Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Pet Poison Prevention

This week is Poison Prevention Week, and as the Northern Hemisphere blossoms into springtime and warmer days, we wanted to make you aware of a toxic substance you might not have considered.

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.
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.

Just say no to aspirin. It's extremely toxic to cats.
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.
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


  1. you would think pet products would know better (then again - mom says that about a lot of stuff). interesting to know you can make your own though

  2. guys...thanx for postin thiz ....N we like de natural recipe....thanx all sew two curlz & swirlz for sharin....we iz knot a loud out but de dawg cuzin iz N we will point him two thiz post :) iz yur color dood......just sayin ~~~ ♥♥

  3. We just keep the kitties in the house. Who would think to put human sunscreen on a pet?

  4. That was interesting and we keep hoping humans will get smarter.

  5. My human uses sunscreen like mad... but she tries not to handle us after she's put it on her arms.

  6. Mom used to put bit of human sunscreen on her all white kitty's ears - yikes! She & vet didn't know any better back then! Thanks for informing the humans with your post & fur sharing your friend's recipe.

  7. I did not know that about sunscreen! I'm writing a blog post for tomorrow and will be including a link to this post!

  8. This is great information, and very interesting, too.

  9. Polypropolene glycol is an ingredient in some of those jerky-type dog treats too - keeps 'em chewy, I have read. It is plainly listed as an ingredient.

  10. Excellent post, there are so many harmful things out there to protect our kitties from.

  11. Thanks for this. We hadn't thought about sunscreen being toxic to pets. The mom will definitely be careful around us when she uses it.

  12. We use physical sunblocks on ourselves. They're much better for people, and the environment. Here's another interesting tidbit. Unlike humans, a cat's skin does not make Vitamin D from being in the sunshine. Makes sense since they're usually covered in fur!

  13. Wow, this is super good to know, gang! We're always careful about handling our kitties (or the cats at the shelter) with anything on our skin. But sunscreen ... wow.

  14. I'm one of those crazy people who never uses sunscreen so my babies are safe from that! I do try to be aware of what is around and about where all my kitties go in the house.

  15. It is always good to be reminded that everyday stuff we take for granted can be toxic to our kitties.

    so what ingredient in the home made stuff makes it a sun block?

  16. Thank you fur that scary info. Who knew? Well, now we do:)


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