Expert advice: do dogs need sunscreen?

white-colored dogs may need sunscreen

Most dog owners are aware of the dangers hot weather poses to their pets, especially if they are left in a car, and make sure to keep them cool – but many otherwise conscientious of owners are unaware that dogs need sunscreen in sunny weather, too.

With high temperatures expected across Britain over the next few days, specialists from say, “Like us, a dog will get sunburn if their skin is exposed to the hot sun for too long. And like with humans, dog sunburn has a warm, reddish-pink appearance and is equally uncomfortable.

“Some dogs are more prone to burn than others, such as those with thin hair, or with areas of less hair and more exposed skin. Dogs with a very light skin and coat are also a higher risk, because darker pigments protect the skin. Where your dog has lighter, pinker skin, it’s more prone to get sunburn. The areas of the body at the most risk of sunburn are those where there is less hair, such as around the eyes, ears, lips and nose, and in the belly/groin area.

The dog breeds most at risk of sunburn include:

  • West Highland white terrier
  • Greyhound
  • Bull terrier
  • French bulldog
  • Boxer
  • Dalmatian

“Also like us, increased exposure to the sun and its UV rays can potentially lead to skin cancer in your dog. If you notice any unusual lumps, or a patch of skin that’s changed colour, we recommend you take your dog to the vet to get them checked out.”

“If you’re heading out into the sunshine with your dog and there’s no guarantee of a shady safe space for them to retreat to, then we recommend you use sunscreen on the sensitive areas of their body, like the pink skin around the ears, lips and groin.

“Try to use a specialist dog sunscreen if you can – there are many dog-friendly brands out there that don’t include some of the chemicals found in human sunscreen, like zinc oxide, PABA and artificial perfumes. While these extra ingredients are no harm to the skin itself, dogs do have a tendency to lick off their sunscreen, and these aren’t chemicals you want your dog to ingest.”

“If you’re in a bind and dog sunscreen isn’t readily available, you can use sunscreens designed for babies or young children. These are also often made without some of the chemicals found in adult sunscreen for similar reasons, so can be safer for your dog to wear. Just be sure you check the label first.

“If your dog goes swimming while wearing sunscreen, it can wash off so remember to reapply when they’re out of the water. And be prepared to do this quite frequently based on how often your dog decides to cool off.” 

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