Why Your Dog Needs A Sunscreen Rubdown

Humans aren’t the only ones who have to worry about over-exposure from the sun.

Super sunny days can be uncomfortable for the fair-skinned among us. But what about our furry children, our four-legged best friends? What do they have to look forward to? Well, they’ll be more than happy to tag alongside with you—but don’t forget about their unique needs. Under that well-kept and conditioned fur is skin, just like yours and mine.

Sunbathing Dogs, Beware

If you haven’t noticed yet, some dogs crave the sun. Our family’s Pit Bull/German Shorthaired Pointer mix, Maggie, is always sprawling in the sun-warmed grass, soaking up the sun like a college student on Spring Break in Cancun.

But what are those ultraviolet rays doing to her skin? After all, her thin hair offers little protection to her blotched, freckled skin, especially the areas under her armpits and belly. As it turns out—and has been proven in research—those UV rays can cause quite a lot of damage. These tanning episodes can create metastasizing skin lesions (skin cancer, essentially), irritable skin conditions and even hair loss in some circumstances.

Not All Sunscreens Are Created Equal

I’m sure at this point you’re raiding through your well-used beach bag or rummaging through a crowded bathroom drawer, scouring for a bottle of sunscreen for your pet’s next outing in the sun. But wait! Make sure you read the labels first.

Zinc oxide is the UVA/UVB shielding ingredient utilized in our supermarket bought sunscreens, which is fine for us humans. Dogs, on the other hand, require something concocted from salicylate. Why? Because zinc oxide is toxic to our canine brethren. And, if ingested, can damage their red-blood cell counts, causing unwanted inflammatory problems in the process. Double-check the ingredients list, absolutely. Triple-check, maybe.

Even though the summer months only occupy a quarter of the calendar year, the sun is always there. Protecting our skin—and the skin of our beloved furry friends—from harmful UVA/UVB exposure should always be a priority. Next time you venture into the sun with your wet-nosed better-half, make sure you have his or her best interests in mind too. If you’ve decided it’s worth streaking your skin white with sunscreen, odds are your leashed companion would appreciate the same gesture on those exposed areas.

Meet the Author: Matt Charnock

Matt Charnock is a well-practiced, dynamic freelance writer, occupying numerous literary mediums. He’s been frequently published in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species’ amphibian journal, FrogLog, as well as having worked hand-in-hand with various nonprofits from around the world, promoting the connection between a healthier, more stable community and the sustainability of its endemic ecosystem. Matt also writes for various branding publications and news outlets, totted as being a “creative wordsmith with a passion for research and human connection.” Matt also regularly speaks at international conferences, discussing the merit of "storytelling" and how we can empathetical perceive the world—one narrative, one species at a time.

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