dog sunscreen protection
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Best Dog Sun Protection Products and Tips

Deciphering fact from fiction when it comes to dog sun protection can be tricky and perplexing. Thankfully, we have the scoop as to how to keep your dog safe in the sun, what dog products are safe and effective, and sun protection tips from the pros. 

Like people, dogs can and do get sunburned. Just because dogs have hair or fur, which tends to be shorter and finer, they can still get sunburned. 

Sunburned dogs can suffer hair loss, irritated skin, and skin cancer. Unfortunately, not all sunscreen products for dogs are created equal. We’ll tell you what to look for in a pet sunscreen so your dog is safe and protected.

Beyond sunburn, there are other protects to keep your pup safe from the sun and ultraviolet (UV) rays. Things like protective clothing, a sun umbrella, and even the type of haircut are all important. Here’s everything you need to know to keep your dog safe from the sun’s harmful rays.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Can Dogs Get Skin Cancer?

Yes, dogs can and do get skin cancer. The types of skin cancer in dogs most closely associated with the sun’s rays are squamous cell carcinoma, malignant melanomas, hemangiomas, and hemangiosarcomas. Another skin cancer in dogs is mast cell tumors, but they are generally not associated with the sun.

The best way to prevent skin cancer in dogs is to be aware of the sun’s harmful rays and protect your dog year-round. 

According to Dr. Lisa Lippman, dogs who have a white or thin coat, lightly pigmented nose, eyelids or ears have a greater risk of sunburn. 

Dogs who are missing hair in spots, even on their tummies, and who are outside for long periods of time need sun protection, too. Dr. Lippman says fur protects from harmful UV rays but it won’t protect exposed areas on the dog from sunburn.

Dog Sun Protection: Sunscreens To Consider 

Our favorite sunscreens to protect your dog include the following:

Best Overall Sunscreen for Dogs: Epi-Pet K9 Care Sunscreen

Best Dog Sunscreen Stick: Petkin SPF15 Doggy Sun Stick

Best Balm Sunscreen for Dogs: My Dog Nose It Moisturing Sun Protection Balm 

Best Organic Sunscreen for Dogs: Sit. Stay. Forever. Sunscreen for Dogs

Best Sunscreen Wipes for Dogs: Petkin Sunscreen Sunwipes

products to protect dogs in sun

Best Overall Sunscreen for Dogs: Epi-Pet K9 Care Sunscreen

We’ve been using this sunscreen on our Cocker Spaniels for years. Developed by a veterinarian, it easily sprays on your dog to prevent sunburn. It isn’t oily and is touted as the only FDA-compliant sunscreen. 

The manufacturer claims it is safe if licked once applied to your dog. Regular use of Epi-Pet K9 Care Sunscreen helps reduce exposure to UVA and UVB rays. Simply spray the body of your dog, including the chest, undercarriage, and inside legs. Be sure to avoid the face and eyes. Instead, spray the product on your hands and rub it around the face, nose, muzzle, and ears.

Best Dog Sunscreen Stick: Petkin SPF15 Doggy Sun Stick

Sometimes you just want to grab and go without any fuss or muss. Simply rub the Petkin doggy sun stick on your dog before any extended sun time. Drop it in your dog’s travel bag and go. No greasy or sticky formula to worry about.

Use this on your dog’s ears, nose, muzzle, and any area that are sensitive, especially on light-colored or short-haired dogs.

Best Balm Sunscreen for Dogs: My Dog Nose It Moisturing Sun Protection Balm 

The balmy texture of My Dog Nose It’s moisturizing product makes it easy to use and transport. Even cooler, this product is water-resistant, so use it at the beach, poolside, or while playing with the hose outside. Infused with coconut oil and carnauba wax, it doubles as a paw and nose soother.

Best Organic Sunscreen for Dogs: Sit. Stay. Forever. Sunscreen for Dogs

Touted as the best toxin-free sunscreen for dogs, Sit. Stay. Forever is made in the state of Maine. It is organic, all-natural, and waterproof. It can be applied liberally and works best if applied regularly when your dog is outside.

Ingredients include organic beeswax, coconut oil, olive oil, shea butter, vitamin E, red raspberry oil, carrot seed oil, hemp oil, and a trace amount of lemongrass essential oil.

Best Sunscreen Wipes for Dogs: Petkin Sunscreen Sunwipes

Sometimes you are in a hurry or need something to toss in your travel pouch or bag. The Petkin Doggy Sunwipes are generously sized at 7” x 7” and contain a sunscreen with a vanilla-coconut scent. Apply every two hours by wiping the cloth all over your dog. Pay close attention to ears, 

Our Runners Up For Sunscreen for Dogs

There are a few other honorable mentions to consider for your dog’s sunscreen needs:

Lucky Pup Sunscreen Dog Balm: If your dog has dry, cracked skin, you can protect it from the sun with this dog balm in a tube. Fragrance-free, stain-free, and tasteless, it is completely waterproof.

Warren London Dog Sunscreen in a Bottle: We love this sunscreen for dogs which contains aloe vera moisturizer. It is nontoxic, not oily, and contains a refreshing citrus scent.

My Dog Nose It! Coat and Body Spray: This paraben-free, alcohol-free body and coat spray is made in the USA and the non-aerosol spray is easy to use.

What To Look For In a Sunscreen For Dogs

When selecting a sunscreen for your dog, be sure it does not contain zinc, zinc oxide, fragrances, salicylates (aspirin)/cinnamates, or propylene glycol. Dr. Lippman also suggests making sure the product does not stain your dog. 

Renowned veterinarian Dr. Jean Dodds stresses the importance of staying away from products containing zinc oxide since they can damage a dog’s red blood cells and more. She also stresses not using zinc oxide on your own skin if your dog tests to lick you.

“Other chemicals to consider avoiding are para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), octinoxate, oxybenzone, triethanolamine, imidurea, methyl paraben, octisalate, DMDM hydantoin and benzophenone-3,” Dr. Dodds advises. “Some of these ingredients are found in “doggy safe” sunscreens.”

Dogs will often lick their paws or areas that have sunscreen on them, so be sure it is safe for dogs to do so. You can tell by the ingredients listed. It’s best if you keep a close eye on your dog for 10 to 15 minutes after applying a new product to prevent him from licking. 

Also, before you slather your dog in any sort of new product, test it on one spot first. Make sure your dog doesn’t show any redness or allergic reaction after 10 to 15 minutes. 

Put the product on your dog at least 15 to 20 minutes before he’ll be exposed to the sun’s rays. If he swims or goes in the ocean, reapply as directed.

Never put a sun protection product on your dog’s nose if he has lupus or has a crusty appearance on his known such as pemphigus. Ask a veterinary dermatologist what to use.

Never use human sunscreen on your dog. 

How to Apply Sunscreen to Your Dog

Apply sunscreen all over your dog’s body carefully so as not to get near the nose or eyes. Follow the directions on the product’s labeling and apply to more susceptible areas. 

According to petmd, dog breeds like Bull Terriers, Pit Bulls, Dalmatians, French Bulldogs, Greyhounds, and Boxers tend to be more susceptible to sunburn than dogs that have thicker coats and darker skin.

Other Helpful Dog Sun Protection Products

If sunscreen isn’t something you want to mess with, there are other, less messy products that can prevent UV rays from harming your dog. 

Protective Sun Clothing For Dogs

UV blocking shirts and suits for dogs are a viable alternative to sunscreen. The fabric contains a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) such as 50+ which indicates how much UV radiation (UVA and UVB) can reach your dog’s skin. 

According to SkinCancer.org, a UPF 50 fabric blocks 98 percent of the sun’s rays while allowing two percent to penetrate. This reduces the risk significantly.

Dog Sun Blocking Apparel

Some of our favorite UV blocking shirts and suits for dogs include:

EzyDog Rashguard Vest: Fast-drying, odor-resistant, and 50+ UPF protection make this one of our favorite sun protective vests for dogs. It is lightweight and made from bright red and durable Lycra fabric for function and protection. Measure your dog’s back from her neck at the shoulders to the base of her tail at the hips. 

PlayaPup Dog Sun Shirt: Available in a variety of styles and sizes, the UPF 50+ makes us feel confident in putting this on our dog. Made in the USA of lightweight material. This shirt can be worn during water fun or while on land.

Gold Paw Sun Shield Dog Tee-Shirt: Machine washable, blocks over 98 percent of the sun’s UV rays, and comes in a variety of sizes and colors.

Dog Sun Canopy

If your dog spends any time outdoors in a fenced-in area, be sure he has access to shade and cool, clean water. We love the pet cot canopy from K&H because it is water-resistant, pairs with the K&H elevated cooling cot, and protects dogs from the harsh summer sun. 

Dog Sunglasses

Doggles provide eye protection to dogs and look adorable. Made to withstand any type of weather, they protect your dog’s eyes from the sun, flying debris, and more. 

Doggles are shatterproof, provide UV protection, and are anti-fog. Be sure to get the right size for your dog’s needs. 

Should I Shave My Dog In Warmer Months?

Dogs like Cocker Spaniels will not be made cooler by shaving their coat down. I like to keep my Cocker’s coat short so I can see and feel for any fleas, ticks, lumps, or bumps on his skin. It makes it easier to comb, brush, and maintain. I do the Cocker Spaniel “puppy cut.” 

Dogs who are shaved too close may be more prone to sunburn as they don’t have their coat to protect them. Most professional groomers recommended trimming the coat, but not totally shaving it down to cool a dog off. Shaving a double-coated dog can make it harder for him to cool off.           

Bonus Tips to Keep Dogs Safe From the Sun and Heat

Don’t forget the paws during the summer months (and year-round). If it’s too hot for your feet, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws. 

Products like Musher’s Secret and Pawz booties can help, but you want to keep your dog off hot sidewalks and asphalt. 

Minimize the time of day when the sun is highest in the sky and therefore can cause the most damage. Walk during the early mornings or in the evening when it’s cooler. 

Dogs release heat through panting, their paw pads, and near their ears. Pay attention to signs of heatstroke and heat exhaustion in dogs.

Dr. Dodds says dogs with a black nose are ‘protected’ from the sun but a dog with a pink or pale nose would have sunscreen applied or use a doggie visor.

If you need something to do, check out our 101 things to do indoors with your dog

Take a summer day trip or a vacation with your dog and stay cool. Be sure to check out our list of things to do with your dog in the summer.

Finally, there are dangers lurking in the summer months beyond the sun’s harmful rays. Check out our canine warm weather dangers.

Stay safe, stay cool, and have fun with your dog!

dog sun protection

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