Keeping your pet well-groomed is important in preventing summer skin problems. Hair not only prevents sunburn but surprisingly helps insulate dogs from the heat. However, if your dog has extremely thick hair or a lot of mats and tangles, her fur may trap too much heat, so you may want to clip her. Shaving a heavy-coated dog's hair down to a one-inch length helps prevent overheating but won't rob him of sun protection and let him sunburn.
Though all that fur helps protect them, pets can get sunburned, particularly if they have light skin and hair. "White cats are much more susceptible to skin cancer, especially if they spend a lot of time in the sun," says Dr. Arnold Plotnick, owner of Manhattan Cat Specialists in New York City. Sunburn in animals can cause problems similar to those it can cause in people, including pain, peeling, and skin cancer. So keep pets out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. When you do go out, rub a bit of waterproof sunblock on unprotected areas like the tips of her ears, the skin around her lips and the tip of her nose, recommends the American Animal Hospital Assn.'s Healthy Pet Tips.
- Dr. Marty Becker is the co-author of the new book "Chicken Soup For The Horse Lover's Soul" and a veterinary contributor for ABC TV's "Good Morning America."