Animals are as susceptible as we are to skin cancer and increased exposure to the suns rays brings the same risk of follow-on problems. Ears and noses are vulnerable especially if the fur is thin and the coat pale in colour. Early skin cancer lesions are easily missed because they appear like the result of a fight. A simple scratch or scab may be mistaken for just that, a resolving fight wound, when in actual fact it is the first sign of cancer. The difference lies in the fact that whereas a simple scratch heals in a few days,the cancerous lesion doesn’t. Crusty thickened skin appears, especially if it is the ear margin that is affected. As time goes on, the lesion begins to form an ulcer, an open sore that regularly starts bleeding if knocked. This sore if cancerous, will increase in size and depth. Treatment is available for your pet and as with us, the sooner the cancer is treated, the greater the chance of success. The lesion will generally need to be surgically removed. But it is definitely better to try and prevent the cancer appearing in the first place. Keeping your pets out of the summer sun is the single most important way to avoid skin cancer. This is obviously easier said than done but you can try locking your pets inside from 11am until 4pm so as it avoid exposure during the worse part of the day. If your pet does have a liking for lying in the sun – as most of them do, then inside sunbathing may satisfy. Glass does cut out a large proportion of the harmful rays. If you do take your dog to the beach remember to make room for them under the beach umbrella. As pet owners we do have an obligation to try and prevent skin cancer in our pets.
Ask us about protective zinc based sun filter creams. These can be readily applied to the ears at least. Applying cream on the nose is least successful in cats as they have that instinctive reaction to lick everything off their noses!