Sunburn and sunscreens in pets

Have you ever wondered if pets get sunburn? Or heard that you should be applying sunscreen? We take a look at this summery topic and warn you what to look out for.

Can dogs and cats get sunburn?

Yes, our pets can get sunburn just like we can, though some are much more prone than others. Most at risk from the damage caused by ultraviolet rays are:

  • • All white-coated, pale-skinned pets
  • Breeds with naturally thin or sparse coats
  • Hairless breeds, such as the Sphynx cat and Chinese Crested Dog

The sparsely-haired areas are most commonly affected, with the ears and nose in cats, and the groin and tummy in dogs particularly at risk.

Can sunburn cause cancer in pets?

Repeated sunburn is not only painful for your pet but increases the chance of skin cancer developing. Even without obvious sunburn, exposure to sunlight is a risk factor for squamous cell carcinoma in white cats.

Signs to watch for on exposed areas – again, especially on the nose and tips of the ear – include redness, crusting, weeping, or the appearance of a wound that won’t heal.

How do you prevent pets from getting sunburn?

As always, prevention is better than cure:

  • Keep at-risk pets out of the sunshine when the UV rays are at their strongest between the hours of 11 am and 3 pm, especially in the summer months.
  • Apply a pet-safe sunscreen to all vulnerable skin areas.
  • It’s important to use a specially formulated, pet-safe sunscreen as some human products contain ingredients that can be harmful to your pet. Cats can be especially sensitive to the ingredients found in many human sunscreens.
  • You can find veterinary-recommended, pet-safe sunscreens in our online shop. Take a look at Aniwell's FiltaClear and FiltaBac products and choose from the description according to what pet you have.
  • Softening and soothing Wildwash Nose balm is suitable for use on dogs, cats and horses.
  • If your pet does not tolerate the application of sunscreen, you can also buy special UV protective clothing. Some pets don’t mind this at all and can look really cool at the same time!

Find links to our recommended products here:

Aniwell’s FiltaClear and FiltaBac

Wildwash nose balm

If you are concerned your pet may have suffered from sunburn or may have signs of skin cancer, seek veterinary assessment with your primary care practice or book a video consultation with our online team at Vet on the Net.