More than half of UK pet owners are leaving them unprotected in the sun despite warnings from vets

New research has found that 51% of pet owners¹ admit to never using sun protection on their animals, with a further third (33%) saying they only do this sometimes.

This is in spite of warnings from vets about the dangers of skin cancer and irritation from prolonged sun exposure as UK temperatures soar.

The UK may be a nation of pet lovers, forking out over £28 billion on them each year, but when it comes to sun protection, findings from leading pet food brand, Webbox, show there’s room for improvement.

Despite Met Office figures showing that spring 2020 was the sunniest on record, and forecasts predicting a hotter-than-average-summer, fewer than one in five (15%) people say they always use sun protection on their pets when exposing them to the sun for an extended period of time.

The research also revealed only 17% of dog owners said they always apply sun cream to their dogs before letting them outside in the sun. This is particularly concerning as French Bulldogs are the second most popular breed in the UK, and among the breeds that are most at risk of sun damage.

Interestingly, those with both a cat and a dog are more likely to protect their pets against the sun than those with only one pet, with one fifth (20%) saying they always apply sun cream to their pets. Cat owners are the least likely to ensure their pets are protected, with nearly seven in ten (69%) admitting to never applying sun cream.

Pet owners aged 25-34-years-old are the most likely to be protecting their pets, as over a quarter (28%) say they always ensure their pet is wearing sun protection. However, it is those aged 65 and over who are falling short, with three quarters (75%) saying they never put sun cream on them.

Dr. Heather Venkat, from VIP Puppies, offered her advice on protecting our four-legged friends from sun damage: “Dogs and cats are prone to getting sunburns and skin cancer, just like people, but pet owners can easily protect their pets with some simple steps.

“Limit prolonged exposure to direct sun, and give your pet frequent breaks and access to shade. If your pet has shorter fur, especially if it is white, their pink skin will be more likely to burn. Dab small amounts of pet-safe sun creams and balms on your pet’s nose or bare areas that will be more exposed to sunlight, such as the tips of their ears. Some dogs will try to lick the sunscreen off, which is why it is important to never use a sun cream designed for people, which can be toxic and upsetting to their stomachs.

“The number one rule is to not shave your long-coated dog in the summer. It can actually make them more hot and prone to sunburns due to the loss in protection of their insulating layers of fur.”

Commenting on the findings Camille Ashforth, Senior Brand Manager at Webbox, says: “With temperatures in the UK continuing to rise year on year, it is shocking that half of pet owners in the UK are not protecting them from the sun, especially when the impact of sun damage can be extremely unpleasant for your pets and lead to life-threatening conditions.

“We hope by sharing this research, owners will ensure that during the summer months, when applying sun cream to the family, they do not forget to protect their beloved pets as well.”

For more information and advice visit the Webbox blog:

1. Survey of 1,501 UK adults, June 2020