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Sunscreen lotion for dogs - Do they need it and what to use

Sunscreen lotion for dogs - Do they need it and what to use

We are all very aware about the need to use sunscreen lotion on ourselves and our children, in order to protect us from burning and harmful UVA and UVB rays that can lead to skin problems and even the development of skin cancer. But one thing that even the most conscientious of dog owners often overlook is the need for suntan lotion to be used on certain types of dogs, in order to protect their delicate skin from the sun too!

Dogs tend to spend a great deal of their time outside, particularly during the summer months, and after heat stroke, sunburn is the greatest potential hazard of the summer for dogs with light skin and fine fur.

If you are not sure if you should be using sunscreen on your own dog, or what type of sunscreens are suitable for dogs, in this article we will look at this in more detail, and make some recommendations. Read on to learn more!

What does sunscreen do?

First of all, it is important to make the distinction between sunscreen lotion that is designed to provide a barrier to protect the skin against the sun, and suntan lotions that are designed to enable people to tan faster! In this article, we are of course talking about the former, and this is the type of suntan lotion that you should be considering using on your dog.

Sunscreen creates a barrier on the skin that filters out the harmful rays of the sun’s spectrum, and allows a person (or dog) that would burn without protection to spend longer outsider in the sun without risking burning.

Sunscreen lotions are divided up into SPF “factors,” and the higher the SPF factor, the more protection that they offer to the wearer. The higher the factor, the longer it will allow the wearer to be safely exposed to the sun for, and the fairer or more prone to burning the person or dog is, the higher the factor they will need.

What type of dogs need sunscreen in the sun?

You may assume that your dog’s fur will protect their skin against exposure to the sun and its associated risks, but this is not always the case.

If your dog has dark skin and dark, dense fur with no lighter areas or exposed skin, they will probably be fine without sunscreen, but many dogs can benefit from its protection.

Dogs that have light coloured fur, very short, fine fur, or lighter areas may need sunscreen , and any exposed areas of skin (such as on the belly or around the muzzle where the fur tends to be finer) should be covered on dogs of all types when out in the sun.

Some breeds of dog, such as the Weimaraner and the Boxer are also prone to developing tumours and cancer of the skin, and so should especially be protected.

What sunscreen can you use on dogs?

Today, the market for sunscreen for dogs is becoming increasingly larger, and it is not hard to buy dog-specific products to protect them from the sun! However, all sunscreens essentially fulfil the same role, and so if you pick carefully, there is no reason why you cannot use as generic human sunscreen lotion on your dog.

When choosing a sunscreen lotion that will be both suitable and safe for your dog, take into account the following guidelines:

  • Sunscreen lotions with an SPF factor of less than 15 have been proven to be ineffective against the UV rays that we face today, and may in fact simply serve to oil the skin and quicken burning.
  • In order to be effective for dogs, a sunscreen with an SPF factor of a minimum of 30 is recommended, in order to ensure protection.
  • Choose a sunscreen that does not contain ingredients such as zinc oxide and para-aminobenzoic acid, as these can prove toxic to dogs if ingested.
  • Make sure that the sunscreen you choose is hypoallergenic and fragrance free, to avoid upsetting the delicate balance of your dog’s skin. Sunscreens designed for use on children are usually suitable for use on dogs, as they tend to be less loaded with additives.
  • Pick a sunscreen that offers both UVA and UVB protection, in order to guard your dog against the two main type of harmful sun rays.
  • Remember that sunscreen needs to be re-applied regularly in order to remain effective; you cannot just apply it to your dog once per day and leave them to it.
  • Sunscreen is designed to lengthen the time during which you can stay out in the sun safely, and every type of sunscreen will come with guidelines on how much more time in the sun a good application will give you. Bear this in mind, and never use sunscreen on your dog in place of providing shelter or taking your dog inside when it is too hot.