When I was little, I was the only redhead in the family. In lovely weather, if I spent even a
few hours outside, I would be as red as a lobster that evening.
Is your pet a sun-worshipper?
If so, then you need to be a little careful for them, too.
A redhead like myself is more likely to burn than a Mediterranean person. In the same way
some pets have a higher risk of sunburn than others. It’s easy to protect them, but skipping
this puts them at risk of a cancer called squamous cell carcinoma.
Sadly I have seen a few cases of this. It always seems to happen to pets with white fur, but
especially cats with white tips to their ears. The ears may be completely white, or just have
a white stripe or splodge on the edge, but it will always be there that the burning occurs and
the cancer follows.
In this part of the body the fur is sparse. This means burning occurs very easily. Also, white
fur grows from less pigmented skin, whereas a cat with other colours on its ears has more
pigmented skin there, and so lower risk.
When I see a pet with the recognised changes associated with sun damage on its ears, I will
recommend a biopsy. If we catch it early, we can reduce the risk of conversion to cancer by
using sunscreen, or changing the little one’s lifestyle to reduce the sun-worshipping.
But, if the cancer has already started it is often a malignant type. This means I have to
recommend surgery to cut off the cancer, sacrificing the lovely ears to save the little one’s
future. They still hear pretty well, but it really changes their appearance.
Why not have a look at your pet’s face now?
If your cat has white tips to their ears, talk to your vet about sensible precautions. And the
same if your dog has white areas of its face that are relatively less furry such as the tops of
I’ve learnt to keep my Celtic skin safe from sunburn, hopefully we can do the same for our precious pets too.