Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide to protect you and your pet from the sun
In Summer, and even in the cooler months with high UV, it’s important to remember to Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide to protect yourself from sun damage and skin cancer. But did you know that pets can get sunburnt and skin cancer too?
According to the Cancer Council, Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, with two in three Australians who will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70. Among pets, skin cancer is the most common tumour type in dogs and is in the top three most common tumours for cats. The common skin cancers in people also affect our pets, including melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
Most skin cancers in Australia are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. Sun protection is recommended when the UV is 3 and above, and this is especially important for both you and your pet during the warmer months when the UV index increases to reduce the risk of sun damage and skin cancer.
Ensure that your best friend is protected from sun damage and skin cancer by becoming more sun aware for your cat or dog
While thick fur can protect your pet from the sun to an extent, many skin cancers in cats and dogs are found in parts of the body with thin or no hair, such as the nose, lips and belly.
Some pets are also more susceptible to sun damage and skin cancer than others including:
- Cats and dogs with white fur – pets with white fur tend to have pale and sensitive skin which can increase their risk of sun damage and skin cancer
- Cats and dogs with thin or no hair – pets with sparse or thin hair can be at higher risk of UV exposure leading to sun damage and skin cancer
- Cats and dogs that live in higher UV radiation areas – living in alpine regions or many parts of Australia can increase a pet’s risk of sun damage and skin cancer
- Cats and dogs that like to sunbathe – too much sun exposure as a result of sunbathing directly in sunlight and even sun coming through windows and glass can lead to sun damage and skin cancer
- Older pets – just like in people, the risk of pets developing cancer including skin cancer increases with age.
- Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide to keep you and your pet safe from sun damage and skin cancer
You can help protect yourself and your pet from sun damage and skin cancer by:
- Slipping on clothing – this creates a barrier between the sun’s UV and you or your pet’s skin to reduce the risk of sun damage and skin cancer
- Slopping on sunscreen – applying sunscreen correctly can help protect any skin not covered by clothing. For people, the best sunscreen is the one that suits your skin type, activity and that you find easy to reapply every two hours (as recommended by the Cancer Council). For pets, there are sunscreens designed specifically for cats and dogs that you should apply regularly to sensitive areas of exposed skin such as the tips of the ears and nose. Only use pet-friendly sunscreens on your cat or dog, as many sunscreens for people contain ingredients that can be toxic to pets.
- Slapping on a hat – the skin on your face, neck and ears is much thinner and more sensitive to sun damage than other skin on your body, and this is the same for pets too. Wearing a hat with good coverage can help protect those sensitive areas.
- Seeking shade – shade can significantly reduce UV exposure for you and your pet. Provide your pets with ample shade, such as awnings or trees for outdoor pets, or covering windows that receive sunlight for indoor pets. Where possible, restrict your pet’s time outside during peak UV times (normally between 10am and 4pm).
- Sliding on sunglasses – UV radiation can also cause serious eye conditions. Wearing sunglasses can help protect your eyes from sun damage. There are also sunglasses designed specifically for cats and dogs that can provide UV protection.
For the best sun protection, use all five forms of protection above.
Lastly, it’s important to only use specially designed sun safety products for pets and to make sure that your pet can happily tolerate wearing pet clothing and accessories like hats and sunglasses that are specifically designed for cats and dogs.
By following the Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide steps, both you and your pet can be best protected from the sun so you can enjoy the sun more safely.