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By Sam Mazzotta
DEAR PAW'S CORNER: Can dogs get sunburned? -- Greg D., New York
DEAR GREG: Yes, they absolutely can. A dog's fur provides only a little protection from the sun, and exposed parts of its skin -- such as the nose, ears, belly and paws -- can get burned as quickly as any human's skin burns, within 30 minutes (or less) of direct summer sunlight. And dogs are at risk of getting skin cancer, just as humans are.
Short-haired and light or white-haired dogs are especially vulnerable to sunburn.
So, how can you keep your pet from getting burned? Preventing direct exposure is the best way -- that means keeping dogs inside during the hottest part of the day. Keeping dogs hydrated also is important, so always have cool water on hand.
When they do go out, especially if it's sunny or you will be out for awhile, put sunblock on those danger areas, like the nose and ears, the tops of their paws and their belly.
Pet sunscreen is available at stores like Petco. In a pinch, children's or baby-safe sunblock is better to use on dogs than sunblock developed for adult humans. It's gentler on your dog's skin and causes less of a reaction.
Don't use sunscreens that contain zinc oxide or PABA, which if ingested can cause health problems like anemia in some pets.
Reapply sunscreen to the dog every couple of hours when outside, and keep your dog in the shade or inside as much as possible.
Send your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. (c) 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.
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