Disease Spotlight: Actinic (Solar) Dermatosis

lay term: Pet Sunburn

Animal Dermatology Referral Clinic - Pet Sunburn

Spring time is here and we are all ready for a little sunshine! Did you know that pets can have skin damage from too much sun? Keep your pets protected from the sun to prevent actinic (solar) dermatosis.

Pets at risk are those with white skin, light skin, or damaged skin and especially if not sufficiently covered by hair. Ear tips and noses are particularly susceptible, as are the trunk and limbs. Breeds predisposed to this condition include the following: Dalmatian, American Staffordshire Terrier, German Shorthair Pointer, Boxer, Whippet, Beagle and Bull Terrier and their mixes. This condition can develop when the skin is exposed to direct or reflected sunshine. At first the skin may just look like a red sunburn. Changes in the skin become deeper with repeated exposure, including scarring and cyst formation and the skin starts to feel firm and bumpy. With more chronic exposure, areas may ulcerate and bleed. Finally, skin cancer can develop.

Therapy involves sun protection by avoiding sun exposure, especially during peak hours of 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunscreen and sun suits that block the sun’s rays can be used. A combination of oral medications may be prescribed depending on the extent and severity of the lesions.

Pictures above of Tazzy G., a 4 year old, female, spayed Boxer mix, nicely illustrate how the white haired skin is affected and the brown hair skin is unaffected.

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