What You Need to Know About Pet Sun Protection This Summer
By Dr. Ann Hohenhaus DVM, DACVIM (SAIM, Oncology) | June 19, 2015. I added additional information and some other products for comparison. Dr.L
The fun-in-the-sun summer months have officially arrived, which can only mean one thing: It’s time to start thinking about sun protection for your pets.
That’s right — furry family members can also suffer from the damaging effects of the sun’s powerful rays.
The Skinny on Sunscreen
94% OF VETERINARIAN DERMATOLOGISTS RECOMMEND THE USE OF SUNSCREEN ON PETS
The sun gives off different kinds of ultraviolet rays. UVB rays cause sunburns, while UVA rays lead to sun-induced aging and skin cancer. When choosing a sunscreen for yourself or your pet, pick one that blocks both UVA and UVB. These products will be labeled “broad spectrum” and are the products that help prevent sunburn, skin cancer and premature skin aging. If a product has an SPF (sun protection factor) higher than 15 and is broad spectrum, the label may state that the product reduces the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging when used as directed. In my mind these are preferred products.
Not all products are OK to use on a pet.
The thick, white cream that lifeguards slather on their noses contains zinc oxide, a common ingredient in diaper-rash ointments. Zinc oxide is effective as a sunscreen for humans, but it’s toxic for dogs. If ingested, it can damage your dog’s delicate red blood cells, causing them to explode. The resulting anemia can be severe and require a blood transfusion. Bottom line: Never use sunscreens that contain zinc oxide on your dog. There are specific sunscreens designed for pets, but sensitive skin or baby sunscreens can be used as well.
Bullfrog Sunscreen SPF 15 or Greater
Dr. Mark Macina, Animal Medical Center’s dermatologist, said he has found Bullfrog sunscreen SPF 15 or greater works well for animals. It contains no zinc oxide and low amounts of octisalate — a salicylate that is a frequent ingredient in sunscreens. He recommends this product for pets at risk of sunburn and skin cancer due to thin coats or pale noses. I wouldn’t use it on cats at all as sunscreens that contain salicylates — even a small dose — can land your feline in the kitty ICU. (The most common salicylate is acetylsalicylic acid, also known as aspirin.)
Epi-Pet Sun Protector.
Epi-Pet Sun Protector is Endorsed by AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) and the SPCA . This is the only sunscreen in the pet industry that meets the FDA’s ingredient testing standards. Human sunscreens are not formulated nor are they prepared to be compatible with the skin of pets. *The Epi-Pet Sun Protector Sunscreen is safe if a dog licks it, after it is applied to the dog!
IT IS NOT TO BE USED ON CATS
Why use Epi-Pet’s Sun Protector Sunscreen?
It is the only pet sunscreen that meets the FDA guidelines for ingredient stability
Quick Dry Formulation
Non-Greasy, it doesn’t leave an oily film like human sunscreens
It includes sunscreen ingredients that rate equivalent to 30-40 SPF in human sunscreens
It is effective in blocking both UVA and UVB sun rays
The unique bag on valve spray can is environmentally friendly and it provides a constant spray from all angles
It contains vitamin E and other ingredients that act as antioxidants and skin enrichers
It offers a pleasant vanilla fragrance after application
Ingredients and Functions
Ethylhexl Methoxycinnamate (Sunscreen
Octyl Salicylate (Sunscreen)
Alcohol Denaturated (Disinfectant, Grease Cutter)
Ethyllhexyl Salicylate (Sunscreen + Solubilizer)
C-12-15 Alkyl Benzoate (Emulsifier – provides the “good skin feel”)
Acrylates/Octylacrylamide Copolymer (Resin Barrier for Water Proofing)
Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin-E, Antioxidant, Skin Conditioner, Skin Desensitizer)
Parfume (Vanilla Fragrance)
Sunderdog! Natural Dog Sunscreen and Moisturizer by Petique
Sunderdog! spray supports your dogs’ skin & coat naturally with essential vitamins and oils so fur babies can be healthy as well as safe from sunburn
Unlike human sunscreen, Sunderdog! non-toxic dog sunblock formula contains no zinc oxide, which is harmful to pets
American made product provides a safe, natural sun barrier for your dogs on the boat, at the beach,and in the backyard all year long
Other Sun-Protection Measures
When we go out in the sun, we tend to don hats, sunglasses and special UV-protective clothing. Your dog can, too!
Doggles makes protective eyewear for canines. It contains a UV-protective coating on shatterproof lenses.
There are also canine rashguard shirts and visors with UPF 50 (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) that meet the recommendations for good-quality sun protection. Just keep in mind that these products aren’t perfect — if your dog likes to sunbathe on her back, for example, rashguard shirts don’t cover the delicate skin between the hind legs.
For pets who spend ample time outdoors, you can also consider outfitting an exercise pen or a crate with a sunscreen cover, which functions like a beach umbrella and blocks the sun’s rays.
Ultimately, the best protection is sun avoidance. Keeping your dog or cat out of the sun, especially between the peak sun hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., offers the ultimate in foolproof protection.