Which Dog Breeds Are More Likely to Get Sunburned?
“White dogs with short hair, like Bull Terriers, Pit Bulls, Dalmatians, French Bulldogs, Greyhounds, and Boxers, are more susceptible to sunburn than dogs with darker skin and thicker coats,” Dr. Goldstein points out.
Still, even though these breeds are more likely to burn, all pet parents should consider the use of sunscreen for their dogs in the summer.
Should I Worry About My Dog Getting Sunburned?
Just like us, dogs can get burned from sun exposure, particularly on parts of the body that are sparsely covered with hair.
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.
Yes, you should put sunscreen on your dog.
“It’s actually very important to put sunscreen on dogs, especially those with light skin and white fur or hair,” says Richard Goldstein, DVM, and chief medical officer of the Animal Medical Center in New York City. “A dog’s skin can be damaged by the sun just like our own, so they require the same protection against the development of sunburn and skin cancer.”
Dr. Rosales points out that the types of skin cancer in dogs that can be associated with sun exposure include:
She urges that if a dog has to be outdoors during peak sun exposure hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), sunscreen should be reapplied to sun-sensitive areas of the body—the nose, around the lips, tips of the ears, the groin, and the belly—throughout the day.
Dr. Goldstein says if the dog has gone swimming, the sunscreen should be immediately reapplied.
What Is the Best Sunscreen for Dogs?
The safest and most effective sunscreen to put on your dogs is one that is specifically designed for canine use, says Dr. Rosales. These sunscreens are designed with dogs in mind and don’t pose any health risks.
If dog sunscreen isn’t available, Dr. Goldstein says that pet parents can purchase a broad-spectrum sunscreen for babies and children with an SPF of 15 or higher.
It’s EXTREMELY important for pet parents to read the labels on baby sunscreen before applying it, since dogs may lick their skin and accidentally ingest the sunscreen, many of which contain ingredients that are potentially toxic if ingested.
“When choosing baby sunscreen, pet owners should choose a fragrance-free product that doesn’t contain zinc oxide,” Dr. Rosales explains. “Ingestion of zinc oxide can lead to hemolytic anemia.”
Titanium dioxide is widely regarded as being a safe active ingredient in sunscreens for dogs, but when in doubt, ask your veterinarian for a recommendation. Never apply tanning lotions or oils to your pet.