Pets and Sunburn: Know the Risks

By Nutrena®

Summer is here and we all want to be outside with our pets.  Whether it is the beach, the park or hiking in the mountains.  In the summertime, even though the Earth is more distant from the sun, the intensity of the skin tanning/burning ultraviolet light (UV) is much greater than other times of the year.  This is due the more direct angle of the UV rays hitting our planet.  During the summer we are likely to get a sunburn faster from these ultraviolet rays.  However, many of us are unaware that our pets are at risk for sunburn as well.  While they are covered with hair, this does not always protect from them the sun’s damaging UV rays.  Repeated sunburns in pets can lead to malignant skin cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma, malignant melanoma and hemangioma/hemangiosarcoma.

The most common skin areas for pets to get sun burns are places where there is little or no hair: nose, ears and ear tips, belly, groin, eyelid margins and the hairless areas of the lips. Pets that are more susceptible include breeds with light or white short body hair (white Boxers, Dalmatians, white Bull Terriers, Whippets, Greyhounds, Weimaraner’s and white cats), thinly haired ears (Dachshunds, Sphinx cats) and pets with illnesses causing thin hair coats (skin infection, endocrine disease). Dogs and matted outdoor cats that get the summer buzz cut as a way of staying cool are at high risk as their skin sees sunlight for the first time. Be aware that any pet, with enough exposure, can get a sunburn.

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