We all know humans can get sunburned, and most of us have experienced it. That bright red peeling skin experience is not a pleasant one, and can be dangerous. It’s the same for your pets. Just because they have fur doesn’t mean they can’t get burned by the hot summer sun. They can and they will feel every bit as uncomfortable as we do. Sunburns can cause skin cancer in pets, so you need to think of your pet’s welfare on hot sunny days. Here are some tips that should help… 

We sunbathe mainly because we want a nice bronze tan. We even lie on sunbeds under ultra-violet lighting to achieve this if the sun isn’t shining outside! Dogs lay in the sun to help break down oils in their skin and turn it into vitamin D.  Cats lay in the sun to conserve energy. The light and warmth allows their bodies to rest and not work as hard maintaining their temperature. However, animals don’t know when enough is enough and can get sunburned. We must be the advocate for them.

Most people who have dogs especially with thick shaggy fur will give them a “haircut” at the beginning of summer. The intention is make them feel more comfortable, however the fur actually helps in keeping them cool, and “haircuts” on dogs and cats make them more vulnerable to the less desirable effects of the sun. Light color animals, those who are white or near white, are especially vulnerable, so you need to look out for your pet and help protect your furry pet on hot sunny days.

One of the simplest solutions is to provide shade for your pet. Create a shaded area if there isn’t a natural one, and make it a desirable place for you dog or cat to lie. Provide them with clean water and bedding, or some other soft surface to lie on. If your pet regularly seeks out the sunny areas, make sure you are monitoring how long they are exposed. 

If your pet is going to be in the sun for an extended period of time, you should use sunblock. It is important you only use pet-safe sunblock. Human sunblock may contain zinc oxide, para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) or Octyl Salicylate. These and other ingredients are toxic to dogs and cats.

When you apply sunscreen to your dog, be sure to include the nose, around the lips, their ears, the inside of their legs and groin area. If you pet goes swimming, reapply the sunscreen when they get out of the water. Cats don’t need sunscreen over their whole body unless they are furless or have areas with shaved or missing fur. Focus on the nose, ears, belly, inner leg and groin area as well. They will need it reapplied as the day goes on as well.

Use caution when using even pet-safe sunscreen. Always read the ingredients and monitor your pet for signs of a reaction to the product. Look for signs of skin irritation or upset stomach if they ingested any when cleaning themselves. You may need to look for another pet-safe sunscreen that is not as irritating to your pet’s system.

Remember, your pet doesn’t have to be outside to get sunburned. Just sitting before a window on a hot day can be enough.

If you enjoyed this article you may find the following interesting as well… The Dangers of Leaving Pets in the Car.