The Best Dog Sunscreen -
For Australian Conditions
Our #1 Pick
The Best Value for Money
Men For San Sunscreen for Dogs Factor 30
My dogs love the sun. Wherever the sun comes out, they lay very inelegantly with their legs wide open, bellies exposed to the belting rays. And that’s when I learnt that dogs could be sunburnt and the importance of dog sunscreen.
This is your ultimate guide to dog sunscreen and the wonders of suncare. We’ll discuss if dogs need sunscreen (scientifically), why we shouldn’t use baby sunscreen on our pups and end with a round-up of our favourite sun creams on the market suitable for dogs.
Do Dogs Need Suncare?
I have two dogs - a Flat-Coated Retriever, Blue, and a Podengo, Pip. Both are complete sun babies. They bask in the sunlight for hours and hours - sleeping, playing and relaxing.
Pip is a short-haired breed and loves to have his belly exposed to the sun’s rays. This is when it started. The red blisters on his tummy after a particularly long nap under the blue sky was a wake-up call for me. They looked sore. It was difficult to keep my dog away from irritating them further.
It took a week of using a soothing tea tree balm on his sizzled stomach to replenish his skin to full health.
Blue is less susceptible to sunburn because she is a much furrier beast. She is more likely to have heat stroke. (1)
So the short answer, yes, dog’s need sunscreen.
Sunscreen specifically is advised by veterinarians.
“It’s actually very important to put sunscreen on dogs, especially those with light skin and white fur or hair. A dog’s skin can be damaged by the sun just like our own, so they require the same protection against the development of sunburn and skin cancer." - Richard Goldstein, DVM for PetMD (2)
Light coloured dogs are also more susceptible to developing skin cancer. (3)
Now you are right to think that a dog’s fur coat protects them to some degree. That is entirely true, and note that with my Pip, it was his underbelly that suffered most.
If your dog has a thick, long coat, they are less susceptible to burning. However, you may want to protect their fleshy areas such as their ears and nose with a blob of suncream just in case.
Can You Use Human Sunscreen On Dogs?
So you’re probably thinking:
This is all good and well, but what’s the point in suncream specifically formulated for dogs? Can’t you just give your dog zinc sunscreen, like humans?
Well, no. Most human sunscreens use zinc oxide as a base. That’s what gives us the white cast when you slather it on in thick layers. This is considered a “physical” sunscreen, as the zinc oxide provides a physical barrier to the sun’s rays.
Zinc cream for dogs is toxic.
Alright, so what about chemical sunscreens?
You’re right! There is a second type of sunscreen out there that doesn’t use zinc at all, called chemical sunscreens. These are pretty much invisible and usually look better on dark-skinned individuals such as myself. What about those?
The evil that lurks in chemical sunscreens is PABA or para-aminobenzoic acid if you’re fancy. This is also toxic to dogs.
“It’s highly important that you only use formulas that are specifically intended as sunscreen for dogs. They should not contain zinc oxide or para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), as these ingredients are toxic to dogs if ingested, and dogs will often lick their skin and accidentally ingest the sunscreen. It’s also a good idea to look for a waterproof, unscented dog sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30.” - Harriet Meyers, American Kennel Club. (4)
How Do You Use Sunscreen On Your Dog?
I hope you have been converted to the doggy suncream club. I promise you; prevention is better than curing a severe burn afterwards - trust me on that one.
So how do you apply sunscreen to your dog? Where do you apply it?
Well, it’s very much like humans - you want to protect any exposed skin.
Focus most on the ears, nose, bald spots and bellies. These are the prime areas to suffer under the scorching sun. If your dog is hairless or has a thin fur coat, you’ll want to cover them as well. (5)
One thing we often forget about sunscreen, as humans, is you are meant to reapply it throughout the day. The same goes for dogs. Most manufacturers will say the length of time they protect your dog. It’s normally around 2 hours before you will need to reapply the product.
What Are The Different Types Of Sun Protection Products For Dogs?
Sprays are the most common form of sun protection you’ll find on the market for dogs. This is because sprays are lightweight. That super thin layer of protection makes it feel nicer on the skin for your dog. If your dog is prone to sweating or has a lot of fur (in their furrier areas), a thick balm or oily sunscreen will ultimately feel quite uncomfortable.
Spray sunscreens for dogs are quite universally well-received.
Balms usually have soothing properties that can help sunburnt skin as well as protect it from further sun damage. This is an oiler, heavier formula that would form an occlusive barrier over your dog’s damaged skin, and shield it from the sun while your dog heals.
If you are searching for sun cream for your dog because they have already been burnt a few times, a soothing balm and suncream combination will do your dog a world of good.
Sticks contain the same chemicals but usually have a slightly oilier consistency. You’ll want to make sure that this is a non-greasy feeling for your dog as they won’t enjoy that.
Sticks are great, however, in terms of controlling the amount you apply. You only need a thin(ish) layer of sunscreen at a time, especially because you need to reapply it throughout the day. Applying a super thick layer from the beginning does not increase the amount of protection your dog receives (I know it seems like it should but the science doesn’t work that way). So a stick gives you slightly more control than a spray or balm would.
Wipes are great because they are just so convenient. If you are on the road, slipping these wipes into your bag or car and whipping them out when you need them makes it much easier to protect your dog, wherever you happen to be.
They are also great at depositing the perfect layer of protection at a time. Better control of product than spray or balm.
That said, you’ll need to make sure you have enough wipes on hand. This is great for short trips so you can reapply as you go. But for long trips or use at home, you’re probably better off with a spray or stick. This is because the sticks and sprays last longer - you get more value per gram of product. The wipes are best for travelling.
Best Sunscreen For Dogs Reviewed
Now that I have (hopefully) successfully converted you to the “sunscreen for dogs” fan club, let’s dive into our top recommendations for products on the market. We have a good range here in different formats so you can choose the one that will best suit your needs.
Men For San is a Spanish brand, and Spain is very used to extreme heat and sun exposure. You can trust that this sunscreen will provide the very best protection for your dog.
The Men For San sunscreen is part moisturiser, part sun protection, formulated for the sensitive areas of your dog’s skin. Their nose, eyelids, naked bellies and ear flaps are all safeguarded with this fabulous product.
It is hypoallergenic and completely waterproof, so your dog will be protected no matter how much time they spend in the paddling pool!
It has a decent level of sun protection factor at 30, shielding your dog expertly from UVA and UVB rays.
This is an entirely unscented formula. Therefore, dogs sensitive to smells will love this!
As a moisturising product, it is slightly oilier and more occlusive than the Petkin sun mist. However, that extra barrier makes it quite soothing on burns, dermatitis, heat rash and post-surgery scars. This is like a balm but slightly less heavy as it comes in a squeezable tube.
This is pretty fabulous and we love this product! The only con is that it is slightly pricier than some of the other options on this list. You can fully trust that you get what you pay for. This is a high-quality product that is excellent value for money on the whole.
P.S This is the brand I use for Pip’s underbelly when the summer months arrive!
Petkin is the OG of the doggy sunscreen world. They produce a range of great sunscreen options for your pup. The sun mist is definitely the best selling and with good reason.
This lightweight, non-greasy formula is perfect for dogs of all breeds and coat types.
It is a gentle formulation too with none of the toxic chemicals that you want to avoid.
Because it’s such a fine misted formula, you will avoid overly caking your dog so it’s ultimately comfortable for them to wear.
The price point is extremely reasonable and the little bottle is the perfect size to pop in your bag or the car glove compartment on the go.
In terms of smell, there is a light vanilla and coconut scent added to this product to make it a bit more pleasant than straight chemicals. Dogs in general seem to like the smell of sweet things like vanilla and coconut so your dog is unlikely to protest. That said, all dogs react to scents differently so see how they react to it.
The one con here is the level of sun protection. We want to aim for SPF 30 in most cases, but this one is only SPF 15. It’s not the end of the world as any sun protection is better than no sun protection, but if your dog is a serious sunbather, then you may want to opt for the stronger sun protection factors on this list.
For the casual sunbather that just needs a touch of extra security, this is a fabulous product that won’t break the bank!
Onto the sunscreen stick and Petkin make a really fantastic one. It provides the perfect, lightweight, non-sticky layer of sun protection to your dog’s skin and is so easy to apply.
You simply swipe on the more vulnerable areas of your dog’s skin. Alternatively, you can apply the stick to your hands, warm the formula in your hands and spread the product onto your dog’s sensitive areas. This is up to you but normally applying the stick directly is the easiest thing.
This has the same signature vanilla and coconut scent that goes down well with most dogs, but not all.
There are no harmful or toxic chemicals here. We also love the compact packaging that is incredibly simple to take with you wherever you go.
The con here would be the SPF. It is only an SPF 15 which, again, is not the end of the world. If you keep applying the product every two hours as you should be, it will still be quite protective of your dog’s skin.
Overall, this little suncream stick is convenient, lightweight and sweet-smelling. A perfect trifecta.
If you are researching sunscreen when it’s a little too late, and your pup has a burn or wound, this is the product for you.
The Filta Bac cream is meant to be protective in every possible way. It shields the wound from infection by nasty bacteria. It also safeguards the wound from further sun damage. It is a soothing cream that will aid in your dog’s recovery from any scratches, burns or post-op scars.
This one is a bit more occlusive in terms of its protective layer, as it is meant to keep out germs and dirt. Therefore, I wouldn’t recommend this as a regular, everyday sunscreen. It is probably too heavy duty for that.
In terms of sun protection, this provides a broad spectrum SPF of 29-33, making it the best coverage on this list.
Another great bonus is the size of the product. This tub is huuuge. You get 500g of product in this tub so it should last you well into the future.
The con here is that all those good protective properties come at a cost. This is not a cheap product. However, if your dog has a wound that needs shielding from the sun rays, while also treating it in an antibacterial way, you can’t go wrong with this one!
Finally, we have the wipes! The pick and go, easy to use, travel-friendly option we all want for those summer road trips.
The Petkin wipes are great for that. Endlessly convenient and on the whole, very effective.
These jumbo size wipes provide a clean layer of sun protective formula onto your dog’s skin in a flash. No stickiness. No greasiness. No toxins or harsh chemicals.
The pack comes with 20 wipes that are ready to use at any given moment, as long as you keep the pack closed properly so they don’t dry out!
The protection is SPF 15, so not the best in the world. It is still better to have than nothing at all.
These wipes have Petkins same signature sunscreen scent of vanilla and coconut. Sweet smelling and enticing for (most) dogs.
The wipe-on formula dries very quickly and adheres to your dog’s skin well.
As for the price point, this is a good option for those on all budgets. That said, we don’t think this is the best value for money if you are intending to use them all of the time. Remember the pack only comes with 20 wipes and you need to reapply sunscreen throughout the day. Realistically, how long will these last you? The wipes are best for travelling as you can wipe your dog quickly at any point of the day. For sunscreens that will last you longer throughout the summer, you are better off with one of the creams or sprays on this list.
The Top Choice: Best Sun Cream For Dogs
The top choice has to be the Men For San. It’s a little pricier than some of the others on the list but I wouldn’t choose this one for my own pup if I didn’t love it! This waterproof, sweatproof, soothing and unscented formula is the perfect balance of moisturising and protecting for my sunbathing pup. I’m sure any canine will get on wondrously with this.
The Petkin range is a close second due to its convenience and a fabulous variety of styles. Whether you need quick wipes, handy sticks or fine sprays, they have a format suitable for all your sun protection needs.
Yes! Dogs with thin coats or hairless breeds have much more exposed skin than their fluffier counterparts. Chinese Crested Terriers are prime examples of dogs that need protection.
Dogs with light coloured noses like Dalmations, Whippets and Bulldogs are also prone to burning.
Dogs with any kind of bald spots or those who have been recently shaved will need extra sun protection on clear days. (6)
Dogs have a much more potent sense of smell than we do, so unscented is likely to be better for them. (7) However, many sunscreen chemicals smell pretty awful without some small help of artificial fragrance so you can decide what’s best.
Your dog may not mind the smell - it completely depends on your pup’s personality.
Heatstroke is awful for everyone. It causes heavy panting, vomiting, drooling, excessive sweating and fainting in some cases.
Suncream cannot prevent your dog from getting sunstroke.
Products that can help protect your dog from the heat are:
Suncream is the best course of action for protecting your dog from sunburn. (8) Also ensuring that your dog isn’t exposed to harsh sunlight for too long will certainly help. This is easier said than done of course!
My dogs love the sun and even if we call them inside, they would much rather pass the day outside. However, if you notice that your dog has been sunbathing for a bit too long, call them inside to cool down for a while.
You can tell if your dog has been in the sun for too long if:
- They are panting a lot
- Their skin is showing redness
- They are breathing very deeply
- They are drooling more than usual
- Williams, K & Ward, E. “Heat Stroke in Dogs”. VCA Hospitals. Retrieved March 21, 2021. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/heat-stroke-in-dogs
- Coates, J. June 1, 2020. “Can Dogs Get Sunburned?”. PetMD. Retrieved March 21, 2021. https://www.petmd.com/dog/seasonal/can-dogs-wear-sunscreen
- Erb, H. October 6, 2019. “Dog Skin Cancer: Types, Symptoms, and Treatment”. American Kennel Club. Retrieved March 21, 2021. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/dog-skin-cancer-types-symptoms-treatment/
- Meyers, H. April 11, 2019. “Should Your Dog Wear Sunscreen?”. American Kennel Club. Retrieved March 21, 2021. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/dog-sunscreen/
- Nicholas, J. June 6, 2015. “Do Dogs Need Sunscreen?”. Preventative Vet. Retrieved March 21, 2021. https://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/do-dogs-need-sunscreen-use-dog-safe-sunscreen
- Clark, M. “Sunscreen For Dogs: Everything You Need To Know”. DogTime. Retrieved March 21, 2021. https://dogtime.com/how-to/dog-supplies/65541-sunscreen-for-dogs
- Tyson, P. October 4, 2012. “Dogs' Dazzling Sense of Smell”. PBS. Retrieved March 21, 2021. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/dogs-sense-of-smell/
- August 7, 2019. “Pets and Sunscreen: Don’t Get Burned by the Myths!”. APSCA. Retrieved March 21, 2021. https://www.aspca.org/news/pets-and-sunscreen-dont-get-burned-myths