Do Dogs Need Sunscreen?

Yes, dogs do need sunscreen.  Dogs get sunburned and are susceptible to skin cancers just like us.  So, you need to protect your dog’s sensitive skin areas from sunburning.  The spots most likely to sunburn are the nose, lips, jowls, ear flaps, footpads, belly area, groin, and any other non-hair area.   Use only vet-approved, dog-safe sunscreen and do not get the product in the dog’s eyes, mouth, or nose.


Not only do dogs need sunscreen, as explained by our friends at Furry Friends Gear, but you should put it on your dog often. is especially true for outdoor active “go-with” dogs and dogs that love to swim.  And, not just in the hot summer days but apply it throughout the year.  As anyone who enjoys winter activities knows, the harmful rays of the winter sun and snow reflection can readily burn exposed skin areas―yours and your dogs.


This article will give you some tips about which kinds of sunscreen products to use on your dog and how to use them.  We will also list some “do’s and don’ts” about certain sunscreen products. While all dogs should be protected from sunburn, some short-haired breeds are especially vulnerable―please see the list below.


We do not endorse any specific sunscreen products, nor is this meant to be a complete product list.  It is merely a guide.  We recommend that you get your vet’s advice before buying or using any particular sunscreen product.  Please read on to learn more.


Products to use…OR NOT

  • Buy sunscreen that’s labeled as “pet safe” or “dog safe”
  • Only use sunscreen that your vet recommends
  • Only use a human baby or children’s 25 or higher SPF broad-spectrum fragrance-free sunscreen if you can’t find a product labeled as “pet safe” (Always check this type of product with your vet).
  • BUT NEVER use human products that contain Zinc Oxide or PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid) as these are toxic to dogs and cats
  • NEVER use tanning lotions or oils (including Baby Oil) on your dog.


Applying Sunscreen to Your Dog


It’s a good idea to apply sunscreen to just one small skin area first and wait at least an hour before using any more.  This is just a safety precaution to be sure that your dog’s skin won’t react to it.  Once that is done then apply to the other areas mentioned above, being careful to avoid the eyes and tongue.  Monitor your dog closely for several minutes after applying to allow the sunscreen to be absorbed by the skin.  This is to safeguard that your dog doesn’t just lick it off.


It’s also important to note that all “pet safe” and the so-called “natural” sunscreens are not necessarily safe for your dog.  Just because the pet shop carries them, it doesn’t mean they are safe.  Read ingredient labels and ask your vet when in doubt.


Some Dogs Most Susceptible to Sunburn


  • Most short-haired breeds, especially light-colored and white-haired dogs like these:
    • Pit Bulls
    • Other Light Colored Terriers
    • Dalmations
    • Yellow Labs
    • White Labs
    • White Shepherds
    • Bulldogs
    • Tan or White Pugs
    • Greyhounds
    • Boxers
    • Weimaraners
    • Whippets
    • Chinese Cresteds
  • All Naturally Hairless Breeds
  • Any Dogs with Alopecia, Hot Spots, or Shaved (for hot weather, surgery, etc.)


In Conclusion


Yes, dogs do sunburn and need protection like us.  In fact, just about all dogs are susceptible to sunburn, but some more than others like the short-haired breeds.  With rising global temperatures and a thinner ozone layer, it’s important to protect our best friends from sunburn.  Plenty of available shade and lots of fresh water help a lot but sunscreen protection is key.  Just be sure the product you buy and use is dog safe―not just topically but internally too.  Apply the product in the right areas and be sure to ask your vet before putting any kind of sunscreen on your pooch.


Thanks so much for visiting our blog today!  Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments about this article.



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