Does My Pet Need Sunscreen?

Summertime is upon us; the time of BBQs, picnics, and pool parties! As you are dutifully slathering sunscreen on yourself, you may suddenly look down at Fluffy and wonder, does my pet need sunscreen too?

Animals with medium or long fur are for the large part, naturally protected from the sun. However, all dogs are more sensitive to the sun on their ears, nose, lips, and belly, where their fur is shorter. Animals with short or fine fur and dogs with light skin are more susceptible to getting sunburns.

The best way to prevent sunburn is to keep your pet inside during peak sun exposure hours (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.). If they must be outside for prolonged periods during this time, apply sunscreen to their most sensitive areas (ears, nose, lips, and belly), and re-apply if they go swimming.

There are no veterinary specific sunscreens available in Canada, but you can look for baby sunscreen that does not contain any zinc oxide or para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), as these could be toxic if your pet licks it off their skin.

An alternative to sunscreen if your pet is outside for long hours, is UVA/UVB blocking shirts and hats. Dog goggles are also available to protect your dog’s eyes from the sun!

Written by Dr. Connie Tuck, DVM