Does my dog or cat need sun cream in the summer sun?

Posted by Argos. July 16th 2015.

We all know the dangers which can come with exposing ourselves to too much sunshine, but are we aware about how harmful UV rays can be to our beloved pets?

As you might expect, spending too much time in the sun is just as harmful for dogs and cats as it is for their owners.

Not only can pets suffer from sun burn, the chances of them getting certain types of skin cancer also increase if they are not protected with special sun cream for dogs or cats.


A Jack Russell enjoys the summer sun

So who’s most at risk, cats or dogs?

According to research by Christa Horvath-Ungerböck, a dermatologist from the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, white cats and dogs are both equally at the highest risk of sun burn.

Dalmatians, white bulldogs, boxers, whippets and beagles are all thought of as high-risk dogs.

White cats or those with several colours (and white patches) also have skin which is particularly sensitive to light, especially on their head.

However, all dogs and cats have areas of skin which is without hair – like the stomach, groin, bridge of the nose and ears – and it is these which need to be most protected.


A cat relaxes under the sun

How do I choose the right sun cream for my dog or cat?

The effects of sun burn are very painful and it’s important to find a special non-toxic sun cream which is designed specifically for use by pets.

If you can’t find sun cream for dogs or cats, you can use one which is safe for human babies or designed for use by sensitive skin sufferers.

However, whichever option you choose, make sure you use it on a small test area before smothering it all over your beloved best friend. Carrying out a small test area on a non-pigmented area of skin, like the stomach, is the best way to find out if the product will be suitable.

Using a small test area is the best way to ensure your pet doesn’t have an adverse reaction to sun cream. But if they do, wash it off immediately and consult or speak to a vet.

Cats groom themselves much more than dogs, and are far more likely to ingest products which are applied to their skin, so try to avoid the active ingredient Octyl Salicylate in any product. It’s also wise not to use a sun cream containing zinc oxide as your pet could suffer stomach problems if this is ingested.

Are there any alternatives to sun cream for pets?

Should your precious pet suffer a reaction to sun cream, you could opt to buy some light clothing which is designed to block harmful UV rays. There are even some available which can be chilled, allowing you to keep your pet cool at the same time.

Obviously, though, the main alternative is to keep your pets out of the sun and in the shade. When this is not possible, like on an open beach, it may be a good idea to take along a tent for shade or a large beach umbrella.

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