Summer is the season for spending time outdoors with our best friend. Most dogs will instinctively seek shade and have a certain degree of natural protection from sunburn.  However, even dogs with the  thickest coats can have vulnerable spots on their belly, groin, inside upper legs, or a light nose.  Some breeds also have very short fur or lack an undercoat.  They could use a hand from their pet parents to prevent painful sunburn and we’re here to help.

Basic Sunburn Prevention for Dogs

  • Avoid direct sun and provide lots of shade breaks.
  • Wear light, comfortable dog clothing (only when supervised)

Nutritional Sunburn Prevention

You can protect your dog from sunburn from the inside out by including these foods in their diet:

  • Tomato (lycopene)
  • Red bell pepper (lycopene & carotenoids)
  • Orange vegetables and fruits (beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin)
  • Seaweed & marine algae (carotenoids and mycosporine amino acids)
  • Krill (astaxanthin super-carotenoid & omega 3)
  • Pure green tea (polyphenols)
  • Berries (flavanols & polyphenols)

Topical Protection

You can slather on a natural sunscreen designed for dogs, but check the label for controversial ingredients.  Also note that you may or may not see an SPF rating because that rating system is based on human research.

Natural Mineral Sunscreen for Dogs

I will share information obtained from various studies about sunblock mineral ingredients, but please note that I am not qualified to rule them as safe or unsafe for dogs.  Research and consult with a trusted veterinarian before deciding if you want to use them or not.

Is pure Zinc Oxide a safe mineral sunscreen ingredient for dogs?  Vet’s have recommended limited, temporary use of pure Zinc Oxide for dogs for many years.  It can be toxic if ingested in large amounts and/or over a longer period of time, but that usually occurs when an object containing it is ingested.  Smaller amounts may cause stomach upset.  AVOID INHALATION!

Is Titanium Dioxide a safe mineral sunscreen ingredient for dogs?  There are several uses and derivatives of Titanium Dioxide and that has caused some confusion about its topical use.  The proven risk is based upon the particle size of the powder, indicating that Titanium Dioxide pigment and other ultra-fine particles (less than 0.1 microns) may be dangerous to cells (cytotoxicity).

Otherwise, the ingestion of Titanium Dioxide has been studied on dogs specifically and it was concluded that ingestion did not result in absorption of this mineral.  However, it may upset the stomach and ingesting large amounts is not recommended. AVOID INHALATION!

We have not included mineral sunblocks in the sunscreen recipe below, but you can add them if you wish.

Homemade Sunscreen Recipe for Dogs

© Formulated by Melody McKinnon exclusively for

It is imperative that we use only high quality, therapeutic-grade essential oils on our dogs. We rely on Starwest Botanicals to supply the majority of our essential oils.

Bonus:  Some of the ingredients in this blend also serve as a flea & tick repellent and relieve skin irritation.

3 TBSP Sesame oil
2 TBSP Coconut oil
1 TBSP Emulsifying wax or natural beeswax (use more for thicker lotion)
1/2 cup pure green or black tea brew (or half & half)
1 tsp Calcium Montmorillonite Clay
3 TBSP Pure Aloe Vera (no alcohol)
6 drops Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) Essential Oil
2 drops Carrot Seed (Daucus carota) Essential Oil
1 drop Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum) Essential Oil

  1. Mix sesame oil, coconut oil & wax in a double broiler and heat until melted.  Remove from heat and mix in essential oils.
  2. In a bowl, mix tea brew, aloe vera, and calcium montmorillonite clay together and bring to lukewarm temperature on stove or in microwave.
  3. Whisk vigorously while slowly adding tea mixture into the oil mixture.
  4. Pour into a dark glass jar and store in the refrigerator.

Apply only as much as necessary on exposed areas and reapply after swimming. Discontinue use if your dog continuously licks it off, as it won’t do them any good and may upset their stomach if they consume too much. Your dog will need a bath after their day in the sun is done.

Caution:  Experts recommend diluting essential oils considerably for use with pets. Please do not increase the amount of individual ingredients without increasing carrier oil and do not overuse.  Resist the urge to add citrus oils for scent as they can actually increase UV damage.  Avoid eye area and do not apply directly to genitalia.  Keep all essential oils out of reach of pets and children.

??? Do you use sunscreen on your dog?  Care to share your favorite brand or practice?

Hardy,  A. Department of Pathology: Canine Zinc Toxicosis. College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia.
Kamazawa, Effects of Titanium Ions and Particles of Neutrophil Function and Morphology. 2002.
In Vitro Sun Protection Factor Determination of Herbal Oils Used in Cosmetics. Pharmacognosy Research. March 2010.
Churg et. al. Induction of Fibrogenic Mediators by Fine and Ultrafine Titanium Dioxide in Rat Tracheal Explants.  University of British Columbia.  1999.
Bell, Kristen Leigh. Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals: A Comprehensive Guide to the Use of Essential Oils & Hydrosols with Animals

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24 thoughts on “Natural Sun Protection for Dogs (With Homemade Sunscreen Recipe)

  1. I’ve been using this recipe for about a month now and no sunburns! I did have to leave out a couple of oils but I might add them next summer. They love being hosed down after a hot day too.

  2. Agreed with Shelly, it’s messy but my dogs like the cool hose shower at the end of a day in the sun so it’s ok. I wish there was a neater solution but I’m not trading convenience for their health.

  3. I’ve not tried sunscreen for my dog before but I’m concerned about our short hair puppies. They’re 9 weeks old now so they go outside more often and I worry about the sun even though we usually have them in the shade.

  4. I also have a white pitbull terrier and they seem to get sunburns a lot. I’ll put this recipe to good use and hopefully save him some pain.

  5. I don’t know why there isn’t something like this on the market but if I have to make it myself SO BE IT! 🙁 Sunburns are painful for dogs too.

  6. I can’t wait until the ingredients arrive so I can try this sunscreen out….thank you!

  7. I read that some ancient cultures used myrrh and clay as sunscreen in hot climates but I can’t remember which one. We’re finding out that the old ways are best for us and our pets!

  8. I used to get a dog sunscreen on ebay but she stopped selling it. It had some of these essential oils in it and worked very well. My dog didn’t lick it at all….maybe it tasted bad.

  9. We’ve used Veterinarian’s Best Sun Spray for dogs. We have to spray it on our hands because we’re afraid it will get in his eyes or he’ll inhale it, but it did the trick. I’d like to try homemade sunscreen too!

  10. I can’t find a commercial dog sunscreen with essential oil…..maybe it’s time someone made one for sale! In the meantime, I’ll make your recipe and try it on myself too.

    • Diedrie, making sunscreen that the whole family can use makes it more practical for sure. I haven’t been able to find an essential oil sunscreen for dogs either. Some brands have some natural ingredients but I think they all use the minerals. Maybe someone else will have some recommendations for us. 🙂

      Thanks for the comments everyone!

  11. It’s funny that you should mention montmorillonite clay because I tried that at our cabin once when we forgot sunscreen. We had the clay in our first aid box and hiked all day without getting burned!

  12. I have an adopted white pitbull mix that gets the occasional burn. I’ve tried a few dog sunscreens but I like the idea of a natural option. They did work well but at what cost?

  13. I made sunscreen for my dogs one year but I lost the recipe when we moved. It had several of the essential oils you recommend for this one. If I lose it this time I’ll know I can find it here. 🙂

  14. I was using baby sunscreen for my dog too but I won’t now that I know more. I thought if it was safe for babies to put in their mouth it must’ve been safe for dogs too. I did some more research and it doesn’t look like there’s anything on the market that’s 100 percent safe for dogs. 🙁 and most sunscreens aren’t safe for us either! Thank you for bringing this to my attention!

  15. The sunscreen recipe is pretty involved but I’ll keep it in mind if my new puppy starts to get sunburned.

  16. I’m going to give this dog sunscreen recipe to my mommy so she can make it for me. I don’t like ticks and fleas either…they’re RUFF on me!

  17. My dog’s nose gets burned every single summer! I use a little natural baby sunscreen on him sometimes but I worry when he licks it.

  18. You’ve formulated a great recipe for dog sunscreen. All of the ingredients are known to be effective sun blocks and they’re safe for pets.

  19. I think I’ll skip the mineral sunscreens just in case and make the essential oil sunscreen for m y dogs. They only need it in a few spots so it will go a long way.

  20. Excellent info! I have an adopted dog with short white hair that gets sunburned easily so it will be worth making the sunscreen for him.

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