Over the last few years there has been a rise in the number of pets in the UK suffering with heat and sun related conditions. UK charity PDSA said that their hospitals treated 25 pets for sunburn and 29 for skin cancer between summer 2014 and summer 2015 and that almost all of these treatments were for cats. Pet insurance firm Animal Friends said that an insurance claim for heat stroke treatment can cost owners around £900 and serious cases of skin cancer could set you back as much as £2,000. With the high financial costs and health risks in mind, it’s time we took sun care seriously for our pets.
Many people don’t even realise that animals can get skin cancer, believing that their fur will protect them from the sun’s harmful rays. Unfortunately this isn’t true and pets with white fur are at an increased risk due to their lack of natural pigmentation.
During hot and sunny weather, it’s advised that you keep your pet indoors or at least under the shade as much as possible. If this is unavoidable, purchase some specialist pet sun cream and be sure to cover areas of exposed skin, such as the tips of the ears or nose. If you can’t get your hands on pet sun cream, try and find a fragrance-free children’s sunscreen that doesn’t contain zinc oxide and is over 15 SPF. If you’re unsure, check with your vet.
It may also be worth covering your pet up a little bit. An old t-shirt can be repurposed to cover your dog to provide protection from the sun. You could even wet it a little first to help cool them down. There are also several specialist dog-cooling suits on the market, which come in a range of different shapes and sizes.
If you suspect that your pet may be suffering from a sun or heat related illness, contact your vet immediately.