Summer Skin Cancer Dangers For Pets
Written by Elena Barnard | Friday, April 21, 2017
We all know the dangers of prolonged exposure to the sun to ourselves but did you know your pets are at risk as well? With Sun Awareness Week coming up from 8th – 14th May, we wanted to warn pet owners to take precautions this summer, to ensure the safety of their furry friends.
Many owners assume that fur protects their dogs and cats from skin complications, however our data shows a 20% increase in sun and heat related conditions since 2014.
These claims range from dehydration and sunburn to more serious conditions such as melanoma (skin cancer).
As well as the risk to your animal’s health, treatment for these conditions can be very expensive, costing on average £528, but in more serious cases can cost in excess of £2,000 in vet bills!
Heatstroke and skin cancer are the most common conditions that our pets can suffer from, if they are kept out in the sun for prolonged periods with no access to shade. Heatstroke can not only be a traumatic experience for our pets, but can cost up to £900 to treat.
PDSA vet Rebecca Ashman said that most people who sought treatment for their pets were not even aware that animals can get cancer.
“It often comes as a surprise to owners when they hear that pets can suffer from skin cancer, sometime assuming that fur will protect them from the sun,” she said.
“Unfortunately, this isn’t an effective barrier, and white-furred pets are at highest risk because their skin lacks natural pigmentation which helps to block out the harmful UV rays.”
Does my pet need sunscreen?
There are a few factors that determine whether your dog or cat will need extra protection from the sun.
- Light coloured fur
- Short or fine fur
- Exposed skin (such as on the belly or around the muzzle)
If your pet has dark, thick fur, they will be much more protected. However, you should still pay close attention to how much time they are exposed to the sun each day.
What type of sunscreen can you use on pets?
We recommend the use of sunscreen made especially for pets, which can be purchased online or in leading pet stores – and should especially be used on those with short, fine fur or areas of exposed skin.
If owners are unable to find pet sunscreen, sunscreen designed for human babies or children can also be used – provided it is fragrance free and above SPF 15, and does not contain zinc oxide, which can be toxic to pets.
Top tips for keeping your animals safe in the sun
- Limit the amount of time pets spend in the sun, especially during the peak of the day.
- Use special pet sun cream on light or thin fur, the nose, ears or other exposed patches.
- Give them plenty of cool, clean water, refreshed regularly.
- Clip long-haired pets to prevent them from overheating.
- Never leave animals locked in cars, even for a few minutes.
- Avoid walking dogs between 8am and 5pm on hot summer days to avoid the main heat of the day.
- Consult a vet immediately if you notice ulcers, sores or sudden discolouration on your pet’s skin.
Image credit: iStockPhoto.com / Sanjagrujic (via Custard Online Marketing Ltd)