A Message from the Vet - May 2014
Sun Protection

Ahhh, donít you just love the warm Hawaiian sun? Lying on the beach is what most people dream about, but be careful. You must apply sunscreen or you will pay for it with skin damage from those UV rays. Some pets also enjoy sunbathing too. Did you know that sunscreen is important for your pets as well? Especially for animals with light colored, thin, or missing fur. Areas of the skin like the lips and bridge of the nose are particularly susceptible to sunburn or skin cancer. And donít forget the abdomen, groin, and inside the legs for those pets who like to lie belly up. These areas are typically not covered with fur either.

Sunburns are uncomfortable, causing redness, discomfort, and hair loss. They can irritate pre-existing skin conditions like allergies or infections. Skin cancer is also a potential risk with sun exposure. One common skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma, can be very serious and cause ulcerations and secondary infections, and generally requires surgical removal. All suspicious lesions should be evaluated by your veterinarian.

Most baby sunscreens are an option for pets. If your pet has a tendency to lick himself, it is better to use a sunscreen specifically formulated for animals. These may be found at the pet store or online. It is important to read the labels carefully when choosing a sunscreen. Octyl salicylate is a common ingredient in sunscreen and is toxic to cats. Be sure to pick a product that is specifically labeled for use in cats.

We recommend trying to avoid sunlight during the brightest hours of the day usually between 10 am and 4pm. During this time, at least one tablespoon of sunscreen should be applied to each area every 4-6 hours.

Candice Denham-Soquena, DVM

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Last updated 2014 June 21.