Skin Cancer and Pets
Pet Insurance Australia is reminding all Aussie pet lovers to consider their companion animals skin this summer.
“Skin cancer can be a problem with some pets and being prepared early is key to preventing your pet from being a victim,” Nadia Crighton from Pet Insurance Australia says. “We need to consider our pets skin in the same consideration as we do our own.”
In 2016 there were approximately 1,500 claims Australia-wide for skin cancer in dogs. Cats also suffer the effects of skin cancer but statistics indicate not as much as dogs.
“Understanding that this is also just a snapshot of those pets who actually have pet insurance,” Crighton says. “Understandably the number could be much higher.”
Dr Ken Wyatt BSc BVMS FANZCVS, Registered Specialist in Veterinary Oncology from
Perth Veterinary Oncology in Western Australia knows first-hand the consequence of too much sun.
“Sunlight induced skin cancer is far more common in dogs and cats with pale skin, as it is in people,” Dr Wyatt says. White cats are at very high risk for carcinoma of the face. Bull terriers commonly develop carcinoma on the belly, as much because they seem to enjoy sunbaking on their back as having pale skin.”
- Keep pets with pale skin inside during the heat of the day
- Ensure your dog has ample shady areas
- Consider using specially designed pet sunscreens
- Use a pet sun-suit
- UV protect windows for indoor cats
- Ensure cat runs are completely in the shade
“Only sunlight induced skin cancers can be prevented, Dr Wyatt says. “If you have a pet with pale skin then for dogs, have them indoors during the day or get them a sunsuit to wear. There are several manufacturers and so long as your dog isn’t going to eat the suit, it will do the job very well. In theory sunscreen will work though it has to be applied regularly and most are not designed to be safe when licked off. There have been dogs with zinc poisoning from sunscreen.”
It is good to note that dogs and cats who are quickly treated can be readily cured of skin cancer.
“If you suspect your dog or cat has a lump or persistent sore seek veterinary treatment quickly to rule out cancer,” Nadia Crighton from Pet Insurance Australia says. “Also promote sun safety with your pets as you would your children.”