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Make sure your pet enjoys the Spring and Summer; How to avoid pet sunburn


Photo courtesy of Austins_Irish_Pirate/Flickr

Spring has sprung and summer is right around the corner. It's the perfect time to let your pet outside to soak up sun and enjoy the great outdoors...if the proper precautions are taken.

We tend to take care of ourselves when we spend a lot of time outside, slathering on the sunscreen to make sure we don't have to suffer the discomfort of sunburn, but most people don't realize our pets are just as vulnerable as we are.

Fur isn't a sunscreen

All dogs are vulnerable to sunburn, but pale and short-hair dogs are particularly prone to sunburn.

Short-legged dogs like Boxers and Daschunds are also more prone to get sunburn because being close to the ground means they face extra risk from sunlight being reflected from the ground, in addition to the direct light from above.

Our feline friends can get sunburn just as easily as our canine friends. White cats, or cats with white ears and faces, are particularly susceptible to sunburn.

Pets are people, too

How can you help your pet avoid sunburn? By following the same practices that we use to avoid sunburn.

  • stay out of the sun at the peak hours - from noon to 3PM. This applies year-round, because sun exposure is sun exposure, regardless of whether it's summer, winter, spring or fall.
  • use sunblock - Apply sunblock to the bridge of the nose, ear tips and other small, sensitive areas whenever your pet is outside for more than a few minutes. It's not a good idea to use a human sunscreen on your dog because many human-grade sunscreens are toxic to animals, especially those that contain PABA or zinc oxide.
  • cover up - Consider some sort of covering for your dog. Some veterinarians say the most important and effective protection is a type of bodysuit for dogs, which is designed to block ultraviolet rays and prevent sunburn.

Our pets still need the opportunity to run and play outside, but use these tips to make sure both you and they enjoy the great outdoors.

For more info: Pet sun suits can be found at Pet Supplies at Home and Designer Dogwear. The only FDA approved sunscreen for dogs is Epi-Pet Sun Protector.  The makers of Epi-Pet don't currently have a sunscreen for cats, but they are working on one. For our feline friends, the best advice is to avoid products with Octyl Salicylate, Homosalate and Ethylhexyl Salicylate.

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