We updated this article in March 2022 to add more information based on extensive research done by the Good Housekeeping Institute. In addition to our original top-rated picks, we've also included one new recommendation, Emmy's Best Pet Products Dog Sun Skin Protector Spray.
Before you head out for a long sunny hike or a day at the beach, remember to generously apply an excellent sunscreen for you and your dog. You may not realize it, but those powerful rays are just as dangerous to your pet as they are to you. And dogs can get an itchy red sunburn just like humans!
When it comes to sunscreen for your dog, you cannot use sunscreen formulated for humans. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), "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." Per the AKC, SPF for your pup should also be free of fragrance and should be waterproof with a minimum SPF of 15 — but SPF 30+ is better. Since most dog sunscreens are not FDA approved, they don't qualify for an official SPF rating. We suggest looking for something that has an equivalent SPF rating.
The Good Housekeeping Institute researches and recommends all of the pet products you could ever need from self-cleaning litter boxes to dog harnesses and, of course, sunscreen for your sun-loving furry friend. We spoke to two vets, Andrew Rosenberg, D.V.M, D.A.C.V.D at Riverdale Veterinary Dermatology in New Jersey, and Christine Cain, B.S., D.V.M., Assistant Professor of Dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, to bring you the most accurate information and help you make an informed decision. We've also used a combination of user reviews and extensive ingredient research to compile a list of the best and safest sunscreens to use on your pet. Here are the best dog sunscreens and sun protectors of 2022, according to veterinary dermatologists and reviewers.
Our top picks:
- SPF 30+ Equivalent
- UVA & UVB protection
- Uses chemical sunscreen actives
This sunscreen spray features active ingredients like ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate (octyl methoxycinnamate or octinoxate), a commonly used chemical sunblock active ingredient in human sunscreens, which absorbs UVB radiation. In addition to UVB absorbers, this product also contains benzophenone-3, aka oxybenzone, to also protect your pup from sunrays in the UVA spectrum. According to its manufacturer, the chemical sunscreen cocktail in this product should provide them with an equivalent of 30-40 SPF. The formula also has vitamin E, that can help condition their fur at the same time, so it's a win-win! Like any aerosol product, it should be applied in a well-ventilated area. Please note that sunscreens containing the chemical sunscreen actives in this formula are banned in the state of Hawaii over concerns for endocrine disruption and adverse effects to marine life.
- Stick formula applies easily to noses, paws and ears
- Mineral active ingredient: titanium dioxide
- Only SPF 15 equivalent
Petkin's Doggy Sunstick is perfect for stashing in your bag on sunny days — you never know when Fido will be begging for a long walk! Keep in mind that since it's only SPF 15 equivalent, it shouldn't be used as a sole form of sun protection if you're planning a long day at the beach. This sunstick uses a mineral active ingredient titanium dioxide to stop those rays, which Dr. Cain suggests as a safer active ingredient option for pooches. It's the same sunscreen ingredient that doctors suggest for babies!
- All-over body protection
- Great for short-haired dogs
- May be uncomfortable or too warm
Both Dr. Cain and Dr. Rosenberg recommend sunsuits as an alternate form of sun protection for short-haired dogs that may be more susceptible to sunburn. These full-coverage lycra bodysuits are even suitable for the beach because not only do they protect against UV rays, but they also keep sand out of your dog's fur. It zips to cover your pup's chest and belly, but note that it doesn't cover their ears and nose so you may need a little extra sun protection in those spots. Just make sure they don't get too hot, and if your pet is showing any sign of discomfort, like decreased energy level or heavy panting, discontinue use.
- Balm formula easy to apply on dog's face
- Easy for dogs to lick off their nose
- Chemical sunscreen actives
Amazon users say this product helps prevent sunburn and redness on their dogs (and horses!) and is especially great for their little noses. It's a balm that can be applied to bellies, ears and noses but also serves as a soothing ointment for cracked paws and rough spots. This little package is great for stashing in your bag, but since it's predominately applied on noses, Dr. Cain reminds pet parents to keep an eye out and make sure their furry friends don't lick off the balm on their snout before it has a chance to set in and dry.
- Easy-to-apply non-aerosol spray
- Formulated with soothing aloe vera
- Chemical sunscreen active
Warren London makes a bunch of grooming products for dogs, and this spray-on sunscreen containing aloe vera keeps their skin soothed and moisturized. It's a regular spray bottle rather than an aerosol, so you'll need to spritz more times for large dog breeds. Keep in mind, the active ingredient in this sunscreen is oxybenzone, which is banned in the state of Hawaii for potentially being harmful to marine life.
- Formulated with nourishing shea butter and coconut oil
- Easy-to-apply non-aerosol spray
- Chemical sunscreen active
This non-aerosol spray from Emmy's Best Pet Products is great for protecting your sun-loving pooch without creating a greasy film on their fur. It features the chemical sunscreen ingredient octinoxate to protect your pet against harmful UV rays, which is also banned in the state of Hawaii. It also includes shea butter and coconut oil to moisturize their skin. Dr. Cain particularly likes spray-on sunscreens since they seem to dry and set faster than other application options and therefore won't be as easy for dogs to lick off.
The Good Housekeeping Institute reviews pet products of all kinds, from nail clippers for grooming to comfy dog beds for lounging around. Our experts have scoured the data, ingredients lists and research for each pet sunscreen to ensure we only suggest the safest and best options to our readers and their furry friends. We consider safety, scent, texture, efficacy and more when choosing our favorite picks. We also spoke with multiple veterinarians about which ingredients are safe to include in pet sunscreen. These picks are made up of our expert's favorites and popular brands with rave reviews from real pet parents and vets.
You're probably thinking: my dog is covered in fur and I've never heard of putting sunscreen on them. But, just like humans, dogs are susceptible to sun damage and can even get sunburns just like us.
"You don’t have to apply [sunscreen] to areas with hair because they’re usually well protected," says Christine Cain, B.S., D.V.M., Assistant Professor of Dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. But, many veterinary dermatologists agree that dogs' ears, abdomens and noses are most affected by the sun. And since their paws are usually facing down and often have thick, darker skin, you can probably skip that area, but you can apply a paw wax like Musher's Secret to protect paws from hot sidewalks or beaches. Talk to your dog's vet if you have any concerns regarding sun protection.
No matter which form of sun protectant you use, the best way to prevent sun damage is to simply stay out of the sun. "Reduce the amount of time that your pet is outdoors, particularly within those high times of UV light exposure which is 10 am to 4 pm," Dr. Cain explains.
While you should probably put some sunscreen on your dog's exposed skin like their nose, ears and abdomens no matter the breed, not all pooches need overall coverage. "Just like some people are more sensitive to the sun than others, every dog is different," says Andrew Rosenberg, D.V.M, D.A.C.V.D at Riverdale Veterinary Dermatology in New Jersey. "The dogs that are most susceptible [to sunburn] are dogs with white hair and non-pigmented skin that like to sunbathe on their backs." This means hairless dogs and those with light, thin coats need a bit more protection.
When you're applying protection to your pooch, it's not that different from applying sunscreen on yourself. First, patch-test before applying all over to make sure your pet doesn't have any negative reactions. Then, make sure to rub in the sunscreen thoroughly and reapply often if your pet is lazing around in the sun all day. Just like humans, you should re-apply every few hours, after swimming or if your dog licks the area before the sunscreen is able to set, says Dr. Cain. Don't forget the inside of their ear flaps and their bellies which also need to be protected. Since all dog sunscreens are made with the understanding that your pup will likely lick some of it off, they include ingredients that aren't toxic to ingest but try your best to keep your dog from licking their nose and body until the sunscreen has had a chance to sink in.
Before hitting add to cart, there are a few things to keep in mind when trying to find the perfect sun protection for your pooch:
✔️Ingredients: Unfortunately, you can't share your favorite sunscreen with your dog. Some active ingredients in human sunscreen are toxic to pets, so make sure your dog's protectant is free of zinc oxide, PABA and fragrance. Also, look for something that is waterproof and has a minimum SPF of 15, but 30+ is better. Since most dog sunscreens don't qualify for official SPF ratings, ideally look for something with an equivalent rating. The best active ingredient to consider is titanium dioxide, but ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate will also help protect your pet, just keep them out of the water as those can be toxic to marine life.
✔️Ease of use: If you've got a wriggly puppy that simply will not sit still, you may want to opt for a spray-on or stick sunscreen. Consider different application types depending on you and your pup's needs — and their ability to calmly let you rub in sunscreen. Spray on sunscreens tend to dry faster which means less likelihood of your pet licking them off, but shouldn't be used too close to your pet's mouth or eyes, where stick or balms will be better.
✔️Your dog's personal needs: Does your dog need more sun protection than many other breeds or are you just looking for a little something to apply to their nose while you're out on a walk? Depending on how long your dog spends out in the sun and if they're more susceptible to UV damage, you'll need to consider a different package size, coverage and brand.
For decades, the Good Housekeeping Institute has been providing expert reviews and advice on everything a pet parent needs, including dog sunscreen. Amina Lake Abdelrahman was an Editorial Assistant who worked with the Good Housekeeping Institute lab experts to cover everything from kitchen appliances to pet products.
In her role as Parenting & Pets Reviews Analyst, Jamie Spain brings years of journalism experience to the GH Institute, having reviewed products for Good Housekeeping, as well as BuzzFeed, while also previously working in the parenting and pets sphere at People.