Having Fun in the Sun without Feeling the Burn
By Diane Krueger
Hot fun in the summertime is no fun at all if you end up sunburned. Just like you
and I, our dogs can get sunburned too. And just like we apply sunscreen to prevent
getting burned by the sun’s rays, we should apply sunscreen to our dogs too.
Sunburn is painful for everybody, dogs included. It can lead to certain types of
canine skin cancer and worsen pre-existing skin conditions, like dermatitis. And
did you know that certain breeds of dogs are more prone to getting sunburned?
Obviously, hairless breeds are most susceptible, but so are dogs with white or thin
coats; ones with light pigmented noses and eyelids; ones with light or white
pigment on their ears or near their noses; and any dogs that like to lie on concrete
or light surfaces outside; and any dogs that like to lie on their backs outside on a
So, it seems a lot of dogs out there can benefit from using sunscreen, but that
doesn’t mean you should just slather on the Coppertone and think you’re all set.
You need to be careful about choosing which sunscreen to use since sunscreen for
people can be toxic to dogs with ingredients like zinc oxide or para-aminobenzoic
acid (PABA). It’s best to use a canine-specific sunscreen, such as Epi-Pet Sun
Protector Spray. You’ll want to look for a sunscreen with at least a 30 SPF and one
that’s unscented so your dog doesn’t try to lick it off.
Once you get the sunscreen, the crucial step is application. When you apply
sunscreen to your dog, you want to apply it to spots most exposed to the sun, like
the bridge of the nose, tips of the ears, skin around the mouth, groin, inner thighs
and anywhere else the pigment is light. And remember to reapply if your dog goes
swimming or as instructed on the product label.
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, our dogs do get sunburned. If this happens,
move your dog inside or to a shady area as soon as possible. Apply a cool
compress or aloe vera to help relieve the burn. If the burn is severe or your dog
isn’t responding to the remedies you’re trying, contact your vet immediately.