It's not something I ever really thought about, but when I saw more and more Basenji folks posting pics of their sunbathing beauties, I decided to do a little research on sunscreen. Is it just for people? Do dogs need sun protection like we do?
Perhaps not a huge surprise, but YES, sunscreen is a must, especially in the so-called "dog days" of summer. Below are some helpful tips for "summer-izing" your pooch. Please keep in mind that these are just a few suggestions, and that common sense and the advice of your veterinarian should always prevail.
When to use sunscreen:
- Your dog is losing hair. If your dog is suffering from allergies, coping with hormonal changes, or undergoing chemotherapy, he may be losing hair, leaving bald spots that are vulnerable to the sun.
- Your dog is a sunbathing enthusiast. Like the Beach Boys, most Basenjis adore the warmth of the sun — and may enjoy it a little too much, to their own detriment.
- Your dog will be spending a lot of time outdoors. If it's just a quick walk around the block, your dog is probably fine; but if you’re heading out for a day at the beach or a camping trip, then your dog needs extra protection.
- Choose the right sunscreen. Search for sunscreens that are designed specifically for dogs and consult your veterinarian for recommendations. If you’re having trouble finding a canine-specific sunscreen, look for one that’s safe for human babies or sensitive skin.
- Avoid Zinc Oxide. It’s a common ingredient in sunscreen, but unfortunately it can be toxic to dogs if they eat it because of the zinc. Check the label before you apply.
- Do a test area. Even if you select a sunscreen you believe is safe, there’s a chance your dog may have a reaction to it. Put the sunscreen on a small area, then keep an eye on the skin as well as your dog’s behavior to see if there is a problem. Contact the vet immediately if the area swells, or if a rash develops. Avoid use of any product that is a known irritant to your Basenji's skin.
- Just apply it to exposed areas. You mainly want to focus on the skin that is not covered by hair, such as the space between the back legs and the nose area (if it's pinkish).
- Use protective clothing. If your dog has a reaction to sunscreen, canine clothing designed to block the sun’s rays may be a useful alternative. There are versions available that also offer cooling properties.
- Provide shade and plenty of fresh water. Make sure your dog always has a place to escape the sun’s rays, whether indoors or out. Dogs should never be left out of doors for extended periods of time, but this especially applies in the hot summer months. And watch those glass doors - they get really hot!