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)
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 AllNaturalPetCare.com
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
- Mix sesame oil, coconut oil & wax in a double broiler and heat until melted. Remove from heat and mix in essential oils.
- In a bowl, mix tea brew, aloe vera, and calcium montmorillonite clay together and bring to lukewarm temperature on stove or in microwave.
- Whisk vigorously while slowly adding tea mixture into the oil mixture.
- 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, et.al. 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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