Surprising number of pet owners use sunscreen on pets: poll

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Sun’s out, paws out — more than one in 10 pet owners put sunscreen on their pet.

That’s according to a survey of 2,000 US pet owners split evenly by region, where during the summer, 15% apply sunblock to their pet.

Through other small, mighty precautions, like checking the temperature of the pavement before walks (15%), it’s clear that pet owners are taking caring for their pets during the summer seriously.

As the dog days of summer get longer and warmer, pet owners are gearing up for what 27% claim to be their pet’s favorite season — with 62% of owners sharing the same favorite.

But pet parenting steps up a notch, as a similar number (29%) find summer to be the most challenging season to care for their pets.

29% find caring for their pet most difficult during the summer; 27% claim summer is their pet's favorite season.
In a new poll of 2,000 American pet owners, respondents revealed the precautions most commonly taken to prepare their pets for higher temperatures in the summer.

Year-round, pet owners are concerned about fleas and ticks (37%), chronic conditions (34%), and heartworm disease (26%).
29% of pet owners suggested that summer is the most difficult season in regards to caring for their pets.

One-third (33%) of pet parents even spend somewhere between 11 and 20 minutes preparing their pet for summer outdoor adventures, while another 23% take up to 30 minutes. 

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Merck Animal Health, the survey looked to understand how pet owners are approaching the summer months and ensuring their pets are safe and healthy.

In going that extra mile, they’re also providing fresh water (59%), air conditioning and fans (54%) and using flea and tick prevention (48%) to care for their four-legged companions.

During the summer specifically, pet parents are vigilant and find themselves on high alert for fleas and ticks (49%), burnt paws (26%) and heat stroke or exhaustion (24%).

In the summer, pet owners are most concerned about fleas and ticks (49%), burnt paws (26%), and heat stroke or exhaustion (24%).
36% of pet owners are concerned year-round about fleas and ticks, for which the summer season puts them on high alert.

However, while pet owners are going above and beyond to care for their pets during summer, less than half (43%) of pet owners have microchipped their pets — an important precaution, especially as pet owners partake in outdoor activities during the warmer months.

Moreover, specific concerns vary by region. While pet owners in the Southeast also find themselves worried about fleas and ticks (44%), they are more concerned about aging (37%) and heartworm disease (32%) than any other region.

“While it’s unsurprising that pet owners in the Southeast are more concerned about fleas and ticks than any other region given the warmer temperatures, it’s important for all pet owners – no matter the region – to keep their pet up to date on a preventative as fleas and ticks can thrive in most environments,” said Kathryn Duncan, DVM, PhD, DACVM, parasitology field specialist, Merck Animal Health. “With the introduction of the Asian longhorned tick, a new invasive species found in over one-third of the states in the U.S., keeping your pet on a preventative is especially important now more than ever. Pet owners should speak to their veterinarian about a prescription.”

In general, respondents visit their vet about four times a year.

During the summer, 15% of pet owners apply sunscreen to their pet; Another 15% check the temperature of the pavement.
15% of respondents added that they apply sunblock to their pet when the sun is shining.

Most of those visits in the past year consisted of yearly check-ups (72%) and vaccines (75%), with only 17% of all pet owners needing to rush to the veterinary hospital for an emergency visit.

However, almost one-third (31%) of Northeasterners visited the emergency vet over the past 12 months, compared to only 12% in the Southeast.

Nonetheless, being a pet owner is a full-time job and concerns over fleas and ticks (36%), chronic conditions (34%) and heartworm disease (26%) remain at the forefront of their minds 365 days a year.

But during the coldest months of the year specifically, fleas and tick concerns drop to the bottom of pet owners’ list (10%), while other concerns tend to take precedence.

Being too cold (49%), pain from the frozen or icy ground (33%) and catching a virus (33%) skyrocket to the highest priorities during the winter season.

“This drop in level of concern about fleas and ticks is somewhat common, but certainly unfortunate as protection should remain top of mind for pet owners all year round,” added Dr. Duncan. “Our goal is to get all pet owners thinking about flea and tick protection 365 days a year, making it part of their pets’ wellness routine, so they can focus on enjoying time with their pet.”


● Weight and activity level – 39%

● Fleas and ticks – 36%

● Allergies and sensitivities – 34%

● Chronic conditions – 34%

● Mental wellbeing – 33%

● Autoimmune diseases – 33%

● Aging – 28%

● Heartworms – 27%

● Safety – 12%


● Providing fresh water – 59%

● Providing fans and air conditioning – 54%

● Using flea and tick preventative – 48%

● Checking them for fleas and ticks – 47%

● Limiting outdoor activities and time – 46%

● Combing or brushing them – 39%

● Using heartworm prevention medication – 28%

● Using sunscreen – 15%

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