Many owners don’t realise that dogs need sunscreen too

The Times reports that almost 50% of dog owners are unaware that their companion animal should wear sunscreen which has been specially formulated for pets during hot weather, according to research. The researchers found that 40% mistakenly believed that human sunscreens were suitable for dogs despite the fact that they often contain chemicals which may be toxic to them. The survey was carried out by the hotel-booking platform Hoo.

RELATED: Sunscreen for cats and dogs is not a gimmick – ingredients to avoid.

Dog on beach in the sun
Dog on beach in the sun. Photo: Image by Clarissa Bell from Pixabay

They found that 51% of respondents were planning to take their pet on a summer staycation during 2022 but only 46% realised that dogs need sun protection and 55% were unaware of the potential side effects if their dog was sunburned.

Also, 70% did not know how much sunscreen to apply to their dogs and 57% had never applied sunscreen when they took their dog outdoors.

A veterinary research and standards lead at the national pet charity Blue Cross, Dr. Anna Ewers Clark, is highlighting how it is important to think about sunburn in dogs particularly at this time of high temperatures.

She makes the point – which has been said many times before – that although fur is a great protector of skin there are areas on a dog’s body where their fur is very thin and does not provide adequate protection from ultraviolet light. And the primary vulnerable areas for both dogs and cats are the ear flaps. And this applies particularly to white dogs because there is no pigmentation in the hair strands and therefore the UVB light can pass through onto the skin.

Dr. Anna Ewers Clark says that many dogs actually naturally avoid the sun but not all of them. And some dogs like to sunbathe. Dog owners like to see their dog sunbathing because it looks nice and the dog is relaxed and enjoying themselves. But even on relatively cool days dogs can still get sunburned because UV damage is not always linked to temperature.

Also, she said: “If you go walking with your dog and take them to the beach, along clifftops or even up mountains you don’t often feel the heat from the sun because you have a nice breeze. But the reflection of the waves and being higher up can make the risk higher.”

She recommends using a “pet-safe sunscreen”. And “make sure that you are applying that before going into the sunshine, ideally 15 minutes before, giving it a chance to soak in. If you’re using SPF 30 on your dog, reapply every 30 to 45 minutes. It’s very difficult to over-apply it so if in doubt, put on another layer. The minimum safe SPF for dogs is 30. But with any new cream, test it on your dog before you need it.”

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