Check out these top four reasons why your dog might need sunscreen, plus, better, natural solutions to protect him from the sun’s rays!
4 Reasons Your Dog Needs Sunscreen
1. Your Dog Is An Outdoor Enthusiast
If this is your dog, she likes spending the entire day at the beach, in the pool or hiking the trails.
2. Your Dog Has Short Hair
Does your dog have naturally short hair? Are you a fan of the “summer shave?” If either answer is yes, than you might want to pay attention to how much time your pup stays in the sun. Short-haired dogs have a higher occurrence of sunburn compared to their furry counterparts.
3. Your Dog Has A Bald Spot
Surgery incisions, balding and bare bellies are three reasons your dog will need sunscreen if they’re staying in the sun for more than 15 minutes.
4. Your Dog Has A Light-colored Nose
Dogs with light noses are basically asking for it. Light noses need extra protection against sun worshiping.
So, how can I naturally protect my dog from the sun?
We will get to that shortly but first …
The Truth About Sunscreen And Your Dog …
Efficacy and SPF measurability of natural oils are a constant debate. Yes, skin cancer is on the rise but so are environmental toxicity and malnutrition.
There’s a myriad of toxic ingredients found in commercial sunscreens. This toxicity is a big deal for dogs because they lick their skin and fur.
Many FDA compliant, “dog approved” sunscreens boast all-natural ingredients that are safe to lick and ingest. I would disagree. As I discuss later, all natural is just that, natural. Read your labels!
A good place to start your research is with the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Chemical Database. They even have an app you can download to your phone so you can check ingredients while you shop.
“Dog Safe” Sunscreens?
Here is a breakdown of the dangerous ingredients found in two popular dog safe sunscreens:
Distilled Water, DMDM Hydantoin, Glyceryl Trioctanoate, Propolene Glycol, Dicaprylate Dicaprate.
DMDM Hydantoin has a high toxicity rating; Propylene Glycol is a skin irritant and, with repeated exposure, an organ toxin.
Octonoxate, Oxybenzone Carnuba wax, corn starch, Ethylhexyl Stearate, hydrogenated caster oil, ozokerite, Castor Seed Oil, Mongongo kernel oil, silica, Sorbitan Sesquioleate and talc.
Octonoxate and Oxybenzone score 6 and an 8 on the toxicity scale. The biggest concern I have with Octonoxate is that it can interrupt thyroid function. Oxybenzone absorbs quickly and acts like estrogen in the body. Both substances are dermal allergens along with Sorbitan Sesquioleate.
What Can You Do? …
✋ The Five-Fold Path To Simple Sun Protection
- Don’t stay out in the sun for too long.
- Play in areas with some shade.
- Stay inside between 11 am and 4 pm when the sun’s rays are potent.
- Leave your dog at home during the heat of the day.
- Consider breathable clothing for high-risk dogs.
Whole Food SPF Protection
You can’t get more natural than veggies and greens. Whole foods can help protect against UV radiation by boosting the antioxidant levels of the skin. While these foods can’t replace sunscreen for extended sun exposure, they can become part of your dog’s summer diet rotation.
Unprocessed meat contains higher amounts of the amino acide histidine, which helps the skin protect itself from molecular damage through the production of urocanic acid.
Add In Red Fruits
My pug loves watermelon and tomatoes. Both of these fruits are high in the red, UV blocking carotenoid, lycopene. If adding tomatoes to the food bowl, cook them first. This will ensure that your dog can absorb the lycopene.
Green Is Good
Give your dog added foods containing chlorophyll and astaxanthin. Chlorophyll, astaxanthin, and green leafy vegetables contain antioxidants called carotenoids. Carotenoids contain plant sunscreens and help protect the skin from UV radiation. Spinach, kale, carrots, collard greens, and broccoli are also great examples of add-ins rich in carotenoids.
Essential Fatty Acids
Make sure your dog is getting the right ratio of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Supplementing the diet with hemp seed oil provides the perfect ratio of these acids. However, if you’re feeding a chicken based diet, use flaxseed oil instead.
Using Oils As Natural SPF
Carrot Seed Oil: Carrot seed oil has an average SPF of 35. Note: I’m not referring to carrot seed essential oil.
Red Raspberry Seed Oil: Yes, another reason to love raspberries. This oil has a broad spectrum SPF of 20. Mix raspberry seed oil with other oils like Shea, Olive, Coconut and Tamanu.
Here is a wonderful recipe for a homemade sunscreen made with oils of varying SPF levels.
Home-Made Sunscreen Recipe
- 1 oz Unrefined Coconut Oil
- ½ oz Shea Butter
- 1 oz Olive Oil
- ¼ oz Red Raspberry Seed Oil
- ¼ oz Carrot Seed Oil (not the essential oil)
- 2 drops Lavender or Roman Chamomile essential oil
- Combine oils in a slow cooker. Cook on low heat for 20 minutes.
- Add essential oils and stir for 2 minutes. Cover and let cool.
- Pour into a squeezable container.
- Before use, test for sensitivity on a small area on yourself and your dog before applying the oil to a larger area.
And remember …
- Organic, cold pressed, unrefined oils are best.
- Oil quality can affect SPF values so be diligent when purchasing your ingredients.
- Always use companies that can confirm sourcing information.
All natural sunscreens are great. However, the most effective sunscreen method is common sense. Be safe and know when to call it a day. This method minimizes sun exposure and allows you to safely enjoy your favorite outdoor activities with your best friend.