Does my pet need to be wearing sunscreen? The answer is, it depends! Does your furry friend have a thin hair coat? Or light colored fur? Then he or she may be more prone to harmful sun exposure. Also, pets that are shaved in the summer or have lost hair for any reason are also at risk. This exposure can cause sunburns, skin cancer, and other sun-induced skin diseases. Sunburns in cats and dogs will appear as red skin or hair loss. The most common places for a burn are on the ear tips, the skin around the lips, the bridge of the nose, and places with thinner hair and low pigmentation, like their belly if they enjoy sunbathing on their backs. Light colored cats sunbathing in a window are even at risk as well!
When using sunscreen, be sure to select something that is fragrance-free, non- staining, and at least SPF 15. There are pet-specific sunscreens available. However, if you plan to use human products, avoid sunscreens that have ingestion warnings on the label. For example, some sunscreens contain octyl salicylate and zinc – which are toxic if licked at by a dog or cat. If you’re worried about ingestion, UV protective clothing is a great option for your pets as well.
The easiest way to minimize UV exposure is to reduce the amount of sun exposure between 10 am and 3 pm. That’s not always possible, so be sure to remember your pet-safe sunscreen next time you take your furry friend on that all-day sunny adventure!