Back

Get started

Customized by You

Design your pet’s plan in less than 60 seconds.

(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.
(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.
(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.
Dog on the beach with pet parent relaxes with guitar

Excessive sun exposure dangerous to pets

Q: Jersey, my 6-year-old Dalmatian, has a mostly white face with only sparse hair on his muzzle, so he often gets sunburned. Can sun cause skin cancer in dogs the way it does in humans?

A: Yes. Excessive sun exposure can cause a variety of skin problems in dogs, including cancer. Like humans, dogs can form actinic keratosis (AK), a firm, thickened, crusty skin lesion that may progress to skin cancer.

The most common canine skin cancer caused by excessive sun exposure is squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). When the ulcerated plaques are traumatized, they bleed or ooze a straw-colored liquid. Fortunately, SCC rarely metastasizes to other parts of the body.

Chronic exposure to sunlight also may give rise to hemangioma (HA) or hemangiosarcoma (HSA) of the skin. “Hem” refers to blood, “angio” to vessels, and “oma” to a mass. Hemangioma is a benign tumor of blood vessels, while hemangiosarcoma is the malignant version of this tumor.

Early on, HA’s are small, flat, red or purple discolorations of the skin. They may grow into large nodules that ulcerate and bleed. An AK or HA may progress to a malignant HSA. As with other sun-induced skin problems, most HSA’s occur as multiple lesions.

To prevent pre-cancerous skin conditions and skin cancer, minimize Jersey’s exposure to the sun, particularly during the late morning and early afternoon. Protect his skin with pet or human sunscreen and a shirt.

Editor's Note: With warmer weather around the corner, please keep your pets safe from heat exposure in cars.


Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine in Pennsylvania. Contact her at askdrlee@insurefigo.com

Q: I saw someone in my...

Q: When I donated...

Hot Car Pet Safety Tips & What You Need To Know

You and your furry friend have been...

Q: Barney, my 5-year-...

More From Figo Blog

Each year, heartworm affects millions of...

Summer is here! Which means vacations,...

It can seem overwhelming, but there are a...

It takes hard work and a diverse skill set...

Pet Professionals: Interview With Kristen Levine Pet Blogger | Figo Pet Insurance

We recently had the opportunity to interview...

Sometimes, we think of cats as needing less...

Sad dog left behind chained by owner

To keep you informed on pet-related laws being...

Q: John is a friend whose...

HELP