By Abby Isaacs
The best products and DIY solutions so you don’t break the bank while protecting your pup.
If you’re planning a day at the beach, or a long walk in the sun, you wouldn’t leave without a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen or water right? Just like humans, dogs need protection too.
I learned this the hard way. My pup Serena has very thin, white fur and in many places on her ears and face, her skin is directly exposed to the sun. After a day in the sun last summer, her skin was very pink and irritated. So I started doing my research about how to protect her while keeping her cool.
Sunburn isn’t just painful for dogs, it can lead to more serious problems, including certain types of skin cancer.
Luckily, a little careful planning can prevent your dog from catching too many UV rays.
First step: Figure out if your dog needs extra protection from UV rays. Some dogs are more at risk for sunburn than others, including hairless dog breeds, dogs with white or thin coats and dogs with light-pigmented noses and eyelids for example; Collies, Australian Sheepdogs, Dalmatians, Bulldogs and Whippets, according to AKC.
Next step: Figure out what to get. Veterinarians recommend using dog-safe sunscreen. These don’t contain zinc oxide or para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), as these ingredients are toxic to dogs. It’s also a good idea to use a non-scented sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 that is also waterproof.
Here are some top picks for body spray:
- Warren London Premium Dog Sunscreen with Natural Aloe Vera Moisturizer
- Epi-Pet Sun Protector Spray for Pets
For snout protection:
Before fully applying, test a small amount on one spot to be sure it doesn’t cause an allergic reaction. When applying, make sure to cover the spots most exposed to sunshine, such as the bridge of the nose, ear tips, skin around his lips, groin, and inner thighs – while avoiding the eyes.
Sun shirts are an alternative to sunscreen that I use with Serena. There are some made specifically with protection from UV rays, like Playa Pup, AKC shop, Baxter Boo or Louie de Coton.
If you don’t want to buy a UV protection specific shirt, synthetic fabric shirts offer more sun protection than cotton shirts.
Since adding another layer will inevitably make the dog hotter, I always wet the shirt and put it in the fridge to cool it before putting it on Serena outside. This is a good way to keep any pup cool this summer, especially ones that have a lot of fur or dark coats
Aside from a DIY cooling shirt, here are some that come highly recommended:
- RUFFWEAR – Swamp Cooler Evaporative Dog Cooling Vest
- Hurtta Cooling Dog Vest
- BINGPET Dog Cooling Jacket Evaporative Swamp Cooler Vest
- FrontPet Dog Cooling Vest
What to look for in a cooling vest:
Multiple layers: These extra layers can both aid in evaporation and help with the retention of water. Many also have a water repellent interior layer so that your dog doesn’t end up just being a soggy mess when you take the vest off at the end of your day together.
Coverage: Your goal is to cover the dog’s entire torso smoothly, protecting their internal organs from excessive heat.
Fit: If it’s too tight, your animal will be uncomfortable, too loose and you’ll lose the cooling effects of the jacket. Most of them are made for certain chest sizes, so grab a tailor’s tape and get measuring.
Extra: Look for a ring to attach a lead; Tougher outer layers are made for trail running; Reflective stripes
I hope these tips help ease any stress this summer about keeping your pups cool and safe from the sun!