By Trudy Sigler
You might think from the photos I’ve included in this blog that I’ve gone a bit crazy dog lady in making protective sun wear for my fur-challenged little guy, Stan. Well, maybe. Probably. But according to my vet, Dr. Fisher at NE Animal Hospital in Seattle, I haven’t been doing enough to protect my little guy, not to mention Ms. Murphy, who walks around in the sun stark naked.
Our vet and veterinary sites online say our dogs need sunscreen to protect them from sunburn, hair loss and scaly skin, and to prevent many of the same types of skin cancers we humans get. Sun exposure can also cause hemangiomas and hemangiosarcomas. Ack!
The lighter the skin and fur of the dog, the higher the SPF needs to be, but the minimum for any dog is 15 SPF. There are quite a few sunscreens made for dogs, but Dr. Fisher recommends Epi-Pet Sun Protector (a non-oily spray) which is equivalent to a 35-40 SPF, and it is the only one that is FDA approved. If a pet sunscreen isn’t an option, you can use an infant or child sunscreen, but it must notcontain zinc oxide or para-amino benzoic-acid (PABA), which are toxic to dogs. It should also be fragrance-free. Unfortunately, most of the ones I looked at in the drugstore contained zinc oxide, so be sure to check labels.
The sun outfits are a great beginning, but dogs who would rather not be thus attired and have shaved or short fur, or especially light colored coats need their bodies treated with sunscreen. Dogs’ noses, bellies, groin, tips of the ears, and in our case a very bare little tail, also need to be protected. The sunscreen needs to be reapplied frequently especially during those peak sun hours from 10-4 pm, and after swimming.
It’s a good idea to test the sunscreen on a small area of your dog’s skin before applying everywhere to make sure it does not irritate them. Also, monitor your dog for a few minutes while the sunscreen soaks in to be sure they don’t lick it off.
Of course, the safest thing would to keep all of our dogs out of the sun between 10-4. But what fun would that be?
Old Dog Haven’s Placement/Social Media Director also has a comment on this topic:
“I ordered Augustus a custom made sun suit from the Spoiled Bratzwear company.
The woman that owns the company is on Facebook and started her company because she lost her Italian Greyhound to skin cancer. Last year she sent The Mayor a free sun shirt. I’ve also bought him a hat to cover his mostly bald head.”