Fun in the Sun: How Sunscreen for Dogs Can Save You Money

Think sunscreen for dogs is only for a pampered pet? Do you know that 20-40% of skin tumors in dogs are cancerous?

While some breeds are predisposed to skin cancer, you can take steps to lessen the risk. Although serious skin damage, specifically malignant melanoma, is less frequent in dogs, it can be extremely aggressive. Thus, the lifespan of a dog with malignant melanoma is drastically reduced. Truthfully, there is no one best dog sunscreen. What works best for your pup is what’s best. 

a cute pup enjoys a hug from his human sister in the sun after his humans put sunscreen for dogs on him
disclaimer note
Budget tip:
While treating skin cancer in dogs can be pricey, taking steps to prevent it is pretty cheap. Pet-safe sunscreen is one game-changing option that can reduce the risk of cancer on dogs's skin. Thus, you keep your dog healthy and prevent costly vet treatments. In a nutshell, pets and dogs need sunscreen protection. It’s a major win-win for your dog and your wallet!

What is dog skin cancer?

Currently, there are three different types of dog skin cancers. They are:

  • Malignant Melanoma
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma
  • Mast Cell Tumors

However, only malignant melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma suggest that a pet owner can take preventative action. Thus, the goal overall is to reduce your dog’s risk of being diagnosed with skin cancer.

What causes skin cancer in dogs?

Some dog breeds are more at risk, such as Schnauzers, Scottish Terriers, Boxers, Pugs, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Boston Terriers, Dalmatians, Beagles, Whippets, and white Bull Terrier dogs.

Additionally, dogs who have more sun exposure or overexposure to the sun rays are at a higher risk.

Also, lighter-colored, white, thin-coat dogs and pups with hair loss can burn more easily, which can lead to skin damage. 

What preventative skin cancer measures can a dog owner take?

Sunscreen can be a huge game-changer! It protects your dog against the sun’s harmful rays. This is the same reason you need to wear sunscreen as well. In addition, providing your dog with shade, and even UV-protective clothing will help.

This is a great pet-safe sunscreen you and your dog will love!

One great idea is to always inspect your dog for lumps and bumps. Then check with your vet when something suspicious is found.

Can I use human sunscreen on my dog?

No! Often the sun protection you use will have toxic ingredients for your fur kid. It’s always best to use a sunblock with a pet or dog-safe label. 

What ingredients do I look for in a pet sunscreen?

Of course, no two dog sunblocks are equal. However, the main pet sunscreen ingredients to look for are:

  • Pet safe
  • Broad spectrum for both UVA and UVB rays
  • SPF 15+ (although SPF 30 is better)
  • Water-resistant or waterproof
  • Fragrance-free or a scent your dog will like coconut
  • Zinc oxide free – toxic to pets
  • PABA (Para-aminobenzoic acid) free – toxic to pets
  • Titanium-dioxide free
  • Benzophenone free

Other all-natural ingredients can be moisturizers for dogs’ skin and fur. This is a bonus, especially if your dog has dry skin. Some things you’ll want to look for on the label include:

  • Coconut oil
  • Shea butter
  • Jojoba butter
  • Aloe vera

Additionally, pet sunscreen comes in a wide variety of applications including:

However, even with natural ingredients in your dog’s sunblock, your pup may have sensitive skin. Thus, your pup could have a skin irritation. Therefore, always start with a small area and watch for any reaction. Then apply the sun protection product you chose to your entire dog. 

How do I apply pet-safe sunscreen to my dog?

In order to protect your dog, sunscreen should be applied daily, just as you apply yours daily. Apply directly to your pup or furry friend’s fur. However, you’ll want to pay close attention to exposed areas free of fur, with little fur, or more, such as: 

  • Dog nose
  • Under ears
  • Tummy
  • Privates
  • Areas with hair loss

Note: Be careful around your dog’s face to avoid getting the sun protection product into the eyes. 

In addition, you’ll want to apply sunscreen a few minutes before going outdoors and then reapply every two hours for maximum protection. However, don’t let your dog lick the sunscreen as soon as you apply it. Thus, when you apply sunscreen you may want to distract your dog with a toy or dog treat, at least until the sunscreen dries.

How do I select sun-protective clothing for my dog?

It’s pretty much the same way you’d select a sunscreen shirt for yourself. You want the accessory or clothing to be labeled with UVA/UVB protection. Amazingly, some sun protective garments are rated to block out up to 98% of the UVA/UVB rays.

This is a great sun-protective shirt for your dog. You’ll pup will look cute and be sun safe!

How do I know if my dog has a sunburn?

The most obvious symptom will be pink skin. However, your dog could have a redness or rash on any exposed skin. Additionally, your dog could have sensitive skin from the burn and flinch when you pet your pup. 

How does sunscreen for dogs save money?

This is the giving back part. Not only do you help boost dog health by providing protection from harmful UV rays, but also you can minimize potential future vet bills. As a pet parent, consider the following for a moment.

IssuePossible Cost
Oncologist $125 – 250/per visit
Chemotherapy$150 – 10,000 (depending on doses needed)
Radiation$2,500 – 7,000
Pain medication$8 – 25/ 30-day supply
Shorter lifespan HEARTBREAKING!!!

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Summary of Fun in the Sun: How Sunscreen for Dogs Can Save You Money

While the sun can cause tumors and even skin cancer in 20-40% of dogs, you can reduce the risk. A few simple ideas for decreasing the possibility of your dog being diagnosed with skin cancer are providing shade, being active when the sun is low, inspecting your dog’s skin regularly for lumps, using sun-protective clothing, and applying pet-safe sunscreen daily. Honestly, sunscreen can be a huge game changer, just like it is for you. It’s relatively cheap and definitely more affordable than treating cancer.

As for me, I make sure my dog, Henry, is well-protected when he’s in the sun.

a cute husky pup sits in the sun and enjoys the day after his pet parents put sunscreen for dogs on him

Have you ever used pet-safe sunscreen on your dog? Will you use it now?

About Terri Rodefer

Terri Rodefer is the founder of Tail Wag Wisdom, a blog focused on affordable pet care. She likes to say helping pet parents afford and love their animals even more, makes her tail wag. As a lifelong lover of all animals with a background in economics, biology, and marketing, allows Terri to bring a unique spin to pet care. 

8 thoughts on “Fun in the Sun: How Sunscreen for Dogs Can Save You Money”

  1. Fantastic tips and advice on the importance of sunscreen for dogs. I bet a lot of people are surprised at how important it is. One of my dogs had Cushing’s and was bald, so sunscreen was definitely a must have product.

    • Gosh, sunscreen would be critical for a pup or pet with Cushing’s and no hair. That’s a good one! I hadn’t thought about different health issues that could make sunscreen more important. Hindy, I appreciate you sharing your insights with your pup and sunscreen.

  2. I bet most people don’t think about sunscreen for pets. Kitties need sunscreen too. Especially white cats and hairless cats. Even if they are just out in a catio or if they lie in the sun puddles in the windows all day. It is hard to find a cat friendly sunscreen but the list you have in what to look for is a good start.

    • You’re absolutely right, Emilia! Sun through the window can be just as dangerous. Especially, for light colored or hairless kitties or pets. I know my kitties loved to lay in sun puddles. Heck, Henry does as well. Great observation! Thanks for sharing your insights!

  3. Yes, a little sunscreen can go a long way and save you a fortune! Skin cancer sounds so scary and the expense of vet bills YIKES!!

    Dash Kitten had Hawaiian Tropic on his ears all the time in summer. I KNOW it was not pet friendly but he didn’t mind and it worked. He had such light coloured skin and fur.

    • Oh my! I bet Dash Kitten needed sunscreen on his ears. He was such a cutie! That white fur and personality. I feel as if I knew him through your stories. Thanks,for sharing your experiences, Marjorie!

  4. This is a phenomenal (and very timely) post! So much wonderful information that will be very helpful to dog parents.

    I love all the info, and that included what ingredients to look for, and how NOT to use the human kind.

    I know this will be very helpful to so many pet families. Even Huskies with their double coats, could use some on their face and bellies! Great article. Sharing and Pinning it so hopefully there will be no sunburned dogs out there!

    • Awe, thanks, Dorothy! Sometimes I’m timely and not late. You’re absolutely right that it’s best to use pet-friendly sunscreen. And you’re nailed it that even very furry dogs, like huskies need sunscreen.

      Thank you for your continued support and encouragement. I greatly appreciate it!


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