Just like people, dogs can get skin cancers as the result of prolonged or repeated sun exposure
As with many questions though, the answer to "whether or not" to apply sunscreen on your dog may not be so straightforward. Whether or not your dog needs sunscreen can be influenced by many different factors.
- How much time your dog spends outside, and during what part of the day?
- Where do you live? (factors: altitude; hours of daylight; etc.)
- What color is your dog’s coat?
- How thick and full is their coat?
If your dog has a light-colored coat, or a relatively thin coat, it’s a good idea to apply sunscreen anytime they will be spending any time outdoors on a sunny day. Similarly, for those dogs that will be spending a lot of time outdoors on a sunny day, regardless of their coat color or thickness, it’s a good idea to apply sunscreen.
Make sure to use dog-safe sunscreen
Pay particular attention to your dog’s ear flaps, their (often) bald belly, and the tip of their nose. These are the areas most likely to get the most exposure. You’ll want to avoid sunscreens that contain PABA, salicylates or zinc oxide, especially on the areas that your dog is likely to be able to lick off. Many sunscreens designed for babies would be ok, but there’s also one FDA-approved sunscreen for dogs — Epi-Pet.
Check out this article for more types of sun protection, even for indoor-only pets and these articles for more information about common summertime dog safety hazards and how to keep your dog cool in the hot outdoors.