Got MY Sunscreen?
May is Skin Cancer Awareness month. You humans are conscious of using sun protection when you venture outside. Let me ask you, “Do you use sunscreen on your dog as well?” No? You should, as we dogs (and cats) can become sunburned just like you. In fact, besides the pain of sunburn, we are prone to develop other complications and diseases associated with sun exposure – think certain types of skin cancer like squamous cell carcinoma, melanomas and hemangiomas! Sunburn can also worsen conditions such as autoimmune disorders and dermatitis.
Granted, some dog breeds are more susceptible than others. It goes without saying for hairless breeds such as the Chinese Crested and American Hairless Terrier. My canine friends with white fur, thin coats and light-pigmented noses and eyelids are also more at risk. Think Collies, Australian Sheepdogs, Dalmatians, Bulldogs, Whippets and other dogs with light or white pigment on their ears or near their nose. I like to lie on my back in the sun and expose my belly. That puts me at risk for sunburn while I snooze away in that position.
But, don’t go lathering any old sunscreen on me! The sun protection should not contain zinc oxide or para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) as these ingredients are toxic to me and my feline friends as well. Use an unscented sunscreen with a SPF factor of least 30 that is also waterproof. There are sunscreens out there that are formulated for dogs and cats.
Like you, I am eager to get going out on that boat, the long walk, the beach or just spend time outside. Sunscreen should be applied about 20 minutes before I am exposed to the sunlight so it is absorbed. Apply sunscreen to areas like the bridge of my nose, ear tips, stomach and inner thighs and anywhere else where my fur is thin or shaved. I do have a tendency to lick it off so watch me for several minutes until it is absorbed.
Rather than buy a sunscreen blindly, ask your vet for recommendations. I looked online, though, and here is a sampling of the products designed for pets. Epi-Pet Sun Protector Spray is FDA compliant. Chris Christensen Ice on Ice Conditioner with Sunscreen also conditions your dog’s coat. My Dog Nose It! is a popular cream for noses and pink areas of the face that users claim is effective, but the product does not contain any SPF protection. Petkin Doggy Sunstick only offers SPF 15 protection so additional protection may be needed. Wolfe & Sparky Organic Dog Sunscreen is a natural dog sunscreen. In a pinch, you can substitute a sunscreen product that is certified for babies as long as it doesn’t contain any zinc ingredients (e.g. zinc oxide.)
There is an alternative to sunscreen application. You can buy protective clothing such as a sun shirt or body suit. K9 Top Coat Bodysuit also keeps sand out of your dog’s fur, but be aware that your dog may become overheated in it.
If you have me out in the sun, make sure that I have shade and plenty of water. Remember, I am susceptible to heat stroke as well. If I do get sunburned, move me out of the sun pronto and apply cool compresses and ointments to help relieve my initial symptoms. Aloe may also help a minor burn. However, if I am burned severely, call my vet!
I want to enjoy outdoor activities with you, like walks, boat trips, the dog park, trips to the beach. Just remember to apply my sun protection when you apply yours!
Pet Food Bank Needs Food
Donations are still being accepted for the new Suncoast Humane Society Community Pet Food Bank. Pet food and cat litter are being collected to provide a resource for pet owners struggling to feed their pets due to the COVID-19 situation. Canned cat food would be greatly appreciated. Donations can be brought to the shelter at 6781 San Casa Drive on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10-11am and again between 2-3pm. If you are in need of pet food, please call SHS at 474•7884 or visit www.humane.org to make an appointment for pick-up.
Area Dog-Friendly Parks
Charlotte County dog-friendly parks with designated areas open for walking your dog on a leash include Ann & Chuck Dever Regional Park, Bayshore Live Oak Park, Cape Haze Pioneer Trail Park, Centennial Park, Harbour Heights Park, Larry Taylor Kiwanis Park, Ollie’s Pond Park, Port Charlotte Beach Park and Randy Spence Park. Two dog parks for dogs to run unleashed in a fenced area are also available at Edgewater Park and Ann & Chuck Dever Regional Park. Dogs are not allowed at any other parks not listed. Please adhere to these park rules and only have your dog at the designated dog friendly parks. For information, contact Parks and Natural Resources at 613•3220. In South Sarasota County, dog-friendly parks with areas to walk your dog on a leash include Blackburn Point Park, Challenger Park, Cherokee Street Park Site, Curry Creek Preserve, Deer Prairie Creek Preserve, Englewood Sports Complex, Jelks Preserve, Legacy Trail, Lemon Bay Park, Myakkahatchee Creek Park, Shamrock Park, Sleeping Turtles Preserve North, Venetian Waterway Park and Woodmere Park. The off-leash dog parks are Woodmere Park and South Brohard Beach Park. For a complete list of county dog parks, go to scgov.net/government/parks-recreation. For questions, call 861•5000.