As the sun sticks around longer and longer every day, people and pets need to be continually aware of the damage those rays can cause to sensitive skin by emitting electromagnetic radiation (EMR).
EMR, which includes not only visible light but infrared and ultraviolet light, damages multiple layers of skin primarily by the absorption of several wavelengths of UV.
Solar dermatitis or, as we more commonly know it, sunburn, can occur anywhere on a pet's body, but several areas are most at risk.
The top of the muzzle from the nose to the eyes and areas that are without pigment such as lips and eyelids are areas especially sensitive to damage. In sunburn's initial stages, owners may notice scales and redness that may progress to additional hair loss as more areas are affected. Many breeds are at risk, but the Australian shepherd is over-represented.
In some breeds with lighter coat colors and those that prefer to be sun bathers, such as Dalmatians, boxers and beagles, sunlight may lead to sunburn on their sides or trunk.
As with a sunburned nose, scaling and redness may be all that’s noticed although repeated episodes can cause deep infections of the skin.
Avoidance is the best treatment with frequent applications of sunblock advised for those pets that must spend time in the sun. Pets that are already experiencing sunburn may have some of the pain and inflammation minimized by receiving one of several non-steroidal medications specific for dogs or cats.
Remember to never treat your pet with these medications without consulting your veterinarian first.
Contact your veterinarian for more information about safe summer fun for your pet!
Questions? Send them to Dr. Sandeman, Home & Garden, Quad-City Times, 500 E. 3rd St., Davenport, IA 52801. Or, email to papertrained@ mchsi.com. Dr. Sandeman cannot answer letters or email personally, but questions of general interest will be answered in this column.