Here Comes the Sun (so watch out)

When the naked kidz and I travel for vacation or to an event like the BlogPaws conference, I take some comforts of home. We take what we need to care for ourselves well in Phoenix. With all of that sunshine and lack of trees, the sunscreen will be our no compromise product.

The naked cats love anything that is warm, but more than anything they love their sunshine. We get a good amount of sun here in Washington D.C., and when the sunlight gets to be too much, we have plenty of shady trees atop cool green grass to cool off. Lexi Liu loves the sun but likes the heat while lounging in the shade better. Moshe Moshi, on the other hand, must have been a beach bum in a former life because if he could, he would spend all of his life laying out under the rays. In both cases, I have to be the one to say when they’ve had enough time in the sun, for me as well as them.

There are not many products the cats and I share; Q-tips, cosmetic pads, and Ponds cold cream are the extent of it. However, the one item we share between us is sunscreen; specifically Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen. Most pet owners don’t think of sun protection for their dogs and cats, and the reasons are obvious. We tend to think fur is enough protection, and not too many Vets talk about sun protection with their clients. True; fur does protect the skin to a point, but sun exposed to any part of your pet’s body can burn just as severely as any burn we humans can acquire. Time in the shade is enough for most pets to prevent injuries, but exposed parts require a sunscreen just like your skin, especially true for those of us with hairless or light colored pets.

  • Supervision – it is easy just to let your pet do its thing in the backyard or the dog run, but your supervision is your obligation to your pet. They need you to set the limits and prepare for or prevent the hazards. Without you the rest of the suggestions mean nothing. Protect your pet’s exposed parts – if you are going to walk your pet on pavement consider investing in pads/shoes to protect paws. Don’t want the shoes, walk your pet on grass or wooden surfaces only. Desert sand can burn like pavement, and the desert has other hazards (arachnids, cactus, rocks, etc.) so give it a shot.
  • Sun visors work for people, and it will work for your pet. A little silly, yeah, but it does protect eyes and for some breeds the whole face without compromising vision. I buy from Happy Dapper Dogs and Doggie Super Visors on If people laugh at you, laugh with them or tell them to kiss your ass since they don’t feed your pets or pay the vet bills. 
  •  Shade – everyone needs the sunshine. Most Vitamin D and B12 deficiencies can trace to a lack of sun exposure, but no one needs sunburn, sun stroke or cancer either. The sun at its highest and hottest is usually from 12 to 2. Run and play with your fur baby before or after those times. 15 minutes in the sun should require 15 minutes in the shade.
  • Water – Keep your pet fresh and hydrated, always. Take a bottle of water and a bowl to put it in.  A spray bottle of water for the coat is a great way to stay cool.
  • A trip to the Barber – Have a pet with thick fur? Consider a summer cut.
  • Sunscreen – For my kidz, it goes all over the body (except the belly and paws and only on the head, face, and ears when clothed). For yours, a little on the nose and ears. If your pet is well hydrated and given lots of shade, they will not lick at it.

First, let me say this plainly so that there is no misunderstanding; There is no such thing as safe pet sunscreen. There are products marketed as pet-safe sunscreen, but the reason they are pet safe is that they lack the active ingredients necessary for effective sun block. Once again, there is no such thing as pet-safe sunscreen.

So what can a pet parent do?

The reason I use the Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen is its’ application. Sure, kids like pets tend to put body parts in their mouths and though it is not an absolute what is not likely to poison your child on a small scale is less likely to poison your pet, but don’t rely on that opinion. My reason more so is that the product is dry to the touch. Dogs and Cats’ (especially cats) natural behavior is to groom. Ingesting too much sunscreen is toxic. How much is too much? We just don’t know. If you put a wet or gooey product on your pet, they are going to lick it. I have found this less likely with this product.

The best sun protection for your pet is vigilance. You have the responsibility of how much exposure to the elements your pet endures. Keep these tips in mind:

For the naked – all of the above in spades and consider a sun-blocking T-Shirt. Sunburn is painful; Moshe Moshi would tell you that if he could. He has burned both outdoors AND indoors. Any cotton T-shirt will help. Simply Sphynx sells UV blocking T’s that work very well. They sell them for both dogs and cats.

Have fun in the sun and be safe!

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