Puss highlights why sun protection is important for your pets too

Puss is a 10 year old white male domestic shorthair that presented to the Pascoe Vale Veterinary Hospital with crusty/scabby lesions on the margins of both ears. The lesions were characteristic of squamous cell carcinoma.

Squamous cell carcinoma lesions occur on areas of non-pigmented skin (mostly involving the ears, nose and facial areas of cats and dogs.) The development of these lesions is linked to exposure to ultraviolet light (solar radiation). In cats the average age of occurrence is 12 years, there is no sex or breed predisposition. Lesions present as scabby sores, which are often inflammed and bleed readily. With time they invade local tissue but rarely spread or metastasize.

Treatment options are varied depending on the location and severity of condition. Options include cryotherapy (freezing lesions) and surgical excision. As Puss had lesions involving both ears surgery was indicated and both his ears were amputated to prevent recurrence's of the skin tumour. Puss spent the day in hospital and recovered well from the surgery.

Prevention of squamous cell carcinoma lesions is aimed at decreasing exposure to UV radiation (ie keeping cats indoors during the day) but beware as even indoor cats will bask in sunshine through windows. Alternatives include applying pet safe sunscreen. Owners of white cats/those with unpigmented skin should examine their skin regularly and any suspicious lesions should be checked by a veterinarian. The earlier lesions are diagnosed the easier they are to treat.