Once summertime hits, it’s a common top priority to take in as much feel-good sunshine as possible. And sure, you’re adamant about protecting yourself with frequent SPF applications during all those dreamy outdoor adventures like beach trips and hikes, but there’s one thing you’re probably not thinking about: your pup’s skin.
Since most dog breeds are covered in a protective layer of fur, you wouldn’t think they’d need anything extra to stay safe outdoors. The only issue? According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, furry friends can get sunburns just as easily as their human counterparts, and the end result could be mast cell skin cancer—the most common type in dogs—as well as squamous cell carcinoma in light-haired dogs and melanoma in dark-haired pets, which occurs more rarely.
Dogs can get sunburns just as easily as their human counterparts, and the end result could be mast cell skin cancer as well as squamous cell carcinoma in light-haired dogs and melanoma in dark-haired dogs.
Certain common characteristics—like having a lighter-hued coat or sparse fur on body parts like ears, noses, and bellies—make damage from sunburns a way-too-regular thing for dogs, and vets see cases of it all the time. Especially in the pets who “like to lie on their backs and sunbathe,” says Jill Abraham, VMD. So, it’s smart to protect your buddy before signs like red spots or open sores pop up.
To make sure your dog stays just as safe from skin cancer as you, keep it in the shade when possible, consider using sun-protective clothing or eyewear, and—you guessed it!—slather on some SPF. Dr. Abraham suggests something that’s specially made for dogs (like this highly-rated product from Amazon) or children, since licking anything that contains ingredients like zinc could make them sick.
If your dog is super thin-haired or of a light-skinned breed—like a Chinese crested, dalmatian, greyhound, white German shepherd, Weimaraner, boxer, pit bull, or whippet—they probably need sunscreen applied to their entire bodies, Eukanuba reports. But no matter the breed, Dr. Abraham says the art of distraction is key during application, as allowing the product to dry out completely makes it “less likely that they’re going to ingest any of it.” With these quick tips, both you and your pooch can have a sunburn-free, healthy summer of fun.
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