Pets' tender skin needs sun protection, too
A walk along the shore, soaking up some rays and enjoying the sand between the toes is something that we here in Michigan relish each year during our all too short summers. When the nice weather hits it's all about the outdoor activities - not only for us, but our pets.
Lorrie Shaw | Contributor
Many folks shave their dogs in the summer to help aid in keeping them cooler, and shaved pets are in even greater need of sun protection. Dogs and cats like to roll on their backs and expose their tummies, so applying sunscreen there is essential. Simply walking along the water or near concrete allows UV rays to reflect off and onto bare skin. The groin area, inside the legs is especially tender, as is the bridge of the nose and tips of the ears. So, be sure to apply 20 minutes or so before going out for optimum protection, and reapply when the sun is its strongest, mid-morning to midday, every four to six hours.
I checked with Dr. Amanda Critchfield from Chelsea Animal Hospital, and she informed me that using sunscreen formulated for humans is perfectly acceptable. It is assumed that SPF ratings are the same for dogs, cats and humans alike, and using a sweatproof/waterproof formula is recommended to help avoid ingestion, since pets have a tendency to groom themselves and will lick it off. Critchfield recommends "applying and distracting" for a few minutes to avoid ingestion.
Also, non-greasy formulations are a great choice. All major sunscreens are considered safe in small amounts - including those that contain avobenzone (Parsol 1789). Do not use formulas that incude zinc in their ingredient lists. Sunscreens containing salicylates should not be used on cats, as there is a potiential for toxicity.
If your pet needs a full body cover, or if you are unclear about your pets' specific situation, talk to your veterinarian. And remember, sun exposure happens year-round. If your pet is outside for extended periods of time in the sun even in the winter, sunscreen is needed then, too.
Lorrie Shaw resides in Dexter Township with her family and lives her passion as professional dog walker and pet sitter for many species of animals. Staying up to date on the pulse of pet-related topics, she blogs about them frequently. If you have an issue or topic that you would like to see addressed, contact Lorrie via e-mail.