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Aug 23, 2013
Posted By: Christine N.; Photo by: Michael Gil on flickr
The summer is almost over, but for many of us, the sun's presence is felt on a consistent basis. Although, most dogs are somewhat protected from the sun's Ultraviolet rays by their fur, prolonged exposure can cause problems in the long run such as irritation, burns, and possibly cancer. Canines generally have sensitive skin. Just a half-hour of sun exposure can cause a sunburn, which can appear as redness of the skin or even hair loss.
Working dogs and those that encounter lots of sun exposure are most at-risk for sun damage. Hairless breeds and those that are shaved should be kept out of the sun as much as possible. Short-haired dogs such as some terriers, Dobermans, Pitbulls, and Chihuahuas, as well as dogs with light or pink skin are at high risk for burns.
Canine Skin Cancer
Research has shown that dogs are just as likely to develop skin cancer as humans are, the most common being mast cell tumors and melanomas. Certain breeds are genetically more susceptible to said occurrences, however, any dog can get skin cancer. Skin cancer in dogs most often occur in two places: the noses of fair-skinned dogs or dogs with pink noses or white markings on top of the muzzle. Mast cell tumors can be red, itchy, and periodically swell and then disappear. Melanomas found on haired-skin are most often benign. However, those that arise in the mouth, gums, nails, and toes are the ones to watch out for.
Picking a Sunscreen For Your Pooch
Prior to thinking you need to completely shelter your dog from the outside world, know that there are ways to protect him/her from the sun's harmful rays. Many canine-friendly sunscreens are available. Since the most common areas to apply sunscreen are the ears and muzzle, from which the dog will most likely try to lick off, it is important to choose a sunscreen that is safe and non-toxic. Here are some ingredients to avoid:
- PABA: Can be fatal when ingested
- Zinc Oxide: Ingestion can lead to hemolytic anemia
- Benzophenone-3: Can cause contact eczema
- Other ingredients include: Triethanolamine, Methyl paraben, DMDM hydanthoin, Imidurea
All-natural sunscreens made for children are usually safe to use on dogs, but be sure to read the ingredient panel before application. Many pet parents have gotten creative and began to make their own canine sunscreens. Using simple, natural ingredients like pure coconut oil and beeswax, there are many recipes on the internet available.
Lightweight UV-blocking shirts are also a good alternative. They are ideal for outdoor activities such as swimming and sailing. Plus, it will keep your dog's skin cool throughout the day.
Altering your dog's walking schedule can also help reduce the risk of sun exposure. Take him/her for walks in the early morning and/or evening when the sun is lower in the sky. Take shady paths whenever possible.
The cooler fall season is on its way, but the sun can still do some damage depending on where you live. So, hopefully, some of these tips may help keep your pooch healthy and protected.
ref: animal wellness