Can my pet actually suffer from sunburn?

With summer officially here, now is the time to make sure your pets are protected from the sun and heat. Many pet owners know how to keep their pets cool when the weather is hot [check out our blog post for more advice], but how many are aware of the dangers of sunburn and sun damage when it comes to their beloved pets?

According to our research, a huge number of pet owners (51%) admit to never applying sun protection to their pets when letting them out in the sun for extended periods of time, while a further third (33%) said they only do this sometimes.

Fewer than one in five (15%) dog and cat owners said they always apply sun protection to their pets, despite sun damage being a very real threat to our four-legged friends.

To support owners and equip them with key knowledge to protect their pets from the sun, we’ve addressed some commonly asked questions when it comes to sun damage and pets.

1)    Can my pet get sunburnt?
Yes, animals can suffer from sunburn and it can be very painful and even lead to skin cancer. A sunburned dog or cat can suffer from red, inflamed skin that becomes irritated and painful. Sunburn can also lead to hair loss and scaly skin. Most worryingly, severe sun damage can lead to certain types of skin cancer including Quamous cell carcinoma, malignant melanomas, and hemangiomas. Sunburn also exacerbates certain conditions such as autoimmune disorders and dermatitis, and can cause discomfort at surgery sites.

2)    Is it safe to use human sun cream on my pet or dog?

No, many human sun cream brands can be harmful to dogs and cats if ingested, so you should opt for a pet friendly product. Before starting a sunscreen regime for your pet it’s important to seek advice from your vet first. They will be able to advise you on pet-friendly products and share advice on where to apply it, and what to do if you notice your pet’s skin reacting to sunscreen.

3)    Where should I apply my pet’s sun cream?
Apply sunscreen to your dog’s nose, around the lips, tips of the ears, the groin, belly and anywhere else skin is exposed. Sunscreen should be applied regularly throughout the day and you should re-apply if your dog has been in the water. For cats, we recommended using sunscreen on your cat’s nose, belly, groin areas, tips of the ears and any area where the fur is thin or non-existent,

4)    What else can I do to protect my pet from sun damage?

One of the best ways to protect both cats and dogs from the sun is to ensure they have plenty of access to shade. If you have a garden that’s accessible to your pet, ensure there are plenty of shaded spots throughout, whether that’s an umbrella, dedicated pet shade or even a chair or table they can rest under. Encourage them to rest in a shaded spot by placing their blanket, water and a few treats here.

5)    Is it safe to walk my dog when it’s hot?

During the summer, it’s important to avoid walking your dog during peak sunshine hours. Head out earlier in the morning or in the early evening when it’s cooler. The pavements will also be much cooler at this time too.

We also recommend planning your walks carefully during the hottest months of the year. Try to walk your dog in shaded areas such as woods or woodland parks and aim to walk somewhere with lots of water so your dog can enjoy a dip and have lots of water breaks. To be on the safe side, make sure to take water and a bowl with you when you head out to ensure your dog stays hydrated, as well as your pet-friendly sun products so you can re-apply as and when needed.

6)    Should I let my cat out when it’s hot?

Yes, you can let your cat outdoors, however it’s recommended to keep them indoors during the hottest parts of the day and apply sunscreen to your cats twice daily during the summer. If you have a garden, make sure there are lots of shady spots available to your cat.

7)    Are some breeds more likely to get sunburnt?
Those with white, short hair, light-pigmented noses and eyelids, and hairless breeds are the most likely to be affected by sun damage.

Typical dog breeds with these features include: Chinese Crested, American Hairless Terrier, Bull Terriers, Pit Bulls, Dalmatians, French Bulldogs, Greyhounds and Boxer Dogs.

8)    What should I do if I suspect my pet is suffering from sunburn?

If you suspect your pet is sunburnt, seek veterinary advice immediately. If okayed by your vet, cool compresses and ointments [especially those with aloe vera] may soothe the skin to help relieve the initial symptoms. If you’re out and about with your dog and expect they are overheating, find shade immediately, give them a drink and place a wet towel over them to help them cool down – keep dipping the towel in cold water to ensure the dog is kept cool.

For more tips and advice, visit the rest of the blog:


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