Your Dog Is Catching Some Rays

If you and Fido are outside for a day at the beach or park, make sure your dog is wearing SPF 15 or higher sunscreen. That's silly, you say. Dogs don't wear sunscreen. Oh, but they do!

Put sunscreen on your dog before hitting the park or beach on a bright, sunny day!

According to PetMD:

Just like us, our dogs can get burned from sun exposure. Millie Rosales DVM, DACVD, of Miami Veterinary Dermatology, says that a sunburned dog can suffer from red, inflamed skin that becomes irritated and painful. Sunburns on dogs can also lead to hair loss and scaly skin.

And it's not just sunburn we have to worry about: Dogs, too, are susceptible to skin cancer.

You'll want to make a special point of putting sunscreen on your dog if he or she:

  • has light skin

  • has white fur or hair

  • has a light pink nose

  • is a breed with short fur such as bull terrier, pit bull, Dalmatian, French bulldog, greyhound or boxer

It's important to apply the solution to the nose, lips, tips of the ear, groin, belly and any other areas where skin is exposed. If your pet goes swimming, make sure to reapply the sunscreen after he or she dries.

Sunscreen for Dogs

Commercially prepared sunscreens for dogs are available at most pet stores. If you do choose to apply human sunscreen to your pet, take caution. READ THE LABEL CAREFULLY and avoid sunscreens with added fragrance or the ingredient zinc oxide. "Ingestion of zinc oxide can lead to hemolytic anemia," explains Rosales.

You'll also want to avoid para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) in the sunscreen. Shop online or at your local pet store for the following or other brands of dog-safe sunscreen: Epi-Pet, Warren London, My Dog Nose It!, or Petkin. Try to find SPF 15 or higher to ensure the lowest chance of sunburn.

Other Sunny Weather Tips for Dog Owners

After you apply sunscreen to your dog, watch to make sure he or she doesn't lick it off before it has a chance to soak into the skin. During this time, distract your dog with a game of Frisbee or a round of petting.

If your pet cannot wear sunscreen on advice of your vet or due to a skin condition, that doesn't mean you have to avoid the great outdoors altogether. “Keeping a dog indoors from 10 am to 4 pm is the best way to protect from the sun’s harmful rays,“ says Rosales. That means an evening boardwalk stroll might be a great option for you and your furry friend.

Make sure your pet can find hot weather relief with plenty of cool water to drink, or an accessible patch of cool shade. You can also buy pet accessories - like goggles, shirts and hats - that protect sensitive doggy skin from the ultraviolet rays of the sun.

As with all health and wellness related topics, make sure to check in with your veterinarian if you have any questions.


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