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  • Writer's pictureKara Dyko

Healthy Suncare For Dogs

Updated: Jul 17, 2020

Think your dog doesn’t need to be protected from the sun's UV rays? Think again! While dog fur does offer some protection, it doesn’t mean that they can’t get sunburned. Skin cancer is on the rise, in both humans and our favorite wiggly friends. And human sunscreen isn’t meant for dogs! Common ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are harmful when ingested! Which is why we've sniffed out some great ways you can protect your dog "naturally" from getting sunburned. We even have an awesome all natural sunscreen (recipe below).

Reasons to Use a Sunscreen on Your Dog

  • Surgical or biopsy sites: burn more easily and will scar.

  • Bare bellies: Or any areas where there is thin, thinning, or no fur can get burned.

  • Long Time Outdoors: Weekend camping, long day hikes, sunbathing enthusiast.

  • Water Lover or Lives Nearby: Water reflects the sun. Your dog does not need to be by it, just in the same vicinity.

  • White Fur: White boxers, do sunburn more easily, and sun exposure can contribute to skin cancer.

  • Pink or Light-Colored Nose: Very little natural ability to deflect the sun rays.

  • Older Dogs: May have thinning or missing fur in spots, and faded nose.

Natural Methods to Minimize Your Dog's Sun Exposure

What Can You Do? …

  1. Limit sun exposure.

  2. Play in areas with some shade.

  3. Stay out of direct and water reflected sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

  4. Leave your dog at home and no walks on hot pavement.

  5. Consider a breathable t-shirt for high-risk dogs.

Whole Food SPF Protection

You can’t get more natural than the phytonutrients found in veggies and greens. Whole, unprocessed foods can also 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.

Foods that are rich in UV blocking antioxidants, omega-3 oils, and vitamin D include:

  • Raw, unprocessed meat

  • Salmon, mackerel, and sardines

  • Blueberries

  • Greens: Organic spinach, broccoli, dandelion greens, kale, and celery

  • Watermelon

  • Carrots

  • Cauliflower

Is There a Safe Sunscreen For Your Dog?

Many companies use chemicals to give their product an SPF rating. Zinc, Titanium Dioxide, Benzophenone, and Oxybenzone may be considered safe for humans but in no way are they safe to use on dogs.

The toxic chemicals that are found in a lot of over-the-counter dog sunscreens include: DMDM Hydantoin, triethanolamine, methylparaben, and benzophenone-3. Propylene glycol which is a skin irritant is another common ingredient of sunscreens. These chemicals have been found in a lot of the common sunscreens for dogs including those that have been labeled FDA compliant.

Bottom line, stay away from carcinogens that lead to zinc toxicosis, impaired endocrine function, immune system failures, and allergies. So, like the good pet parents we are, take all necessary precautions.

What Can I Do? Make Your Own Sunscreen!

Because dogs will lick just about anything you put on them, make sure you choose a brand that makes small batch, organic canine sunscreen or make your own! makes a wonderful, #dogfriendly product. Or if want a good homemade recipe, try this DIY sunscreen that's good for your pup as well as yourself, and even the children in your family.

DIY Sunscreen

This sunscreen recipe is organic, all-natural, and very effective. Just put it on your pup where needed (typically on inside/back of legs, tummy, top of nose and snout, and tops of paws). 


  • 1/2 cup Aloe Vera Gel organic

  • 5 1/2 tbsp Coconut Oil organic

  • 3/4 tsp Vitamin E Oil or 3 capsules

  • 20 drops Raspberry Seed Oil organic

  • 3 drops Carrot Oil organic

  • 2 drops Lavender Organic Essential Oil


  • In a glass bowl, mix all ingredients together using a whisk. Mixing will take anywhere from 3-8 minutes depending on temperature of coconut oil. Use the solid type, not liquid.

  • Once mixed, scoop into a small, sterilized glass canning jar. Seal tight and store in refrigerator. Lasts 30 days when stored properly

  • 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.


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