Did you know that dogs and cats can get sunburned? Sunburns are painful, can worsen existing skin conditions, and can lead to various types of skin cancer. Your veterinarian may recommend a pet sunscreen or baby sunscreen for your pet. Dogs and cats that are more at risk for UV exposure include hairless and light-skinned breeds, shaved or short-haired pets, and outdoor or working breeds. Pets that have allergies or inflamed skin can be aggravated by sun exposure. Cats with white fur or pink pigment on their nose are susceptible to skin cancer. Some dog breeds are predisposed to skin tumors including, but not limited to, the boxer, pit bull terrier, bull terrier, bichon frise, poodle, and the schnauzer.
Sun protection is recommended for at-risk pets. Maybe have your pet wear a t-shirt and limit exposure during peak UV hours (10 am to 3 pm). For sunbathing indoor cats, you can place UV filters on windows or screens. If you take your pet outdoors, it is recommended to apply sunscreen before sun exposure. Make sure it is either a pet-approved sunscreen or one that is recommended by your veterinarian. Avoid products containing zinc oxide because they are toxic to pets and can result in zinc toxicity if ingested. Also, cats are more habitual groomers than dogs. Avoid any salicylate products and PABA ingredients in sunscreen for cats.
Look for a waterproof, quick-dry, and non-greasy formula without fragrances. Apply it to areas that are exposed or under pigmented: underbelly, ears, nose, or all-over in hairless/shaved breeds. You may need to reapply if you are out in the sun for several hours. Remember to ask your veterinarian for recommendations.