the easiest way to do it while the cream can last you longer.