There is no question of how damaging the sun’s rays can be; they are harmful to both people and pets. And, that also includes cats who have an indoors-only lifestyle and dogs who like to lie in sunbeams because the sun’s harmful rays penetrate glass.
Pets that lie in the sun too long can get sunburned (solar dermatosis) on the delicate hairless areas of the body, namely the nose, ears, and any pink spots on the tummy that have less hair. As with humans, the biggest problem concerning excessive sun exposure is that it can lead to skin cancer, which is especially common in pets with pink skin and white fur. What can appear to be a harmless scratch on the face, particularly on the nose and ears, could be the start of solar-induced squamous cell carcinoma. Crusty sores on the tips of the ears, the lips, and the nostrils may also indicate skin cancer. Often, affected areas are itchy, and scratching tends to make the skin even more red and inflamed.
It’s important to consult your veterinarian if you find any spots or lesions that seem suspect. And immediate action is needed because often, if the spots are cancerous and left too long, the cancer literally eats away the affected areas. However, when treated in its early stages, squamous cell carcinoma can be cured.
During the hot summer months, it’s a really good idea to schedule daily walks for early mornings and late afternoons. Avoiding the heat of the day will also protect your pet from burning her paw pads as sidewalks can get very hot too.
Dogs that enjoy a busy outdoors lifestyle can benefit from wearing specially formulated pet sunscreen. There is a growing selection of products easily available in pet specialty and online stores.
And for pooches that enjoy hiking or outings to the beach, there are also special T-shirts to protect against those harmful UV rays. Doggie booties and more open sandal styles can protect paw pads not only from hot surfaces but also detritus on hiking trails and the beach. Canine footwear can take getting used to wearing. So be patient and try footwear for short periods at home before going anywhere.
There are also wonderful pop-up tents and cot-styled beds that are a really good idea to take along on a day trip and to use at home in the garden to keep pets off the hot ground.
And, to beat the heat, there are also special cooling bandanas to help pets keep cool and to help prevent dehydration. And finally, during the summer the focus is on pet hydration, be sure your pets always have access to fresh water both at home and on the go.