National Sun Awareness Week 3rd – 9th May

Sun awareness week is designed to highlight the dangers of being out in the sun too long and encourage sun safety. While it is important for humans to protect themselves from the sun, it is equally important to ensure that our pets are also protected, particularly cats and dogs.

Cats and dogs have fur that helps to protect their skin from the sun, but it’s not enough to prevent damage from prolonged exposure. Like humans, our pets can suffer from sunburn, which can lead to painful blisters, peeling skin and even skin cancer.

There are several ways to help protect your pets from the sun’s harmful rays, here are a few tips to keep in mind during Sun Awareness Week:

• The suns UV rays are strongest between 10am and 4pm. During this time it is best to keep your pets indoors.
• Make sure your pets have access to shade if they are outside such as a porch, tree, pet safe umbrella or canopy.
• If your dog is hairless or has been shaved due to surgery you may want to consider some protective clothing such as t-shirt or a more specifically designed piece of equipment from your local pet store.
• There are pet safe sun creams available that can be used on pets noses, ears and other exposed areas. Be sure to use a product that is specifically designed for pets as human sun creams can be toxic to animals.
• Long haired cats and dogs particularly suffer in the warmer months however it is not advised to completely shave their coat. Long coats often have many types of hair which protect from sunburn and circulate the air through the coat. Instead, regular grooming to shed loose hairs and provide other sources of relief.
• It is important to make sure your pets have fresh clean water at all times during hot weather, it may also be a good idea to leave a bowl of water in shaded areas outside so that they can have access throughout your home. Be sure to empty these bowls regularly and replace with fresh water. Remember to use cool water and avoid very cold water were possible, you could even add some ice cubes to keep the water cooler for longer. Frozen treats such as fruit can also help to cool them down, alternatively soaking some toys will help get water into their mouth and around their face.
In addition to these tips it is important to keep an eye on your pets for any signs if sunburn or skin problems.
Always be aware of the symptoms of heatstroke:

• Heavy panting
• Excessive dribbling
• Increased heart rate
• Very red gums and tongue
• Lack of energy
• Inability or reluctance to get up after laying down
• Sickness
• Diarrhoea
• Loss of consciousness

If you suspect your pet has heatstroke, move them to a cool or shaded area immediately. Do not pour cold water over them as this can constrict blood flow and make things worse, instead soak a towel in cool water; focus on the legs, chest and neck. Provide cool water for drinking and if possible, a fan to provide some breeze. Contact your vet immediately for further advice as soon as possible.

Remember dogs will still need their daily walks during summer and hot days but beware of the effects walking on hot ground can have on their paws, try to walk your dog in the mornings before the sun is getting too hot or late afternoons/ evenings once it has cooled down a little.

Sun Awareness Week is an important reminder to protect ourselves and our pets from the harmful effects of the sun. By taking a few simple precautions, you can you can help ensure that your pets stay safe and healthy during the sunny summer months.

#SunAwarenessWeek #PetSafety #SummerisComing #NatureKnowsBest

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