Pet Sunscreen and Bug Spray: Why You Should Use Them

A black and brown dog in a fieldTwo things we have a lot of here is Northern California are sunshine and bugs. Summertime and early autumn are feasting seasons for mosquitos, gnats, and other pesky pests. Add to the mix a high UV index and you have a recipe for discomfort, which is why pet sunscreen and bug spray is just as important to them as it is to us.

But, not all bug sprays or sunscreens are appropriate for pets. Many of us are avoiding DEET based products and other chemicals that are known carcinogens or environmentally unfriendly, and you should do the same for your pets.

Let’s look at some of the benefits of these products and how you can select the safest, most effective brands for your fur family members.

The Skinny on Pet Sunscreen

Many pets, especially those who spend a lot of time outdoors or have short coats, are at risk for sunburn and skin damage. Those who’ve had prolonged exposure to high UV index days are even at risk for skin cancer.

Like our own sunscreen products, your pet will benefit from the use of a sunscreen that is SPF 15 or higher. Look for the products that indicate FDA approved broad-spectrum protection or those that block both UVA and UVB rays. The former ultraviolet rays cause sunburn while the latter are responsible for skin damage and cancer.

It’s preferable to find a sunscreen that is formulated specially for dogs or cats, whenever possible, and there are many brands available online. We can help recommend a product if you would like assistance.

If you cannot find a suitable product for your dog, some human sunscreens are safe and effective, while others can be potentially poisonous. Never use a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide on your dog. This is a toxic ingredient that can result in a serious veterinary emergency.

Unfortunately, the same rule does not apply to our feline friends. Sunscreens containing salicylates are extremely toxic to cats and must be avoided.

Given the risks associated with potentially dangerous ingredients in human sunscreens, it is a safer option to go online and purchase a cat- or dog-specific brand of sunscreen.

Keeping the Bugs at Bay with the Right Pet Products

The first and most fail-proof step to protecting your pet from summertime pests is through a prescribed parasite preventive. Heartworm disease and other vector-borne illnesses are much more problematic than just an uncomfortable bite or sting, so take the time to have your pet screened and started on a parasite preventive, if you haven’t already done so.

Along with a preventive, bug sprays can be effective in keeping your pet free from itchy, painful bites and rashes associated with mosquitoes. These products can also help repel ticks, fleas, and other common parasites. The main thing to keep in mind is to avoid products containing DEET, since this very toxic substance can be ingested by pets.

Rather than chemical-laden products, we recommend pet-safe alternatives, such as Bite Blocker, Burt Bee’s Herbal Insect Repellent, and Repel Natural. And, all of these products can be safely used by the whole family.

Taking the bite and sting out of the outdoors is as easy as using pet-safe products to shield your pet from the effects of the sun and the insect swarm. For product recommendations or questions, feel free to contact our office.