Sun Protection for Pets

By Ashley Watson

Cat-in-shadeNow that summer has arrived, you may have already pulled out the sunscreen for yourself, but what about your dog? Many dog owners forget that dogs need sun protection too, especially when going on walks or a day at the beach where there’s a lot of sun exposure. Cats typically find shade on their own and don’t typically require sunscreen, but you may want to consider it for cats with lighter fur and cats that are outside a lot. Thin-skinned dogs, such as Greyhounds, may need extra sun protection. This week’s blog post will look at some of the ways you can protect your pets from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Sunscreen for Pets

Never use sunscreens that contain zinc oxide on your dog. That is the most important factor to keep in mind when choosing a sunscreen for your dog. While safe for humans, zinc oxide (what lifeguards use on their noses) is toxic for dogs, especially if ingested. Ingesting this toxin can cause anemia in dogs and potentially require a blood transfusion. If you are considering sunscreen for your cat, avoid sunscreens that contain salicylates. Even a small dose can be fatal to your cat. Ask your veterinarian first, but most vets recommend using something that is safe for babies. But again, avoid zinc oxide and salicylates for either cats or dogs.

Other Sun-Protection Methods

DogglesDo not shave your long-haired dogs in the summer. Without a coat to act as a barrier, your dog’s skin will be exposed to sun damage, and it can damage the oils in the coat. To keep your dog cooler, brush the dog’s coat daily so that there isn’t as much fur heating up the dog’s body temperature. Think about how you would protect yourself in the sun. You wouldn’t go out without a shirt if you didn’t have on sunscreen. Put an old t-shirt on your dog. You also probably wear sunglasses, and you can find specialized eye wear for dogs that feature a UV-protective coating and shatterproof lenses.

If you let your dog play in a fenced in yard, make sure your yard has plenty of shade. Trees, umbrellas, or even an exercise crate with a sunscreen cover are especially important in hotter climates. Or designate an area where you allow your dog a pit. Lying in the dirt helps cool them off. Kiddie pools are good for this too, but try not to leave them in the sun for too long. Keeping your dog indoors or out of the sun during the hottest times of the day is the best sun protection you can provide.

How do you provide sun protection for your dog or cat in the summer? Share your tips with us on Facebook.