Sun Safety for Pets - Dogs & Cats
We all know the importance of protecting ourselves against the sun; we have sun creams to protect us from burning, sunglasses to block out harmful UV rays, and access to water and ice lollies to rehydrate. But what about pets?
Animals are just as vulnerable to the sun as humans, yet are often forgotten about during hot summer days. There are several things you can do for your pet to ensure they don't suffer sunburn, dehydration or overheating. Every species of animal has different needs, so we have categorised the advice below for dogs and cats.
Do NOT be tempted to apply human sunscreens to your pet; they contain zinc oxide which is extremely poisonous to animals.
Remember, extra care will need to be taken for very young, old or ill pets as they are especially vulnerable to heat.
- In terms of sunburn, your dog's coat plays a very important role. If your dog is short-haired, consider letting their coat grow out in summer as the hair will offer some protection. For long-haired breeds, you should clip them as normal to avoid overheating, but making sure there is enough hair for sufficient sun protection. If your dog has been shaved for a medical procedure, you can put an old T-shirt on them to protect sensitive areas.
- There are now sunscreens specifically designed for dogs. If you choose to use one, be sure to check that it is suitable for your pet and won't conflict with any flea treatments used. If your dog has a skin condition, check with your vet before using sunscreen. When applying sunscreen to your dog, pay extra attention to sensitive areas like the tips of ears, bridge of the nose and underbelly.
- If your dog does manage to get sunburn, you can ease their discomfort with a cool bath. However, if you notice a severe sunburn you should take them to a vet immediately.
- Make sure your dog has access to water in the home and garden. You should carry a portable water bowl on summer walks, letting your dog stop for a drink frequently.
- Freeze dog treats - Kong toys are great for this, pop them in the freezer for a while with the treat inside before giving it to your dog, they will love the coolness!
- Give your dog ice cubes to refresh and rehydrate them - you can also pop a few in their water bowl to keep the water cooler for longer.
- NEVER leave your dog in a hot car, even with the windows open. In hot temperatures dogs can die within 20 minutes of being left in a car.
- Make sure there are shady areas where your dog can rest.
- If your dog has been out in the sun for a while, call them indoors for a cool down.
- Avoid walking your dog between 12pm and 3pm - this is usually the hottest time of day.
- Fill a paddling pool for your dog to take a cooling dip in on hot days in the garden. Whilst out walking, a safe river is also effective in reducing body temperature, especially for a dog that is already overheated.
- Provide a wet towel for your dog to lie on.
- Cat are susceptible to skin cancer, especially if they have a white head or ears. You should routinely investigate your cat's skin for any lumps, taking a note of their size and appearance so you can monitor any changes that may indicate cancer. Skin cancer in cats typically presents itself as a lump that is red or bleeding, however if you do find a lump do not automatically assume that it is malignant. You should always take your cat to the vet to confirm.
- Ensure there are plenty of shady areas for your cat to rest.
- Encourage your cat to drink more water by placing several water bowls around the house.
- If your cat rarely drinks water, try moving their water bowl away from their food bowl; cats can smell the nearby food whilst drinking, causing them to assume the water is unclean and seek a different source. Also, some cats enjoy drinking out of a running tap, if you have concerns they aren't drinking enough from the bowl try turning the tap on for them.
- Routinely change water and wet food to avoid flies.
- Cats shed more hair as the weather gets warmer to help keep them cool, so regularly groom your cat on the approach to summer to help them get rid of their winter coat.
- Your cat will know to seek a cooler environment when they get too hot, so you may find them curled up in a sink or on a tiled floor. Do not reprimand your cat for this behaviour - they are using their initiative to keep cool. .On particularly hot days, put an ice pack inside a sock and place it where your cat frequently rests.
- Heavily glassed buildings such as a conservatory or greenhouse can pose a risk to pets; inhaling warm air leaves an animal unable to cool down. Be sure to monitor the amount of time your pet spends in here and move them to a cooler environment.
As always, you can contact us for further advice by calling: (01228) 560082.