As the weather gets warm it feels great to get outdoors and feel the sunshine. We know the sun can be dangerous and we remember to put sunblock on ourselves and children to stay safe. But, did you know that pets can get sunburns, too?
Yes, pets can get sun burns, just like us. Pets with un-pigmented and thin, white or light colored coats are at highest risk. Breeds that are predisposed to sunburns include white Domestic Short-haired cats, white Boxers and Bull Terriers, Dalmatians, Beagles and German Short-haired pointers. Any dog with thin, light-colored hair is at risk, including pets with a summer hair-cut or shave. Repeated sun exposure can lead to severe dermatologic problems and skin cancer, just like in humans.
Sun block can and should be applied to pets at risk. Choose a sunblock that has at least SPF 30, UVA and UVB filters and is safe for babies and fragrance free. Sun block should be massaged into exposed areas until absorbed. If your pet won’t hold still until it is absorbed try a little distracting game for 5 minutes.
For white cats or white eared-cats sunblock is needed on the ear tips. Even cats that sit in sunny windows can be at risk for sunburn. When picking a kitty sun block, be sure to avoid octyl salicylate.
Many dogs are at risk for sunburn on the top of the nose, ears, sides of the muzzle. If your dog likes to lie on his back or side to sunbathe sun block will be needed on the belly and inner thighs. Be sure to re-apply after swimming. Try to avoid prolonged sun exposure from 10am until 4 pm.
A sunburn on a pet may appear as red skin or hair loss. If you notice any changes to the skin that has had sun exposure, such as redness or crusting, seek veterinary care, as these may be the early signs of skin cancer or precancerous lesions.