Protection from the sun is just as important for pets as it is for humans with a worrying increase in skin cancer cases in animals being reported. Here’s what to do...
Posted: 09 August 2018
While we humans are well aware of the dangers of spending too much time in the sun, the same is true for our pets. Although their fur provides a little protection, just like us, pets can suffer from sunburn and, in some cases, sun damage can lead to skin cancer.
PDSA vet, Olivia Anderson-Nathan, says: “Although we might be aware of the risks of the sun to ourselves, many owners are unaware that our pets face the same dangers of sunburn, heatstroke and even skin cancer.”
Worryingly, pet insurer Animal Friends has witnessed a 35.7% rise in melanoma cases in cats, dogs and horses since 2015. The most vulnerable areas are the tips of the ears, the nose and anywhere where fur is thinner, and skin is exposed. Some pets need more protection than others – in particular those with white or pale fur, thin or patchy fur and pets that have pink skin exposed on their ears, nose or belly.
The sun’s harmful UV rays can cause damaging changes to skin cells. Over time, these changes can lead to some pets developing a type of cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. While it’s not a common condition, it’s essential to get treatment quickly as it can be quite an aggressive tumour.
If your vet does diagnose skin cancer, they will be able to give you lots of advice about the right kind of treatment for your pet. If your vet thinks your pet has a tumour caused by the sun, then they may advise surgery to remove the tumour. For those areas that are difficult to operate on – such as eyelids or nose – your vet may recommend more advanced treatments such as radiotherapy. Prompt action is vital. If a tumour is treated early before it has spread, then the outlook is usually good for this type of cancer.
Your vet will also be able to give you advice about how to protect your pet from the sun and stop them suffering from more skin problems.
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Sources: pdsa.org.uk, animalfriends.co.uk