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Do Dogs Need Sunscreen?

Before you head out into the heat, it’s a good idea to take some precautions so your dog can enjoy the season just as much as you do.


A dog squinting in the sunlight

Summer is the perfect time to get outside with your furry friend! But before you head out into the heat and sunshine, it’s a good idea to take some precautions so your dog can enjoy the season just as much as you do. Keep these tips in mind to help ensure that every sunny adventure is a safe and healthy one.

K9s and UVs

One of the best parts about summer is getting plenty of vitamin D from the sun—or, more specifically, from the ultraviolet (UV) rays emitted by the sun. But while we humans can absorb vitamin D through our skin when we hang out in the sun, dogs cannot. Or, they can’t very much. Instead, dogs get most of the vitamin D they need from the food they eat. So, instead of laying out an extra towel by the pool before your next tanning session, just continue to give your dog all the nutrients they need to be healthy and happy through their diet. And maybe set up a beach umbrella to give them a shady patch to chill out in.

The skin he’s in

You might think that dog hair works similarly to your clothes when it comes to UV protection, providing a layer of defense between the skin and the sun. The truth is that dog hair only provides a minimal amount of protection from UV rays. The sun can be especially harmful for dogs with short, light-colored, or very fine hair.

If your dog is going to be out in the sun for long periods of time, like on a beach day or a hike, he might appreciate the UV protection a light T-shirt provides. There are even protective body suits designed for dogs that protect their backs and bellies while keeping them cool and free enough for a day of play. Whatever you choose, your dog will look super cute!

To shave or not to shave

If your dog has a long, thick, luxurious coat, you may be debating whether he needs a trip to the groomer to feel comfortable in the summer heat. In truth, trimming down their fur may leave them toastier than they’d like—and more vulnerable to sunburn. The layers of your dog’s fur coat are insulators that can actually help keep them cool in the summer by blocking out heat. And, even if it’s not a perfect barrier, their fur also helps protect their skin from UV rays. Rather than completely shaving down your dog’s fur, it might be better to stick with a less extreme haircut or general deshedding sesh. It’s a win-win: your dog stays comfortable, and their coat becomes more manageable when shedding season hits!

Don’t even zinc about it

The parts of your dog not covered by hair — light-colored noses, behind their back legs — should be protected from the sun. Your first instinct is probably to turn to sunscreen, just like you would to protect your own skin. Be sure to talk to your vet for recommendations on dog-friendly sunscreen first. Many forms of sunscreen include chemicals, which can be harmful to dogs if ingested.

Remember, even if you can’t find the dog-friendly sunscreens recommended by your vet, you can always keep your dog’s skin safe with a t-shirt or UV protection bodysuit!

A drink for doggy

Staying hydrated is especially important on hot days. Make sure your dog always has access to lots of clean water, whether you’re pouring it from the tap or letting them drink straight from the hose. Some dogs may even appreciate being allowed to play in a kiddie pool or run through the sprinklers to help keep cool.

Taking a trip away from home? Be sure to bring your dog’s water dish and plenty of cool, clean bottled water with you so they have plenty of opportunities to drink throughout the day.

Be a little shady

Who can resist a shady resting place on a hot day? Certainly not your pooch! Make sure he has access to cool, shaded spots if he’s outside on a hot afternoon. This is especially important for brachycephalic dogs, aka dogs with short snouts: French and English Bulldogs, Boxers, and Pugs are a few examples.

These pups have a tendency to overheat much faster and at much lower temperatures than other dogs due to the shape of their snouts—imagine trying to breathe with two straws up your nose and a mask over the straws. On top of that, they keep their winter coats on all summer! Be sure to give them plenty of chances to rest, drink, and cool off on your adventures together to protect them from the heat and sun.

Protect the paws

If the sidewalk is hot enough to fry an egg on, it won’t be pleasant for your dog to walk or lie around on. Put padding over concrete or asphalt areas outside your home so that your dog doesn’t burn the pads of his feet. If you’re planning to take a hike, opt for wooded, unpaved trails that won’t be as hot. Or, if hitting the pavement is unavoidable, try out a pair of dog boots. They’ll bring out your dog’s inner fashionista while helping their paws beat the heat—and the cold, when winter rolls around!

We hope these tips help you and your furry friend enjoy the dog days of summer! After you’re done having fun in the sun, make sure your dog gets plenty of essential nutrients by pouring them a bowl of Nature’s Recipe® dog food. Check out all of our wholesome, natural recipes with added vitamins, minerals, and nutrients today!