It will be hot in much of Spain over the next few days. The first heatwave is a reality. The Royal Canine Society of Spain (RSCE) has launched an information campaign. The aim is to warn about the health risks of overexposure to the sun for dogs.
The RSCE points out that, according to veterinary sources, 450 in 100,000 dogs suffer from some form of skin cancer. Dogs are not immune to malignant tumours, such as squamous cell carcinoma, especially on parts of the skin that are constantly exposed to sunlight.
Therefore, the RSCE recommends limiting sun exposure during the hottest hours of the day, especially with extreme temperatures looming, and using sunscreens specially formulated for dogs.
The RSCE also pointed out that the most exposed areas, such as the muzzle, ears, belly and paws, are particularly vulnerable and that, as with humans, common sunburns in dogs can cause pain, redness, blisters and even skin infections.
Several skin syndromes associated with sun exposure are described in veterinary dermatology. These include solar dermatitis (inflamed and crusty patches), actinic keratosis (rough patches on the skin), carcinoma in situ (preliminary stage of a carcinoma) and squamous cell carcinoma (form of skin cancer).
Most vulnerable breeds
The RSCE also points out that dogs with white or light coats and short hair, especially those that are outdoors a lot, are most at risk of skin problems from sun exposure. The RSCE cites Staffordshire bull terriers, Dalmatians, Mastiffs and Whippets as examples of the most vulnerable breeds to the harmful effects of the sun.
For all these reasons, the RSCE recommends avoiding prolonged sun exposure and applying sunscreen, especially on the nose, ears and belly.
They also recommend not shaving long-haired dogs in summer, as this exposes their skin to more sunlight and increases the risk of sunburn. Another tip is to pay close attention to their diet, as this helps protect their skin from damage caused by free radicals.
Finally, it is advisable to check your dog’s skin regularly. If you notice a bump, a wound that is not healing, a spot that changes colour or size, it is important to consult a vet.