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Does My Dog Need Sunscreen?

The Dodo logo The Dodo 6/14/2021 Danielle Esposito

a close up of a dog

Have you ever been slathering sunscreen on yourself in your backyard, looked over at your pup and wondered: “Hey, does my dog need sunscreen too?!”

Turns out, if your dog is spending time outside for summer activities, it’s probably a good idea to protect her from the same UV rays that you protect yourself from.

To find out more about your dog and sun protection, The Dodo reached out to Dr. Ann Hohenhaus, a veterinarian at Animal Medical Center in New York City, for more info.

How do you protect your dog from the sun?

According to Dr. Hoenhaus, during the sunny summer months, it’s important to make sure your dog has access to plenty of shade to help prevent sun-induced skin cancers and sunburns.

And not only does your dog need shade, but she could also benefit from being protected even further — by using sunscreens or sun shirts made specifically for your pup.

Which breeds are most prone to getting sunburnt?

While fur provides some protection from the sun, it’s not perfect. So any short-haired breed is more prone to getting sunburnt than a long-haired breed.

Short-haired breeds include dogs like pit bulls, French bulldogs, greyhounds and bull terriers.

It’s important to keep in mind that skin color can also affect how prone your dog is to getting sunburnt. Lighter-skinned dogs are more susceptible to getting sunburnt than darker-skinned pups.

Which parts of a dog need the most protection from the sun?

According to Dr. Hohenhaus, there are parts of a dog that are prone to getting sunburnt — and at risk of complications like tumors — more than other parts.

“For pets who are shaved, that shaved area is at risk of being burned,” Dr. Hohenhaus told The Dodo. “The little nose tip, especially for a pale-nosed dog or white-nosed dogs — as those areas are prone to sun-induced tumors.”


Video: How many sunburns does it take to get skin cancer? (TODAY)

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“Dogs that like to sunbathe on their backs can also get tumors in the inguinal area, the space between the back legs,” Dr. Hohenhaus said. “Any area where the skin is thin and there is no hair should be protected.”

Which sunscreens are best for dogs?

According to Dr. Hohenhaus, just make sure the sunscreen you get for your pup isn’t the same one you use.

Dog-friendly sunscreens are available in most pet stores and online.

Like this Warren London Dog Sunscreen Spray from Amazon for $13.98

Or this Epi-Pet Sun Protector Spray for Pets from Amazon for $17.95

You can also get a nose-specific balm to protect that adorable snoot.

Like My Dog Nose It Moisturizing Sun Protection Balm from Amazon for $12.94

And make sure you’re testing the sunscreen on a small patch on your dog before spraying her entire body — just to be safe and make sure she doesn’t have a reaction to it.

Additional sun protection for dogs

If your dog’s skin is extra sensitive, or you’re looking for even more protection than sunscreen, there are other ways to protect your dog from the sun.

“Consider sun-protective clothes and goggles for your dog, also available at many pet-supply stores,” Dr. Hohenhaus recommended.

Like this PlayaPup Dog Sun Shirt from Amazon for $35.00

Or these Dog Goggles from Amazon for $8.99

How to check your dog for skin cancer

According to Dr. Hohenhaus, you should check your pup often for early signs of skin cancer when you pet her.

These signs are very similar to the signs of sun-related skin cancers in humans.

Early signs of skin cancer:

  • Strange-colored lumps and bumps
  • Firm, raised wart-like blemishes
  • Inflamed sores
If you find any of these while petting and inspecting your dog, contact your vet immediately to be safe.

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