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Tips on protecting your dog from the sun

American Kennel Club on

Published in Cats & Dogs News

Dogs and humans have a lot in common when it comes to the sun. A dog’s skin can be damaged by the sun just like ours, including sunburn and cancers, and dogs can also develop heatstroke from excessive sun exposure on a hot day.

Dogs' hair or fur protects their skin just like our hair protects the tops of our heads (for those of us who have it). However, if a dog’s skin is exposed to significant amounts of sunlight, his skin can become red and inflamed.

To help dog owners keep their pups safe while outside, the American Kennel Club’s chief veterinary officer, Dr. Jerry Klein, provides tips for sun protection.

Sunscreen Is key

Certain dog breeds, such as those with short or no coats, and dogs that have little pigment, such as white dogs, are more susceptible to sun sensitivity and sunburn. Sunscreen should be strongly considered for those susceptible breeds if they are outside for any period of time in strong sunlight.

The safest, most effective sunscreen to put on your dog is one specifically designed for canine use. You should never use any other type of sunscreen on your pet without your veterinarian’s approval. You should also never apply tanning lotions or oils to your pet.


You can purchase a fragrance-free sunscreen formulated for babies and children with an SPF of 15 or higher at the local drugstore. But it’s EXTREMELY important to read the labels on baby sunscreen before applying it to pets. No sunscreen containing zinc oxide or PABA should ever be used on a pet. They may lick their skin and accidentally ingest the toxic ingredients in the sunscreen.

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: around the top of the muzzle near the nose, around the lips, the tips of the ears, and the underside of the chest and belly periodically throughout the day. Also, if the dog has gone swimming or gotten wet, the sunscreen should be immediately reapplied as with humans.

Fresh water and shady spots

Dogs can experience heatstroke in hot weather. Making sure your dog has access to water and shade is an essential part of keeping your pet safe on hot days.

You should never leave a dog in direct sunlight unsupervised, and never leave a dog enclosed in a car in temperatures greater than 60 degrees even with windows partly open

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