Thursday, July 14, 2011

Protecting Your Pets From The Sun

All sensible owners realize that our animals need a shady place to rest if they are outside for any length of time.  Even truer for those living in Denver, since we our elevation is higher than most places.  I went from wearing sunblock on truly sunny days, to nearly every single day myself!  I was shocked how fast I burned here.  If you moved from a different region in the country, you may not have experienced troubles with your pets and sunburn until now, or even considered it!

As with most things, our pets are not too dissimilar from us in many ways, their skin sensitivity and the sun are no exception.  Whether it's in the back yard for lengths of time playing, or taking walks with you on sunny days, we need to consider their sun exposure.  For dogs who don't have summer shaves (and please don't shave your Pyr unless absolutely necessary to address dreading) we need to consider their noses, ears, groin region.. any area where they are not protected by an ample amount of fur.  For cats, we need to know that while hours bathing in your window's sun may not overheat them, cats with pink-skinned ears, especially white-furred ears, are prone to sun damage.  All sun damage has the potential of leading to skin cancer.

We can use sunblock on our pets.  The key is to understand that not all "human" sunblock is okay to use, as some contain chemicals which are hazardous to our pets.  The general rule of thumb is that sunblock chemically designed for babies is good.  Baby formulas have to be void of all potential toxins whereas the adult version may not.  There are chemicals which our pets can absorb systemically which are bad, but remember they also lick their skin & fur and ingest toxins.

My veterinarian is selling something called "Pet-Guard" which is made by the company Virbac.  I believe this to be only available through your vet.  Pet-Guard is a sunscreen which contains ingredients to protect them from flies/bugs additionally.  Regardless of what you may think to use on your pet, always ask your vet first.  Every dog is different, and a quick call to run it by your clinic is highly advised.  If my pet has a preexisting skin allergy, I'd definitely take that extra step to ensure my choice was optimal!


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