The weather is getting warmer and the sun is starting to really heat things up. This is the perfect time of year to spend some quality time outside with the family. If you are like me, I bet you are stopping your kids and urging them to put some sunscreen on before they head outside to play in the sun. You don’t want them to have to deal with the pain of sunburn now or have issues with skin cancer later. My daughter calls me the “Sunscreen Queen” and I’m okay with that. It’s my job to protect her.
You may not realize it but, your pets need sun protection too. Dogs and cats can get sunburned, especially white-coated animals. Animals that like to sunbathe on their backs and expose their tender tummies to the mercy of the sun can burn too. That is one of the most common places to see sunburn on pets along with the tips of the ears and the nose. Skin cancer is a concern for your pets as well. Both cats and dogs can develop skin cancer, including melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Fortunately, there are simple things you can do to protect your pets from the harmful effects of the sun.
The number one recommendation from veterinarians and animal health care specialists is to provide your pet with a shady place to get out of the sun. The shade protection should be adequate for them to be fully covered when they are under it. Awnings are an ideal way to provide plenty of shade at an affordable price. Not only do they protect pets from the UV rays of the sun, it also feels 10 to 15 degrees cooler under an awning. In addition to sunburn and skin cancer, some pets can suffer from heatstroke so having shade and plenty of water is essential for their health and safety.
When choosing a sunscreen for your pet, choose one that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. These sunscreens will be labeled “broad spectrum” and they provide protection against sunburn and skin cancer. Keep in mind that it is not okay to use human sunscreen on your pet. Some of them can make your pet extremely ill. For example, never use sunscreen that contains zinc oxide on your dog. It is toxic to dogs and can cause anemia. Look for sunscreens that are specially formulated for your pet or check with your veterinarian to ensure you are using a sunscreen that is pet safe.
The best way to protect your pet from the harmful rays of the sun is to keep them indoors during the peak sun hours of 10 am to 4 pm if at all possible. Limit their exposure and you reduce their risk of sun-related problems.