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D2006-17

Dear Daisy Dog

Pearl, my mostly white pitbull terrier, got sunburned last year. Should I apply suntan lotion to her this year? Can she get cancer from excessive sun exposure?

Daisy Responds

Yes, and yes.

We dogs are susceptible to skin cancer after excessive exposure to ultraviolet light, just like you humans.
Pearl is at high risk because her short hair allows the sun to reach her pale skin.

To protect her, keep her indoors from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

When she is outside, cover her entire body with a human or doggie sunscreen lotion or spray with an SPF of 15 or greater. Reapply every few hours.
Use “no tears” baby sunscreen above her eyes.

Don’t forget the tops of her feet, which, like yours, will burn if not protected.

Look for lightweight dog clothing that blocks ultraviolet light. It will help protect Pearl if she has to go outside during the middle of the day.

If she does develop any skin lesions, have your veterinarian check them immediately.

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