Living in Southern California has many benefits, including year-round access to comfortable weather and seemingly endless sunshine.
Although the health and lifestyle of both people and pets generally benefits from consistently temperate weather, there are some disadvantages to existing in an environment that’s so constantly sunny. Exposure to sun can lead to a variety of mild to severe health problems for pets of all ages, breeds (or mixed breeds), and sizes.
In this article, I’ll share some of my top veterinary tips to help prevent your pet from suffering adverse health consequences secondary to sun <span lang="PT">exposure.</span>
Is exposure to the sun dangerous to my pet?
Yes, exposure to the sun can be dangerous for your pet depending on his duration of exposure and ability to overcome the effects the sun has on the skin and whole-body health.
Many pets love to lounge in the sun and reasonable sunbathing can have health-yielding benefits such as increasing body temperature, cardiac output, tissue oxygenation, nutrient delivery, and removal of toxins. Yet, there are plenty of other ways of achieving the above effects, such as engaging in mild to moderate exercise, that generally will achieve the same result and are safer than soaking up in the sun in a literal sense.
Unlike humans, dogs don’t produce vitamin D in the skin upon exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays and must consume sufficient vitamin D from foods and supplements to meet energetic needs. So, although the idea of your dog seeking the sun to generate vitamin D is a nice fantasy, it’s not a reality.
Exposure to the sun can cause hyperthermia, which occurs when the body temperature elevates above the normal range (100-102.5F). Hyperthermia occurring to the degree that body temperature increases to 104F and above and lasts longer than a few minutes has many health consequences, including, dehydration, organ failure, delayed blood clotting, collapse, seizure, coma, and even death.
The sun’s ultraviolet rays can burn the surface or deeper layers of skin. Lethargy, difficulty moving, decreased appetite, behavioral changes, pain, and skin redness (erythema), swelling (edema), blistering, and oozing are all associated with sun burns or from lying down on sun-baked surfaces.
Of greatest concern are the sun’s effects that may not initially be obvious. U<span lang="IT">ltraviolet </span>light (UVA, UVB, other wavelengths) damages cells’ DNA and cause genetic mutations that can develop into benign or malignant cancer. Benign cancer is less-likely to spread but can still be locally invasive, while malignant cancer can be locally invasive and more likely to spread to other organ systems. Basal Cell Tumor, Cutaneous Lymphoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC), Mast Cell Tumor, Melanoma, and others are examples of malignant cancers affecting canines and felines that can have life-altering repercussions that could otherwise be avoided if the appropriate precautions are taken.
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