Your four-legged friend basks belly up in the sunshine, gently snoring in utter contentment, the warmth having lulled him or her into la-la land. And you wish you could shape-shift into a dog ’cause it looks far more relaxing than when two-legged types try to soak up some vitamin D.
But before you let your pal out there, did you lube up that tummy with sunscreen? (Insert hooman head tilt.) We’re guessing the answer for most of us would be no. Do pups need sun protection? Believe it or not it’s a doggone good idea, especially if yours loves sunbathing, has white or thin fur (or none by nature), is losing fur due to allergies or other conditions, or is simply an outdoor enthusiast.
Keeping them cool is one thing; protecting them from paw-sible sun damage is another. Yep, stronger summer rays mean our fur babies can get sunburned (especially tummies, backs of legs, and noses) and even develop skin cancer. So short of seeking shady spots or keeping them inside, what to doo?
Apply sunscreen: Choose a pet-specific option from a brand like Epi-Pet or apply human sunscreen, but do NOT use one containing zinc oxide, which is toxic to dogs. If you do choose a people potion, grab one for made babies or sensitive skin, just to be extra safe. (Dogs can react just like us, so test on a small patch of skin first.) And this is kind of a “duh,” but you only need to cover exposed skin. Fur won’t burn 😉
Dress ’em up: Protective clothing isn’t just for peeps; pups can sport lightweight UPF apparel like vests and shirts (Sun Shield tees can be found online) and they can rock accessories like hats and shades specially designed for canines.
Shun the shave: It may be tempting to help dogs with long and/or heavy fur cool off by shearing them short, but most vets recommend against it for many reasons, not the least of which being that shaving makes them more susceptible to sunburn.
If your pooch does wind up painfully pink, soothe their skin with home remedies like a cool compress or bath, and follow with an application of aloe vera or vitamin E. More severe sunburns point to professional treatment, pronto! Head to your vet or animal emergency hospital for help.
We’re all about getting outside with our dogs as much as the weather allows — especially in our blink-and-it’s-gone summer season — but be sure to balance sunny days with safety smarts to keep the good times rollin’ and the tails waggin’.