Sunscreen for Dogs & Cats

It is 31 degrees here today in Medicine Hat, Alberta and it feels like summer. I have fair skin so I am always covered in sunscreen. I have to fight my two legged kidlets put on sunscreen and most the time I think they skip out the door without it on. If they ever get a sun burn they will find out how painful it is; if not they will damage their skin and look older quicker. However they are to young to think of all that “old” people stuff. However, sun damage is a big thing not only for people but your your four legged fur babies as well. Both Cats and Dogs are susceptible to sunburn, skin cancer and skin damage due to their pale noses and thin coats.

The sun gives off different kinds of ultraviolet rays. UVB rays cause sunburns, while UVA rays lead to sun-induced aging and skin cancer. When choosing a sunscreen for yourself or your pet, pick one that blocks both UVA and UVB and “broad spectrum” . If a product has an SPF (sun protection factor) higher than 15 and is broad spectrum, the label may state that the product reduces the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging when used as directed.

It is not recommended to use human sunscreen on cats at all because most sunscreens contain salicylates — even a small dose — can land your feline in the kitty ICU. (The most common salicylate is acetylsalicylic acid, also known as aspirin.)

Before you go out and lather up your pooch’s nose, there are a couple ingredients that will cause harm to dog. The thick, white cream that lifeguards slather on their noses contains zinc oxide, a common ingredient in diaper-rash ointments. Zinc oxide is effective as a sunscreen for humans, but it’s toxic for dogs. If ingested, it can damage your dog’s delicate red blood cells, causing them to explode. The resulting anemia can be severe and require a blood transfusion. Vets recommend a sunscreen that contains no zinc oxide and low amounts of octisalate — a salicylate that is a frequent ingredient in sunscreens.

There are pet specific sunscreens, but you should ensure that there are no ingredients that will harm your pet. Non sunscreen sun protection include UV sunglasses – dog goggles, hats and sun protective clothing. Just like us, dogs and cats need to cool off too. So if you animal is outside, there should be shade and fresh water available. If you cat has an exercise pen, using a sun shade umbrella can do in a pinch to give some shade. But the best form of sun protection is to keep your pets and yourself out of sun between 10am and 2pm.  Have a purrfectly wonderful sunny day!

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