Vet Q&A: Does my pet need to wear sun cream?

by PDSA | 23 April

Learn how to protect your pet from sunburn with sun cream.

Everyone loves a bit of sunshine, especially after the grey and gloomy months. Lots of pets love to bask in the sunshine. But it’s important to make sure that your pets are protected from the sun and the hot weather.

Just like us, our pets can get sunburnt – especially if your pet has light-coloured fur or any thin fur patches. It can be extremely painful for them and can sometimes lead to skin cancer. Pets can develop skin cancer from sun damage even if they haven’t been burnt by the sun. That’s why protecting them from the sun with pet-safe sunblock is essential.

It’s also important to watch out for heatstroke in pets when the weather is warmer. Make sure to keep your pet cool and hydrated. If your cat is showing symptoms of heatstroke, start cooling them down immediately, then contact your vet.

Find out everything you need to know about sun cream and how to protect your furry friend in the sun with our blog.

Can pets get sunburn?

Yes, sunburn not only affects people, but it affects our pets too. Our furry friends most commonly experience sunburn on their ears, nose, eyelids, and belly. It’s important to protect them from the sun with sun cream/sunblock/sunscreen as sunburn is incredibly painful. Any sun damage, even without sunburn can lead to skin cancer such as squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). If your pet has white or light skin patches that are exposed, you can use sun cream to protect them from the sun.

Symptoms of sunburn in pets can include:

  • Blisters
  • Crusting
  • Itching
  • Redness

Mild sunburn can often be treated at home with a wrapped, cold compress to gently cool your pet’s skin. Never place a cold or ice compresses directly onto the skin as these could burn too. If you suspect your pet has sunburn, keep them out of direct sunlight until their sunburn has healed.

Luckily severe sunburn isn’t common in our pets, but if this does happen, you should contact your vet straight away. They may provide pain relief, anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, or a fluid drip.


Can you get sun cream for pets?

Yes, you can! Many companies out there that have sun cream specifically designed for pets. You’ll be able to find cat sun cream, dog sun cream and even horse sun cream. Just make sure the sun cream is pet/child safe, SPF30 or higher, and waterproof. Check out our vet-approved sunblock here.

Sun cream made specifically for pets will help protect their skin against the sun. You can even get pet sunblock with a bitter taste to prevent your pet from licking it off.


Can you use human sun cream on pets?

Some active ingredients in human sun cream are toxic to pets. For example, you’ll need to make sure that sun cream for your dog does not contain zinc oxide or para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), as these ingredients are toxic to our furry friends. This is why we recommend buying pet-friendly sun cream.


Can my pet get sunburnt through a window?

Most regular windows do not filter out harmful UV rays, so pets that like to bask in the sun on windowsills can get sunburnt. We recommend keeping an eye on your pet and applying sun cream to pets indoors. Consult your vet if you are unsure.


How do I apply sun cream on my pets?

Step 1: First, you’ll need to make sure that you have the correct sun cream/sunblock/sunscreen. Use a pet-safe, long-lasting sun cream that is at least factor 30. We recommend applying sun cream to a small area of skin first and allowing 24 hours to ensure no reactions occur.

Step 2: Then, pop a little bit of sun cream on your finger and gently apply a thin layer to cover the white and light patches of skin that are exposed on your pet. If your pet is frightened and won’t let you apply the cream, then gently touch their light patches of skin, such as their ears, without any sun cream on your hands and reward them with a treat. Build on this until they are happy with you applying the sun cream.

Step 3: After you’ve applied the sun cream, distract your pet from licking it off by playing with them or giving them treats. If you find yourself struggling to apply the sun cream, contact your vet for advice.

For more on caring for your pet in summer, read our blog here.

Share this article on:  PDSA | 23 April


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