Pet lovers urged to slap sun cream on their dogs and cats

Will you be taking their advice and putting sun cream on your pet this summer?
Will you be taking their advice and putting sun cream on your pet this summer?

Pet-owners are being advised to keep their dogs and cats safe during hot spells - by covering them in sun cream.

Megan Jerred, veterinary expert at Animalfriends.co.uk said that sun-related illnesses in pets are on the rise.

She said: "We've seen a 20% increase in sun and heat-related conditions in dogs since 2014, including dehydration and skin cancer - which can cost owners an average of £528 in vet bills."

According to the insurance company, melanoma and heat stroke are two of the most common and expensive seasonal summer conditions for pets - with claims for heat stroke treatment setting pet owners back as much as nearly £900 each summer and serious cases of skin cancer costing in excess of £2,000 to treat.

The PDSA said that between the summer of 2014 and summer 2015 their pet hospitals treated 29 pets for skin cancer and 25 for sunburn - almost all cats.

Rebecca Ashman, a PDSA vet, said that most people who sought treatment for their pets were not even aware that animals can get cancer.

She continued: "It often comes as a surprise to owners when they hear that pets can suffer from skin cancer, as some assume that fur will protect them from the sun.

"Unfortunately, this isn't an effective barrier, and white-furred pets are at highest risk because their skin lacks natural pigmentation which helps to block out the harmful UV rays."

Veterinary experts from both organisations are also warning that areas with little fur, such as the tips of the ears, are at higher risk because of greater exposer to harmful rays.

Temperatures are set to climb to 20C by the middle of May - so dog and cat owners are being advised to keep their animals indoors or in the shade.

Top tips for keeping your animals safe in the sun

- Limit the amount of time pets spend in the sun, especially during the peak of the day.

- Use special pet sun cream on light or thin fur, the nose, ears or other exposed patches.

- Give them plenty of cool, clean water, refreshed regularly.

- Clip long-haired pets to prevent them from overheating.

- Never leave animals locked in cars, even for a few minutes.

- Avoid walking dogs between 8am and 5pm to avoid the main heat of the day.

- Consult a vet immediately if you notice ulcers, sores or sudden discolouration on your pet's skin.