Buyer’s GuideTo make sure your dog’s skin gets the sun protection it needs, and to ensure it is completely safe, there are several core features to look for:
Broad spectrum protectionThe sun attacks human and dog skin in exactly the same way. For this reason, it is vital to look for a sunscreen with broad spectrum protection. Broad spectrum means that a sunscreen will provide protection against both types of ultraviolet light which can harm your skin. You may sometimes see these sunscreens marketed as ‘UVA/UVB’ sunscreens.
- Ultraviolet A radiation (UVA) penetrates deeply into the skin. It doesn’t change the surface of the skin visibly beyond a slight reddening. However, every time skin is exposed to UVA it damages the DNA. Over time, the damage accumulates which leads to premature aging and can cause skin cancer.
- Ultraviolet B (UVB) damages the top layer of skin. It is UVB that causes the classic symptoms of sunburn, including redness, peeling, and blisters. Over time this, too, can lead to skin cancer.
Best SPF for DogsSun Protection Factor, or SPF, is the key selling point for sunscreens. Unfortunately, it is a greatly misunderstood number, and the packaging of most sunscreens does little to help explain what it means. And, as we’ll see shortly, it is even more complicated when it comes to dogs! SPF tells you how much longer a human can stay in the sun without burning than they could if they didn’t use that sunscreen. So, if it usually takes me 10 minutes to burn and I apply an SPF 30 sunscreen, I can theoretically stay in the sun for 300 minutes. Unfortunately, reality is not quite as simple as the theory! No sunscreen is effective after two hours, no matter what SPF it is. Also, there are many other factors which can shorten the amount of time you are protected, for example, how intense the sun is, or if you go for a swim. To make matters worse, the SPF system was developed before we knew how damaging UVA could be. SPF only tells you about protection against UVB – there is no system indicating how effective a sunscreen is for UVA protection. I used to believe that a much higher SPF would give me much greater protection, but this isn’t true. As you can see here, SPF 30 provides human skin with 97% protection against UVB. SPFs higher than 30 only provide a little more protection:
|SPF Rating||UVB Protection|
Physical is better than chemicalThere are two main groups of active ingredients in sunscreens: physical and chemical. Put simply:
- Physical sunscreens form a barrier on the skin which reflect ultraviolet light away
- Chemical sunscreens absorb the harmful rays as they reach the skin
- They offer broader UV protection (stop more light)
- They last longer in the sun as they do not degrade
- They are gentler on the skin and less likely to cause rashes
- They are reef safe and are less detrimental to fishes’ health
- In humans, they are not associated with negative health issues
Standards for dog sunscreensUnlike sunscreens marketed for human use, there are no established standards for either the ingredients which may be used, or how their effectiveness can be measure. This means we need to pay careful attention to the active ingredients of sunscreens for dogs to see if they will truly be safe and effective. For example, the Beach & Dog Co Canine Sunscreen is advertised as not only being free of oxybenzone but also zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Instead, it contains coconut oil and grapeseed oil as active ingredients. As these have SPF values of only 8 and 4 respectively, I cannot recommend this product as an effective sunscreen for dogs. Since there are no regulations for sunscreen for dogs, manufacturers are under no obligation to even list the active ingredients. So, Gerrard Larriett Aromatherapy Pet Care Vitamin and Essential Oil Sunscreen and Skin Conditioner for Dogs lists only a proprietary ‘UV inhibitor blend’ the contents of which the company keeps a secret. Of the other listed ingredients, neem oil has an SPF of 2, coconut oil 8 and jojoba oil 4. This is well short of comprehensive protection. Additionally, it contains olive oil which has been used for centuries to promote a sun tan, not to block the sun’s rays. Again, this is not a product I can recommend.
Can you use human sunscreens on dogs?As it can be difficult to find a high-quality sunscreen made specifically for dogs, it can be a good idea to try human sunscreen instead. We need to be careful to avoid chemical sunscreens. We also need to look carefully at whether the sunscreen contains zinc oxide and consider whether your dog will be spending much time outside. If your dog will be in the sun more than very occasionally, a zinc oxide sunscreen must be avoided. When looking for the best human sunscreen for dogs, I have found success with sunscreens designed for babies and children, which tend to contain gentler ingredients and are less harmful if ingested. After all, dogs do tend to lick themselves! When recommending human sunscreens for dogs, I prefer ones which contain titanium dioxide as the main active ingredient.
Applying sunscreen to a dogUnlike us humans, dogs have a natural SPF protector which covers most of their body: fur! Unless the fur is very short or there are bald patches, you don’t need to apply sunscreen to these areas. The most important places to apply sunscreen are the nose and on the belly area on the delicate stretch of skin which goes from the belly to the hind legs. This is especially important if your dog loves to stretch out on his or her back in the sun! Make sure to test the sunscreen on a small section of skin first, just to make sure there are no negative reactions! In addition to sunscreen, make sure your dog has a shady place to hang out and lots of water. If your dog has very fine fur or has recently been shaved, you may want to buy a doggie t-shirt with SPF protection, too.
Best Sunscreen for Dogs Comparison
|California Baby Super Sensitive||Ocean Potion Babies & Sensitive||Petkin Doggy Sunstick||Rocky Mountain Kids Spray||Doggles Pet Sunscreen|
|Active ingredients||Titanium Dioxide (12%)||Avobenzone (3%), Homosalate (15%), Octisalate (5%), Octocrylene (7%)||Titanium Dioxide (6%)||Avobenzone (3%), Homosalate (15%), Octisalate (5%), Octocrylene (10%)||Octinoxate (concentration not listed)|
|Water resistance||80 minutes||80 minutes||No||80 minutes||No|
|Price||See it at Amazon||See it at Amazon||See it at Amazon||$||See it at Amazon|
5 Best Sunscreens for DogsAfter thorough research combining a discussion of the issues with customers, analysis of customer feedback, an examination of manufacturer ingredients and specifications, research in medical journals and also participation in pet forums, SimplySunSafe has chosen the 5 best sunscreens for dogs. These five sunscreens provide broad spectrum protection, are physical sunscreens using titanium dioxide (not zinc oxide), are oxybenzone-free, and are either products designed for dogs or are sensitive enough to be used on dogs.
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- Water resistant for 80 minutes
- Designed for super sensitive skin
- May be difficult to remove
- AIR VENT CAR PHONE MOUNT - Easy single hand using. Put in and take out your device with one hand. It is the most handy and easy-using universal car phone holder on the market.
- ESPECIAL LOCK MOUNTS car phone holder to air vent extra securely so that car mount will never fall out. 1-minute easy car holder installation.
- 2019 UPDATED VERSION. The special locking clip that clings to the vent plate and the metal tightening thread and nut provide absolute fixation. Silicon finish surface of a car mount provides firm grip.
- UNIVERSAL COMPATIBILITY. Mongoora car vent mount is compatible with any smartphone from 1.9 to 3.7 inches width – iPhone XS X 9 8 7 6 5 PLUS MAX, Samsung Galaxy S9 S8 S7 S6, LG, Lenovo and More.
- 360 DEGREE ROTATION: The fully 360-degree rotation of a Mongoora cell phone car mount provide you with the best viewing angle. Vent phone holder ensures safe driving whether you are talking, navigating, listening to music or charging. Car mount for women, for men.
Last update on 2020-01-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising APIEven though Ocean Potion Protect and Nourish Babies & Sensitive Sunscreen is a chemical-based sunscreen, it is one I feel comfortable recommending for use on dogs. It is PABA free, cruelty-free, paraben free and, most importantly, oxybenzone free. All Ocean Potion’s products have received the seal for ‘Safe and Effective Sun Protection’ from the Skin Cancer Foundation. Designed to cater for sensitive or tender skin, Ocean Potion Babies and Sensitive makes an ideal choice for your dog. It is unscented, non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic. It is very easy to apply. Since it is a thin cream, there’s no need to rub hard on your dog’s delicate nose! Plus, it leaves no white cast on the skin. The product does sting slightly if you get it too near the eye-area. It is important to be especially careful in this area. If your dog has thin fur in this area or burns around the eye, you may want to consider a different form of protection for that area, either one of my other recommendations or a pair of doggles, sunglasses for dogs! Ocean Potion Babies & Sensitive is water resistant for up to 80 minutes, which is great if your dog loves to splash around in the water or ocean. As this product is oxybenzone free, you can be sure that if your dog does go into the sea, it will not harm marine life or coral reefs. Additionally, this sunscreen is long-lasting this, even after spending time in the water. Once they are on the beach and having fun, I have found it hard to persuade dogs to come back to have sunscreen reapplied, so this is good to know. Ocean Potion Babies & Sensitive Sunscreen receives a rating of 3 on the Environmental Working Group’s site. For humans, I usually only recommend products with a rating of 1 or 2. While I would not recommend this product for human use, I feel that it offers great sun protection for your dog while avoiding both toxic zinc oxide and the most harmful chemical sunscreens, oxybenzone.
- Water resistant for up to 80 minutes
- Designed for sensitive and tender skin
- Contains chemical sunscreens
- May cause irritation in the eye-area
- Simply Rub On Anytime For Instant Sun Protection
- Compares To Spf 15 Rated Sunscreens For People
- Protect Your Dog From The Sun'S Harmful Ultraviolet Rays
- Conveniently-Sized Sunstick Can Be Kept In The Home, The Car Or In Your Bag When Out For Adventures In The Sun
Last update on 2020-01-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising APIPetkin Doggy Sunstick SPF 15 is one of the few products aimed at canines which uses only titanium dioxide as its active ingredient. This is good as it means we know this physical sunscreen is non-toxic to canines. With a 6% concentration, this would be the equivalent of SPF 15 in humans. However, this does not mean that the SPF for a dog’s skin is actually 15 as there has been no testing. A great advantage of this product is that it has been designed with application to a dog’s nose in mind. It is a soft stick and easy to apply by dabbing it on your dog’s nose or ears with minimal pressure. The experience of myself and others has been that dogs do not back away from this product and seem to either like the vanilla coconut smell or they ignore it. Because of this, Petkin Doggy Sunstick may be the best sunscreen for your dog’s nose. While Petkin Doggy Sunstick is not advertised as a water resistant product, it remains in place even after a dog licks at it. I would, however, recommend reapplying after your dog has paddled around in the water! Petkin Doggy Sunstick is not designed to be rubbed into a dog’s skin: it will leave a white cast behind. This is not something your dog will notice or mind. In fact, I have found it to be a good thing as I can easily see if the sunscreen needs reapplying. Some users have noted that they have received comments on their dog’s white nose, or even that their dog looks like a lifeguard! Petkin produces three sunscreen products for dogs, a Sunstick, Sunwipes and Sunmist. SimplySunSafe recommends using the Sunstick. The Sunwipes contain a 1% concentration of titanium dioxide along with chemicals such as octinoxate and benzophenone-3. Although they contain chemical sunscreens, the Sunwipes may be useful to reapply sunscreen after time in the water. However, I cannot recommend the Sunmist as it contains oxybenzone. Since Petkin Doggy Sunstick was developed for dogs, it has not received a rating by the Environmental Working Group as they only test sunscreens for humans. The active ingredient titanium dioxide scores a positive 2 on their Hazard Scale (a lower number is better). However, this product does contain propylparaben. The longer chain parabens such as propylparaben are associated with allergic reactions and may potentially cause cancer. For this reason, I cannot recommend Petkin Doggy Sunstick any higher than third place on the top 5.
- Easy application
- Non-toxic to dogs
- Remains in place even after licking
- Low active ingredient concentration
- Contains propylparaben
- Not advertised as water-resistant
- Water resistant for up to 80 minutes
- Hypoallergenic and fragrance-free
- Easy to apply thin liquid
- Contains chemical sunscreens
- Can’t directly apply spray
- Quart-sized bottle
- Formula designed specifically for a dog's skin
- Help with coat condition and help prevent sun bleaching in dark haired animals
Last update on 2020-01-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising APIOne of the most popular sunscreens marketed for dogs is Doggles Pet Sunscreen. Doggles originally produced sunglasses specifically for dogs, designed to protect a dog’s eyes from harmful ultraviolet light. They have since expanded to include this sunscreen which has been extensively tested to make sure it is safe on dogs. The active ingredient is octinoxate, which scores a 6 on the Environmental Working Group’s rating system (that’s not great). Because there are no regulations for sunscreens, Doggles does not list the concentration of octinoxate in their ingredient listing. In humans, octinoxate is known to cause skin allergies in a small number of people and it may alter the way the thyroid functions. Its specific long-term effects on dogs are unknown. With human sunscreens, I would not normally recommend a sunscreen with octinoxate in it. However, as there are so few quality sunscreens suitable for dogs, and because Doggles Pet Sunscreen has been so well-received by the community, SimplySunSafe recommends this product with reservations. For this reason, I cannot rank Doggles Pet Sunscreen any higher than fifth position in the top 5. Although this comes in a small spray bottle, Doggles recommends spraying the product onto your fingers and then gently rubbing it onto your dog. You can also use a soft cloth. The product goes on easily and quickly though you may find you waste a lot when applying because the product is so thin. Be careful during application to ensure none of the liquid is directly ingested. Doggles Pet Sunscreen dries quickly and is safe for the dog to lick after it has dried. It comes in two varieties: the unscented version, which I prefer, and a tropically scented version. Other than the scent, the two products are identical. Surprisingly, for a sunscreen marketed for dogs, Doggles Pet Sunscreen is not advertised as water resistant. A non-oily spray, this sunscreen is water-soluble. In researching this product, I connected with other users but none had let their dogs spend much time in water. For this reason, I recommend reapplying this product thoroughly if your dog goes for a swim. A few users have noted that their dogs have a light skin reaction to Doggle Pet Sunscreen. This is likely the result of octinoxate being the active ingredient as it is also known to cause similar reactions in people. I recommend testing Doggles Pet Sunscreen on a small area of skin first to see if it causes your dog any problems.
- Thoroughly tested on dogs
- Highly regarded in the community
- Liquid is easy to apply
- Contains octinoxate
- Can’t directly apply spray
- Not water resistant