Zinc oxide sunscreens may be dangerous to dogs

Sunscreens add safety to summer fun, protecting humans and even pets (particularly light-haired and light-skinned pets) from the sun. However, dog lovers should be wary of sunscreen products containing zinc oxide, which can be dangerous, if ingested.

How can zinc oxide harm pets?

Zinc oxide, included in many sunscreens, is not water-soluble. For this reason, this mineral compound is often found in waterproof sun protection lotions and creams. It’s also used in diaper rash ointments and calamine lotions, as it provides a barrier on the skin.

Topically, zinc oxide may be helpful, especially to humans. But it may be harmful, if swallowed, particularly by a dog.

When a dog licks sunscreen off himself (or off of a human), or if he happens to eat a tube of sunscreen, the animal may face serious health problems. 

Symptoms of zinc oxide poisoning may include:

  • abdominal pain
  • diarrhea
  • lethargy
  • loss of appetite
  • pale gums
  • vomiting
  • weakness

In the most extreme cases, zinc oxide poisoning may cause hemolytic anemia, a disorder in the red blood cells of the dog. Eventually, this can lead to brain, heart, or other organ failure.

If a dog owner suspects his or her pet has consumed sunscreen containing zinc oxide, a trip to the veterinarian is well advised.

How can dog owners keep their pets free from zinc oxide poisoning?

It pays to be a label reader. If a pet owner purchases sunscreen, diaper rash ointment, or other products containing zinc oxide, the safest bet is to keep it far away from the dog.

Dog in Sunglasses - ModCam

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