Your Furry Family Members Need Protection Too

Jun 23 2015 Pets sun safety Sunscreen

If you’re in the habit of applying sunscreen before heading out on your daily walk with your dog, bravo!

But did you know that some dogs and even cats also need protection from sunburn as well?

“The little nose tip, especially if your dog is pale-nosed or white-nosed, those areas are prone to sun-induced tumors,” said Dr. Clint Berdeen, owner and veterinarian at Pointe South Animal Hospital in Randleman, NC.

“I usually recommend to owners of dogs that have pink or pale noses that tend to get crusty to use sunscreen on their noses anytime they’ll be outside in the sun for an extended period of time,” Dr. Berdeen said. He also says there are some dogs that suffer from an immune deficiency called pemphigus that causes their skin to be extra sensitive and recommends using sunscreen on these dogs as well.

Dr. Berdeen said that some white cats that spend time outdoors can also be susceptible to squamous cell carcinomas, a type of skin cancer, on their ears, which can cause their ears to rot. “If a cat will let you and not lick it off, I suggest sunscreen for the ears of outdoor white cats,” he said.

There are specific sunscreens designed exclusively for pets, but most sunscreens made for sensitive-skin or baby sunscreens can be used as well. It should be noted that dogs and especially cats are adept at licking off topical lotions, sprays and creams. These substances can be toxic for dogs and especially for cats.

Zinc oxide is very effective as a sunscreen for humans, but it's toxic for dogs. If ingested, it can damage your dog’s delicate red blood cells, causing them to explode. The resulting anemia can be severe and require a blood transfusion. Never use sunscreens that contain zinc oxide on your dog. You should also never use products containing PABA on your dog, as it can be toxic to your pooch as well.

The same goes for cats when it comes to sunscreens that contain salicylates — even a small dose can land your feline in the kitty ICU.

To protect your dog or cat from the harmful effects of the sun, you should just cover your pet’s sensitive areas such as the nose or ears, but your pet does not need additional coverage over its fur.

“My best advice to pet owners is to keep your dog or cat out of the sun during the middle of the day especially in summer,” he added.

Written by Cristi Driver