Sun Safety Tips
- 1: Avoid peak sun hours between 10:00AM – 3:00PM, when the UVA rays are at their highest.
- 2: Limit the amount of time spent in the sun.
- 3: Protect delicate skin with sunscreen.
- 4: Protect eyes while in the sun.
- 5: Reapply sunscreen after swimming.
- 6: Don’t forget to apply sunscreen where hair is thinning.
- 7: Keep in the shade whenever possible.
We all know the rules for keeping ourselves safe in the sun…. but guess what? These rules aren’t for us… they’re for our furry friends!
Practicing sun safety with our pets is something we don’t think much about. Sure, we would never leave our dog in a hot car, we check that the pavement to isn’t too hot for his little padded feet, and we make sure our dogs have lots of fresh, cool water in the summertime… but sunscreen? Believe it or not, some dogs seriously need sunscreen. In fact, our camp staff has always used sunscreen on our Campers when needed.
When to use Sunscreen
So, when is it “needed”? Generally, our dogs have a nice, dense fur that acts as a natural sunscreen. But that little, hairless tip at the end of his nose is very vulnerable to sun damage, especially if it is pale in color. Does your dog like to sunbathe on his back? That makes an easy target for sun overexposure as it bares the entire uncovered mid-section between his legs. Do you have a hairless or thin haired dog, i.e., the Chinese crested, the min-pin, the American hairless, the miniature greyhound, etc.? All of these breeds are prone to sunburn. Sadly, it is possible for our dogs to get skin cancer too… just like us.
Get your Vet’s Expert Advice
You know that thick, white sunblock we spread across our noses when we are at the pool or the beach? That is zinc oxide, and it is very toxic to our dogs. If ingested, it can seriously damage your dog’s red blood cells, possibly leading to death. Zinc oxide is popular in many human sunscreens. With that in mind, here is sun safety tip number 8: Never use human sunscreen. Yes, they do make sunscreens formulated just for dogs…here’s an example you should check out!
Let your vet be your guide as to the best sunscreen for your pet. He may even suggest a human baby or sensitive skin formula, but use these only with his guidance and recommendation.
Keep ‘em Covered
If you have a hairless dog or one with very thin fur, a rash guard shirt is highly recommended. They make rash guards in all doggie sizes, and many have an SPF of at least 50. Although rash guard shirts are supposed to be cooling, if your dog is outside in the heat wearing a shirt, make sure that he does not overheat. Or just refer to sun safety tip number 2: limit the time spent in the sun. If your dog spends a lot of time in the backyard, make sure he has shade. If there are no shade trees, use beach/patio umbrellas or yard canopies.
Guess what else they make? Doggie sunglasses! They’re cleverly called “Doggles”. Do you need them for your dog? Probably not, unless there is an underlying problem with his eyes. Dogs with PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy), Pannus, or older dogs with cataracts may feel better in the sun with some type of eye protection. They make sun visors for dogs too… many with UPF. Be prepared for a lot of oohing and awwwing… because a dog wearing a sun visor is just too darn cute!
Stay safe, and enjoy the rest of the summer with your 4-legged friend!