Using sunscreen when we go out in the sun is a no brainer for most of us. It’s been drilled into us time and time again, the importance of protecting our skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays, which can predispose us to developing skin cancer. But when was the last time you put sunscreen on your dog before taking him to the park for a romp on a sunny day? Should you be?
The truth is that many animals can benefit from a healthy lather of SPF. The most at risk pets when it comes to sun damage are ones with light skin and fur or animals with certain skin disorders. Pets with short fur or areas of hair loss are also at risk. Certain areas of skin are more vulnerable than others as well. The bridge of the nose and the tips of the ears in particular are very exposed. The groin and belly can also be susceptible to sun damage since the fur is thinner in these areas. Even indoor cats can be at risk since they love to lounge on window sills and in sun spots.
If you have a pet that is at risk for sun damage, try to limit their sun exposure by providing them with plenty of shade when outside and providing window shades indoors, but when your pet is gong to be exposed, sunscreen can help. Sunscreen should be applied liberally to exposed areas, particularly the ears and bridge of the nose as well as other areas where there is little hair cover and light skin.
Some human sunscreens are safe for use in pets, but some may be toxic. Be sure to avoid products with zinc oxide or octyl salicylate. Cats are fastidious groomers, so for them and for dogs that are likely to lick the sunscreen off, be sure to use a pet specific product.
Follow these guidelines and you and your furry friend can enjoy the splendid summer weather safely.