Animal Update: Skin Cancer In Cats And Dogs

(KCBS) – There have been interesting developments in the determination of effectiveness of sunscreens in the past few months, and the regulations will change starting next year.

KCBS’ Jeff Bell talks to Dr. Jack Aldridge, Director of Veterinary Services at The San Francisco SPCA, about what we should think about as this pertains to our pets.

Scientific evidence regarding sun protection agents for pets lags way behind that for humans. But this subject should remind us that skin cancer is extremely common in both dogs and cats. Almost every day we see a patient with a worrisome sore that proves to be cancerous.

Not all skin cancers in pets are due to exposure to ultra violet rays of the sun; as in humans, there are many causes of different skin tumors. Growths such as mast cell tumors or even canine melanomas don’t seem to be stimulated by UV light. However, some of the most stubborn cancers, such as squamous cell carcinoma or hemangiosarcoma of skin, are directly influenced by sun exposure.

Skin cancers are more common in pets with white or light-colored coats, minimal hair coverage and fair skin. Pure white cats are notorious for ear tip cancer. Certain breeds, such as light coated pitbulls and Italian Greyhounds, may be genetically prone to skin cancer. Pets are especially vulnerable on their nose, ears and belly.

Keep your pets out of the sun during the hottest time of the day. Keep your pet in the shade as much as possible and apply veterinary approved sunscreen regularly – especially to noses, ears and bellys. Make it a habit to examine all areas of their skin carefully, at least on a weekly basis. And get any new skin growth checked by your veterinarian immediately, so life saving treatment can be started early.

Animal Update airs on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM on Sundays at 1:35 p.m., 3:35 p.m., and 9:21 p.m.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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