by Doris Donnerman
(last updated February 17, 2009)
One summer my sister was lying out by the swimming pool and spent a nice relaxing afternoon dozing, chatting, and reading. By the end of the day however, her legs were bright red. Her legs were so sunburned that they stayed that way for the whole rest of the summer and we started calling her "Lobster Legs." For me, as an older sister, it was kind of funny, but regardless, the sunburn was really bad, and she was definitely wishing that she had thought to put on sunscreen and protect herself. The same concept applies to your pet. Pets can get sunburned, and as a pet owner, it's part of your responsibility to protect your pet against such things.
Dark pets are usually more protected from the harmful UV rays of the sun because their coats are darker, affording them more protection, and less injury from the sun. Light colored pets however, are in a more difficult position. Like Caucasians, light colored pets are much more prone to being burned by the UV rays of the sun, and those burns can sometimes be severe, even leading to skin cancer. With all your pets, but especially the light colored ones, you need to take the necessary precautions to protect their skin.
It's kind of hard to just say "put sunscreen on your pets and you'll be safe," because with pets that have fur, lathering sunscreen all over would only result in nasty, clumpy fur. You can be successful with the sunscreen when applying to the face and ears however. The fur is usually short enough so that sunscreen could actually do some good. When you do put sunscreen on your pet's face, rub it in well on the nose, by the eyes, and up by the ears.
When it's an especially hot and sunny day, you'll probably want to keep your pet inside. On exceptionally hot days, I like to stay inside anyway, and to protect your pet, you'll want to keep it inside, so that the hot, bright doesn't harm your pet. Your pet may not like this method of dealing with potential sunburn, but it will be glad that it won't have to deal with sunburn. (And you might be lucky and have a pet that doesn't particularly like staying out in the heat!)
Summer is a fun time of year, when people can relax, vacation, and just have fun. If you do have a pet, summer is a great time of year to play and have fun with your pet, but you do need to be careful, and watch out for your pet's safety. If you can simply protect your pet against the burning sun, then you'll have a happier pet!
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