Do pets need to wear sun cream?

·3-min read
 (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The UK’s heatwave is upon us and as temperatures in London are set to reach 40 degrees celsius, concerns are emerging with regards to the health of our pets.

On Friday, the Met Office issued its first extreme heat weather warning covering much of England.

The statement warned of an “exceptional hot spell on Monday and Tuesday leading to widespread impacts on people and infrastructure.”

But the effects will also be felt by our furry four-legged friends.

Vets have issued warnings to pet owners to ensure they keep their animals cool during the heatwave, advising them to keep them out of the mid-day sun and ensure they drink plenty of water.

But one thing many people might not know about is covering them in sun protection. Here, Sarah Dawson, vet nurse and claims manager at ManyPets, explains why we need to take this additional precaution.

Does my pet need sun cream?

“Just like humans, pets are susceptible to getting sunburnt during hot weather, and there can be serious consequences for pets with sun damaged skin or prolonged exposure,” says Dawson.

“Sunburn is not only painful for animals, but can also lead to more serious problems and exacerbate pre-existing conditions.”

Cats are especially prone to developing skin cancers, she adds, particularly white cats with pale skin or hairless breeds.

“Similarly, hairless dogs breeds, dogs with white or thin coats and dogs with light or white pigment on their ears, eyes or nose are most in need of sun protection when they are outside in the sun and exposed to UV.”

What type of sun cream should I use on my pet?

“Pet parents should make sure to use pet-friendly sun protection as other varieties may contain toxic ingredients to pets,” says Dawson.

“The sun cream should not contain zinc oxide or para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) as these ingredients are toxic to animals.

“As we know, dogs often lick themselves so it’s important to ensure they don’t ingest anything they shouldn’t. It’s recommended to also opt for sun creams that are fragrance free, waterproof and at least SPF 15 to avoid irritation wherever possible.”

Dawson adds that some dog sun creams is not suitable for cats, so it's important to check the label and use one suitable for both species, or specific to cats.

Which areas should I apply the sun cream to the most?

“Consider the spots on your pet’s body that will be most exposed to the sun, such as their face, back and stomach,” says Dawson.

“Then consider areas where pigmentation is light as these will be especially vulnerable.

“These areas include the bridge of the nose, ears, skin around the lips, groin and inner thighs - anywhere where there isn’t much fur coverage also needs special attention.”

How often should I reapply sun cream for my pet?

“Pet owners should aim to apply the sun cream about 20 minutes before their pet goes out in the sun, during which time you should monitor your pet to ensure they don’t ingest any of the cream - and once applied, watch that they don’t lick it off until it’s been fully absorbed,” says Dawson.

“Whilst your pet is out playing in the sun, aim to reapply the sun cream every four to six hours or immediately after they’ve jumped into any water to cool themselves down.”

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