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Barks & Mewsings

The Trupanion blog

Do Dogs Need Sunscreen? Pet Owner Questions Answered

By: Kelli Rascoe

A golden retriever dog wearing sunglasses

While you may be looking to get outside and enjoy the outdoors with your pets, pet safety may be front of mind. In fact, getting outside with your dog has many health benefits for you and your pet including fresh air, environmental enrichment, and physical activity.

But while spending time in nature is good for you, there may be certain risks to consider for your furry family member. For example, sun exposure may have lasting effects on your pets. So, you may be asking yourself the question, “do dogs need sunscreen?”

Sun protection may come in many forms for your furry friends. We sat down with Trupanion veterinarian Dr. Caroline Wilde to learn more about dog sunscreen and tips to help keep your dog’s skin protected.

Do dogs need sunscreen?

Sun protection is important for the entire family, including your pets. Sunscreen is one of the many ways you can help your dog stay protected from increased sun exposure. Also, “your dog’s skin can experience damage from UV light just like people, so they should be protected as well,” says Wilde. Consider talking with your veterinarian about your concerns with increased sun exposure. They can recommend pet-friendly products for your best friend.

A woman rubs the belly of her dog in the park

Risks of sun exposure

There’s nothing like getting outdoors and having fun in the sun with your pets. But while you enjoy your dog walk or playtime in the backyard, there may be a risk to your dog’s health. Although your dog may be exposed to the sun on a daily basis, you may want to consider limiting your dog’s time in the sun. Wilde points out some risks associated with sun exposure.

Consider the following:

  • Sunlight exposure can cause sunburn.
  • It may increase the risk of skin cancer or other sun-related skin diseases.
  • Your dog’s risk increases with prolonged sun exposure.
  • Thin-haired or light-skinned dogs may be at a greater risk.
  • A skin infection or an auto-immune disease may also increase the risk of skin damage related to sun exposure.

Dog breeds and the sun

No matter which dog breed you have it may be helpful to be mindful of how much time you’re spending outdoors. Also, an increase in sun exposure may include other health risks like heat stroke, dehydration, sunburn, and heat exhaustion.

In addition, “there are no particular at-risk dog breeds, but dogs that have lighter, thinner, hairless, shaved, or groomed fur may be more sensitive and at a greater risk for damage related to UV light exposure,” points out Wilde.

Further, all your pets should take breaks when outdoors and stay properly hydrated.

A baclk and white dog sitting in the grasss

How to apply sunscreen to your dogs

To help protect your pets from the sun’s rays, consider applying sunscreen when outdoors. Wilde breaks down some steps on the proper steps to take with your furry friend.

  1. Ask your veterinarian whether they think your dog needs sunscreen and their recommendations for products that meet your dog’s specific needs.
  2. Apply to the top of your dog’s head, ears, dorsum, inner thighs, belly, armpits, and skin on the underside.
  3. Try applying 15-30 minutes prior to sun exposure and reapply after swimming or during long periods in the sun.

Every pet may react differently to products being put on them. Some pets may not mind, while others are unsure. Take your time and slowly incorporate the product into your pet’s day if you plan on spending some time outside.

Alternatives to sunscreen

Sunscreen is a great way to help keep your pet’s fur and skin protected from the sun. While sunscreen may help, there are other resources available for your furry friends. Alternatively, if you plan on being outside with your best friend, consider including items like hats, UV blocking clothing, and pet-friendly outdoor spaces like a DIY doghouse.

Tips to keep your dog’s skin protected

You want your dog to be happy and healthy, which includes maintaining your dog’s skin and fur. Wilde points out additional tips to help protect your pet’s coat year-round. Consider the following tips below.

  • Keep your dog in the shade.
  • Try to avoid prolonged periods of sunlight exposure.
  • UV light can reflect off of surfaces, so be mindful of where your pet is at all times.

A brown and black French Bulldog sits outside on brick ground

Do dogs need sunscreen? Protecting your dog’s skin and fur may help their overall wellness

Whether you’re enjoying some time in your own backyard or taking your dog to the beach, remember to help provide shade and hydration to your furry friends. Sun moderation is key and with the help of your veterinarian and taking breaks from the sun, your pet will be on the way to enjoying everything the outdoors has to offer.

To learn more about dogs, read Why Do Dogs Howl at Sirens.

A dog and cat snuggle

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We’re the official blog of Trupanion—chosen by veterinarians as the #1 pet insurance in America. Here you’ll find useful dog and cat care tips, interesting veterinary insights, and fun pet topics galore.

While you’re browsing our pet blog, please note that the views expressed here are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Trupanion. Our articles are reviewed by veterinarians for accuracy, but they are not a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. Always consult with your own pet’s veterinarian for advice.

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