Sun protection is nowadays an indisputable issue for people, regardless of their skin type. Not only to avoid painful sunburns but, above all, to prevent premature skin aging and, more importantly, skin cancer. But what about dogs, can they get sunburn and do they need to be protected with dog sunscreen?
Since we know that you care about the welfare of your furry friend, from Las Almenas we want to solve these questions and explain what are the ideal characteristics of a sunscreen for dogs, as well as how to use it.
Why sunscreen for dogs is necessary
You may think that, with so much hair, dogs do not suffer from sunburn. Indeed, their fur protects them from the sun, cold and heat, but this is not always enough. In fact, we humans are often the ones who put the health of their skin at risk by cutting the hair of long-haired dogs in summer. If you want to find out what you can do, we recommend that you read our article “Is it advisable to shave your dog’s coat in summer?”
Obviously, not all dogs have a protective coat. There are dogs that have short or very fine hair and there are also those with light coats. You should also keep in mind that there are areas that are not protected by hair, such as the muzzle, ears and even the belly, so they are more exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
The risks of the sun for the skin
Surely you already know that the sun’s ultraviolet rays are very harmful to our health, but it turns out that they are also harmful to our dogs.
As with humans, UVA and UVB rays can initially produce very painful burns that, although they disappear, leave a mark on the skin. Over time, this internal change in skin structures leads to certain types of skin cancer, such as squamous cell carcinoma or melanoma, which is potentially fatal.
And that’s not all. Sunburn can also accentuate other problems such as dermatitis or some autoimmune diseases.
For all these important reasons, you have to take very seriously the protection of your dog in summer and, in this, the use of sunscreen for dogs will be a great help.
Which dogs are most prone to sunburn?
As it happens with people, all dogs can suffer from sunburn, although there are some that, due to their physical characteristics, are more prone to sunburn.
These are dogs whose skin is whiter or pinker, as they have lower melanin levels than dark-skinned dogs. All the more reason why albino dogs should receive extreme protection.
Also, those with short or thin hair are more likely to suffer burns, so you know that shaving the dog’s hair is not advisable at all.
Finally, the areas most prone to burns, as we have already advanced, are the areas with less hair: the nose, the ears, the abdomen. But be careful with the dog’s nose, since he sucks it easily, it is not advisable to apply a lot of sunscreen for dogs. It is better to protect him in the shade and, if there is no other choice, it will be necessary to apply very little cream so that it is absorbed quickly.
What is the best sunscreen for dogs?
If you are thinking of applying a sunscreen for your dog, you are already forgetting about this idea.
Because no matter how good the sunscreen you use is, it contains perfume and other substances that can be toxic for dogs. This is the case of zinc oxide or para-aminobenzoic acid which, as they are used to licking themselves, can easily end up in your dog’s stomach.
Therefore, use a cream specifically designed and intended for dogs. You can ask your veterinarian if a protection factor of 30 is sufficient or if it is preferable to use a sunscreen for dogs with factor 50.
If you intend to use it at the beach or at a river or lake where the dog will be soaking, opt for a water-resistant dog sunscreen.
You will also find sunscreens for dogs in spray format that are really practical if your dog has a long coat and it is difficult to spread the cream. The spray is easy to apply and the product penetrates effectively into the coat.
How to apply sunscreen for dogs?
Before bathing your dog in cream, test by applying a small amount of product to a small, specific area of the body. See if it causes any allergic reaction. If nothing happens, you can use it with peace of mind.
Depending on whether it is a cream or a spray, the application may be different. In the case of cream, you will have to spread the protector with your hand, massaging gently, especially where there is less fur, such as the ears, eyelid, lips and abdomen.
In the case of a spray, you will simply have to spray and you will see that the hair becomes whitish, which will help you to know where you have already applied the product. This white color disappears immediately, but if necessary, you can massage your dog so that the product penetrates better.
Be careful when spraying the head area, as the product could get into the eyes.
Whether it is a spray or an emulsion, you should wait until the product is completely absorbed, avoiding the dog to lick itself. And don’t forget to repeat the administration of sunscreen for dogs every 2 or 3 hours to ensure optimal protection.
Other tips to protect your dog from the sun
In addition to applying sunscreen for dogs, you should also follow other tips to protect your dog from the sun’s harmful rays and heat. It is essential to avoid heat stroke, which is really dangerous.
From Las Almenas we want to give you these simple tips to keep your pet as cool as possible and avoid the consequences of excessive sun:
- Avoid going outside during the hottest hours of the day (between 12:00 and 17:00). Those are hours to be in the shade as cool as possible.
- Apply the cream 30 minutes before exposure. This is the time it takes to take effect and be protected.
- Take care of the risk areas that we have already mentioned that are especially sensitive to the sun because they do not have hair. And if your dog likes to kibble or be belly up, this area of the abdomen is especially sensitive, so do not forget to protect it with sunscreen for dogs.
- It is best to apply a small amount so that it is absorbed before the dog gets to lick the product. And then replenish every 2 or 3 hours to maintain optimal protection.
- Avoid keeping your dog in too hot and poorly ventilated areas, such as a small room with closed windows, a veranda,… And, under no circumstances, leave him locked in the car for even five minutes or even if it is parked in the shade because the interior heats up very quickly and this can be fatal for your dog.
- Last but not least, keep your dog well hydrated all day long. In summer, when you go outside, always carry a bottle of water and offer it to him regularly.
What if the dog suffers a sunburn?
If unfortunately your pet has been burned and the area is red and hot, you should take him to a cool place and apply cold water compresses.
Your veterinarian may recommend an ointment or cortisone product to reduce the inflammation if the burn is serious. If the skin is changing and a secondary infection appears, then antibiotics may be necessary.
But surely you can avoid this situation by following these tips we have mentioned, in addition to using sunscreen for dogs.
Did you know about the need of sun protection for dogs? Has your dog ever suffered a sunburn? If you want to tell us about your experience, you can leave us your comment at the end of the article or through our profiles on Facebook, Instagram and on our Las Almenas YouTube channel. And if you use a sunscreen for dogs, don’t forget to use another one for yourself. In summer it’s time to show off a healthy skin!