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Why Do Dogs Like to Lay in the Sun?

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

chinese crested sunbathing

Dogs tend to do many precarious things, like bark at seemingly nothing and chase their own tails. Some of their strange actions can be dangerous in some way, shape, or form. But most of their shenanigans are harmless and make perfect sense to your dog, like laying in the sun whether outdoors or near a window while inside. Laying in the sun is a peaceful way for dogs to spend their downtime.

As a dog owner, you may be wondering why your furry family members seem to seek out sunbathing time regularly. You probably notice that your dog seeks out spots to lay down where the sun is shining in throughout the windows. Maybe they even regularly let you know that they want to go outside just to take a nap on the sunny warm grass.

There are actually a couple of great reasons that your dog enjoys spending time laying in the sun. Let’s break down those reasons and explore whether there are any dangers of letting your dog lay in the sun when they feel like it. Here’s why dogs like to lay in the sun and everything else you need to know:

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Why Do Dogs Like to Sunbathe?

One simple reason that dogs like to lay in the sun is to get warm when the air is chilly. The sun helps regulate the body temperature of your dog, like a blanket does for you. But you will likely find your dog laying in the sun even when the weather is warm, and there is a good reason for this. Dogs need vitamin D just like we do, and without enough, they can succumb to health problems like cancer as they age.

Dogs make their own vitamin D by absorbing sunlight into their fur, where it attaches to oils that they will absorb through their skin and mouths. Once absorbed, that vitamin-D-packed oil will nourish your dog’s body to keep them healthy and free of disease as time goes on. Sunlight is also good for your dog’s eyes and helps maintain optimal melatonin levels.

Melatonin is important because it helps regulate your dog’s circadian rhythm, which is responsible for things like keeping hormone levels in check and optimizing brainwave activity. The circadian rhythm is like an internal clock that needs to function properly to keep the body going. Basically, sunlight is an extremely important resource that your dog simply cannot live without.

chihuahua enjoying sunlight
Image Credit: Pixabay

Here’s How Sunlight Can Be a Problem for Your Pooch

Although vitamin D is essential for your dog, too much of it can lead to serious health problems, like kidney failure. Because vitamin D is fat-soluble, it can’t easily be eliminated from the body through urine like water-soluble vitamins can. When too much vitamin D is present in the body, it gets stored in fat tissue and starts causing problems.

Laying in the sun for a while each day likely won’t overdose your dog on vitamin D. However, most dog food is supplemented with vitamin D. If they’re getting their fair share of vitamin D through food intake, they don’t need much time in the sun. Too much sunshine and an abundance of supplementation through food could become a danger over time.

If your dog has too much vitamin D in their system, you may notice that they drink water and urinate more often than usual or that they are vomiting for no apparent reason. Weight loss and excessive drooling are other signs of vitamin D toxicity. Luckily, vitamin D toxicity is typically treatable if it’s caught early enough. But again, unless you are letting your dog lay in the sun all day long and you’re feeding them food with high amounts of vitamin D supplementation in it, chances are that you won’t ever have to worry about vitamin D toxicity.

Another problem that could come into play with sun exposure is dehydration. If your dog is spending a great deal of time in the sun and isn’t replenishing their fluids by drinking plenty of water, they could quickly become dehydrated. If this happens, your dog’s PH levels may become unbalanced and their vital organs could start to shut down.

Signs of dehydration include thick saliva, excessive panting, and loss of energy. If these signs are caught early enough, the dehydration can be reversed before more serious issues come into place. Making sure that your dog has access to fresh, clean water whenever they’re spending time in the sun outside will help ensure that they don’t become even slightly dehydrated.

It’s also important to note that too much sun exposure could lead to a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. Therefore, your pooch should always have access to a shady area or a cool doghouse to chill in when they start feeling too hot under the sun. This should help ensure that your furry family member doesn’t get too much sun exposure when they must spend more than a few minutes at a time outside.

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Dogs & the Sun: Final Considerations

Now you know that your dog likes to lay in the sun both for fun and for health reasons. So, it’s important to make sure that your pooch has plenty of sun exposure during the day, even if they spend most of their time indoors. A walk around the block or a few minutes on the porch can do wonders for your dog’s frame of mind and health. Dogs that do spend a lengthy amount of time outside should be given access to water and shade to ensure that they don’t overheat.

You can provide sunlight to your dog inside by opening the curtains and placing a dog bed near the sliding glass door. Do you have any tips to share for providing dogs with plenty of sunlight during the day? We would love to hear your ideas and thoughts in our comments section below!

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

Authored by

Nicole is the proud mom of Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway, and Baby, a Burmese cat. Originally from Canada, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. Nicole has a strong love for all animals and has experience caring for all types of dogs, from Yorkies to Great Danes. Nicole even worked as a dog sitter during her travels through South America and cared for stray pups — something she ...Read more

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