The Great Outdoors
When heading outside on a sunny day most of us remember to protect ourselves against the sun. While ten minutes of unprotected sunlight is recommended for all of us, we know the risks of prolonged unprotected sun exposure. Sunburns, sun spots, and even skin cancer are just some of the potential consequences of unprotected exposure. What most people don’t know is that our pets can also suffer from being in the sun for too long.
Pets are prone to sunburns, especially if they have short and/or light coloured fur. Moreover, areas most susceptible to sun burn include places where fur is sparser such as the tips of the nose, ears, groin and the underbelly. It is common for pets to enjoy the sunlight by lying on their backs, exposing their bellies to the sun. Although enjoyable and endearing, this practice also increases the risk of a sun burn occurring on the abdomen. A sun burn is not the only consequence of sun exposure. Pets can also become afflicted with skin cancer, and autoimmune skin conditions. Sunlight can also cause the immune system to promote hair loss. If your pet has experienced hair loss due to pet skin allergies or hormone problems, he or she is more likely to have sunburns.
What to do to keep your pets safe? There are a number of tips you can follow to keep your pets safe:
Sunscreen: Finding a non-toxic sunscreen for your pet can be tough. Some ingredients to watch out for include zinc oxide for dogs, and octyl salicylate, homosalate, and ethylnexl salicylate for cats. These ingredients found in most sunscreens can be toxic to pets. The only FDA approved sunscreen for dogs is the Epi-Sun Protector. It is not recommended for cats as one of the ingredients breaks down to aspirin, which is highly toxic to felines. Some experts recommend using baby sunscreens on pets as these lotions contain less harmful ingredients. It is important to be aware of the ingredients in the sunscreens you apply on your pets as pets often lick themselves thus ingesting the sunscreen. Before you use sunscreen on your pets, it is strongly advised you talk to your veterinarian first to prevent any adverse effects. Be sure to apply sunscreen liberally on the nose, tips of the ears, abdomen, groin, and any other area where there is less fur.
Clothing: If your pet received a trim for the summer, you can also let your pet wear a t-shirt when playing outside. Clothing plays the same role against sun damage in pets as in humans. You can also invest in sun protective clothing which is specially designed for pets.
Staying Indoors: Humans and pets are recommended to remain indoors when the sun is at its peak; usually around 10 am to 3 pm. Try planning outdoor activities earlier in the morning or later in the evening.
Shade: If your pet spends most of his or her time outside, be sure to supply shade and water. These measures will help prevent heatstroke in dogs and cats.