Sunburn and skin cancer are common in dogs that love spending most of their day outdoors. A homemade sunscreen for dogs is also essential if your dog has short hair, bald spots, or a light-colored nose. In other words, not all dogs will need sunscreen. However, there are natural SPF recipes you can make at home to protect your dog against the sun’s rays.
The most effective homemade sunscreen for dogs should have an SPF of 30. Some homemade sunscreen recipes for your dog are carrot seed oil, coconut oil, and red raspberry seed oil. Mix them with other oils like olive, shea, or tamanu to protect your dog against sun-related medical issues. When in the sun, reapply the sunscreen on your dog every four hours.
The sunscreen should be waterproof and unscented, so your dog will not lick and ingest it accidentally. It would be best to reapply sunscreen to your dog after swimming or bathing. I will share the best homemade sunscreen recipes that have worked for my American Hairless Terrier for years. I will also give you some commercial sunscreen options for your dog.
Can I use baby sunscreen for my dog?
Although there is pet-specific sunscreen for dogs, you can also get some viable baby sunscreens for your dog.
Since babies and dogs might ingest sunscreen, the ingredients are usually mild and not as toxic as human sunscreen. You will learn more about the safety of human sunscreens for dogs in the last section of this guide.
However, your dog should not ingest the baby’s sunscreen in large amounts.
In a recent study by the Environmental Working Group, some baby sunscreens tested positive for toxic chemicals. The study revealed significant amounts of oxybenzone, parabens, and homosalate in some sunscreens. The substances, they say, are poisonous and carcinogenic.
Therefore, before applying any baby sunscreen on your dog, ensure that your dog will not lick its skin until after about 20 minutes. Afterward, the baby sunscreen will have been absorbed in the dog’s skin and will have no significant health impact on your dog.
Nevertheless, there are some baby sunscreens with sufficient SPF and low toxicity. For example, apply Thinkbaby Natural Sunblock, Baby Bum Mineral Sunscreen, and Babo Botanicals Baby Skin Mineral Sunscreen on your dog.
These baby sunscreens are made from natural ingredients such as avocado, green tea, and jojoba oil. Their recipes will keep your dog safe in the hot summer sun. Most importantly, the sunscreens are water resistant. Therefore, your dog can swim and still be safe in the sun.
Best Homemade Sunscreen Recipes for Dogs
Going through the ingredients on commercial sunscreens to identify the toxic elements can be very tedious. Avoid the risk by making your homemade sunscreen recipe for your dog.
Here are the best homemade sunscreen recipes for dogs:
1. Carrot seed oil + coconut oil + red raspberry oil
The carrot seed oil has umbelliferone compound, which absorbs UVB light. You will find it on most sunscreens. However, do not use carrot seed oil alone to protect your dog against skin cancer or sunburn. In itself, carrot seed oil might cause skin irritation.
Mix one part carrot seed oil with a quarter coconut oil and a quarter red raspberry seed oil to increase the oil’s sunscreen protection factor. This homemade sunscreen recipe is the best for bald and hairless dogs like my American Hairless Terrier.
Before applying it to your dog, heat the homemade sunscreen in a slow cooker while stirring for about 20 minutes. Turn off the stove, cover the ingredients, and let it cool. Pour your homemade dog sunscreen into a squeezable container or spray bottle and apply it to your dog.
2. Avocado oil + green tea + shea butter
Another best homemade sunscreen recipe for dogs is avocado oil, green tea, and shea butter. Use one-third of each of the oils to make one cup of sunscreen at home. Heat the avocado oil, green tea, and shea butter lightly.
Heating the mixture changes the sunscreen’s chemical composition and mixes the ingredients effectively. Avocado oil and green tea have vitamin A and E, while shea butter has catechins, giving your dog a sunscreen protection factor (SPF) of 30+.
Let your sunscreen cool and apply it to your dog 20 minutes before going to the sun. Avocado oil, green tea, and shea butter will protect your dog against the dangerous UVA rays and give them relief from sunburn.
3. Aloe vera + jojoba oil
You can also make homemade sunscreen for your dog using aloe vera and jojoba oil. First, dog skins are the same pH as aloe vera. Secondly, aloe vera provides SPF 30 protection against UVA and UVB rays, which can damage and dehydrate your dog’s skin.
You will get an SPF value of between 40 and 50% with jojoba oil. Mixing half a cup of aloe vera with a quarter part of jojoba oil also increases the absorption rate of sunscreen in your dog’s body.
Before your dog thinks of licking its coat, the aloe and jojoba oil will have penetrated quickly and deeply.
In addition, the homemade mix contains significant amounts of vitamin E. Not only will aloe vera and jojoba oil protect the dog from the sun, but they will also keep the skin moist. In other words, your dog will not have flaky skin, nor will it scratch its coat to lower the irritation.
4. Sesame oil + sandalwood
Sesame oil and sandalwood are some of the best natural homemade sunscreens for dogs. Studies show that sesame oil can protect you or your dog from 30% of UV rays. On the other hand, sandalwood has more than 50 SPF%.
If your dog walks between 11 am and 4 pm, when the sun’s rays are the strongest, I recommend this homemade sunscreen. If you don’t have sandalwood, mix sesame oil with other natural ingredients such as sunflower oil or saffron.
The sunscreen has antioxidants that are critical for your dog’s skin. But although homemade sunscreens for dogs work pretty well, protecting your dog against sunburn and skin cancer requires other urgent measures.
Let’s look at the dietary ways of screening your dog against the sun.
5. Feed your dog a diet rich in SPF
Your dog’s diet is essential to its overall health and happiness. Giving your dog a diet of SPF above 30% and applying the homemade sunscreens we discussed above will save your dog from rashes, scratches, and sunburn.
Foods such as raw meat, red fruits, and those with essential fatty acids such as kales and spinach are very beneficial. They have urocanic acid, carotenoid, and antioxidants that protect the skin from molecular damage and UV radiation.
For instance, I give my American Hairless Terrier foods rich in Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids during hot summers. In that case, applying homemade sunscreen such as carrot seed oil, coconut oil, and red raspberry oil only provides the dog an additional layer of protection.
What human sunscreen is safe for dogs?
As I said earlier, human sunscreen is not safe for dogs. The chemicals in human sunscreens, such as Ethylhexyl and cinnamates cinoxate, are poisonous when ingested by pets. Also, do not use your sunscreen on a dog if the sunscreen has Zinc oxide ingredients.
Using the homemade sunscreen for dogs provided in this guide is much safer. Otherwise, consider other commercial sunscreens for your dog.
Here are some of the best commercial sunscreens for dogs:
1. Epi-Pet Sun Protector Spray for Pets
Epi-Pet Sun Protector Spray for pets is approved by the FDA. Use it on light-skinned and short-haired dogs to reduce the pain and irritation associated with sunburn. I used it on my dog during the summer holidays, and I liked that my American Hairless Terrier did not even lick the spray.
You can find Epi-Pet Sun Protector Spray for Pets in your nearest pet store or buy it online. It is safe for your dog, so I suggest spraying your dog’s entire body with it.
If you are outdoors, reapply the sunscreen on your dog every two hours as it dries pretty fast. In addition, the spray has a pleasant vanilla fragrance, giving you the confidence to walk with your dog outdoors in hot summer.
2. Petkin SPF 15 Doggy Sun Stick
Another cheap commercial sunscreen for dogs is the Petkin SPF 15 Doggy Sun Stick. Some of the ingredients in the sunscreen are coconut oil and vanilla.
As the name suggests, dog sunscreen has a sun protection factor of 15%. It offers instant protection against the sun, but you must reapply it on your dog every 2 to 4 hours if you are outdoors.
Unlike the spray, Petkin SPF 15 is an ointment. Rub it gently on your dog’s ears, muzzle, nose, and other affected areas on your dog’s coat. Competent veterinarians approve this commercial sunscreen for dogs. So you can use it on dogs of all ages.
3. Warren London Dog Sunscreen Spray
The active ingredients in Warren London Dog Sunscreen Spray are Oxybenzone and aloe vera, which are effective against sunburn. Although it is affordable, it weighs only 120 grams. That means you will need more than one spray bottle for your dogs in the summer.
Whether your dog’s skin is dry or oily, Warren London Dog Sunscreen Spray is easy to use. Spray it on your furry friend and rub gently around the affected areas. However, ensure your dog does not lick its coat until the sunscreen is dry.
ReferencesMeyers, H. (2021). Do Dogs Need Sunscreen? American Kennel Club.