Why Dogs Love Lying in the Sun

Last updated on By Puppy Leaks 54 Comments

How often do you find your dog laying in front of the window sunbathing? It’s something all of my dogs have done, and for years I never gave it much thought; I just assumed lying in the sun felt good.

Dog Sunbathing

Turns out there’s a bit more to a dog’s sunbathing than just a nice warm feeling. Today we’ll take a quick look at why dogs love to lie in the sun.

The Pleasure and Benefits of Sunbathing

Does your dog love laying in the sun? Does she have a favorite spot to sunbathe in front of the window? Dogs love laying in the sun because it feels good, and because it’s a good source of Vitamin D.

We love sunbathing, whether it’s at the local beach or in our own backyard. Sunglasses on, sun tan lotion applied, and a nice warm towel on the ground. It’s one of the simple pleasures of summer. The warmth of the sun feels nice on our skin, and it’s a nice healthy dose of vitamin D – in moderation, of course.

Dogs seem to love laying out in the sun just as much as we do. On sunny days you will find my dog Laika lounging and napping in the sunlight for hours. I can hear her now — stretching out on the cozy warm carpet in front of the sliding glass door. If there’s a ray of sun to be found she’ll find it.

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Laying in the sun feels good to our dogs, and that extra warmth does help regulate their temperature. (Cuddling is another common way our dogs stay warm and comfy)

But lounging around in the sun does more than just feel nice, it’s beneficial to our dogs. Our dogs are getting vitamin D from sunbathing just like us, but it’s obtained in a much different way.

The Importance of Vitamin D For Dogs

Vitamin D is considered a pro-hormone which means it’s more of a hormone than a vitamin. It’s still considered a vitamin because our dogs can’t absorb calcium without it, but it’s also considered a hormone because our dog’s body manufactures it in response to direct sunlight.

Vitamin D is kept in the fatty tissues of the body and liver. It helps regulate the calcium and phosphorus balance in our dogs’ bodies. Vitamin D for dogs is important for bone formation, and muscle and nerve control.

Vitamin D stimulates the kidney conservation of calcium and therefore helps the body to retain it. Because of its interplay with calcium, Vitamin D is extremely important in bone formation and nerve and muscle control.- Pet Education

Most of the vitamin D our dogs receive is obtained through their diet, although they create it with direct sunlight, just like us.

The Science Behind Your Dog’s Sunbathing

When humans lay out in the sun, the rays help break down the oils in our skin that create vitamin D. When we stand in direct sunlight, the oil in our skin reacts to the UV rays by breaking down the chemical bonds and creating vitamin D3. After it’s broken down, it’s absorbed back into the body and into our bloodstream through dermal absorption. The process takes about 15-20 minutes.

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Dogs have that same chemical on their skin that converts to vitamin D under direct sunlight. But due to their fur, vitamin D3 can’t be efficiently absorbed back into their body. Vitamin D3 remains on their fur and gets ingested orally when they lick and groom themselves.

Even though dogs can create their own vitamin D in direct sunlight, their absorption is quite inefficient. Our dogs get the majority of their vitamin D through their diet. Next time your dog is grooming himself, remember that he’s not just doing it to look pretty, he’s also getting some vitamin D.

The Risks of Too Much Sun

Prolonged exposure to the sun can lead to sunburn and skin cancer in dogs. When it comes to sunburn, some dogs are more susceptible than others. The dogs most at risk from sunburn are hairless breeds, those with short, thin coats, and dogs with white or light-colored fur.

To prevent sunburn, make sure your dog has access to shade at all times. They’ll instinctively seek shade when the sun becomes too intense. If you spend a lot of time outdoors with your dog, pick up some dog-safe sunscreen. Human sunscreen contains ingredients, such as zinc oxide, that are toxic to pets.

Like us, prolonged exposure to the sun puts our dogs at a higher risk of developing skin cancer. You can help cut down on that risk by making sure your dog has access to shade and by using dog-safe sunscreen when they’re outdoors.

Does Your Dog Love Laying in The Sun?

I assume most dogs love to lay in the sun. Every dog I’ve owned and all of the dogs I’ve known have their own little special sun spot picked out. Does your dog lay in front of windows and doors to soak up some of that warmth? Most dogs seem to have that favorite sunny spot, dedicated to the simplicity of a nice warm nap.

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Check out the Rest of Our “Why Do Dogs” Series:

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