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6 Facts About Pet Sunscreen

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travelling dog

Summertime is rapidly approaching and many of us will be applying sunscreen to prevent sunburn.  Did you know your pet can get sunburned too?

Pets need sunscreen to prevent sunburn, and there are some points to keep in mind when selecting and applying sunscreen on your pet.

  • First, and most importantly, do NOT use human sunscreen on your pet.  Zinc oxide, which is an effective sunscreen for us is toxic for dogs.  It can damage dog’s red blood cells, resulting in anemia. For cats, avoid sunscreens containing salicylate, the smallest amount can be toxic.
  • Sunscreens made specifically for pets are the safest choice and can be purchased online and at a few large retail pet stores. They should be fragrance- free, waterproof and block both UVA and UVB rays. The SPF should be 15 or higher. Some of the products available are Doggles Pet Sunscreen (dogs), Virbac Pet Guard Gel with Sunscreen (dogs and cats) and Epi-Pet Sun Protector Sunscreen Spray (dogs).
  • When applying sunscreen to your pet, look for areas of his body where bare skin is exposed.  Areas at risk include tips of the ears and nose, belly and legs.  Watch to ensure your dog doesn’t lick off the sunscreen where he can get to it.
  • Avoid your dog’s eyes when applying sunscreen and do your best to keep him from inhaling it if using a spray.  Reapply every 3-4 hours, more often if your pet will be in the water.
  • If your dog tends to have allergies, watch for signs he may be allergic (excessive scratching, licking or biting) to an ingredient in the sunscreen.  Discontinue use and check with your veterinarian for an alternative.
  • Dogs and cats that are hairless, thin-haired or unpigmented are more likely to get sunburned easily.  Apply sunscreen on cats with white ears, eyelids and noses.  Certain dog breeds are also more susceptible to sunburn including: Staffordshire Terriers, Boxers, Bull Terriers, German Shorthaired Pointers and Pit Bulls, to name a few. Severe burns may also cause skin infections.

When having fun in the sun this summer with your pet, be sure to both of you have on your sunscreen!



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