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Vet Advice: Protecting Your Pets From Sun Exposure

Vet Advice: Protecting Your Pets From Sun Exposure

Southern California is known for its abundance of sunshine, but can too much sun be harmful to your pet? Dr. Michele Drake shares some Vet Advice on protecting your pets from excessive sun exposure and which pets are more at risk.

Featured Quote:

The animals that do have problems with sun would be cats. White cats will get a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma on their face, their ear tips or their eyelids or on their lips or their nose are the most common locations for this. That's from cats that do just lay in the sun.

Video Transcript:

Hi, I'm Dr. Michele Drake and I'm here today with Wilbur. He was just out taking a walk. That's why he's panting right now. Anyway, we're here today to talk to you a little bit about some sun issues that we see with pets. Probably with dogs, the most common problem we're going to find is when it gets hot and the sun is out, that the pavement or the sand can be ... Really can burn dogs' feet. Unfortunately, dogs don't always tell us that their feet are burning. So what you may see is your dog may be doing a little of this and people are going, "Why is my dog doing this?" It's because their feet are hot, obviously.

So what I always tell people is if you're going to take your dog out at anytime between like say 10 and 3 either to the beach or on the pavement for a walk, the best thing to do is just take your own foot out of your sandal or out of your sock and put your foot on the pavement and if it seems warm to you, it's going to be too warm for their feet. I've also don't recommend that we do much exercising on pavement. I've seen people out in the parking lots, tossing the ball for their dog and the dog will just run themselves to bits because they love doing that and they want to please you, but they actually will remove the layer of skin on their feet and can be really painful for the next few days and quite often they actually need medical attention for that. So just be careful of those two things.

As far as actual sun burn on a dog, it's really rare for a dog to get sun burnt. But if any dog was going to get sun burnt, it'd be a white dog like this over. Wilbur's got a nice white nose and if he were to hang out in the sun, he actually likes to lay in the sun quite a bit, but it's extremely rare still for us to find sunburn or cancer in dogs. What we do see in dogs, some dogs have developed lupus, the dermatologic form of that and they'll get crusting around their nose or their lips and these dogs are super sensitive to sun and they should definitely avoid the sun. But that'd be something you'd probably notice crusting on their nose and you bring them in and we would diagnose that they have a dermatologic lupus and we would then want to avoid the sun and in addition to providing some medications.

The animals that do have problems with sun would be cats. White cats will get a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma on their face, their ear tips or their eyelids or on their lips or their nose are the most common locations for this. That's from cats that do just lay in the sun, white cats, so they don't have pigments. So the options would be to keep the cat indoors during the sunny parts of the day if it's an indoor, outdoor cat will be the best way to avoid them getting skin cancer because the only real treatment for that kind of problem is actually surgical removal and some of those areas can be really tough to remove the cancer from. So avoid sun with white cats. Just keep inside during the sunny parts of the day.

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