As I am sure we all know, sunlight has ultraviolet (UV) radiation and it is not good for your skin. No matter how nice you think your skin looks when it is tan, it is not healthy in any amount. It will age your skin, cause wrinkles, can cause skin cancer and even causes cataracts in your eyes. No matter who you are, what your skin tone, or how old you are, spending too much time in the sun without protection is asking for trouble. Especially for people like me. I am a light skinned blonde with green eyes and my mom is Irish so I do not tan – I burn. But, even if you have naturally dark skin and never seem to get a sunburn, don’t be fooled – the sun is damaging your skin too. And your pets are susceptible to the sun as well. So let’s find out what you can do to protect yourself and your pet from the sun.

Protecting Yourself

First, we are going to talk about protecting yourself. You know you sometimes forget all about the sun when you go out and do your gardening or water the plants. However, even if it is cloudy out, the sun can still hurt your skin. You may not feel it, but you will notice it later.

Cover It Up

The most important and easiest way to prevent sun exposure is to cover your skin with clothing. Yes, I know it is hot outside and you want to show off your new bathing suit, but if you are just going to be outside hanging out, wear a swimsuit cover or other type of clothing that covers your skin. You can take it off when you get in the water, but then you better have some good water-resistant sunblock on.


Do not go outside without protection. Seriously, you need a sun protection factor of at least 15, which protects you from 93% of the UV rays. However, it is much better to get something higher, like SPF 30, which will protect you from 97% or even SPF 50, which blocks 98% of those dangerous rays. No matter what kind you use, make sure you are applying it correctly. Use plenty and apply it everywhere. Do not miss any spots. If you cannot reach a spot, get someone to help you or cover that spot. This includes covering your lips and face. If you use the spray-on stuff, just make sure you rub it in. Everywhere. And do not think that if it says water-resistant that you can swim all day without reapplying it. They only last about an hour of swimming (or heavy sweating) and then you need to put some more on.

Wear a Hat

Hats are one of the best ways to protect your face and eyes from those UV rays. Not a baseball hat; that does not offer much protection to anything but the top of your head. A sun hat or fishing hat, one of those big floppy hats with the wide brim will do the trick. It needs to cover your head, nose, forehead, eyes, ears, and neck. And hats are in fashion now. They have so many colors and styles you can buy several so you will always have one to match what you are wearing.

Wear Shades

Buy yourself some good sunglasses. Not the cheap ones from the dollar store unless they say that they block at least 99% of the UVA and UVB rays. The label should say UV absorption up to 400nm or that it meets ANSI UV requirements. If there is no label, do not buy them no matter how good they look. Spend a few extra dollars to get the kind that will actually protect your eyes. With your hat and your fancy new shades, you are really going to look excellent!!!

Stay Indoors

Sure, you cannot stay in 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but you should try to stay inside during the time of day when the UV rays are at their worst. Those times are between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM. Become a night owl, go out in the evening to work in the garden or water the lawn. Hey, you can always stay in the shade. Get under a nice shade tree. If you are outside at the pool, put up a beach umbrella. Find an awning, whatever you have to do to get out of the sun. Going fishing? The sun reflecting off the water is more dangerous than just being out in the sun. Wear a hat, get an umbrella, whatever you have to do.

What About My Pets?

Yes, your dog or cat can get a sunburn too. Although they may seem protected from the sun with all that hair, they are not as protected as you think. In fact, certain breeds with shorter coats or light-colored fur are more susceptible. Some of these include Greyhounds, American Bulldogs, Dalmatians, Boxers, Terriers, Pit Bulls, and Whippets. Hairless and light-colored cats are also susceptible.

Keep Them In

Yes, we know that your dog needs to go out once in a while to go potty. But, try to avoid letting him out during the worst times of the day, between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM. Just like humans, the skin on your pets can get burned from the sun and this includes his eyes, ears, and muzzle. You should also provide plenty of shade for your pet while he is outside. And if you have a cat or dog that lays in the sunlight indoors, do not forget that those UV rays can come right through the glass. You can allow them to enjoy a little time in the sun but then you should close the blinds or get some type of UV shades for your window.

Use Sunscreen

They sell special sunscreen for pets but there are some sunscreens for humans that are safe for pets. Just avoid zinc oxide, which is toxic to dogs. This can cause anemia so bad that your dog may need a blood transfusion to survive. So, DO NOT USE ZINC OXIDE ON YOUR DOG. And if you happen to have zinc oxide on your own skin, do not let your dog lick it off you. You can use salicylate on your dog but not your cat. DO NOT USE SALICYLATE SUNSCREEN ON YOUR CAT. It can be fatal even in small doses. In fact, if you want to use sunscreen on your cat, check with your veterinary professional first. That being said, cats do not need to go outside to go potty so they should be kept indoors anyway. In my opinion. It is safer for them to stay inside with you. They actually sell pet clothing that will protect them from the sun as well so if your dog or cat insists on going out to play in the sun, maybe you should get him a t-shirt and hat to wear.

Now, get to the store and get yourself some new shades and a few nice floppy hats so you can take care of that garden. And enjoy your summer without damaging your skin.