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Sun Dogs?

My Pet Magazine 2008
By Michele Kraft

Some dogs just love to lie in the sun, and so do we. But is it good for them? We know it’s not good for us, no matter how wonderful it feels or how much we may enjoy a darker shade of skin. We have all heard the warnings about using sunscreen, but dogs don’t need that, they have fur, right? Wrong!

Generally, what is true for humans is true for your dog. Pale skinned, thin haired dogs are especially susceptible to sunburn and the long-term effects of over exposure to the sun are the same for dogs as it is for people.

From painful sunburn to eventual skin cancer, over exposure to the sun is serious business. While some dogs have enough pigment in their skin to protect them from the sun, some breeds, such as Dobermans, poodles, boxers and more have a higher risk of skin tumors and should be handled with care in the sun regardless of their skin color.

While some dogs relish lying in the sun it is wise to limit their exposure between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM when the sun’s rays are the strongest. This simple precaution is the easiest way to protect your pet.

It is summer though, and routinely cutting 6 hours out of the day to avoid the sun is an unreasonable proposition for most of us. Again, the same wisdom we employ for ourselves can be transferred to your dog. While there are sun block products on the market formulated especially for dogs, we can use sun blocks made for humans as long as they are PABA and zinc free.

Areas prone to sunburn on dogs include the nose and belly; anywhere your dog’s skin is visible. Shaved, pink-skinned dogs are especially vulnerable to sunburn, as the hair that would normally provide some UV protection is no longer there to do its job, and pink skin of course does not have melanin to protect itself.

Sandy beaches and sidewalks are an often-overlooked hazard, as they reflect the sun’s rays right onto your dog’s bare belly, potentially giving them a scorcher of a sunburn.

Besides protecting your pet from sunburn, making certain your dog has access to shade and plenty of water during the summer months is a necessity.

Additionally, you must never leave your dog inside the car in the warm months, even with the windows down, even for just a few minutes. Unexpected delays happen all the time and temperatures climb into the triple digits amazingly fast in a parked car. This can result in your beloved dog suffering a lethal heat stroke or brain damage. Yes, she wants to come with you, and yes, you want to bring her, but do the right thing and leave her at home in the warm months of the year.    

Keeping your dog cool and shaded in the summer months may be a little bit more hassle but your best buddy is worth it! Just look how he loves on you every day, in every season, all year.  

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