Humans know all too well the pain of being sunburned. People with fair skin learn early on that sunblock is needed on sunny days in the summertime. The consequence of not doing that is a rather painful burn that can go from head to toe. Pet owners don’t give a second thought to the idea of their little friend getting sunburned. It doesn’t make sense because there is that healthy coat of fur all over them. However, despite the fact they do not have the fair skin of humans, animals can and do suffer from sunburn.
The ultraviolet rays of the sun have more power than most people can imagine. Prolonged exposure can lead to some very uncomfortable problems for certain breeds of dogs. Hairless breeds such as Chihuahuas are most definitely vulnerable. Short haired dogs are also susceptible to skin damage and dogs that have white or pink skin can be harmed by ultraviolet rays. The sunburn can be noticed on the nose, the underbelly of the dog, ear tips, and around the dog’s mouth.
Cats are not immune from sunburn. White cats are at risk and those that are pale or bald and are known as sun sensitive. Tips of the cat’s ears and nose are particular areas where sunburn can develop. There are three types of dog sunburn and the most serious is the full thickness burn. This can get through all the skin layers to affect tissue beneath the skin.
The consequence can be very serious for cats. Too much sun can cause a cancer known as Squamous Cell Carcinoma. It can be seen on the ears and the nose and has high potential for being fatal. Dogs can develop skin cancer as well. Pet owners have to understand the very real danger their animals are in if they left outside too long. An immediate precaution would be having shaded areas in the yard. It will allow the animals some respite from the direct rays of the sun. The sun has its greatest intensity from 10 AM to 4 PM. Those are the times when pet owners need to be extremely careful about having their animals outside. Short spans of time are recommended during those hours.
Animals that are outside for extended periods of time should have a sunscreen. Application should be in the most vulnerable areas which would include the muzzle and ears of the animal. The nose is almost impossible because the dog or cat will immediately lick off any sunscreen. This application is not the same as humans use. Sunscreens that are designed for animals do not have the same type of chemicals. A sunscreen that includes zinc oxide can lead to a dog developing hemolytic anemia. Any product that has PABA will be fatal. Cats need sunscreen as well and there are nonirritant sunblocks available. Any sunblock should have the highest factor number available and ought to be applied to the ears and tip of the nose during hot and sunny days. As with dogs, human sunscreen should not be used.
It is necessary to keep a sharp eye on pets during the summer months. Any sign of pinkish or reddish color that ordinarily is not there is a sign of sunburn. If it ceases to go away or if it looks to be abrasions appear, then it is a good idea to bring the animal into the veterinarian. Any melanoma or evidence of skin cancer can be dealt with quickly in the early stages. Just like humans, indifference or lack of attention could lead to a very serious case of skin cancer.
The rays of the sun need to be respected. Ultraviolet rays can cause serious health problems. Even when the animal is inside having the curtains drawn here should be some concern about the windows. The ultraviolet rays can go through glass, and that is why having the curtains drawn during the most intense periods of the day (10 AM to 4 PM) is a very good safety precaution. All sunscreens should be purchased from a pet store or from the veterinarian. A healthy, thick coat is not the ultimate protection against a pet having sunburn. It is the vigilance of the owner during the summer months, which is the best guarantee.