Cat and Dog Sunscreen Safety

As the days get longer and the weather gets warmer, you might wonder if your pets need sunscreen. The answer is yes! Even if you have an indoor pet, your animal might benefit from cat or dog sunscreen. Here are some quick facts about sun protection for pets.

Why Do Pets Need Sunscreen?

Even though most dogs and cats are covered in fur, they are still susceptible to sunburns and skin cancer. Some of these serious cancers include hemangioma, hemangiosarcoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanomas. A quick way to prevent skin cancer is to reduce your pet’s sun exposure by keeping them in the shade, covering them in shirts or hats and slathering on some sunscreen.

Is My Pet at Risk for Skin Cancer?

While it’s possible for all cats and dogs to get skin cancer, fair-skinned and fair-furred animals are more at risk. Animals with short fur are also more susceptible to burns and cancer. This is similar to how fair-skinned humans are more at risk for sun damage.

This is why it’s a good idea to put cat or dog sunscreen on your pet if they are going to be outside or even just spending time lying in the sun inside. Even if you have an indoor pet or an animal with dark fur, it doesn’t hurt to apply sunblock when you know they’ll be exposed to the sun’s rays.

When Is It Best to Apply Cat or Dog Sunscreen?

Use common sense when deciding to apply cat or dog sunscreen. The same time you would apply sunblock to your own skin is a good time to apply sunscreen to your pets. Opt for sunscreen when you know your pet is going to spend time outside or it’s sunny out. It’s especially important to apply sunblock during peak sunlight hours which are between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This block of time is when sunlight is strongest and most likely to cause skin damage. Again, just like how you would with your own skin, it’s also wise to reapply sunscreen after a few hours or when your pet is sweating a lot or swimming.

Where On My Pet’s Body Should I Apply Sunscreen?

You should apply sunscreen everywhere! Sunblock is especially useful when applied to areas of the body that have less or no fur. Here are some parts of the body that are particularly at risk for sun damage:

  • Tummy
  • Nose
  • Tips of the ears
  • Around the lips
  • Groin

Please note that you need to make sure the sunscreen doesn’t get in your pet’s eyes. It’s also wise to do a patch test to see if your animal has an allergic reaction to the sunscreen before you apply it all over their body. Then go ahead and apply it liberally. As with humans, apply the sunblock several minutes before your pet will be out in the sun. Also try to discourage your pet from licking it off!

What Kind of Sunscreen Should I Use?

Only use sunscreen that is specially formulated for pets. Cats should only use cat sunscreen and dogs should only use dog sunscreen. These sunblocks should not contain para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) or zinc oxide as these are harmful to pets. It’s also beneficial to limit your pet’s time in the sun during peak sunlight hours. You can also try using hats, shirts and goggles to further protect your animal from the sun’s rays.

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