May is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month. And Friday, May 25 – the Friday before Memorial Day 2012 – is “Don’t Fry Day,” a day devoted to sun safety awareness and skin cancer prevention. For more information, visit the website of the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention.
What will you do to protect your dog from skin cancer? Sun protection is just as important for hounds as it is for humans. And “Don’t Fry Day” is a good day to implement a K9 skin cancer prevention routine, in preparation for the long, hot summer ahead.
Veterinarians agree that you don’t need to slather suncreen all over your dog – just protect certain key spots.
Obviously, a hairless breed (such as a Chinese Crested) or a dog that’s been shaved runs a greater risk of being burned and ultimately developing sun-induced tumors.
But even hairy dogs who like to doze on their backs in the sun risk burning and tumors on the vulnerable stretch of exposed skin between the hind legs – it’s called the inguinal area, and on most breeds, it’s unprotected by hair.
Be sure to provide ample shade for dogs, especially at mid-day, and don’t let hardcore sunbathing hounds overbake themselves out there. Without supervision, my heat-seeking, summer-lovingdog Sam (pictured above) would surely have fried himself to a crisp!
Never apply zinc oxide to any part ofyour dog; it’s toxic if licked off. Instead, use any natural sunscreen for kids with an SPF of 15 or higher.
Beware: Many popular brands of sunscreen contain harmful chemicals that cause endocrine disruption, skin irritation, and biochemical or cellular level changes (check out this website for more information on toxic sunscreens to avoid). That’s why it’s important to use a product made with natural ingredients, such as the brilliant products by Goddess Garden.
A dog’s nose and snout are prone to sun-induced tumors, especially the schnozzes of pale-nosed dogs and those with pink or pink-spotted snouts (like the dog formerly known as Buttercup). Happily, there’s a balm to prevent and soothe doggie sunburn. It’s called The Natural Dog Snout Soother (SPF 10), which contains shea butter, kukui nut oil, and vitamin E. To learn more, go here.
If your dog does sustain a sunburn, give him or her a soothing, healingbath in cool water with TheraNeem Pet Shampoo, to which you add 5 drops of straight Neem oil (both available here).