Nearly half of dog owners unaware their pets need suncream in hot weather

·Contributor, Yahoo Life UK
·5-min read
Pet owners don't realise their dogs need sunscreen too. (Getty Images)
Pet owners don't realise their dogs need sunscreen too. (Getty Images)

While we know we need to be slathering on the sunscreen during the current hot weather, many owners are unaware we need to be doing the same for our dogs.

Recent research polling 2,000 pooch parents found that nearly half had no idea their pets should be wearing sunscreen when the temperature rises.

While 51% are planning to take their fury friend on a summer staycation this year, 46% didn't realise dogs need sun protection.

Over half (55%) are totally unaware of any side effects of their dog being sunburned and 70% have no idea how much sunscreen they need to be applying to pets.

Worryingly, 57% never apply sunscreen when they take their dogs outdoors, while 40% think it’s fine to use human sunscreen on dogs, despite these often containing chemicals that may be toxic to them.

Following the findings, Hotel booking platform hoo, who commissioned the research via OnePoll, has launched a campaign to encourage dog-parents to slather their them with sunscreen to protect them from the sun’s rays.

Read more: Why normal noises could be stressing your dog

Vet, Dr Anna Ewers Clark, veterinary research and standards lead at national pet charity Blue Cross, has highlighted how important it is to get dog owners thinking about keeping their four-legged friends safe in the sun.

“Fur is a really great natural sun protector," she explains. "But there are areas where they won't have a lot of fur, and those are the key hotspots we worry about, like their ears and the tip of their nose."

If you need SPF, your dog needs it too. (Getty Images)
If you need SPF, your dog needs it too. (Getty Images)

Dr Ewers Clark adds that many dogs' bellies are sparsely furred, which means they are at risk of sun damage there, and pets with light, thin coats are also more sensitive to sun damage.

“Plenty of dogs will naturally avoid the sun but not all of them," she adds. "One of the biggest problems we see is with dogs who like to sunbathe.

"People love to see their pets lying out in the sun, they think it’s so cute."

Many owners also make the mistake of thinking sunscreen only needs to be applied in hot temperatures.

"Even if it’s not a hot day, we know that temperature isn’t always linked to UV damage," Dr Ewers Clark explains.

"If you go walking with your dog and take them to the beach, along cliff tops or even up mountains you don't often feel the heat from the sun because you have a nice breeze.

"But the reflection off the waves and being higher up can make that risk higher."

Additionally if there isn't a lot of shade, pets can find themselves in the sun all day, which can leave them at risk of suffering sunburn.

“There is often not a lot of shade so your pet is forced to be out in the sun all day which they may love if they’re having a great day running around, but you don’t want them coming back with sunburn.”

Read more: Dog language decoded: What your pooch is trying to tell you

How to keep pets protected in the sun

Reassuringly, 46% of those surveyed are aware of their dogs' SPF needs, with a careful 21% making sure their pups are suitably protected every time they go outside.

The sun protection used, however, does need to be suitable for pets.

“Human sunscreen has a number of additives in them and fragrances which can be an irritant to dogs’ skin, so using a pet-safe sunscreen is the best way forward," Dr Ewers Clark explains.

"Make sure you are applying that before going into the sunshine - ideally 15 minutes before - which gives it a chance to soak in.

Much like humans, if you’re using SPF 30 on your dog, you will need to reapply every 30 to 45 minutes.

"It’s very difficult to over apply it so if in doubt, put on another layer," Dr Ewers Clark adds.

“The minimum safe SPF for dogs is 30. But with any new cream, test it on your dog before you need it."

Watch: Ministers drawing up plans for first-ever national heatwave emergency

An additional suncream complication with pets that we don't have to worry about with humans is ensuring they don't lick it straight off.

"If you have a dog that likes a treat or a puzzle feeder, I recommend putting sunscreen on and then giving them the puzzle feeder to distract them for a few minutes while it soaks in," Dr Ewers Clark suggests.

“It’s easier to reapply when you’re out because they’re distracted by everything else that's going on. But reapplication is important so take it with you."

Read more: Dog dangers of summer

Dogs need sun protection too. (Getty Images)
Dogs need sun protection too. (Getty Images)

One trick to remembering to apply sun protection to your pet, is doing so straight after applying your own.

“When you’re putting some on yourself, make sure you put it on for your pet as well, Dr Ewers Clark adds.

It isn't just dog owners who need to think about sun protection. According to the RSPCA pet-safe sun cream is important for all animals who could burn, particularly white cats and horses with pink noses.

"Don’t let your pet get sunburnt," a spokesperson for the RSCPA tells Yahoo UK. "Use pet-safe sun cream on ears and other exposed areas if necessary."

Signs of sunburn in pets

The PDSA has put together some sunburn symptoms including

  • Redness

  • Crusting

  • Flaking

  • Itching

  • Blisters

  • Pain

Treatment of sunburn in pets

The PDSA say mild sunburn often heals within a few days with treatment at home, which can include:

  • Cold compresses to gently cool your pet’s skin

  • Keeping them out of direct sunlight until their skin has healed

  • Using sunblock or sun protective clothing to protect their skin if they need to go outside

Severe sunburn should always be checked by your vet straight away. Treatment may include:

  • Pain relief, anti-inflammatories and wound dressings

  • A fluid drip and antibiotics if their burns are very severe

Call your vet practice for advice if you are unsure how serious your pet’s burns are.

Additional reporting SWNS.

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