Summer is in full swing! We might be good at protecting ourselves from the harmful UV rays, but did you ever stop to think that your dog or cat also needs sun protection?
Skin cancers resulting from long term sun exposure is certainly an issue we see here at the vet clinic.
Some dogs like to sunbake belly up, and lots of cats like sitting in the sun, or inside by the window receiving full sun exposure.
Like in people, the fairer complexion dogs and cats are at risk.
For cats, pink noses, eyelids or pink ears are the problem areas.
In dogs we typically see problems with the belly/abdominal area as the affected dogs are often those who lay belly up in the sun. Light coloured noses and pink skin on the bridge of their muzzle is also a problem area.
Prevention is better than cure. Here are a couple of things you could be doing to help avoid sun damage and skin cancer:
- Keep pets indoors or undercover, out of the sun, during the hours of which the UV rays are most harmful (typically 10am-4pm)
- Try taking your dog for their walk early in the morning, or late afternoon/evening.
- Use a safe, pet specific sunscreen. These can be bought over the counter at the vet clinic, or in most pet stores.
The reason we wouldn’t advise human sunscreen is that most pets will try and lick it off, and potentially this can be harmful to our pets if ingested.
If you see any new or unusual looking spots/scabs on your dog or cat, particularly in those problem areas mentioned above, bring your pet to the clinic for a check up.
As well as protecting our pets from the harmful UV rays, we must also be careful when the weather is hot! Heat stroke is another problem we see during the warmer months.
Keep pets cool by making sure they have plenty of shelter and water. You may want to put a larger bowl of water out, or even a few extra around the house or yard in case one gets knocked over and spilt.
Try not to exercise your dog in extreme weather conditions, and NEVER LEAVE YOUR PET IN A HOT CAR (even with the windows open) This can quickly become fatal.
Some signs that your pet may be suffering from heat stroke include:
- Rapid panting
- Bright red tongue
- Red or pale gums
- Thick, sticky saliva
If you do find yourself in a situation when you think your pet may be suffering from heatstroke, remove them from the hot area immediately.
Use cool water and a wet towel to try and lower their body temperature. Don’t use very cold water, as cooling the body down too quickly can cause other serious issues.
Take them to the vet immediately.
If you have any concerns or questions about any of the things mentioned here, please don’t hesitate to call one of our nurses at the clinic, or chat to your veterinarian when you come in next.