In Hawaii, we really don’t have true seasons with a snowy winter and blistering summer, but it does get a tad warmer and with the extended heat and sunshine, so we thought that this is a good time to remind our clients about the importance of protection from both heat and sun overexposure.
Just a few years ago, there was a misconception that pets don’t need sun protection as their thick coats should not allow sunrays to penetrate to the skin. We now know that the coat provides only limited protection against the sun and that pets with short hair and white or pink skin have no more natural protection against overexposure to the sun than a person.
Sunburn or Solar Dermatitis and skin cancer are the ultimate result of overexposure to the sun. The Morris Animal Foundation concluded that fifty percent of all dogs over ten years of age die from cancer and at least thirty percent of those cancers originated from the skin. Two very invasive skin cancer tumors in the canine, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, have been directly linked to excessive sunray exposure.
Maybe because of lifestyle changes, and especially with our wonderful island lifestyle, pets have more sun exposure than previous years. Pets spend more time in the dog parks, at the beach, jogging, boating and hiking, thus creating opportunities for more sun exposure. This excessive exposure to the sun's rays has been one of the factors attributed to the explosion of skin issues, sunburn and skin cancers in pets.
The new summer guidelines recommended by veterinary dermatologists are to keep pets inside and out of the sun between the hours of 10 AM and 5 PM. Always make water available, keep pets shaded from the sun, ensure air flow from a fan or keep the pet housed in air conditioning. In addition, dermatologists recommend daily sunscreen sun protection for all pets, paying special attention to the short haired and white/pink skinned pets.
Currently, there is only one sunscreen approved for use on dogs - For more information go to the Epi-Pet Sun Protector website at www.epi-pet.com.
Have a fun, safe summer!
Kelly Heiman, RVT
Shae Martin, DVM