July Is UV Safety Month

Here are seven simple tips to protect cats and other pets throughout the summer months.

By Marissa Heflin

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Help shade your best friends from the heat with these tips. July is UV Safety Month and with summer upon us, organizations such as the National Safety Council and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are educating people about sun safety and what precautions to take to avoid overexposure to ultraviolet rays.

The consequences are clear: heat exhaustion, skin cancer, eye damage, immune system suppression and premature aging.

Heatstroke in cats and other pets occurs most commonly in the summer months, especially where humidity is high, but it also can happen when not expected, says Scott Johnson, DVM, of the Emergency Animal Hospital of Northwest Austin in Austin, Texas, which takes in about 40 to 60 heat-related incidences a year.

Cat owners need to take special care to keep their cats safe from overheating and other ailments associated with hot weather. Donna DeBonis, DVM, in conjunction with FURminator Inc., offers these tips to help keep cats cool and safe this summer.

  1. Never leave your cat in your vehicle. The inside of your car can heat rapidly, causing your cat’s body temperature to soar.

  2. Make frequent stops when traveling with your cat. Make sure your pet has access to plenty of water during breaks.

  3. Groom your cat regularly to remove loose hair and help your cat stay cool.

  4. Keep in mind that animals can suffer from sunburn, heat exhaustion and heat stroke—just like humans. To protect your cat’s skin, use a pet-approved sunscreen on sensitive areas, such as the nose and tips of the ears.

  5. If your cat has outdoor access, make sure it has plenty of water and has access to shade.

  6. Kill and repel fleas with a veterinary-recommended flea control product.

  7. If you plan to attend a crowded outdoor event, leave your cat at home. The noise and crowds, combined with the heat, can stress your pet. 

Car temperature is something else to keep an eye on. With the car windows left slightly open, an outside temperature of 85 degrees can cause a temperature of 102 degrees inside a vehicle within 10 minutes, and 120 degrees within half an hour.

A new California law aimed at protecting animals unattended in vehicles during dangerous conditions, such as hot weather, went into effect early this year addressing this fact.

Specifically, the law makes it a crime for a person to leave a pet unattended in a vehicle in a way that endangers the well-being of the animal due to heat, cold, lack of adequate ventilation, or lack of food or water, or other circumstances that could reasonably be expected to cause suffering or death. Pet owners can face fines, jail time or both.

The new law also allows a peace officer or animal control officer to remove a pet from a vehicle that poses dangerous conditions. This includes, but is not limited to, breaking into the vehicle.

Virtually all states address leaving pets unattended in cars in their animal cruelty laws, but only a few states specifically allow an officer to enter a vehicle to rescue an animal that is being treated cruelly, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. These states include Arizona, Illinois, North Dakota and Wisconsin.

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Reader Comments

Cindy    San Jose, CA

8/9/2007 6:20:24 PM

Cats and skin cancer. Is there any type of sunscreen product that is safe for cats that have white areas on the face and nose?


8/4/2007 7:45:49 AM

this is just GREEEEEEEAT i am making calendars as a 4-H project & i need to know all the special months & days in the pet world i know February is pet dental health month & now just found out that July is UV safety month tell me the specials of the other months & special days like Aug. 26 is national dog day just e-mail them to me lovye_hines2002@yahoo.com
i just can't wait to find those days to make red letter days on my calendars


Regina    Bethany, OK

7/28/2007 4:30:45 PM

Thanks for these reminders.

Alaina    Tucson, AZ

7/14/2007 5:12:12 PM

Sunburn in cats - One thing that was not mentioned that is a constant danger is for cats who are indoors only but like to sunbathe in windows. They are also at risk of sun damage. Lightly pigmented areas such as the nose or ear margins are a high risk area. In white cats this is a common area for cancer. Non-zinc based sunscreens are recommended. Many owners do not think of sun damage on their indoor cats, but it is a very real threat.

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