As many of us know, pets can get sunburns too. Light colored and hairless breeds may be more susceptible, but any pink nose or eartip is susceptible to the sun's rays. But did you know that commercial sunscreens are toxic to your pet?
|Faraday might not be hairless, but his light coloring |
makes him a bit more susceptible to the sun's rays.
The active ingredient in sunscreen - the thing that chemically blocks harmful UV rays - is Octyl Salicylate (or variants of it, such as Homosalate and Ethylhexyl Salicylate). When ingested, it breaks down into salycilic acid, also known as aspirin.
Aspirin is somewhat toxic to dogs, and extremely toxic to cats. Even one extra-strength aspirin can have fatal consequences.
|Aspirin: VERY toxic to cats.|
That's because cats can't metabolize them. The reason why they can't is because the are obligate carnivores, or "hypercarnivores." This means that at least 70% of their diet comes from meat. So what's a sun-loving kitty to do if he wants to catch some outdoor time on the deck?
There are some products on the market that are marketed as "physical" sunblocks (as opposed to the chemical ones we mentioned above). These contain Titanium Dioxide which physically coat a surface and block out most of the sun's rays. There is probably not much risk in using a product with Titanium Dioxide because not that much is going to be absorbed through the skin, and it's inert if ingested.
However, be sure you read the label carefully.
Because Titanium Dioxide sunscreen are often paired with substances like PABA, Propylene Glycol and Zinc Oxide. And while Titanium Dioxide might be safe, these other ingredients are NOT.
PABA is only mildly toxic and will most likely only cause stomach irritation. But Propylene Glycol (an additive you'll find in the newer "safe" anti-freezes) can cause liver or kidney dysfunction if ingested.
There are a surprising number of sunscreens marketed for pets that contain these ingredients, so please be cautious when buying! Often it's safer to look toward baby products than pet products in cases like this.
|Notice the bottle says SANS cream not TAN cream? |
Unless you're sure it's safe - just avoid.
Or you could always make up your own.
Here's a recipe posted by Teri T, our friend and fellow blogger at Curlz & Swirlz:
Cat Safe Sunscreen Lotion
6 tbsp. almond oil or (3 tbsp. avocado oil and 3 tbsp. almond oil)
3 tbsp shea butter or (1 tbsp. shea butter and 2 tbsp. cocoa butter)
1 tsp. beeswax
1 tsp. soya-lecithin
2 tbsp. aloevera gel
2 tbsp. rose water
3-5 drops coconut oil (optional, for fragrance)
Melt the oils, butters and beeswax in a double boiler over low heat only until melted. Add the soya-lecithin, then stir till mixed. Remove from heat. Warm the aloe-vera gel and rose water.
While still warm, put water mix over ice, then drizzle in the oil mixture while stirring rapidly with a small whisk. It should creme quickly. Add coconut fragrance oil if desired.
Mix well. Store in a clean, airtight jar.
Here's to many safe and sunny spring / summer snoozes!
P.S. Did you know some skim milks contain Titanium Dioxide? They do it to make the milk look more 'milky white". I think I'm sticking with 2 percent. Ick!
source: Journal of Dairy Science Vol. 80, No. 11, 199