There are many reasons why your dog loves laying in the sun.
Apart from vitamin D, sunbathing also enhances serotonin and melatonin levels. Laying in the sun also builds their immune systems. Not to forget that sunbathing regulates your dog’s body temperature, especially during the cold months.
Let’s get into these reasons more clearly one by one.
Increased Vitamin D Production
Just like us, our dogs need sunlight to process some fats and oils into vitamin D.
Deficiency in vitamin D can turn your dog’s health into a topsy turvy. Conditions like cancer and osteoarthritis can inflict damage on your dog as a result.
It’s because vitamin D is the one responsible for absorbing calcium and phosphorus. So, even if your dog has healthy levels of calcium, this is just wasted if there’s a deficiency in vitamin D.
Take note that our dogs have a slightly different way of getting vitamin D from the sun. If we fur parents easily absorb vitamin D through our skin, the process is a bit longer for our fur babies.
Vitamin D that is generated through sun exposure is stored in the sebaceous glands on their coats or hair.
If you’re a keen observer, you will notice that your dog’s grooming behavior increases during and after sunbathing. This is because the only time its body absorbs vitamin D is when it begins licking those body parts.
You can compare it to us orally taking our vitamin pills, except that, for our dogs, it is through grooming themselves that they get the much-needed vitamin D.
Increased Serotonin Levels
Are you familiar with the seasonal affective disorder or SAD? This is a depressive state that usually occurs between late fall and winter and then tapers off during the summer months.
You might be surprised to learn that, yes, dogs are more likely to experience seasonal affective disorder as a result of lack of sunlight exposure.
Most of the dogs that are affected by SAD are the ones living in the Northern parts of the world. The common symptoms of SAD are lethargy, weight gain, and irritability.
So, if you see your dog laying in the sun, one possible explanation is because there’s a need for it to increase its serotonin levels. This is a hormone responsible for stabilizing the mood, transforming your grumpy dog into a happier and livelier canine buddy.
Increased Melatonin Levels
Another hormone that can affect mood is melatonin which is manufactured in the pineal gland.
Melatonin is correlated with the circadian rhythm, an internal clock that affects our dogs’ sleep cycles. But, the pineal gland is light sensitive, meaning less sunlight exposure equates to less production of melatonin.
Lower levels of melatonin result in poor sleep quality. Similar to us, fur parents, if we don’t get enough sleep, we wake up feeling grumpy and unable to function productively.
To Beef Up Immunity
Our dogs are intelligent creatures, and they know the sun has healing powers. For example, senior dogs that suffer from arthritis sunbathe because heat gives them temporary relief from pain.
And what about those fungal and yeast infections that thrive well in dark and damp areas of our dogs’ bodies? Sunshine kills germs, yeast, and fungal infections by drying these up and hastening the healing process.
To Feel The Warmth
Laying in the sun also helps your dog maintain its basal temperature, more so during the colder months. Exposing themselves to sunshine makes them feel good and comfortable.