Much has been said about paw care on hot pavement and keeping a close eye on hydration during the summer months – for good reason. Painful blisters on the feet and possible heat stroke are dreadful outcomes from overexposure to heat. However, pet sun protection shouldn’t stop there. From pet-safe sunscreen to adjusting exercise times, the Pet Experts have you and your best friend covered.
Not So Much Fun in the Sun
Most pets are covered in fur, but that doesn’t mean that their skin isn’t at risk.
Like us, however, ultraviolet rays can damage the thin outermost layer of skin, causing inflammation, pain and eventually, the destruction of the skin’s immunity. Over time, overexposure to harmful UV rays can actually change the cells, and even cause cancer.
Ultraviolet rays can be broken into two categories:
- UVA – These year-round rays deeply penetrate skin tissue, leading to early signs of aging and skin damage.
- UVB – Mostly dangerous between May and October, UVB rays cause bright red sun burns. Strongest between 10 am and 4 pm, UVB rays should be avoided.
Like Us, Pets Need Sunscreen
Pet sun protection is important not only because of painful burns and blisters, but because of the long term consequences.
That being said, short term side effects that include inflammation, irritation, skin loss, hair loss, thickened, scaly or crusty skin, and secondary bacterial infection, are nothing to shrug at.
Natural Pet Sun Protection
Pets with darker fur and skin have more natural pet sun protection than those with lighter fur, pink noses, and non-pigmented skin. Likewise, the thicker the coat, the more protected they are from harmful UV rays. Pets with exposed ears, nose, or eyelids are at greater risk of sun damage.
What You Can Do
In addition to keeping your pet inside or in the shade between 10 am and 4 pm, encouraging them to drink extra cool water, and limiting high-energy play/exercise during the day, pet owners can follow our recommendations for pet sun protection:
- Invest in pet-safe sunscreen. Be sure to try it out on a small area at first, and increase use after your pet gets used to it. The ear tips, muzzle, armpits, and groin always benefit from an extra layer. Distract your pet from licking it off with a game or treat.
- Provide sun-blocking shirts, vests or jackets.
- Limit haircuts during the summer.
As always, if you have questions about your pet’s safety and wellness, the Pet Experts are happy to help.