Q: WE HAVE a white bull-terrier puppy, and we live in Florida. The breeder said we should put sunscreen on him when he's outdoors. Really?
A: Really. Dogs can get sunburned, and they are susceptible to skin cancer. Your dog's hair gives him some protection from the sun, but light-colored dogs need extra help to prevent a damaging sunburn. Other breeds whose owners should think about applying sunscreen include American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, bulldogs, white boxers, Chinese cresteds or any other hairless breeds, Dalmatians, smooth fox terriers, white German shepherds, greyhounds, Jack Russell terriers, rat terriers, Weimaraners, whippets or any dog with light skin and a pink nose.
Apply sunscreen to the ears, muzzle and belly of any shorthaired dog who enjoys sunbathing. If you have a short-coated white dog, apply it all over the body. Wipe it off after your dog comes indoors, so he doesn't get it on the furniture or walls.
Choose a PABA-free sunscreen that's free of zinc oxide. Both substances can be toxic if your dog licks them off. Look for natural sunscreens made for children or sunscreen made specifically for dogs, which you can find at pet-supply stores. Reapply frequently if your dog spends a lot of time outdoors, especially if he enjoys playing in water. If applying sunscreen isn't your thing, cover your dog's skin with sun-protective dog clothing. Yep, it's out there.