The arrival of summer means more time outdoors with your dog, but don’t forget the sun protection and insect repellent!
Summer is here, bringing with it lots of outdoor fun for you and your dog. But too much sun can cause burning and even lead to skin cancer. Meanwhile, mosquitoes, ticks and other nasty pests are ready and waiting to take a bite out of your dog’s fun. It’s time to deploy some natural sunscreens and insect repellents to protect your canine companion and let him enjoy the great outdoors in comfort and safety.
“Thanks to their coats, most dogs have a natural protective barrier against
the sun,” says David Merrick of Dermoscent®, which offers a sunscreen for both dogs and cats called SunFREE. “However, additional protection is necessary in certain dogs, such as those with light-colored coats, hairless breeds, those that have been recently clipped, and dogs that have a photo-aggravated disease.” Dogs with pink skin and white hair may be more prone to sunburn. The most susceptible areas are the top of the nose and ears, as well as the belly and paws.
“Use a sunscreen specifically designed for pets,” adds David. “Some human products have ingredients such as zinc oxide that cause harm to dogs.” A product whose efficacy has been proven with independent research is ideal. “Proven products provide protection from the sun (UVA and UVB) with sunray-reflecting filters of titanium dioxide and aluminum oxide. It is crucial to use a sunscreen that is proven to have the SPF level it claims to have, and it’s even better if it includes moisturizing properties (e.g. candelilla wax). That way you have skin hydration while providing protection from UV rays.”
As with sunscreens, be sure to use an insect repellent product that’s formulated especially for dogs. Essential oils play a large role in natural insect repellents, but be sure to look for products that use high-quality oils. The same applies if you make your own repellents – cheap oils are often adulterated and can be harmful to your dog. Peppermint, lavender, cedarwood, eucalyptus and geranium essential oils are all effective at keeping mosquitoes, ticks and fleas at bay. “The oils can be part of a shampoo, flea collar, spray, or powder,” says veterinarian Dr. Shawn Messonnier. His line of Dr. Shawn’s Pet Organics includes two repellent products for animals: “One is citrus and one is lavender to help with parasites and itching.”
Using natural, species-specific products to protect your dog from UV rays and biting insects means a happier, safer and more enjoyable spring (and summer!) for both of you. These products also have positive benefits over the long term by reducing his risk of developing skin cancer or contracting insect-borne diseases such as Lyme. It’s a win-win!